Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant Newly Outfitted with Powersoft Pt.2

Show 156, part 2

SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 156-2

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles continues his chat with Randy White of Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, about his sound system design for O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar, a fashionable Irish themed eatery in Alexandria, Virginia.  Randy discusses the system control aspect of the project, mounting the Martin Audio F12, CDD10b and CDD8b speakers and a few woodworking tricks used to get the CSX212b subwoofers into some church pews featured in the restaurant’s seating layout. He also describes the final system checkout and tweaks.

 For Part 1

Links of interest:

Download Podcast Here:…

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Randy White of Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center. Show notes for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at

O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar in Alexandria, Virginia is open and doing a booming business. They needed a sound system that could cover its winding, multi-level floorplan, work with vastly different ambient noise levels and not break the bank on power. Randy White from Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center came up with the solution using Powersoft amplifiers. He’s here to tell us about it next on the SVC Podcast.

Randy, great to have you back for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast from Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center in Wheaton, Virginia and we’re talking about the complete sound system installation you did for O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar in Alexandria. Looks like a fun place and apparently acoustics weren’t that big an issue. You used some Martin speakers for this one so why did you go with those?

There were two reasons. One, the owner of O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar has two other locations in Ireland and he is a previous Martin owner in both of those locations. So this is a traditional Irish restaurant and bar. A lot of the staff has come over directly from Ireland so it is traditional from the look to the food to how they operate it. We contacted Martin Audio, you know, who should I talk to. We went down and had meetings. We talked about it. We came up with a really nice design and everything worked out perfectly. [Timestamp: 1:49]

Looks like there are some pretty tight spots in that place. Did you have any trouble getting the speakers into the right locations?

The only challenges you ever run into, particularly with older buildings as this one is, is fishing cables and what the construction on the walls are going to be. Is the brick in good condition that you’re going to mount to or is it a little bit older where it’s crumbling? Also in that location you have 20-foot ceilings with a balcony so at the one end of the location where the main part of the system is for the bands, basically had to be built with custom hardware to be able to mount one of the speakers. It wasn’t that easy because you couldn’t fly from the ceiling because you have the balcony where people look down. There was no other locations to mount one of the speakers so the other designer and installer, Prism Audio, came up with a custom bracket that enabled us to be able to hang that speaker directly from the pole. [Timestamp: 2:50]

A nice little solution but just when you think everything is going to just fit together perfectly it appears it got a little sticky with mounting the F12 speakers.

Yes. The F12, we had a major challenge with that because we had a perfect spot on the left and the band is sort of almost centered in the middle. There was no wall or any location that was really over there. The only thing we had was there was a support column that was on the far right side of really where the stage and the fireplace and things like that. So we ended up using really a custom-made bracket to make it perfectly placed, even with the other F12 on the other side. [Timestamp: 3:32]

You would notice something like that in there but you don’t want to do anything that would mess up the sophisticated architectural theme the place has.

That was the thing, too. He didn’t really want everything to be seen. We used the Martin CDD speakers because they’re really high-quality Martin, really small profile, great hardware to hang them. So we were able to use those around the perimeter and we needed something with more of a controllable pattern and kind of a step up to the band. So the F12’s provided that. [Timestamp: 4:01]

That’s a lot of work to run cabling and test all that. When did you have time to get in there and work on this? Working all night after closing I guess.

Basically, yes. Most of that work was being done from let’s say 1:30 in the morning until around 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m. My contractor would be working at night pulling the wires, getting everything prepared. One of the things that was really funny with this installation was it took a little bit more time to really get everything perfect, but we were also running up against St. Patrick’s Day, their biggest day of the year. So we literally got everything done and completed at 6:00 a.m. the morning of St. Patrick’s Day and it was perfect. [Timestamp: 4:44]

Wow. That’s about as close as you can cut it.

We made sure that it was going to be ready. The whole purpose really was getting it in and having it was to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Yeah, running the cabling for speakers and the subwoofers, you would have to be very careful in a place like that. You could easily do some expensive damage.

The only difficult really with it was is that you didn’t have great areas of ductwork and things like that where it’s easily accessible. So pulling it through the ceiling in an older building takes a lot more time and you also have to be very careful because there’s not a lot of areas to pull wire. There’s no basement so you can’t come up from the basement either. So we had to do a lot of different, unique things to make sure that we were able to keep the aesthetics the same. [Timestamp: 5:31]

And I would think they can control all of this from the bar. Are there multiple control points?

Basically everything is from behind the bar. There’s a touch screen there that allows them to select different types of music and things. And then there is a selection where they can select what source that they want, whether it’s going to be that music or the DJ – at events where they add a DJ – and the live bands. So really one control behind the bar. [Timestamp: 5:57]

We talked before about how the noise level changes dramatically. Are there some specific presets or do they just have a good old volume knob to adjust things as the crowd gets louder?

What we did was we basically, one of the things, we kind of took the rule of thought is that we’re going to give them the Toyota up to the Ferrari. So we just take very basic and they can gradually increase the volume. When they don’t have the band on, they don’t necessarily have the F12’s on, but when they’re busy they’ll go and they’ll turn that amplifier on and then they’ll have basically both the background CDD system, the CDD subs and the F12’s will come on. We gave them a really maximum volume level, whether it’s a band or a DJ, because one of the problems is staff behind the bar a lot of times don’t pay attention to how loud it is. And we gave them such an incredible level that we even looked and went man, we could have used a third of the power that we’re using because the amplifiers aren’t getting worked at all. [Timestamp: 6:58]

The people behind the bar have got customers shouting at them all night long and it gets a little frantic as the crowd picks up I’m sure. How was it testing all that? Did you have a chance to even run it at all with a crowd in there?

We got it prepared for that morning. We went through all the tests to make sure the amplifiers and everything were working. Everything was spotless. We went through and did some basic EQ and gave them some levels. And then the contractor went home, took a shower, came back. We had a band checking in at 10:00 a.m. We let them go through a basic sound check, gave them a little bit more volume level and we were off and running. It was really flawless. Ninety-nine percent of the jobs never go that easy. They’re never that you can just plug, shoot and boom, it’s ready. And then once it got really busy we brought in another one of the sound contractors that went into tweak. He didn’t some testing to make sure everything was in phase and overall he was like, “I don’t need to do much.” The acoustics were perfect, perfect boxes, perfect Powersoft amplifiers. The best thing I can say is it was a perfect storm because you never get all those things that always fall into place that easily. The product themes that work well with each other. [Timestamp; 8:13]

Good thing because you’ve got people all over the place by then. Sounds like it came out alright just in time for the big day. Thanks, Randy. It’s Randy White with Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center and the new sound system for O’Connell’s Bar and Restaurant in Alexandria. Interesting layout with church pews, built-in subwoofers and Powersoft amps. Thanks for giving us the story on it.

I appreciate it. Thank you.

Thank you for joining us for the SVC Podcast with Randy White. Show notes are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Be back with us again next week for the next SVC Podcast.

Featured Articles