Looking for the German FIDELITY Online? Just click here!
FIDELITY visit to Bar Neiro, Berlin

Bar Neiro, Berlin

Sound bar for the discerning

Anyone can play some jazz to go with wine. But what Erik Breuer does in the Berlin bar Neiro is veritable art.

FIDELITY visit to Bar Neiro, Berlin
Inside Bar Neiro. Photography courtesy of Michael Vrzal, Frank Schröder, Thomas Schick, Erik Breuer

Anyone whose idea of a stylish nightlife destination includes the ingredients of subdued lighting, artfully mixed alcoholic beverages and sound from a vinyl-fed music system will find fulfillment in a visit to a listening bar. The concept is a derivative of the jazz kissa. This Japanese cultural phenomenon was only known to insiders until a few years ago, but has since made a real triumphal march around the world. The term jazz kissa refers to a small restaurant – a bar, a café – whose purpose is not so much consumption as the conscious, concentrated and undisturbed enjoyment of jazz records. There are now listening bars all over the world – there are some six in Berlin alone, and their number keeps mounting. But not all listening bars are made equal. The most serious, purist establishment in Berlin when it comes to alcohol and music, with the strongest ties to its Japanese roots, is probably Bar Neiro.

It all starts with the fact that founder and operator Erik Breuer is an internationally well-connected sound engineer and, together with the bar, has also installed a classic analog recording studio on the former industrial floor. Breuer has traveled the world, built and commissioned around 14 studios on behalf of the Red Bull Music Academy and has always cultivated his penchant for vinyl and analog technology wherever he could. His professional and private life has also taken him to Japan. His eyes light up when he talks about the stores in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, which are packed to the rafters, where all the desirable audio components from the pre- and post-war eras await knowledgeable customers – components which connoisseurs in European and American listening rooms can only dream of.

FIDELITY visit to Bar Neiro, Berlin

The fact that he has settled in Berlin is also due to the Japanese cartridge and turntable manufacturer Audio-Technica. Breuer is a member of the Analogue Foundation, an association supported by Audio-Technica with the aim of promoting analog music culture. Bar Neiro is not a showroom; apart from the AT systems in the tonearms of the two bar turntables, there is no trace of brand presence or lobbying. But the “mode of operation” of the place goes beyond that of a trendy nightlife address with a hip Kissa flair. Even though the bar is just past its first year (it opened in April 2023), there are already regular curated listening sessions where a pre-announced record is played from start to finish. Erik Breuer wants to intensify this and establish Bar Neiro as a venue for lectures and what he calls “Classic Album Sundays” in the minds of those seriously interested in music and analog technology.

The bar offers the best conditions for this. Just like the directly adjacent recording studio, it was built as a room within a room. The basic construction (walls of the bar, floors and ceilings of the studios) is decoupled from the building proper by Sylomer elements. This allows the drummer to go nuts in his recording booth without even a hint of what he is doing disturbing the contemplation over a nice cocktail.

FIDELITY visit to Bar Neiro, Berlin

The concept of the bar’s sound system couldn’t be more classic: two record players, tube amplifiers, cinema horns. Now, that’s a given for a listening bar modeled after a Kissa. But there’s more to it than that. The mastermind behind the system is the German grand seigneur of listening via low-power tubes and historical loudspeaker concepts, Keith Aschenbrenner. During the complex assembly of the Altec A5 loudspeakers, he and his long-standing partner in woodworking Norbert Gütte ensured a harmonious result. The choice of amplifier, a pre/power amplifier combination from Japanese manufacturer Shindo, was also based on their recommendation. The turntables are two Garrard 301 friction-wheel turntables with now almost classic twelve-inch tonearms from Thomas Schick. As mentioned, the cartridges come from Audio-Technica.

bar-neiro-04 bar-neiro-06 bar-neiro-07 bar-neiro-08 bar-neiro-05 bar-neiro-03 bar-neiro-02 bar-neiro-01

The sonic result reflects the effort. The Bar Neiro sounds nothing like your typical restaurant PA system; the sound is effortless, open, light as a feather, dynamic, uncolored, emotional. It makes you want to pack up the system and set it up in your living room at home.

During my visit, the highly competent bartender helps himself to the music selection from Erik Breuer’s vinyl collection. He has a fine touch, and the music changes organically from classic jazz to electronica over the four hours of my stay. The cocktails are excellent – there are only seven on the menu, each one a challenge for the senses, with flavor combinations such as rye whisky and red miso butter or vodka/olive oil/sherry. I only had time to taste two. I need to come back. Everything is spot on here.

FIDELITY visit to Bar Neiro, Berlin

PS: “Neiro (音色)” is Japanese for “sound”.

Bar Neiro

Ohmstraße 11
10179 Berlin-Mitte

Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday from 6 pm to 1 am


The stated retail price of the reviewed device is valid as of the time of the review and is subject to change.