About

Jazz Kissa

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ESP is heavily influenced by the century-long Japanese kissa/kissaten where listening to music is the core identity. Traditionally, you find cafés playing classical or bars playing jazz on a high fidelity sound system all-analog. Different forms have taken shape as well. We can’t say enough about these places and owners, owing much to them and the music/musicians that inspire these sanctuaries of sound.

Jazz Kissa

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ESP is heavily influenced by the century-long Japanese kissa/kissaten where listening to music is the core identity. Traditionally, you find cafés playing classical or bars playing jazz on a high fidelity sound system all-analog. Different forms have taken shape as well. We can’t say enough about these places and owners, owing much to them and the music/musicians that inspire these sanctuaries of sound.

illustrated jazz kissa

Sonic Palette

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We are a bar that opens early, creating space to listen, drink, & settle in. The music is curated to match the energy in the room; afternoon selections ranging from ambient/forth-world experimentation to classical to psych folk and other zen vibes. The nighttime selection is a mix of international beats old and new, keeping the tempo in synch with the room and patrons. Think dub, jazz, motown, fusion, synth pop and other oddities with an analog sound present in all the records.

illustrated sun wheel album
illustrated I'm in need of love
Memoria das Aguas illustrated album
take a look illustrated album

Finding Our Sound

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These exact k-horns mark the beginning of my 10+ year journey into all things hi-fi which would take me around the world and back again. I’ve been collecting records my whole life but never thought much about the way they were presented- I was a DJ who knew nothing beyond 1200’s and PA speakers. after having my mind destroyed when hearing ‘expecting to fly’ by the buffalo Springfield on my first ‘proper hi-fi’ at the home of Joel Bernstein I quickly began my research.
didn’t take long to be enamored with the k-horn after reading about their significance at Mancuso’s loft parties and I was dying for a chance to hear them.

A pair popped up on craigslist in the palm springs area, poorly listed (i think they just said “big Klipsch speaker!”) at a ‘slightly above’ fair price.  I’d kept an eye on the listing for months almost pulling the trigger several times. Then, on new year’s day, i decided to text the seller an offer that I could afford- in cash, and I said that I could pick them up that day. the seller responded quickly and i was off to u-haul to ditch my car and grab a truck.

Upon arrival in palm springs, the size of the speaker caught me slightly off guard (I suppose I could have google’d this!) and i was soon to find out after returning to Venice that they wouldn’t even fit thru the door of my tiny beach house!

I texted one of my best bud’s Elijah who had a guesthouse which potentially had room to house these monsters while I figured out what to do in terms of their permanent home.
Elijah was stoked on the idea and i drove them over. once unloaded from the u-haul and set up…we discussed what our first tune should be- after numerous suggestions of deep nerd rares we said “fuck it, let’s go all the way” – ‘Dark side of the Moon’ it was!

A couple notes in and we were both instantly converted- this was a moment I’ll never forget and I knew instantly that i was about to devote a big chunk of my life to learning all I could about this world in hopes of giving as many people as i could find an option to hear what we’d just heard…

I quickly made plans to leave my beach house and headed to dtla into a loft that would let these things sing. (yes, I moved to accommodate my huge speakers!) Countless nights have been spent in front of these things by so many of my good friends- we’ve had endless deep listening sessions and parties, loads of musicians and reissue labels have used them to approve their test pressings, all while providing me with the perfect reference speaker as i learned more and more about building out systems and the careful thought and synergy such a thing requires.

I believe objects can hold energy and I couldn’t be happier that this very pair now serves as the reference speaker for ESP and I look forward to hearing the stories of all the folks they’ve since converted.

-Zach Cowie / topanga canyon

 

During our stay in Tokyo, one of the primary goals was listening intently to each system until finding one that spoke to us. When first entering Swing, we knew we had stumbled upon something special. The western electric gear they were rockin’ is a pipe dream for now, so this is the next best thing:

  • Garrard 401 turntables beautifully restored by Audio Grail (UK)
  • 12” Thomas Shick tonearms with corresponding custom headshells/carts (Germany)
  • Condesa Carmen mixer (Australia)
  • 2 line magnetic 845ia single ended class A amplifiers (China)
  • Vintage Klipschorn speakers for the floor
  • Vintage Klipsch lowboy cornwalls for backbar

Note: All of our records are selected to provide optimal sound as well, the vast majority being either original pressings or AAA remastered from the original tapes.
We are by no means at the end of our audio journey, so we hope you’ll come along for the ride with us as we continue to improve.

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1029 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204

720-921-5502

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