Usually, as new restaurants and bars plan their launches, sound design becomes an afterthought. Also, budget-conscious owners choose to self-install consumer grade-speakers. However, over time, they learn that cutting corners with low-cost and haphazardly installed, AV equipment can lead to undependable and inefficient performance.
Whether you own a bar or a restaurant, you must understand the significant differences between equipment made for homes and those made for commercial use. AV systems for restaurants are designed to withstand operation 12-16 hours per day and come with warranties and support to protect your purchase for prolonged periods. Here are some reasons your restaurant should invest in professional AV equipment:
Components of the Audio System
Home theaters are made with an amplifier and source selection in one unit. Often, they are convection cooled which means they only have holes to dissipate heat instead of fans. Restaurant areas can be very hot and convection cooling cannot effectively keep the amp from overheating and failing. In some instances, AV equipment can be placed in the kitchen or high on a shelf above the cash register so that customers won’t see it. Consumer electronics installed in hot steamy, greasy areas may prematurely fail. Meanwhile, professional amplifiers have variable speed fans and sensors that adjust to fluctuating temperatures.
Balanced vs Unbalanced Lines
Consumer products use unbalanced external lines while professional-grade equipment uses balanced lines, offering effective rejection of external noises like radio frequencies, cell phones, Wi-Fi, high voltage compressors, and motors.
Commercial establishments require extended distances and with unbalanced wiring, the wiring can be turned into an antenna, attracting unwanted radio signals and putting noise into the system, together with the audio signal. Usually, this occurs with cable or satellite TV sources put in areas close to staff where people can easily use remotes to change channels.
Professional-quality amplifiers and mixers balance the external wiring to avoid interference. Also, they include positive, negative, and ground in their design. They use a mono output for consistent sound throughout a location.
To achieve good sound design, it is important to ensure optimum music and/or paging coverage. Owners of bars and restaurants who visit a consumer electronics big box store often purchase a stereo and mount it with a pair of speakers on the wall. They usually position speakers out of the way on a 12-foot high shelf, pointed straight ahead, above customers’ heads. However, positioning a sound system where it looks good does not guarantee adequate coverage. It is imperative to have a system that includes the right type of speakers for the room and focused directly on seating areas.