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Genelec Is the Go-To Sound System for Danny McDonald and His New York City Bars and Restaurants

— Longtime Genelec user McDonald opens The Growler Bites and Brews, which again features Genelec Active Monitors as its sound system —

NATICK, MA, November 17, 2011 — Danny McDonald, owner and co-owner of numerous bars, pubs and restaurants in Lower Manhattan, has opened a new establishment, The Growler Bites and Brews, that features a sound system comprising Genelec 8030A Bi-Amplified Monitors. McDonald has relied on the Genelec brand since installing his first system in 2000, and he is currently planning another large installation of the monitor speakers at New York’s historic Pier A.

The Growler Bites and Brews bar and restaurant is located in the Financial District on Stone Street, which is often referred to as Lower Manhattan’s restaurant row and is the location of several of McDonald’s other establishments. The new eatery is named after the traditional half-gallon jugs used to transport beer and sports a decidedly doggy theme, even offering a corral for its four-legged patrons while their owners chow down on organic hotdogs, microbrews and other fare. The Genelec speakers for this newest install were purchased from Guitar Center.

McDonald initially installed Genelec 1030A speakers eleven years ago at Puck Fair, an Irish pub on Lafayette Street. “There are 36 1030A’s there,” he reports, noting that he installed additional Genelec speakers at his oldest bar, Swift, at around the same time. “Then I built Ulysses Folk House in 2003; there are probably 40 in that spot, including the subs and speakers that we’ve added since. Then we put them in Harry’s Café and Harry’s Steak at One Hanover Square. Those are effectively two restaurants; there are 48 Genelec speakers in there. Next we built Gold Street – which is now called Harry’s Italian – in the Two Gold Street building, and put 40-odd in there.” Additional Genelec monitors are installed at the Vintry Wine & Whiskey bar, also on Stone Street, and the Bathtub Gin Speakeasy at 18th Street and Ninth Avenue.

For smaller rooms, such as the Vintry bar, a smaller speaker may be appropriate, he comments. “You can change the scale of the Genelec speakers to fit the restaurant environment, of course, and the sound will still be consistent. But I generally go with the medium range, the 8030A or the older 1030A, which is what I have in a lot of the places. They have punch and volume, and tremendous headroom. I always try and make it so that a customer is never further than eight feet from a Genelec speaker.”

McDonald’s next project will be the 30,000-plus-square-foot Pier A complex, a multi-million-dollar renovation project that will house a mix of casual and fine dining restaurants. “We’ll be using Genelecs there, too,” he says.

At some of the locations, in addition to handling background music, the Genelec monitors supplement a PA system on the nights that live bands are featured, and are also used during poetry readings and book launches. “Talk about surround sound!” says McDonald. “When you have that many speakers, you immerse the audience.”

As McDonald observes, the aggressive mid-range of many PA-type speakers forces people to talk louder, which can lead to the staff raising the music levels, and a vicious circle can set in. “I grew up bartending in the city of New York and I was perplexed by why places were using PA systems that were designed to overcome conversation. In a friendly bar or restaurant the last thing you want to feel is that aggression, and these Genelec studio monitors completely overcome that. It makes for a much more peaceful spot. So I was looking for systems that almost promoted conversation. I came up with a term ten years ago – I call it ‘choreographed conversation.’ These Genelecs have been able to promote that.”

Indeed, because Genelec monitors are self-powered, McDonald can quickly and easily tailor the environment in each establishment. “I had an elderly couple in the other day for a lobster dinner. They thought they were in a busy environment that they thought was too loud. I just turned off the Genelec at their table, and they decided to hang out. When you’re managing a room that’s a great thing to be able to do.”

As for maintenance, he continues, “It’s very, very easy when you can just Allen-key a speaker down off an omni-mount, unplug the XLR and, if you have speakers on standby, which I always do, correct a problem – which happens very rarely. I’ve got many speakers that are still operating ten years later, and that’s ten years of having never been turned off. It just amazes me.”

As it turns out, McDonald’s pioneering use of Genelec speakers in Manhattan’s eating and drinking establishments started something of a trend. “I sing Genelec’s praises all over the place. In fact, I know that there have been an awful lot of Genelecs sold on account of the fact that they’re in my places – they’re in half the other Irish pubs as well!”

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