Technology trends – audio in bars and restaurants23 February 2011
Sound is key in generating the right ambience in clubs, bars and restaurants. Each of these environments has very different requirements and poses different challenges. TFA speaks to Chris Gunton, MD of CGA Integration, to discuss some recent projects his company has undertaken.
Tamarind, the Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in the heart of London’s Mayfair (left), continues to be instrumental in providing a classic combination of indisputable knowledge, unique experience and tradition that holds worldwide recognition. CGA Integration was chosen to augment this experience with a near invisible audio installation, extending Eastern ambience into audio quality, underpinning the restaurants’ core appeal.
Tamarind’s reputation is built on Eastern values of effortless quality and calm, setting a standard for CGA to achieve with audio quality, sympathetic installation and attention to finish detail. Overnight project completion suited the smooth CGA Integration site procedures and in-depth product familiarity.
Precise audio delivery is achieved using a near invisible installation of EV ceiling speakers fed from a hard drive music solution. Audio quality is maximised by Cloud amps, ensuring that all tables receive exactly the same boost to their dining ambience. Simple controls keep the final volume settings in the hands of the staff that define Tamarind’s appeal and service standards.
The first viewing by manager, Jespal Soor, gave the project top marks for discreet installation and finish. “I was astonished at the zero disruption of the installation itself and deeply impressed by the audio quality throughout the restaurant. Our cuisine and service standards have been complemented by an excellent system.”
Pennyhill Park, Bagshot
Chef’s tables have enjoyed a recent renaissance as the ultimate in VIP dining. Pennyhill Park sited its new development in the heart of its famous kitchens for maximum proximity to the chefs. To enhance the standards of food and service, they required innovative mood lighting, audio and customised entertainment for this exclusive dining opportunity.
This project called for innovative solutions as space was at a premium and the Italian designer décor was not to be compromised by the intrusion of fittings or speakers. Plastered in speakers maintain the unblemished ceiling, while LED mood lighting was designed into the feature cast glass table, Italian chandelier and champagne wall niches, creating a flexible ambience to suit celebration or corporate entertainment.
Camouflaged laptop inputs feed an LCD screen, which is interfaced to TV or hotel channels. Control is via custom wall plate and touch screen, linked to electrically opaque Privalite windows giving full control of audio, lights, window and vision, for a range of stunning dining environments.
MIC Bar, London
Entertainment and small meeting facilities were added to the reception atrium at the MIC bar (left) to meet the needs of lunchtime, business and early evening clientele. The space now complements existing conference facilities by providing a venue for pre and post conference networking, sports events or informal breakout groups.
Careful consideration needed to be given to potential conflict of audio between different uses and venue ambience. The clean lines of the atrium required visual impact of technology to be minimal or complementary. Transparent roof sound reflection needed to be accounted for in assessing room acoustics.
Two 40-inch LCD screens provide access to breaking news and feature sport events and include local laptop input plus swing arm brackets for discreet group presentations. Background audio is streamed from a CD player for consistent mood and selection of different playlists for events, meeting, lunches and evening. Eight sets of Sony wireless rechargeable headphones give access to individual TV soundtracks at user controllable volume and avoid conflict with other clientele or groups.
Great Fosters, Surrey
Gracing an estate of more than 50 acres in what was once the heart of Royal Windsor Forest in Surrey, Great Fosters (left) is the most distinguished of hotels – a Grade One listed building combining 16th century grandeur and luxurious modern facilities. The Oak room at Great Fosters is a prestige dining venue, which prides itself on personal service, quality of finish, attention to detail and inspired gourmet food. Background audio was required to enhance atmosphere and mask some noise from nearby corridors.
The installation and audio quality had to match or exceed these top flight values, adding an extra dimension to the dining experience. This required near invisible speakers, cable runs and crystal clear audio. The control unit location was neatly positioned inside a cabinet, which also required imaginative cable runs.
The system specification features proven selections from the adaptable EV range. With the twin criteria of exceptional sound quality and unobtrusive install, the choice was EV S40 monitors, customised to blend with the oak beam interior. Providing consistent, clear classical and light jazz sound track is a hard drive music player, processed by tuned Cloud amps with simple breakout controls.
Restaurant John Campbell at Coworth Park Hotel
John Campbell is a name that defines a stratospheric standard of cutting-edge cuisine and service. Connoisseurs of fine dining will recognise his signature quality in an instant, with audio flawlessly enhancing this experience.
The Restaurant John Campbell at Coworth Park (left) represents the latest flagship dining venture of the Dorchester Collection, with the full audio suite designed and installed by long-term partners CGA Integration and linked across the full breadth of Coworth Park.
Dining venue audio requires superlative clarity. Its enhancing effect is judged by a lack of intrusion, via a discreet yet exquisitely balanced delivery to every point in the room. Homogenous sound fields are ideally achieved by regular arrays of speakers, which is exactly the opposite of what a designer or diner wishes. Bring soft furnishings, tables and striking internal layout into the acoustics and the challenge of achieving a beautifully layered acoustic is only met by excellent and imaginative engineering and installation expertise.
With the emphasis firmly on audio excellence, the CGA Integration team was unanimous that the audio processing would be second to none. Elements were combined from local and shared inputs, Digital Netmax processing, and distributed by EV Evid ceiling speakers. The final installation was given a bespoke commissioning by CGA Integration engineers to ensure quality every time, while controls for dining staff were streamlined to eliminate glitches. A final touch from the integrated system was a camera feed from the pantry to kitchen enabling service standards to be timed and food delivered to perfection every time.
CGA Integration has over 18 years’ experience integrating audiovisual and lighting solutions for discerning hotels and restaurants.