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Custom EAW Loudspeakers Selected For Yoshi’s Jazz Club In San Francisco

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By PSW Staff May 25, 2010

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Famed jazz venue Yoshi’s most recent venture in San Francisco’s Fillmore Heritage Center, carries on the tradition begun by Founder Yoshi Akiba and her partners Kaz Kajimura and Hiroyuki Hori in 1973, when they opened a tiny sushi restaurant and jazz club in Berkeley.

The new location is a 28,000-square-foot, two-story, state-of-the-art venue that features the best of local, national and international jazz artists, with seating for 417 in the jazz club and nearly 371 in the restaurant and lounge.

In order to keep the intimacy that helped make the original Yoshi’s so popular, JK Sound, the Bay Area sound systems company that co-designed and installed the new venue’s house sound system, turned to the EAW Strategic Engineering Group to do critical custom modifications to EAW AX396 3-way installation loudspeakers. The modifications resulted in a new model dubbed the EAW AX-SY loudspeaker.

Michael Lacina, President of JK Sound, and Tom Schindler of acoustical consulting firm Charles Salter Associates, collaborated on the design and componentry of the new system. It was determined that an L-C-R array design would provide the desired coverage, using three pairs of EAW AX396 loudspeakers with an EAW UX8800 digital signal processor.

The AX396 pairs were to be oriented such that their 90-degree pattern axis was vertical and that the 60-degree pattern axis was coupled, rendering an overall horizontal coverage of 120 degrees for each of the left, center and right speaker pairs. This was the goal of Tom Schindler’s design: to provide a true L-C-R listening experience for the entire audience.

However, there was the perennial conflict of visual aesthetic versus optimized acoustic performance.

“The design called for two AX396 90 x 60 degree cabinets side by side with the vertical dispersion at 90 [degrees] and the combined horizontal dispersion at 120 [degrees],” Lacina explains. “The front dimension of the AX box is 2 feet by 3 feet.

“Acoustically, one would want to arrange the boxes vertically side by side so that the high-mid components have minimal distance between them. But aesthetically, one would want the smallest vertical profile possible so that the speaker would loom less large over the performers’ heads.”

The solution, they decided, was to strip out the low-frequency woofers from the AX396 altogether and hide these components in the proscenium directly above each L-C-R mid-high pair. Long time JK Systems Engineer Brad Katz came up with the idea to marry the side-by-side 60 x 90 mid-high horns together in one cabinet, thereby simplifying the complexity of the loudspeaker installation.

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