Arching white ceiling panels, curving leather booths and minimalist floral arrangements reaching toward the roof — from the moment you walk in the door at STK steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan it is clear this isn’t your neighborhood franchise grill and bar. But it’s not just a décor that looks like it was swiped from the officer’s lounge of the Starship Enterprise that sets the physical space of this upscale eatery apart from other restaurants.
That’s because as essential as the chic, minimalist interior and finely prepared cuts of meat are to the STK brand (the name alludes to the main culinary draw offered here), a high-end audio system that pumps out club-quality sound is equally important.
“We spend a lot of money on audio in our restaurants…. so we can play the music loud while enabling the people to still engage in conversation,” says Jonathan Segal, founder and CEO of The One Group, which owns and operates eight STK steakhouses in Atlanta, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.
So, no, this isn’t your neighborhood Applebee’s.
A 20,000-watt audio system fills the 9,000 square-foot space in Manhattan’s historic Grace Building with music chosen by an in-house DJ, and is composed primarily of roughly 100 Tannoy loudspeakers (including Di8DCs, iw62 DCs, CMS 801 DC BMs, CMS 801 subs, Di 6 DCs, CVS 6s, V15 HPs as well as V18 and V10 subs) and 11 Lab.gruppen 4- and 8-channel C Series amplifiers.
“There’s a lot of headroom, and the clarity is just ridiculous,” says Ernie Lake, the head of EL Media, the company that designed the STK setup.
For acoustics, offset walls help to minimize reflective surfaces while Tectum acoustic panels reduce mid-range decibel levels. That technique — which Lake also used in Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in Times Square — allows customers to appreciate their conversations and the restaurant’s music at the same time.
But the piece de resistance, as far as Lake is concerned, is the bar, where he used four V15s in the ceiling to wire the bar in stereo sound.
“A lot of people don’t believe in wiring in stereo in a bar or restaurant,” Lake says, but for a music lover there’s nothing better than listening to music in stereo. “All of a sudden the whole song just comes alive.”
And for those who doubt it can work in a restaurant venue, the STK bar is proof that indeed it can — Lake says that a patron can stand anywhere in the bar and hear perfect stereo sound.
“Anywhere in the bar, yeah, it’s pretty wild,” he says. “And there’s no phasing issues, you don’t feel like you’re getting pulled. And the sound’s real silky.”
Of course, such high-end audio systems aren’t found, and aren’t necessarily needed, in every restaurant. Music is central to the lounge-like atmosphere that is the signature of STK restaurants