On historic King Street in Alexandria, Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant draws from both Irish and American history for a memorable pub experience. Nestled in a19th-century building in Alexandria’s Old Town district and featuring a unique collection of antiques and artifacts directly from Ireland, it takes its name from a 19th-century Irish parliamentarian and reformer. The restaurant is the vision of Irish-born entrepreneurs John Brennan and Billy O’Sullivan. When the duo sought to improve the sound quality for both their digital music playback and live Irish music sets, they reached out to Randy White, a Senior Buyer at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, to design a system that would meet their needs. White recommended a powerful, compact, and efficient system featuring Powersoft amplification.
Devotion to Sound Quality
Before White got to work, he knew that Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant had one built-in sonic advantage in its pleasant natural acoustics. “It’s all wood from a 19th-century church, pews and all, so acoustically it’s amazing,” White says. But the install presented some other challenges. “We had extremely limited rack space, and the rack had to be placed up in a 3rd floor loft that has some heat issues,” he says. Power efficiency was also a concern. “For an install of this size we really wanted to avoid having to bring in electricians to upgrade circuits for the amplifiers,” White says. He decided to go with one each of Powersoft’s M50Q, M28Q, and M14D amplifiers driving a set of Martin speakers that included two F12 loudspeakers, 3 CSX212b subwoofers, and 4 CDD10b and 2 CDD8b loudspeakers for additional fill.
Audio that Fits
Getting the speaker system into place required some creative thinking for White and installer Jason Smith of Prism Sound. When the restaurant hosts live music, they remove several waist-high tables from the band area and set up a small portable stage. “Installing the F12s was a bit of a challenge because of the layout,” White says. “We couldn’t hang them because there was a balcony up above and then a 25-foot ceiling past that, so we dropped them all the way down they’d be right in people’s faces. We also only had a wall to mount onto on one side, so we had the contractor create a special bracket to mount off of a pole.” The subwoofers were cleverly hidden underneath the church pews. “We had to cut into a few of them to fit them,” he says. “One we were actually able to stand upright in a little corner gap and it fit perfectly. They put some nice wood around and now it looks like part of the seat.” White relied on the Powersoft M50Q and M28Q to drive the main speakers, while the M14D handled the subwoofers.
The small size of Powersoft amplifiers was key for White and Smith. “Fitting all the Powersoft amps into a total of three rack spaces was a huge help as there wasn’t much room,” he says. Stashed in a room with no windows or ventilation and only a portable air conditioner, the amplifiers’ ability to run cool was also critical. According to White, “the Powersoft amps were running cooler than anything else in the rack!” White chose a DBX 640 digital zone processor and a Martin DX0.5 loudspeaker management system on the system’s front end to provide zone-based control for the sound, allowing the restaurant to tailor their balance for lunch, dinner, happy hour or a live band. White says that there is plenty of power on tap for every application. “Even when they have bands and turn everything up all the way they are only at 35 percent on their Powersoft amps,” he says. “Powersoft is able to give them the power we need using only the power they have.” White also knows that Powersoft amplifiers are reliable. “These are touring-quality amps so we know we won’t have any issues with failures.” Big Sound for a Big Day
The installation of the amplifiers was quick and easy—“less than 10 minutes to wire it up”—and it did not take much longer to get the sound that White wanted. “We fired up the system and didn’t have to do anything to tune it,” he recalls. “When you have amps that are transparent and deliver that kind of quality, it makes all the difference.” The performers and guests love it so far and the restaurant’s owners agree. “One of the owners has other establishments in Ireland and he said this system is unlike any he’s ever had.” White got the job done just in time for St. Patricks Day, an important day for O’Connell’s. He was perhaps the only person who was not surprised by the performance of the amplifiers. “I had no question that it was going to perform well,” he says. “That’s what Powersoft is all about.”