Encompass AV recently supplied a new Martin Audio-based sound system for the exclusive Gibsons Italia restaurant located on the Chicago River that has quickly become known for its sophisticated combination of Italian food and steaks and luxurious setting.
As Encompass owner Tim Pickett points out, “A $20 million build-out, Gibsons Italia is a super high-end four-story restaurant, bar and lounge with a dining space for private functions on the roof deck with floor to ceiling windows that offer amazing views of the river and skyline.
“The Gibsons Group is the leading restaurant group in Chicago with Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse on Rush Street the highest grossing independent restaurant in the city and a perennial on the top 10 list in the US. In fact, it’s the first restaurant group in the country to have its own USDA certification.
“We were contracted to provide exceptional sound throughout the entire venue and weren’t given a budget because the owners just wanted it to be the highest quality. So, we selected the Martin Audio CDD Series because it’s worked so well for us in other restaurant and club installs.”
Gibson Italia’s ground floor is basically a small entry with the receptionist and elevators to go up to the other floors, but even in that space, there are three CDD6’s to get people used to the sound from the start.
For the luxury bar and lounge on the second floor, there are 22 CDD6’s, four CDD5’s and 12 CDD8’s mounted in the ceiling with brackets and facing out and slightly angled down. The restaurant is located alongside the $500 million, 52-story River Point Complex in the burgeoning West Loop neighborhood, which is mostly financial offices and law firms. So even though the lounge and bar system is designed for background music, they have an upbeat playlist that ranges from 90s rock to modern pop music––anything that’s up-tempo and energetic with “a really good vibe to it.”
Pickett maintains that “a tremendous amount of money was spent not only on the sound system, but the owners also insisted on acoustic drywall in the entire place which absorbs sound and optimizes intelligibility and clarity throughout the venue, something that was important to them. They wanted people to have conversations but still hear the music.
“CDD was an ideal choice for this project because of its acoustic signature––how it has a wide dispersion pattern as you get closer to the speaker but a narrower pattern as you move away from it which ensures even coverage throughout the venue.
“There is a very high-end dining room on the third floor,” Pickett adds, “which has 20 CDD6’s around the perimeter of the space facing out and angled down, and a Martin Audio C6.8T in-ceiling speaker above each booth.
“Then the fourth-floor roof deck which has a larger system equipped with eight Martin Audio CDD10’s and two CSX118 subs. Some of the speakers are mounted to the aluminum structure using wall brackets and some to a soffit on the ceiling with yoke brackets. It’s an aluminum and glass structure with a retractable roof, a very nice bar and a versatile, lounge space with nice furniture that’s rented out for private events. With the extra power and impact, the roof system really sounds amazing, especially when you crank it up.”
Summing up his clients’ reaction to the Martin Audio system, Pickett concludes, “Everyone’s very impressed with the sound system because when you walk through the building, you essentially have the same acoustic signature throughout every space, there aren’t any gaps or areas where the highs drop out or it’s all bass. The owners wanted it to sound right. Which it really does no matter where you are.”