April 12, 2011 By Tom LeBlanc
It’s not good enough to design an audio system for a restaurant that sounds good.
That’s just half the battle when a restaurant is looking to project a certain image - like Teqa in Manhattan’s up-and-coming Murray Hill neighborhood, which is part upscale Mexican eatery and part club scene with Snookie-esque clientele.
The aesthetics have to be just right, according to Darren Smith, owner of Philadelphia-based integration company Chill A/V, which designed, pre-wired and installed the audio/video/automation system at Teqa.
“To me, it was all about creating and helping them to create a vibe,” Smith says. “The designer had a huge impact on the space and it’s gorgeous. My job, in my opinion, is to walk into a space without walls and help them to create a vibe. That includes looking at the space, looking at the menu, figuring it all out and building a system around it.”
In the case of Teqa, Smith’s vision was “scaled down club, really tight base, accurate highs, really articulate sound and warmth.” His goal: “I want people in the restaurant and dining room to have the music blanket them with sweet and accurate sound.”
Photos: Great Audio Outshines 30-Foot Chandelier
Smith chose Boston Acoustics, a brand he says he has been passionate about since he scored a set of A-70s as a teenager, for speakers and subs. He uses Phonic audio components, Panasonic and Sharp flat panels and AMX automation.
Main Speaker Amps: Phonic 500 (5)
Subwoofer Amps: Phonic 860 (2)
DSP Sound Processor: Clear One SR1212
Mac Mini running iTunes
Scientific Atlanta Cable Box
DJ Interface at Bar
Main Speakers: (7) Boston Acoustics PRi685 & (9) Voyager 7
Restroom Speakers: (2) Boston Acoustics PRi665
Subwoofers: (4) Boston Acoustics PRi85Sub
Dinning Room TVs: (3) Panasonic 50” Plasmas
Bar TVs: (4) Sharp 32” LCDs
Control System: AMX with 10” Touch Panel in manager’s office
System Capabilities: 4 Independent Zones Including Bar, Dinning Room, Hostess Station and Restrooms. Each Zone can play one of 4 different sources and has its own volume control.
Blending it All Together
If you check out photos of Teqa on its website, you’ll notice a lot of funky lighting fixtures and copper-colored interiors - but not a lot of speakers. The Chill A/V team did a nice job of providing powerful sound without impacting the look.
“The system really rocks,” Smith says, while acknowledging that it’s very stealth.
The original plans called for white speakers, but Teqa altered its design plans. When that happened, Chill A/V shifted to what Smith calls “a cork look” that involved painting some speakers black and others chocolate brown. “It’s awesome because you really can’t see the sound system,” Smith says.
You can hear it though. “It’s more of a club kind of overtone [versus that of a restaurant],” he adds.
“The typical volume level, especially as they get later into the evening, is much higher than at a normal eating establishment. It’s not overwhelming, but the music has to be louder than a normal restaurant.”
There are seven flat panels in the restaurant, but it’s hardly a traditional video layout. The three TVs in the main dining room are pushed together, sort of like a mini-video wall.
Related: Mexican Restaurant Uses iPads as Menus
“It’s a nice, interesting look,” Smith says. “It made it a little more streamlined in a high-end restaurant, bringing attention to one video area as opposed to three.”
The bar area features four TVs, two on each side.