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OnSight: an afternoon with PHONON

  • Muting the Noise — the distribution arm of Innervisions, a Berlin record label run by Dixon (Steffen Berkhahn) and Âme (Kristian Rädle, Frank Wiedemann). Their office sits in the loft space of an anonymous Kreuzberg Alt-Bau and doubles as a DJ performance space with a rotary mixer designed by Floating Points and – audiophiles take note – loudspeakers from Klipsch. Yes, Klipschhorns.

    Out in the street, there is no Muting the Noise signage and no passing foot traffic and yet each Thursday, between 4 pm and 8 pm, Muting the Noise opens as a record store. Lining the shelves are Innervisions releases (direct from the pressing plant) plus a selection from similarly-minded labels like Cologne’s Kompakt and Lorsch’s Running Back. Also on offer are headphones from lesser-known Japanese brand PHONON: the SMB-02 (€356) and the 4400 with MTN-branded earcup plate (€299). Both models are intended as studio headphones with portability the focus of the foldable 4400. The SMB-02 can be purchased with a 6.4mm termination plug or balanced XLR.

    Introducing us to PHONON a block away from the Muting the Noise is one Alex Prat — French born, Japanese raised and co-founder of electronic music outfit Tokyo Black Star, themselves Innervisions alumni. In the video interview below, Prat talks us through his two headphone models but also – and perhaps more interestingly – the electronic music industry connections enjoyed by his brand. He formed PHONON with Tokyo Black Star co-founder and mastering engineer Isao Kumano and audio technician Yusuke Uchiyama; and the brand is now collaborating with Brooklyn record label Ghostly International on a limited-edition 4400. PHONON headphones also featured prominently at this year’s Superbooth, Berlin’s modular synthesizer trade show:

    Camera: John Darko | Editor: John Darko | Music: Tokyo Black Star

    Further information: PHONON | PHONON Store

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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