Wonders Bar & Grill, a newly opened pub, restaurant, sports bar and live music venue in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas, wanted to create a user-friendly system that would enable them to play a wide range of audio sources and manage volume levels in different areas of the bar. “I’ve had three other bars with sound systems, but I wanted to do something different for this one,” said Dayyan Wonders, co-owner of Wonders Bar & Grill. “In a lot of bars, it gets so loud that the bartenders can’t hear what the customers are ordering.”

Owners Dayyan and Darren Wonders hired David Rotter, a Systems Integrator at E2i Design to help them. After careful consideration, E2i selected an end-to-end audio system by HARMAN Professional Solutions. The system was comprised of dbx controllers, Crown amplifiers and JBL speakers for its sound quality, seamless integration and intuitive operation.

“The owners wanted a state-of-the-art audio system that was very user-friendly, with auto-switching capabilities and independent volume controls for different zones in the bar,” said Rotter. “By partnering with HARMAN, we were able to cover all of our bases for the system—including controllers, amplification and speakers—all from one integrated provider. All of the solutions work together seamlessly, and the HARMAN team was extremely helpful in making sure that the system we created met all of the customers’ needs.”

Using a dbx ZonePRO 1260m digital zone processor, E2i Design created four separate audio zones within the bar, including a stage area, a general hangout area, an indoor patio and the actual bar itself. All of the zones play the same audio source and have their own dbx ZC2 wall-mounted zone controller, allowing the staff to set different volume levels within the same room and enhance the overall customer experience. For example, the music can be turned up very loud in the back of the room near the pool tables and set much lower in front of the bar, so patrons can easily order drinks and have conversations without shouting over the music. The eight JBL AWC82 speakers are highly directional and E2i installed them to point away from the bar to make the area even quieter. The system is powered by a Crown DCi 4|600 power amplifier, with a JBL SRX828SP dual self-powered subwoofer system for low frequencies.

The system is programmed to automatically switch between multiple audio sources, which can be prioritized using selector switches on the dbx ZC3 wall-mounted zone controller for different events at the bar. The TV can be set to override music from the jukebox during a big football game, or a live DJ can override the TV and jukebox during a performance. Finally, the system is designed to sleep until there’s an input source, so there’s no need for the staff to worry about powering the system on and off.

“With the HARMAN system, everyone at the bar can hear what’s going on and customers sitting at tables can actually have conversations,” said Dayyan Wonders. “And, with auto-switching, we don’t have to worry about customers trying to play the jukebox when the rest of the crowd wants to hear the game. This my favorite system I’ve ever had—I couldn’t be any happier.”

E2i Design hired audio engineer Mike Pena to fine-tune the system and ensure that the audio sounds great everywhere in the venue. Using the ZonePRO, Pena was able to program limiters, volume levels and EQ settings for each separate zone and source. The seamless integration between the HARMAN solutions made the entire tuning process fast and easy.

“I work with a lot of HARMAN products in touring sound systems, and I got that same level of clarity and detail from this system,” said Pena. “The ZonePRO has the tools we needed to ensure that the system could adapt and deliver amazing sound quality with all of the different audio sources in the bar—from a country song on the jukebox to a basketball game on TV. We were able to get the system sounding great in all of the different sections and zones, and do it quickly. It was almost three-dimensional sounding with the way it was designed and how well the HARMAN solutions interact with each other.”

Many thanks to David Rotter, Dayyan Wonders and Mike Pena for sharing their sound system install with us. Are you a sound designer or integrator who has managed multiple zones in a noisy bar? If so, share your insights in the comments.

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