New audio store aims to connect people through listening parties

A record spins at the Esoteric Audio Listening Party on Saturday. (Craig Johnson/DD)

Esoteric Audio is changing the tune of the downtown Phoenix music scene with monthly listening parties, informative seminars and high-quality equipment.

The new high-end audio retailer, located on the corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street, opened its storefront in November of last year — a big step for owner Andrew Papanikolas, who took over the business in 2013 and has been searching for a location.

“When it came time to locate the store, we had a really hard decision because this type of business is a destination,” Papanikolas said. “Traditionally, this type of business has always been focused on a very, very small niche market.”

They found what they were looking for with their new store and are inviting downtown residents to come see the space for themselves. With simple walls and decor, their emphasis is on one selling point: high-quality, expensive audio equipment. The space includes a sound-proof listening room built with birch plywood.

Peter Eichen, friend of Papanikolas and a client of Esoteric Audio, approves of the store, especially the listening room.

“When I got here, I was really impressed at the building and the gorgeous, old architecture,” he said. “The sound is absolutely mind-boggling.”

Upon entering, customers will notice that comfortable chairs and couches are strategically placed around the audio equipment, giving guests the chance to sit down and listen to music. This creates a relaxing atmosphere for “Second Saturdays,” the unique listening party events that Papanikolas created to bring music lovers to the store, meet new people and discover new music.

Every Second Saturday of the month, visitors are invited to bring in their records and listen to them on Esoteric’s variety of high-end audio equipment. Papanikolas encourages guests to share their favorite records with other visitors and expand their music taste while hopefully building a new tradition. He hopes to set his store on the path towards becoming a popular hangout for music and audio aficionados around the community.

“I’m trying to keep a focus on music, and focus on this set schedule,” Papanikolas said.

Frank Lenz has been a Second Saturday attendee since Esoteric Audio first opened. Through the events, he has met many people that share a similar taste in music, and he often swaps records with other attendees.

“What they’re offering is invaluable, in the sense that you’re connecting people that have a common interest, but aren’t necessarily here to purchase,” Lenz said. “You can’t do that anywhere else.”

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