141st AES Convention, Los Angeles, CA, September 29, 2016 (Booth 105) – J. Alexander's, the casual dining restaurant chain headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, has several dozen locations throughout the central U.S. In addition to the exceptional steaks, chops and seafood, diners in the Columbus location enjoy something else: an audio environment that is immersive but not overpowering. This is made possible by the use of system components from Bose Professional. A combination of Bose Panaray® MA12 modular line array loudspeakers, offering outstanding vocal intelligibility in acoustically demanding spaces, coupled with the Bose ControlSpace® processor and a PowerMatch® PM8500 amplifier, are providing a seamless background music environment for diners – one that never interferes with conversation but provides an even, consistent volume level throughout the entire establishment.
“I don’t know how they do it, but they do it, and that’s why we used Bose,” says Steven Durr, Principal at Steven Durr Designs, a Nashville-based acoustical design consultancy whose portfolio includes sound systems for major sports venues such as the Cleveland Browns Stadium and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, and music venues such as the Austin City Limits Performance Theater and the acclaimed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Durr says his design for the J. Alexander's Columbus location depended upon the MA12 loudspeaker’s unique ability to maintain constant level throughout the listening environment. “J. Alexander's wants music now to be part of the dining experience, not just background anymore,” Durr explains. He brought company COO J. Michael Moore to the Nashville warehouse of Audio Electronics, Inc. (AEI), the AV systems integrator that did the system installation at J. Alexander's, to hear what the Bose Professional system could do. Durr adds, “We set up the MA12 speakers in here and turned on Frank Sinatra, which is the kind of music they like to play in the restaurants, and it was unbelievable. You could put your head next to the speaker and it was smooth and easy to listen to, and if you walked across the room the volume stayed more or less at the same level. It really is incredible.”
The MA12 loudspeakers were installed inside existing architectural columns in the bar area of the new restaurant, covered with diaphanous mesh, making them invisible for all but their lush sound. “The MA12 coverage pattern [has] almost no vertical dispersion, so you know exactly where the coverage area will be,” explains DeWayne Rains, Vice President of Operations at AEI. “We installed them with the bottom of the columnar arrays about one foot above the level of seated diners, and the way they’re designed, when you’re sitting near one of the speakers, you’re actually hearing the one on the opposite side of the room. The volume does not change as you move from one side of the room to the other. It’s pretty amazing.”
Durr adds that they then time-adjusted Bose FreeSpace® DS 100F ceiling-mounted speakers in the dining areas around the bar for added coverage as patrons move between the bar and dining areas. He remarks, “We also spent a lot of time exactly matching the equalization of the speakers in each area, and the result is that the music never varies in volume or tonality. It’s as though you’re walking through a thin wall of music at all times. You’re immersed in music but you’re never fighting it to have a conversation.”
This Bose-based approach to creating an immersive music environment is expected to be applied to new J. Alexander's locations going forward and will eventually be applied retroactively to existing locations, and possibly to some of the company’s other dining brands. “It’s among the best audio experiences you’ll ever have,” says Rains. “Not just in a restaurant, but just about anywhere.”