NATICK, MA, April 30, 2015 — Danny McDonald, co-owner of numerous successful bars and restaurants in Lower Manhattan, has always combined two critical elements to achieve a great dining experience: excellent food and drink, and the best environment to enjoy them in. You can taste it in any of his many ventures, from his first ones, the Swift Hibernian Lounge, to the others in his prolific collection of pubs and eateries, including Puck Fair, Ulysses’, The Growler Bites and Brews, the Dead Rabbit, and most recently the massive Pier A, a 28,000-square foot, multi-experiential food and beverage destination with Manhattan’s finest sunsets and water views. And you can also hear it, because at each of these locations, the sound is by Genelec, the pioneer in active loudspeakers.
On the National Register of Historic Places and designated a New York City landmark, Pier A is McDonald’s biggest co-venture yet: The first floor is a free-flowing space designed for convivial eating and drinking, surrounded by a promenade with tables for outdoor dining; the second floor gives way to a multi-room, fine dining experience inspired by the Hudson River Valley foodshed, complete with an intimate cocktail bar; and the third floor, which offers unparalleled views of the Lower Manhattan waterfront and Financial District skyline, hosts special events. To cover all of that, AV systems integrator Communications Engineering Management (CEM) installed a combination of 8030 and 8020 monitors and 7050 subwoofers throughout the entire complex.
McDonald has consistently relied on the Genelec brand since installing his first system in 2000, and his knowledge of what makes a great speaker comes from deep experience: early on in a career that began at age 17, he fitted his first restaurant with speakers he made himself. That intimate understanding of how sound shapes the restaurant experience produced his own telling insight, what he calls “choreographed conversation.” “We don’t sell food and beer — we sell the experience,” he says. “If you get the environment right, the food and beer sells itself. A restaurant or a pub has to be a place where you can have a conversation, not where you have to fight with the sound system to be heard.” McDonald has even formulated his understanding of this insight, with speakers placed no further than eight feet from each other at Pier A, allowing the sound to envelop but never overwhelm.
Eric Olsen, Managing Partner at CEM, says the formula works. “The two first floors are 400 feet long each, and the bar on the first floor is about 70 feet long, so the speakers need to be carefully distributed to achieve what Danny wanted to achieve,” he explains. And, he adds, Genelec was the best choice for the project. “Because each speaker has its own power amp, each one’s volume can be adjusted as needed, so you have a high degree of local volume control. That really lets you tailor the volume levels for any part of the room.”
In fact, says McDonald, he’ll often move in himself to turn down or even turn off one speaker, if he sees that a patron wants a quieter area. “That’s part of what I really like about the Genelec speakers: they give you great sound but they also give you a lot of detailed control over the space,” says the restaurateur. McDonald also loves Genelec’s reliability. “If an amplifier is going to blow, you know it’s going to do it on New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day. The Genelec speakers are self-powered, so that offers us a huge advantage.”
And both McDonald and Olsen are in agreement that Genelec offers studio sound quality in any environment. “The clarity of the sound is impressive,” says Olsen. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I’m still amazed by the sound of the Genelecs.” Noting that several of his venues will sometimes host Irish music jam sessions, he marvels at how the Genelec speakers are consistently excellent whether the source is a live instrument or an iPod. “Whether you’re a customer or a musician,” he says. “Genelec is going to make you happy to hear it.”