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The Art of Sound in Austin — Equipment Room Redefines the Retro Listening Room

Embark on a sonic and savory journey in the unique Hi-Fi sanctuary below Hotel Magdalena on Music Lane, now offering an all-new menu of cocktails and bites

Equipment Room - Hotel Magdalena's listening lounge
Equipment Room at Hotel Magdalena (photo by Grant Pifer)

Step into this retro-inspired sanctuary with a Japanese influence, where music lovers indulge in curated record collections, immersive soundscapes and handcrafted cocktails. This unique space brings Austin’s rich musical heritage to life in a vibrant celebration of music.

Illuminated by a stained glass-inspired fixture and a single “E,” the former basement storage space Equipment Room opened at Hotel Magdalena on Music Lane.

Mohawk‘s James Moody, Bunkhouse’s Amar Lalvani and Breakaway Records‘ Josh LaRue and Gabe Vaughn teamed up on this unique high fidelity sanctuary.

Equipment Room - Hotel Magdalena's listening lounge (photo by Grant Pifer)
Equipment Room – Hotel Magdalena’s listening lounge (photo by Grant Pifer)

From Tokyo, With Love

Jazu kissa bars — Japanese cafes dedicated to the enjoyment of jazz on high-quality stereos — first opened in Japan in the late 1920s. They quickly spread in popularity.

Lalvani and Moody bonded over a shared interest in jazu kissa. They wanted to bring the same vibe to Austin.

“Years ago, I went to Jazz Blues Soul bar in the Shibuya district in Tokyo,” recalls Moody. “I was blown away by how serious his collection was and how it was handled and played.”

“Moody and I have been talking about this idea for what feels like almost a decade,” Lalvani says.

While some focus on the DJ aspect of record playing, Moody was drawn in by Jazz Blues Soul’s “quiet, confident, focused art curator managing a very deliberate and special collection.”

It’s a place to hang out, listen to and appreciate records as they were intended to be heard.

Equipment Room cocktails and records (photo by Grant Pifer)
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Equipment Room cocktails and records (photo by Grant Pifer)

Cocktails at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)
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Cocktails at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)

Custom Sounds in a Custom Space

At Equipment Room, the journey begins with an expansive music selection. It beautifully captures the stories of Austin and Texas, spotlighting a rich musical heritage through a carefully curated record collection.

Classic artists like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Stevie Ray Vaughn make appearances on the playlist.

The team’s programming also thoughtfully explores the influences that shaped them, their parents’ musical preferences and the connection between the American jazz, blues and soul scenes.

Once used to store extra tile, furniture and restaurant supplies, the team transformed the basement into a lounge with custom speakers, 1970s-era furnishings and one-of-a-kind band posters.

The featured posters include the 1975 Pointer Sisters show at Armadillo World headquarters. There’s also one from BB King and Bobby Blue Band at Antone’s (purchased from music enthusiast and third-generation Austinite, Nick Picciandra).

A Tailored Acoustic Experience

Audio technology company Klipsch provides an acoustic experience tailored to the space that matches the retro aesthetic.

It installed custom speakers, crafted at its Arkansas factory, along with spun copper cerametallic subwoofers and spectrum analyzers to measure frequency and noise distortion.

Additionally, individual tube amps, a type of electronic amplifier, provide rich, resonant sound that envelops every corner of the space.

Chicken Fried Tofu at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)
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“Chicken Fried” Tofu at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)

Baked Alaska at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)
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Baked Alaska at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)

Cheese and Charcuterie Board at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)
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Cheese and Charcuterie Board at Equipment Room (photo by Grant Pifer)

Texas Sun cocktail (photo courtesy of Equipment Room)
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Texas Sun cocktail (photo courtesy of Equipment Room)

Your Hand in Mine cocktail(photo courtesy of Equipment Room)
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Your Hand in Mine cocktail (photo courtesy of Equipment Room)

New Menu of Cocktails and Snacks

Cocktails and music go hand-in-hand.

Equipment Room’s new revamped menu created by Executive Chef Nick Erven brings the space to life with A-side classic cocktails and B-side cocktails along with many shareable snacks. Choose from charcuterie and cheese boards, chili lime peanuts, marinated olives, and jumbo crab. Enjoy dishes like “chicken fried” tofu, shishito peppers, chicken karaage, okonomiyaki Waffles, Lobster roll steam buns, and pork belly al pastor buns. For something sweet, try the midnight munchie cookies and Baked Alaska.

An all-new cocktail menu features the Mixed Blessings and the New York Soul on the “A-side”, and exclusive cocktails like the Texas Sun and the Your Hand in Mine on the “B-side”.

Book your reservation for a special night out at equipmentroom.com.