Dec 20, 2023
Corporate News / Feature Story
Technics café KYOTO: Rediscover Music for All
Music is borderless and timeless, touching people’s hearts across cultures and generations. Advances in audio technology have opened the door to new ways for people to enjoy music, and a growing number of people, especially younger generations, are pursuing sound experiences that suit their diverse lifestyles. The subscription-based streaming music market, where people download and listen to their favorite songs on demand, is expected to generate revenue of $25.84 billion worldwide in 2023. At the same time, members of Gen Z are purchasing retro analog records at an historic rate. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), sales of analog records in the United States reached 41 million copies in 2022, exceeding those of CDs for the first time since 1987.
To cater to the interests of this emerging generation of music lovers who freely move between the digital and analog realms in pursuit of new sound experiences, Technics, the signature audio brand of Panasonic Corporation, opened “Technics café KYOTO” on December 6. This article introduces the background, concept, and appeal of Technics café KYOTO.
Fusing analog and digital: Technics’ unceasing pursuit of ultimate musical experiences
“Delivering the ultimate emotive musical experience for everyone—this has been Technic’s message since Panasonic revitalized the brand in 2014,” said Michiko Ogawa, renowned jazz pianist and Director, Technics Brand Promotion Section, Panasonic Corporation. Over the decades, Technics has evolved its unique technologies by fusing its traditional analog technology with cutting-edge digital technology.
Technics pursues world-class perfection without compromising on sound, technology, or design and the brand has developed a number of signature products that include music players, amplifiers, and speakers as well as all-in-one stereo systems and headphones for global markets. Currently, the brand offers a total of 26 products, with a particular focus on “high-end audio” products and “DJ turntables,” to create new sound experiences for music lovers around the world.
“Historically, we have mainly targeted ‘audiophiles’ who focus on high-quality sound. Today, however, we are seeking to provide opportunities for ‘people with high cultural sensitivity’ to try out our high-end audio,” said Ogawa. “People with high cultural sensitivity enjoy music as a ‘total cultural experience’ that factors in not only the sound but also the listening environment and type of artist.”
From 2014 to 2022, Technics operated audio-visual rooms at Panasonic Centers in Tokyo and Osaka that allowed anyone to sample the brand’s high-quality musical experience. An estimated 100 thousand people visited these rooms during the same period, but in 2022 Technics retired them in favor of focusing on the creation of a totally new concept that transcends the confines of an audio-visual “room.” While audio-visual rooms are primarily designed as closed space in which the visitor focuses exclusively on sound, Technics café KYOTO is a totally new “open space” that is neither an audio-visual room nor a showroom.
Surrendering to the high-quality sound in an open café space
The airy and bright entry space of Technics café KYOTO has a spatial design that expresses the brand’s worldview. Going beyond a traditional audio-visual room, the café is designed as a place where people can relax and surrender themselves to the high-quality sound of music while savoring the flavor of specialty coffees and snacks.
“When designing the café, we took to heart the idea of ‘subtractive aesthetics,’ meaning that we sought to create a very simple space that would not interfere with the sound yet still have an impact on visitors,” said Yusuke Seki, an architectural designer who was in charge of interior design and who is also a fan of Technics turntables.
“The space is equipped with Technics’ highest class (Reference Class) audio players. To allow people to appreciate the sense of surrendering to the sound of music, Technics’ technology team poured their knowledge and expertise into acoustic adjustment and conducted detailed simulations, creating new sonic value for public spaces,” said Ogawa.
Always on playlists hand-picked by world-class professionals
At the café, original playlists are always on and played in high-quality sound. Each playlist has been hand-picked by renowned producers, turntablists, singer/DJs, and broadcast personalities and is renewed every two months. “At this café, people can develop a habit of listening to good music with good sound,” said Peter Barakan, a broadcast personality who is contributing to the playlist. In the future, audio live performances and weekend nightlife featuring DJ performances are also scheduled to be held on regular basis.
Savoring the music with Kyoto craft beer, coffee, and sweets
Technics café KYOTO can be found on the first floor of the Panasonic Design Kyoto office located in the heart of Kyoto. Together with music, visitors can enjoy Kyoto craft beer, coffee, and an original cafe menu supervised by Kyoto’s Ogawa Coffee Co., Ltd.
“As one of the top tourist destinations in Japan, I think that Kyoto is the kind of a place where people can come together and transcend the boundaries of culture and generation. We truly hope that this café in Kyoto will bring diverse people together and foster new ideas, music, and something beyond music,” said Ogawa. The café is hoping to attract three thousand visitors per month from around the world.
Technics café KYOTO embodies Panasonic’s brand commitment to realize the holistic well-being of people, society, and the planet to “Create Today and Enrich Tomorrow.” “It doesn’t matter that you like music but don’t know anything about audio or don’t have the opportunity to listen to high-end audio. We just want to give everyone the chance to experience good music played by Technics. We opened this café for all kinds of people to enjoy music freely and casually,” said Ogawa.
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