EAW®'s Strategic Engineering Group customizes AX Series to keep the club's sightlines clear without compromising the sound
Whitinsville, MA, USA, May 24, 2010 – 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 P.A. system, turned to EAW®'s Strategic Engineering Group to do critical custom modifications to the EAW AX396 3-Way Full-Range Installation Speaker, thereby rendering a new model dubbed the EAW AX-SY 3-Way Full-Range Installation Loudspeaker. Once again, the Strategic Engineering Group came through, assuring that the new Yoshi's had great sound and clear sightlines.
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's AX396 speakers with EAW's 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, they encountered 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' x 3'. 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 speaker installation. The new design greatly reduced the vertical and horizontal profile of the speaker arrays, creating a sleek, compact and powerful system. Lacina presented the idea to both Kenton Forsythe, founder of EAW and its Senior VP of Engineering, and Joe Fustolo, EAW's Director of the Strategic Engineering Group. They agreed it could be done, and that there was also an opportunity to minimize the distance between the acoustic centers of the adjoining mid-high components. Thus the AX-SY was born.
A final tweak to the design was a 30-degree angle at the top of the cabinet to get the speaker up as high above the stage as possible. To handle the lows, now that the woofers had been separated out, Forsythe, Fustolo and Lacina decided on the EAW SB625z Medium Format Subwoofer, a compact but powerful dual 15”, for the mid bass, which was to be placed above each pair of high-mids. Then between each of the L-C-R dual 15" mid bass cabs, there would be two dual-18 subwoofers, all hidden from view behind an acoustically transparent scrim in the proscenium.
“The beauty of the design is that all of the big low frequency boxes are completely hidden behind the scrim, so the P.A. would look petite but sound huge and effortless,” Lacina explains. Yoshi's would also add other groundbreaking elements to its sound system, including the first installation of EAW's then-brand new MicroWedge, which turned out to be so successful (thanks to its small footprint, large output and high phase coherency) that Yoshi's purchased a dozen more MW12s and MW15s for their Oakland venue. And the installation would also be the most extensive use at the time of EAW UX8800s, with a total of five units providing 40 channels of processing output. Thanks to the resourcefulness of EAW's Strategic Engineering Group and the hard work of Lacina, Brad Katz, and the rest of the JK Sound team, and Tom Schindler of Salter and associates, the newest Yoshi's lives up to the goal that had been set for it from the beginning: to be one of the best places in the world to listen to live jazz.
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