Danny McDonald is one of New York City’s best-known restauranteurs. For nearly 30 years, he has built his reputation on the development, construction and operation of modern pubs, bars, and taverns. Every venue he creates combines excellent food and drink with the best possible environment to enjoy them in. Key to this has been the emphasis he always places on a high-quality audio system.
This philosophy has remained with the latest McDonald venue to open, The Bar. Located in Moynihan Train Hall in the newly renovated Penn Station below the Beaux Arts-designed James A. Farley Post Office Building, the elegant venue furnished in dark walnut and polished brass, is the centrepiece of the Hall’s new food court. The sound system here, as with McDonald’s other venues, relies on loudspeakers from Genelec, which must be supported by other high-quality components to ensure the space sounds as good as it can.
Osbee Industries Inc. was brought onboard to handle the design of the system. With the speaker brand already set, the company wanted to add DSP to ensure the space would sound as good as it possibly could while giving the owner the studio-quality feel that he expected. “The speakers are in the ceiling tucked away from view, and there were requirements for aesthetics and things like that,” said Dave Raines, President of Osbee. “We really knew that it just wasn’t going to sound as good as it could, so we put in some DSP to make it really sound good.” For the Osbee team, there was only one choice when it came to the right DSP for The Bar. “We’ve been using Symetrix equipment for a long time and we wanted to use it on this project,” stated Dave. “Almost every project we’re starting to do now we’re starting to use Symetrix equipment for switching and DSP. We like the way we can DSP everything and the switching is very easy. Even if we are doing patch through with Sonos, even if we are just coming in and DSP out to an amp for Sonos, we will use Symetrix. It is just easy to use. It’s a useful tool in our toolkit now.”
Thanks to the [Symetrix] DSP, we have managed to achieve a great sound quality and give the bar exactly what they were looking for.”
President of Osbee
The Osbee team opted for three Prism 16 x 16s to provide the DSP for The Bar’s sound system. These needed to process the signal for the loudspeakers facing the bar as well as the pendants covering the seating area. While the amount of inputs available from the Prisms and the 1RU footprint were important factors for their selection, it was the ability to connect the DSP over the Dante network with the Prism’s optional factory installed 64 x 64 Dante channels that proved vital to achieving the expected sound quality. “The overall quality of sound was an important factor,” said Dave. “Even the Genelec Smart IP Installation Loudspeakers needed a little TLC. It was great because they’re Dante connected so we could send our mixing and switching through Dante. Being able to network the system and get it sounding right that way was great.”
With the DSP decision made, The Bar also required some simple, direct control for its staff to use. “We had a T-Series touch panel behind the bar, but they wanted quick, instant on and off and things so we gave them the Symetrix W1 wall panel volume knobs,” recalled Dave. “It was a bit more of an analogue—anyone can use and understand it—approach.”
The decision to add the W1s in addition to a touchscreen was to ensure that novice users would be able to control the sound levels without being intimidated by a comprehensive GUI. “It was important for the client that anyone behind the bar could easily use the system and not break things,” furthered Dave. “They asked for a way to be able to do that as part of the design. Volume knobs are not necessarily a thing that people use these days, but Symetrix make a great one and it was easy to integrate that into the system.”
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Having designed the system, Osbee was also asked to bid for the installation project. When the company won this competitive process, the systems integrator knew exactly what challenges it would face and how the sound system would be able to overcome them. As this project was taking place in an historic building, you would expect to find a long list of challenges related to the structure. However, this wasn’t the case. “It’s a historic building, but it had all been re-done so it was all new inside,” smiled Dave. “There were not really too many challenges—they had gutted the whole place and it was all new, so it was fine to work there.”
Equally, the process of combining equipment from various manufacturers was straightforward. “The Symetrix gear integrated perfectly with the other systems,” said Dave. “Ultimately, they have control of all the Symetrix equipment through the wall panels and touch screen.” Reflecting on the success of the installation, Dave is happy with how everything has gone.
“The client is happy, everything has been good,” he stated. “The system has been reliable and everything has been great. The client is very happy and have spoken to us about the possibility of other bars.” He has also been impressed with the way the Prisms have performed in the venue.
“It came out really good,” said Dave. “The compressors really helped on this and the fact that we have a wall-plate with Dante for the DJ so they can just plug in at any point and go back into the system is great. Thanks to the DSP, we have managed to achieve a great sound quality and give the bar exactly what they were looking for.”
The end result is something that Dave and the Osbee team are clearly very proud of. “It was a nice, fun, relatively straightforward project to work on which delivered a great end result,” concluded Dave. “It’s a beautiful venue and was a wonderful project to work on.”