Five Horses Tavern’s Do It Yourself Noise Control

Boston restaurateur combines research, advice and sweat equity to conquer a raucous room.

Dan Daley
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“Now that we’ve done that, the difference is huge. We still have big crowds on weekend nights, but no one is screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard by someone else at that same table,” says Welsh. “And the music sounds better, clearer.”

The lessons learned about sound at Five Horses Tavern’s first incarnation have already been applied at Welch’s latest venture, a Five Horses Tavern in Boston’s famous South End.

The bar opened in July, 2013. Welsh says this edition of the restaurant is in a smaller, older space — it holds 75 people versus the 138 that Davis Square seats — and could have potentially offered similar reflected-sound issues. But they were avoided there by a sound system design that uses 16 speakers throughout the venue, divided into four separate zones from the beginning.

“At first we thought that 12 to 14 speakers would be sufficient, but remembering how it worked out in the first location we decided to add more speakers and more zones from the start,” says Welsh.

Welsh says the return on investment in the acoustical materials and other tactics he’s employed is already apparent — customer complaints about sound levels are down and compliments are up for the sound quality of the music. But the real takeaway is that once a problem and solution is identified as clearly as it was here, DIY becomes viable option for many situations.

“The biggest investment is labor, and it’s my time that I’m investing,” say Welsh. “The return comes about a lot faster that way.”

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