ONI opens its doors and chooses DAS Audio for its sound system
From Pro AVL MEA magazine by Simon Luckhurst:
As a melting pot of many different cultures, Dubai is home to a cacophony of dining experiences – everything from fast food to fish and chips or a curry can be sourced with the right determination. Acutely aware of the need to offer a new type of experience in order to attract customers, ONI, a new Japanese restaurant cum sake-bar that recently opened its doors inside the Shang-ri La hotel on Dubai’s Sheik Zayed Road, is hoping to grab attention by blending three (seemingly-at-odds) concepts into a single dining experience – sharing meets casual dining at a fraction of the expected cost.
‘We offer Japanese cuisine built around the concept of Izakaya combined with casual dining,’ explains ONI’s patron experience manager, Patrycja Kowalczyk. ‘. We also specialise with sake and have a wide range of more than 20 different kinds, plus we do in-house creations where we infuse the sake with different fruits and flavours. The aim is to provide pocket-friendly fresh food with outstanding service, but at probably 30% less than other similar fine dining or casual restaurants.’
While the food is the primary draw for customers visiting ONI, music also plays a big part and decibels notch-up as the evening progresses. ‘We have a live DJ seven nights a week providing a soft and deep house kind of vibe, nothing too intense,’ says Kowalczyk. ‘But later in the night, from around 1am onwards when the sake has been flowing, it can get quite lively.’
While the main dining and bar area have been kept intentionally open-plan, there is a separate dining area running along the rear of the venue for increased privacy, as a well as secret sake room, out of sight behind a hidden door in the back corner.
Tasked with the audio integration, Procom first became involved with ONI in its previous guise. ‘ONI was brought back to life a second time,’ recalls Anro Schroeder. ‘It opened the first time around after a very quick change-around, however it ended up going through a second round of refurb at the end of last year. It was completely redesigned with a completely redone interior and new tech infrastructure as well.’
While stunning to look at and a major attraction for the restaurant, the Japanese-inspired interior décor would create a number of headaches for Procom down the road, ultimately meaning a ‘less is more’ solution was the necessary approach.
Audio reinforcement throughout the entire venue therefore comes from just a handful of Artec wall-mounted cabinets from Spanish manufacturer DAS Audio paired with three strategically placed subwoofers. A single Artec 506 6-inch cabinet covers the hidden sake bar, while six CL-8T ceiling speakers support BGM in the much-quieter private dining area. A further five Artec 508 8-inch enclosures deployed throughout the main dining and bar area complete the speaker setup.
The lack of space and unforgiving nature of the room’s aesthetics presented Procom with few options for sub placement. ‘The venue shares three 15-inch Artec S15 subs, which might seem a little strange,’ admits Schroeder. ‘We didn’t have any space in the middle where we wanted to put them originally, so we had to sit down with the designer and basically design furniture pieces and counter pieces for the subs to go in.
The result is the first marble-encased subwoofer Pro AVL MEA has encountered on its many travels so far. ‘It wasn’t easy. They are solid marble counter pieces and obviously the marble changes the response,’ explains Schroeder. ‘But we had to find a way to meet the décor restrictions, and overall it still sounds very nice.’
The careful placement of the subs allows one unit to feed three areas simultaneously. ‘There’s enough low end in all three of the zones from that single unit,’ says Schroeder. ‘This meant we could minimise the amount of subs needed and were able to push the other two closer towards the bar to maximise the low frequency output for the DJ.’
Power for the DAS cabinets comes from a PA500, PA1500, two PA2700s and a PA4000 amplifiers, while processing and zoning is via a Symmetrix Jupiter 8 with wall-mounted controllers installed in the bar. An additional DAS Audio DSP23 performs dedicated processing for the subs. In the back of the control room there are also two sets of patch panels that link with possible DJ positions.
‘One thing that the owners requested was the flexibility to move the DJ booth around according to different events they are running, so we incorporated patch panels with full cabling capable of moving the DJ booth along with and all of the gear and plug in on the other side of the venue.’ Despite its heavyweight appearance, the whole booth is movable.
While it clearly took a lot of effort to device such a minimal system, keeping the open-plan areas covered without interfering with the décor, the end result has ticked all of the boxes.
‘It involved a lot of Ease modeling, but everything just works,’ shares Schroeder. ‘We had to do a lot of on-site calibration and testing but we’re really happy with the outcome. There’s a great amount of level, and the system can handled being pushed quite well. We’ve already had 700+ people in here on a single night before and the system performed brilliantly.’