The largest new restaurant to open in Soho this year is Sophie’s Steakhouse, and its companion speakeasy lounge bar, Jack Solomon. Located in London’s Soho district, the three distinct areas of this venue have all been equipped with NEXO’s super-compact point-source ID Series loudspeakers, with system control provided by NEXO DTD digital controllers and powered by DTD amplifiers.
AV design company Diamond AV has specified and installed the whole system, which extends across three levels, including the double-height main restaurant. More than 30x ID24i cabinets have been used, carrying the same look/feel throughout the different parts of the venue. The tiny yet versatile double 4” cabinets handle a background music programme in the restaurant, jazz and club tracks in the lounge, and guest DJ mixes in a small VIP salon.
Guy Ayres is the Technical Director of Diamond AV who was responsible for speccing and programming the system: he is pleased with the installation, which gives Sophie’s Steakhouse three high-spec flexible systems for an affordable price. “The secret is that the ID24 cabinets are 16 ohms, which is a godsend. Using these 16ohm units in conjunction with the new DTD1.3 amps allows me to get maximum use of the processing – the whole system runs on just three amplifiers.”
“In the main restaurant areas, which have exposed pipework and lighting grids, we are effectively using the white ID24s as ceiling speakers where there is no ceiling! Even though they are positioned 3 metres above the restaurant floor, the dispersion is excellent and, because we can angle them, we can have more control.”
For example, zoning in the restaurant is done by speaker location. The ID24s aim over and across the central island bar, so that staff are not impacted by high volumes, and there are corner tables with lower SPL. “Because of the number of loudspeakers in the space, 20 in all, you never have to turn them up too loud.”
Venue manager Greg fully appreciated the quality of the system installation, thanks to the builders. “They were doing some final works in the ceiling space and managed to re-angle a number of the speakers. Hearing the system when it was wrong really underlined how accurate these speakers are, and how complementary to Sophie’s dining environment.”
Downstairs in the moody and velvety lounge of Jack Solomon’s speakeasy, black ID24 cabinets are mounted on the lighting grid which runs round the space. Two ID S110s are also flown from the grid, providing subbass punch for this cocktail/late licence bar. Adjacent is a smaller private space, a square room to host VIP receptions, guest DJs and other events. Atypically for a venue like this, there are just 4x ID24s, and a cunningly hidden ID S110 sub, a loudspeaker system so small that it has baffled visiting DJs. “Until they hear the output of these little NEXOs!” says Guy Ayres. “There is more than enough SPL for them to play with, and it was important to the venue owners that the aesthetic was maintained throughout all the discrete spaces.”
As with all centrally-located hospitality businesses, the question of sound leakage was an issue for Sophie’s Steakhouse and Jack Solomon. “One of the strengths of the NEXO package is the NS-1 suite of prediction and modelling software,” explains Ayres. “I used it to map out the speaker positions and dispersion results, and we took careful measures not to risk noise pollution for the neighbouring 5* hotel and the offices above the restaurant. NS-1 is also a very visual tool for explaining to clients what can be achieved with their audio system.”
The ID24 model used throughout Sophie’s Steakhouse is tailored specifically for the installation environment. It is a full-range speaker using twin 4” drivers in a V formation in combination with an HF compression driver. It has a unique user-adjustable horn, easily rotatable without tools by a switch on the rear panel, giving 60 or 120 degree HF coverage. This allows HF horizontal dispersion to be ‘tuned’ for the given application. As the ID24 can be mounted vertically or horizontally using a range of fixing options, this effectively gives the user four different directivity options in each cabinet.
“I’ve installed so many of these that customers refer to them as ‘Guy’s speakers’!” says Ayres. “Sound quality is what you’d expect from a NEXO badge, but reliability is also very impressive. I am able to promise the team at Sophie’s that they’ll never see me again, because this system will run and run and run!”