One of the newest fine dining attractions in the Windy City, BLVD draws inspiration from Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard circa 1950, when Sunset was an iconic strip of dining and entertainment establishments. Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighbourhood, BLVD combines old Hollywood-style glamour, luxury, and decadence with contemporary cuisine, cocktails, and background music that sets just the right atmosphere. Citing its snug booths, curved staircase, huge mirrors, and countless chandeliers, Zagat declared it one of Chicago’s sexiest new restaurants.

To deliver BLVD’s music and announcements, systems integrator Encompass Audio Visual designed and installed a customised sound system built around a Symetrix Prism-series DSP. “They contacted us to begin designing an audio system from architectural renderings, prior to establishing a general contractor, about a year and a half before they opened,” notes Emmett Kelly of Encompass AV. “They have a private dining room upstairs, a downstairs bar, and an upstairs bar. At full capacity, the space probably holds 200 people. So we set up a system with five separate zones. They are sourcing entertainment using Comcast as well as a third-party micro PC and source. The entertainment is limited because the focus is on fine dining with background music, and they only have one TV that’s utilised for private functions and the occasional major Chicago sporting event.”

All loudspeakers in the new system are from Martin Audio, with CDD6 two-way speakers throughout, except for the restrooms, which have Martin C6.8T 6.5-inch ceiling speakers. “There are custom enclosures for the speakers, including the Martin Audio subwoofers in the ceiling,” Kelly reports. “there is custom woodwork and milling throughout the space, so we worked closely with the contractors to adapt our design.”

To manage the system, the Encompass AV team chose the Symetrix Prism 8×8 DSP, which provides 128 Dante channels (64×64), enabling reliable audio networking over IP. For BLVD’s system, the Encompass AV team added a Symetrix xOut 4 Dante-enabled analogue output expander, giving the 1U rack-mount Prism 8×8 a total of 12 analogue outputs. An Attero Tech unD610-BT Dante-networked audio wall plate connects to the Prism DSP to give the BLVD staff convenient stereo analogue input and output, as well as stereo Bluetooth audio input.

“We specify Symetrix DSPs for all of our jobs like this because we’re really impressed with the lack of audio colouration,” relates Encompass AV President Tim Pickett. “Symetrix processors provide the cleanest sound on the market. They’re also really geared for installations, rather than for touring. The analogue connections are bare wire with screw terminals, not XLR connectors, which fits our projects very well. We like their programmability with Symetrix’ Composer CAD software, and we like their accessibility from a control standpoint; they’re easy to use with our control system. They’re just solid processors that we can rely on.”

A year and a half after the project’s beginning, BLVD is thriving and winning accolades. Its new Symetrix Prism-based sound system is doing much the same. “The sound system is a real success,” reports Kelly. “The Prism DSP is flawlessly managing the audio throughout the space, it sounds great, it was easy to program, and the client is very happy. This is why we consistently choose Symetrix.”