When San Francisco-based audio/video integrator C.A.V.S. set out to specify the audio components for The Athletic Club Oakland sports bar, they knew the specified loudspeakers would be critical to achieving the owners’ concept of 20 individually controllable A/V zones in the relatively compact 2,500 square-foot, two-story space. After evaluating a number of different manufacturer’s offerings, CAVS owner, Don Lynch, specified an all-VUE Audiotechnik system for the club.
Unlike typical sports bars where a single event is usually playing, and the staff struggles to accommodate those who want to watch something different, the Athletic Club Oakland is designed to allow anyone seated at any spot in the bar to watch, and hear, whatever they want. More importantly, bar staff is able to quickly and easily set up any one of the independent audio zones with a patron’s desired content. According to Lynch, when well-known San Francisco restaurateurs Ezra Berman and Miles Palliser approached him with the project, they explained it very simply. “People want to eat good food, drink good beer, but also watch and hear what they want. They don’t have anywhere else they can go to get this sort of experience,” they explained to Lynch.
While the CAVS team had designed systems for several of the owners’ other venues, this was their first time using VUE in any project. As Lynch explains it, he vetted several manufacturers’ lines across 3 main criteria before selecting VUE. “Given how important the audio experience was to the success of the concept, we screened several different lines for aesthetic consistency, consistent voicing and reasonable pricing across a range of sizes,” explains Lynch. “ All other lines fell short leaving the only option to mix/match across multiple brands, which wasn’t acceptable from an aesthetic or acoustic standpoint. And while I hadn’t used VUE prior, once I sat down and studied and heard the full line it was crystal clear to me that it was the right choice to deliver on the concept’s promise.”
The club is divided into 5 main sections: The Bar, with 20 stools, 6 screens and 5 separate audio zones; two 10-seat Booths, each with their own dedicated screen, club-level sound zones and under-seat subwoofers; a second-level Sky Box with 6 screens and 2 sound zones; a Rivalry Room featuring two dueling pull-out wood bleachers, each with seating for 30, and back to back projector screens in the center of the room that drop down between the bleachers for each team’s fans to watch from the other side; and a 150-person private event space with 12 screens and a 160-inch projector.
Main zone with as-115s, a-10s, and i-6s for fills
Sub Zones with i-2×4.5s in each
Private booths with i-4.5s and is-26as in each
Private booths with i-6s and is-26sa in each
Private booths with i-6s in each
Two zones with i-4.5s in each
Two zones with i-8s in each
Private Event Space
Two spaces with as-115s and a-10s
With his first VUE install under his belt, Lynch noted several attributes of the VUE system that stood apart from the crowd. “While I knew VUE was the strongest candidate for this job, it became even clearer as we went to install — there’s very little you have to do with each box to make them sound absolutely great. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find a U bracket in every i-series box. The other thing that was huge is VUE had white speakers in stock and ready to ship complete with white hardware, as well.”
While he was confident in the system design, Lynch admits he was initially concerned with how well the concept would work given how reflective most of the Club’s materials are, and how closely-set each zone is to another. “I was concerned since there’s a lack of absorption in the club’s finishes with aluminum bleachers and a polished floor, but with rotatable HF drivers and flexible mounting options, we were able to get the pattern control we needed to minimize reflections and focus the energy within a single booth. Even when the space is completely full, each audio source is completely intelligible above the noise floor, and the patrons are thrilled to be able to watch and hear what they want – there is truly is nothing else in the market like this.”
The Athletic Club opened on May 15 with lines down the block, and according to Lynch, has been packed ever since. So far the owners have been extremely pleased with VUE, and especially like the system’s extra headroom when hosting live events and DJ performances. “Since the early design phases, the owners felt VUE would help differentiate the venue and help them achieve their vision for a truly different experience. It is a real thrill to see that vision become a reality,” says Lynch.