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AV, Sports and Beer… with a Chance of Meatballs

Integrator Real Sound uses JBL speakers, Crown amplifiers, Crimson AV and Key Digital cables to send audio and video throughout this unique three-level building.

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If someone told you they were opening a building that would feature a meatball restaurant on the first floor, a sports bar with a wood-fired pizza oven on the second floor and an outdoor beer garden with a retractable roof, you might wonder how it would be seen as one of the keys to a city’s continued turnaround.

But Ken Knapp, president and owner of Real Sound in Bethel Park, Pa., understands the role Sienna Mercato will play in Pittsburgh’s return to its glory days, given its proximity to the convention center, hotels and PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It was important for this to go well and it’s been a huge success,” says Knapp, who outfitted a related restaurant, Sienna Cucina in Market Square, with an AV system a year before getting involved with the team again for Sienna Mercato. Both jobs stemmed from a residential job Knapp and Real Sound did for the owner of the restaurants.

Inside the Installation

At Sienna Mercato, all three floors include JBL pendant 8-inch speaker systems. Knapp believes the JBL system gives each floor of the building “cleaner and fully dynamic coverage,” which is especially important given the ceiling heights and spacing on each level.

Real Sound used 10 speakers on the first floor, the meatball restaurant named Emporio, and 12 speakers on the third floor.

View photos of the new and improved Sienna Mercato.

The building also features control distribution by DBX640 processors and RTI in-wall touchscreen controllers and amplification by Crown XL1000s on each floor and a Crown multi-channel amp for the bathrooms on each floor, the fourth zone. The controllers and amplifiers can play either as one source at the same volume in each zone or controlled and changed as needed.

Real Sound used a Key Digital 8 x 8 HDMI video matrix with eight mirrored outputs for the TVs on the first and third floors—the primary viewing areas within the building. Each display, including the dedicated panel within the elevator feature Crimson AV T65A and T55 mounts, and the sound is streamed through Sonos and FiOs boxes for sporting events and other group events.

Challenges and Opportunities

The biggest challenge for Knapp and his Real Sound team was coordinating with some of the other subcontractors on the Sienna Mercato project, but they got help in the coordination from the ownership, he says. The various trades were able to come up with a more effective way to communicate on who was doing what and when, which made the entire installation go much more smoothly, says Knapp.

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Another curveball on the installation came when ownership asked Real Sound to install a monitor so they could broadcast video in the elevator that goes up and down the building, says Knapp. Real Sound used Key Digital CAT-6 cables for the job, with Knapp calling that aspect of the job “one of the most challenging things to deal with in my career.”

Looking back on the installation now, even as he puts the finishing touches on the sports bar piece of the job, Knapp says he’s “quite proud of this project. Everyone loves what we’ve done.”

Even so, Knapp still sees ways the building can better use technology in the future, most notably with digital signage, which the owners didn’t want at this point but he hopes they’ll consider in the future.

Also, Knapp says the ownership group is talking to him already about possible AV upgrades at Sienna Cucina and other opportunities at Pittsburgh-area restaurants under their umbrella such as Atria’s and Juniper.

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