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Music to Dine For

Feb 16, 2011 3:12 PM, by Dan Daley

As music-themed restaurants and cafés proliferate, the bar gets raised for sound quality.


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Since the PBR Rock Bar is on Las Vegas’ Miracle Mile, it has several large-screen televisions and powerful speakers in its 3,000-square foot patio area to compete with neighboring businesses. Each speaker is wired to its own amplifier, maximizing the system’s performance.

Since the PBR Rock Bar is on Las Vegas’ Miracle Mile, it has several large-screen televisions and powerful speakers in its 3,000-square foot patio area to compete with neighboring businesses. Each speaker is wired to its own amplifier, maximizing the system’s performance.

While distributing such a powerful system had its own challenges, Las Vegas has some unique ones as well. Half of PBR’s bar faces out into the Miracle Mile mall complex, where it’s next to a high-end candy store and across from one of the Planet Hollywood’s casino entrances—all of which have their own external speakers roaring to attract patrons. PBR’s bar fires back with a pair of AC24s. “That’s the other reason it’s good to have a really powerful sound system,” Starck says. “That’s a battle we can win.”

Music-themed restaurants and café’s might get a boost from a nascent trend toward higher quality music sources, such as the new Pro-Codec plug-in from MP3 developer Fraunhofer Institute that debuted at CES this year. Applicable to a much wider range of codecs—including MP3 Surround, MP3 HD, AAC-LC, and HE-AAC and HD-AAC—it signals a pushback against the highly compressed sound that has shaped the public’s perception of music for the past decade.

“Improved audio from these kinds of installations are driving up the bar for all kinds of restaurant sound systems,” Barnhart says. “It’s making the transition from music venue to restaurant increasingly seamless.”

“Bar owners used to put the financial emphasis on the kitchen and bar, but now they’re paying more attention to the sound systems than ever before, and not just lounges,” Starck says. “Sound has become as important as video in attracting people into a restaurant, and since it projects further than video, they see it as very effective.”



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