When low-tech hits a high note among lovers of musicIn a modern world dominated by downloaded music files of often dubious sound quality, the clear, rich tones of a long-play record album played on a really good turntable have nearly become a thing of the past. For a certain set of music connoisseurs, enjoying music is more than just pressing the play button on an MP3 or downloading loads of pirated files off the Internet. They know the actual song itself means nothing if it is not issued forth from the depths of a worthy machine.
Cantus is Latin for “melody.” Located along a side street near the Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong, Cantus is as hidden from passersby as many of today’s music lovers are blind to the tried-and-true audio devices of old. Collecting, storing, and selling audio players tuned to recreate sound as natural as a live performance is the prime mission of this store. Amid several shelves lined with dusty LPs, ancient record players preserved since their heyday ― as far back as the 1920s ― fill the store’s depths.
Kim Jung-shik, the store’s manager, prides himself on his collection, which he has worked on since his retirement. Ever since he was a boy, Mr. Kim has been a techie, always arranging and rearranging appliances and gadgets lying around the house. This personal hobby evolved into Cantus.
Among his record players are classic German favorites like several Siemens. The vintage 1920s players look like ghosts when placed against the sharper lines of the 1960s instruments.
The second floor has been decorated to serve as an area for customers to relax. They can freely roam about the space and bask in the music emanating from one of Mr. Kim’s prized players. Listening to the vibrant notes exiting the speakers, one’s smile conveys a sense of satisfaction that he is hearing what few can hear in this day and age ― what a song is really supposed to sound like.
Location: Near Seoul Arts Center, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu
Nambu Bus Terminal subway station
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
by Kim Hyun-jung
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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