Planet of Sound West Queen West
Planet of Sound has just increased its orbit. With a new store along West Queen West, the purveyors of quality hi-fi sound systems are expanding their reach to audiophiles on the west side of the city now, too.
First opening the original Planet of Sound in Ottawa, Gunnar Van Vliet brought his taste for high-end audio equipment to Corktown four years ago when we first met up with him . From there, Gunnar has opened up this new location with an expansive showroom and jumped into the hardware side of music.
But first, the new shop.
Located just around the corner from Queen and Ossington, the new brick and mortar shop is noticeably bigger (it sits at 3,500 square feet) than the original location. With exposed brick throughout, Gunnar has kept the minimalist aesthetic, but the shop has that immediate comfortable vibe when you enter, a reputation Gunnar and his staff have built over the years.
"Audio, especially in the higher end, is so experiential, and you have to go to where the people are," says Gunnar of the West Queen West music scene. "You've got to have a showroom where they can walk in and hear what good sound is."
And how does that translate in the new location?
"They are real, regular people that are into cool new music, but they've never really heard it sound as good as it can sound," says Gunnar of his prospective customers.
Similar to the Corktown location , only quality products line the walls. You don't go to Planet of Sound for your basic earbuds or off-the-shelf speakers at Best Buy. You go for the quality systems sourced from around the world. From headphones to tube amplifiers to turntables, the products have been selected as the best of the best from countries like Japan and Germany. The same goes for the fair-sized selection of vinyl, which features a solid sampling of classic must-have albums from Bob Dylan and Ray Charles, to a collection of handpicked new releases from the likes of Austra and Toro y Moi.
Gunnar is also throwing his hat into the hardware game with Mies, a brand that holds onto the same concept of clean aesthetic with quality output. He got started with earbuds â something that everyone has, but the sound quality of which is typically lacklustre â and made the Mies E200 for $100.
To prove a point about sound quality, Gunnar brings me to the back showcase room. In the centre of the relatively spartan room sits a beautiful soundsystem. He then puts on the new Daft Punk album and plays " Giorgio by Moroder ." The system immediately showcases the real production value of the album, amplifying every layered beat with precision. And when the song drops, the room fills with sound. It's intoxicating, and I now know what Gunnar means by experiencing high end audio.
Writing and photography by Ryan Bolton