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A job well-done: Chicago Steakhouse serves up new “top notch” Symetrix audio system

Chicago based restaurant chain demanded a building-wide reliable audio system with great sound for diners. Here's how it got it

Gibsons steakhouses have become, so it claims, something of an institution for Chicagoans, with eight restaurants placed across the city.

The eighth and most recent opening is located on Rush Street – its first for 12 years –  situated inside a four-story building on North Canal Street in the West Loop area, overlooking the convergence of the North and South branches of the Chicago River.

For this restaurant – the Gibsons Italia – the company wanted a “top-notch” sound system.

To achieve this, it partnered with systems integrator Encompass AV, who delivered exactly that, designing and installing a building-wide audio system managed by Symetrix Prism-series DSPs. 

“Steve Lombardo, the owner of Gibsons, likes really good sound,” reflects Encompass AV owner Tim Pickett. 

“He wants it to sound clear, clean, and not overwhelming but loud enough. It’s a very big thing for him. When Gibsons does a project, they do it right; they don’t mess around. Lombardo expects the best, and he’s not worried about the cost. He wants to know that it works, it’s reliable, and it sounds great.”

At the four-level Gibsons Italia facility, the Encompass AV team installed two Symetrix Prism-series DSPs.

 “It’s a very large building, and we were delivering audio to multiple floors,” explains Pickett. “We needed to stream multiple sources and feeds to two different locations over the Dante network because we had the MDF room on the fourth floor and there was an IDF breakout on the second floor. We used a Prism 8×8 (pictured below) on the fourth floor and a Prism 4×4 on the second floor to give us the processing power we needed and to break up the processors, since each processor manages a handful of Dante-enabled Lab Gruppen D-series amplifiers. There are no analog outputs, just Dante streams.”

The ground floor of Gibson Italia is essentially a small entry with a receptionist, but it’s served by the audio system as well. Elevators take you up to a second-floor luxury bar and lounge, a high-end dining room on the third floor, and a fourth-floor roof deck with a retractable roof, a bar, and a lounge that can be rented for private events. Every area is served by the Symetrix network, Lab Gruppen amplifiers, and Martin Audio CDD-series loudspeakers. The dining room also uses Martin Audio C6.8T in-ceiling speakers, while the rooftop system muscles up a bit with a combination of CDD10s and Martin Audio CSX118 subwoofers.

Encompass provided a variety of inputs to the Symetrix Dante network. Three Sonos CONNECT networked audio players enable streaming of the venue’s commercial Spotify account, and there are two CD sources for video and four Shure wireless microphones. The rooftop lounge sports an Attero Tech unD6I0-BT Dante-networked audio wall plate, which offers stereo Bluetooth inputs and stereo analog inputs on RCA and 3.5 mm TRS jacks, plus stereo outputs. Downstairs, near the DJ booth, is a 2-in, 2-out Attero Tech unD3IO Dante-networked audio wall plate.

“Attero Tech is a good match for our Symetrix Dante networks,” Pickett observes. “It’s solid stuff: It sounds great, works great, and we haven’t had any issues. And Symetrix DSPs work very well with third-party products such as Attero Tech interfaces and Lab Gruppen amplifiers. They all talk and play nicely. It’s another benefit of using Symetrix DSPs.” System control relies on custom software written by the Encompass AV team, while a Symetrix ARC-3 wall panel in the main fourth floor rack provides emergency backup control.

“We do the sound systems for all of Gibsons’ restaurants,” Pickett concluded. “The sound quality at Gibsons Italia is second to none; they are very happy with the sound. It’s extremely reliable and will continue to provide that quality.”