Choosing the Right Speakers for Restaurant Environments

Everyone knows that background music in a restaurant may come to define the place just as strongly as the menu does (especially when you’re keeping up with the time). After all, chances are that you’re not the only restaurant serving that type of food in the neighborhood, and if the rest are doing a good job, the difference in food quality won’t be that significant. This means that people will come for the overall ambient, and the music plays a great part in setting this (as well as the ambiance and some other factors).

This means that picking the right speakers for your restaurant might just be a bigger decision than you would initially expect. With that in mind, here are some considerations you can make in order to make the right choice. 

  1. Consider the space and layout

The first thing you need to take into consideration is the size of the place. The size of the place will determine the number of speakers you need. Remember that this is not a home theater where seven speakers are an incredibly potent sound system. Even in smaller restaurants, you’ll need more than that.

It’s also important that you keep in mind the significance of natural noise that will take place in a restaurant. Don’t make assumptions based on what the speakers sound like in your home or in a partially-empty store. Instead, you need to know what you’ll actually be facing: noise and traffic

Also, keep in mind that while the sound from your speakers (usually music and an occasional call-out) shouldn’t be overwhelming, you still want it to be heard. In other words, you don’t want to make the noise so overpowering that people can’t hear each other talking, but if the sound won’t be audible at all, what’s the point in getting a system, to begin with? 

Most importantly, the layout of a restaurant is seldom simple. There are so many nooks and niches, and you need a speaker in each of them if you want the music you’re playing to be audible. In other words, regardless of the place’s size, planning for the number of speakers is futile before you have the full layout.

  1. Speaker type

What constitutes good restaurant speakers? Naturally, you need something that can carry the sound even in a busy place; however, describing speakers as bar- or restaurant-grade has more to do with their appearance and design than anything else.

In a restaurant, you can’t afford to have speakers that are so large that they occupy too much of the ground floor. You also don’t want massive concerts or rave speakers since no one will want to sit at the adjacent table. Instead, what you need are wall-mounted, directional speakers. This way, they can be on a wall, preferably blending with the rest of the wall and ornaments, and enough high up so the guests don’t feel the vibrations.

Keep in mind that these “feeling vibrations” aren’t always realistic. Sometimes, it’s a placebo that you’re dealing with, which means that – if they can see the speakers, they can “feel” them. This is why allowing them to blend with the interior is the best idea. In an ideal setup, they’ll be so well-integrated with the rest of the design that the guests won’t be able to notice them even if they start looking for them. 

  1.  Volume control

The speakers you choose need to have a certain range that you can set them within. This way, you can adjust the volume to the amount of noise in the dining area, the amount of noise that your kitchen area is producing, and a specific function.

For instance, most restaurants just use their speakers to play ambient music. In this scenario, even a shorter range would suffice. However, what happens if you also want to use your sound system to shout out orders or send important information (for instance, if a particular guest of yours has to move their car)? 

Also, keep in mind that background music is not the only form of music that you’ll want to play. Having live performances can be a selling point for a lot of restaurants. Even if you don’t have the conditions or interests to pursue this at the moment, what’s wrong with leaving yourself an extra option?

That’s also a thing to take into consideration – scalability and future options. You’re not buying speakers every day or replacing them that often, either. It’s (hopefully) a one-time purchase, which is why you need to pick speakers that can “grow into” the future needs of your restaurant. 

  1. Reputation and reviews

Before you commit to the sound system, you have to do your research. There are two major reasons behind this:

  • First of all, this is an investment, a much heftier one than if you were just buying headphones for your household. 
  • Second, as we’ve mentioned at the end of the previous section, it’s an investment that, if done just once, solves the problem for years and years to come. As a restaurant owner/manager, you’re going to have more tasks than you can handle either way – why not cross one thing off the list?

Now, when it comes to researching reputation, it’s important to focus on two aspects. First, you need to consider the quality of the equipment. When it comes to audio equipment, you’ve probably already heard of all the major manufacturers. Still, even if you haven’t, it’s easy to just look up the reviews and comments discussing them.

It’s also as important that you consider the installers and their reputation in the industry. This is especially the case when you expect them to service the systems and make subsequent repairs. Sure, a malfunction on the audio system won’t get your restaurant out of order, but it will affect you and your bottom line.

Wrap up

Ultimately, there are several things you need to focus on. The size and layout of the restaurant will affect the number of speakers that you need. The decor of the restaurant will affect your perception of the ideal speaker type. Other than this, you also need to read up on features (especially volume settings and options) and do some research on the subject matter. Once this is done, you can rest assured that your decision is data-based.

*We appreciate our fans for this content. As always, the views and links here do not necessarily match those of Ear to the Ground Music or its editors

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