Though the oceanfront location and open design of Duke’s Waikiki restaurant and live music venue in Honolulu, Hawaii, helps get diners and dancers into the island spirit, the layout makes it difficult to achieve pleasing and consistent sound levels. Music from the outdoor deck bled into the restaurant and, because the popular establishment opens onto the beach, the staff had to roll out and break down the equipment every evening.
When management decided to overhaul the sound system, general manager Dylan Ching wanted guests in the indoor dining room to enjoy comfortable levels and also let the live music fans on the patio hear the bands clearly. Clay Nakasone, co-owner of Goodguys Music and Sound, teamed with install consultant Hutch “HutchiBoye” Hutchins to craft a custom indoor-outdoor setup that features Yamaha mixing consoles and powered loudspeakers.
The establishment is divided into four distinct zones, all of which can be fine-tuned. The twelve channel split system setup assigns 12 inputs to the bands that play on the patio and 12 independent inputs for the house mix that can be adjusted; so, for example, solo musicians that play under the cabana can control only their mix through a monitor, a DXR8 attached to the bottom of an umbrella above their heads.
On the patio, which accommodates 150 to 200 guests, an MG166CX mixer on a roll-around rack uses two DSR15 powered speakers for the mains along with two DSR12 and two DXR12 powered speakers for the monitors. An installed custom splitter box allows for connecting with the disconnect box by the cabana rack. This setup requires a sound person to operate it.
Performers range from local groups to national acts, including Jimmy Buffet. In addition, strolling musicians circulate around the facility and Duke’s hosts concerts on the beach during the day.
Hutch designed the new setup “so that the speakers surround the patio and act like a set of headphones,” he said. “Everyone is in the middle of the mix and the sound never bleeds into the building. It worked perfectly; everyone is in the sound zone so they don’t have to blast the music.”
To protect against the elements, Hutchins removed and relocated the electronic components from the speaker cabinets and placed them in the rack, which contains a 12-channel custom splitter box with eight mic inputs and four internal direct box plug-ins that is connected to an MG20XU mixer, a model in the recently released generation of MG mixers, which Hutch says “sounds so clean and full that the bands and even the staff noticed the difference right away.” A multi-pin jack lets the board plug into an MG206C house console through a disconnect box next to the cabana rack.
“We can pump up the bass on the beach, but not through the restaurant and we pulled out the low frequencies to make the vocals clearer indoors,” said Ching, the general manager. “We can turn zones off in the dining room so the system gives us a lot of flexibility.”
The house system includes an MG206C mixer with two DSR12 speakers for mains and sends a feed of the band to a four channel zone mixer that controls the band input, house music and an iPod, any of which can be sent to incoming phone callers who are put on hold. This feed can also be directed to ceiling speakers that deliver sound to the dining room, the bathrooms, the entryway, the bar and to the adjacent Diamondhead Room.
The venue’s newfound ability to maintain appropriate sound levels has helped foster the Aloha vibe that the venue strives for. Ching reports that “our musicians were very happy when we made the switch and we get a lot of compliments from guests.”