Top club sound systems

Pamper your ears with a beat treat.

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Cielo

Cielo

District 36
"We're lost in music/Feel so alive, I quit my nine-to-five"—thus spake Sister Sledge back in 1979. But you can't lose yourself when the sound sucks; if your ears hurt, it's unlikely your feet and hips will move much. Even so, few clubs seem to place a premium on audio quality—but happily, there are some notable exceptions to that rule, and one of those outliers is District 36, with a setup designed by Gary Stewart Audio. The veteran Stewart, who's installed systems in Singapore's Zouk and the second incarnation of Sound Factory, favors a crisp and clear, yet utterly natural, sound—place yourself in the middle of the dance floor's four big-ass speaker stacks and you'll be in nightlife nirvana. 29 W 36th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-244-3636, d36nyc.com)

Cielo
Still one of the city's best niteries at eight years of age, Cielo was designed from the bottom up for top-quality sound—even its cushioned, log-cabin-like walls play a role in softening any of the music's potential sharp edges. But the spot's secret weapon is its Funktion One system; Cielo was the first in North America to sport a setup from the now-famed firm, and the company treats the club as a showcase, regularly updating its equipment. It's evident: The beautiful, womblike warmth emanating from the speakers is what's kept DJs like Franois K and Louie Vega on the roster for years. 18 Little W 12th St between Ninth Ave and Washington St (212-645-5700, cieloclub.com)

System
The new kid on the block—albeit a block outside of the usual clubbing territory, namely Long Island City—is System. With a name like that, the nightclub had better have a more-than-credible sonic boom, and it does: Installed by audio-industry lifer Craig "Shorty" Bernabeu (who has also worked with Twilo and Montreal's Stereo) and his Systems by Shorty firm, the speakers rock the dance floor with authoritative power. 32-10 37th Ave between 30th and 31st Sts (systemny.com)

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