29 July 2016

d&b provide a quality ingredient at Le Bernardin

The deliberate stimulation of the senses sets the human experience apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. At Le Bernardin restaurant, just off Broadway, New York, there is a policy of no compromise when it comes to producing a dining experience that satisfies all the senses in every way possible.

Le Bernardin has held four stars from the New York Times since opening in 1986, and three Michelin stars since 2005. Award winning chef Eric Ripert has run the restaurant since 1994 and takes the ingredient of sound no less seriously than his seafood. “In the restaurant industry, being four star is about details. Sound is a very important part of the restaurant atmosphere, especially at the beginning of the night when the room is not yet full, and then again at the end of the night. So excellence and great sound quality is a must. The right music and the quality of sound is essential to the ambience. When we host private parties, sound is more obvious, so having a good audio system is key for that experience and for the evening to be a success. I believe that today, the four star experience can and should include music, which was not the case in fine dining twenty years ago.”

Ripert engaged EL Media Group, a company uniquely equipped to provide custom music programs and expertise in the design and installation of pro audio systems. Company co-owner Ernie Lake summed up Ripert’s brief: “He came to us and said, ‘I love music but I can’t get it right in my restaurant’, so we designed a system based on d&b. That’s a measure of how Eric applies his ethos of only the best ingredients to all aspects of his restaurant.”

Lake based his design on the xS-Series. “The acoustic is already pretty good in the restaurant. If the background noise level was high we would always recommend treatment, but Eric had already addressed this. The floor is carpeted, the walls are wood slatted, so the mid range diffusion is good. There are also some curved profiles in the ceiling which help. Reflection is not an issue; the room sounds good. And it’s big, maybe one hundred covers. Size was a primary consideration: the d&b 5S is a nice small cabinet, yet it compromises nothing in terms of sound quality. The coaxial dispersion suits the listening environment perfectly. We also positioned a 12S-SUB in there, and we do turn it up, so this is a full spectrum listening experience.

“This is not flimsy background music, the content is carefully chosen and curated, and the diner must be able to comfortably hear the vocal and pick out the nuance of the music effortlessly. We’ve been doing both content curation like this and specifying sound systems since 2005; that gives us the opportunity to guarantee that the audio system is absolutely right for the program the diners listen to. The music content is varied: we have different programs for lunch and dinner; late evening; a different level for different times of day. So the system has to be able to perform equally well at all levels and with different material – and believe me, it does.”


Images courtesy of Nigel Parry and Daniel Krieger.