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Case Study: Yoshi’s, CA

Now celebrating its golden anniversary, the legendary Oakland jazz club Yoshi’s started as an intimate sushi bar by Yoshie Akiba (the “e” on her first name dropped for the restaurant) and her close friends in 1972. Seven years later, Yoshi’s moved to a larger location in Berkeley’s Claremont neighborhood, mainly to accommodate Akiba’s passion for dance and live jazz. In 1997, Yoshi’s moved again, this time to even larger accommodations at Oakland’s Jack London Square, where the expanded restaurant is complemented by the 330-seat music venue. There it has hosted artists including Van Morrison, Diana Krall, Taj Mahal, Max Roach, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Dave Brubeck, and Bonnie Raitt.

After relying on a venerable Meyer Sound system since first opening at its current location in 1997, Yoshi’s recently upgraded to a new system incorporating Meyer’s latest technologies, supplied by Advanced Systems Group (ASG) based nearby in Emeryville. Final designs were generated by Joe Mistretta of Meyer Sound Design Services working in collaboration with the ASG Audio Team and Key Accounts Manager Tom Menrath; the nine-day demo and installed was supported by Brad Katz of Waveworks.

The prior system had served Yoshi’s well, reinforcing the music of jazz, R&B, and associated pop luminaries for a quarter century with Meyer CQ-1 and CQ-2 self-powered loudspeakers for the mains, UPA-1P and HM-1 loudspeakers for fills, and PSW-2 subwoofers for the low end. But a grueling schedule of two shows six or seven nights a week, when combined with some questionable changes in front-end processing, had dulled the luster of the system. These signs of aging, along with demand for stronger bass by contemporary R&B acts, prompted Production Manager Marcel Quiroz and General Manager Hal Campos to look at giving the venue a complete audio renovation.

The new Yoshi’s system comprises two UPQ-D1 wide coverage and two UPQ-D2 narrow coverage full-size loudspeakers for the mains, supplemented by three ULTRA-X20 compact wide coverage loudspeakers for downfill and seven UP-4slim ultra-compact installation loudspeakers for front fill. Ample power for contemporary R&B acts is now available through four 900-LFC low-frequency control elements, mounted in pairs on the walls. A Galileo GALAXY 816 Network Platform provides system drive and optimization, while artist foldback has been upgraded with the addition of 10 MJF-208 and two MJF-210 stage monitors.

Among the first to hear the new system were two of Yoshi’s founders and owners, namesake Yoshie Akiba and Kaz Kazamura. “When I turned it on, it literally brought tears to their eyes,” recalls Yoshi’s Quiroz. “They had never heard this room sound so good.”

Artists who have performed at Yoshi’s since the system upgrade — in addition to Weckl, Reinhart, and Jackson — include Jose Feliciano, Jesse Colin Young, Sheila E, Sergio Mendes, Arturo Sandoval, and Les Claypool.

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