Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers
TimBuckleyBeavis
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Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 02:59

Hello all,

First off, I'll freely admit that I am totally ignorant as to the specifics of sound, electronics and all that jazz. My family has in the past given me old speakers and receivers that I have used heavily and loved but, though good sound is very dear to me, I couldn't tell you why a speaker/receiver sounds good, or whether the sound could be easily made better by an alteration to my setup. I am however building out a small cafe/ cocktail bar (front of house is 600 sqft), and one of the exciting aspects is the opportunity to ensure that the music in it sounds great.

This won't be the kind of place where the sound should be deafening - certainly not a club or even raucous bar atmosphere - but I want the music to be audible, ever-present, crisp, and lusciously warm.

I've already come by some gorgeous old Pioneer CS-99A speakers, and I think that set will do the heavy lifting. (Don't know whether or not I'll get a smaller secondary set of speakers to aim towards the most distant back corner of the space, but just to be safe I'd like to make sure whichever receiver I choose can support two sets.) Given those specific speakers and the size of the room (which may be filled with 40-odd gabbing drinkers), I'd love any input as to which vintage receiver I might try to track down. I've read that this particular set of speakers shouldn't need too many WPC to drive them well, and I've also read people insisting that having too powerful a receiver can be detrimental to the sound, so I just want some help choosing and sizing the right unit. Maybe people could suggest their top 3? Also, don't mind educating me if you like!

On ebay I've been eyeing a lot of old pioneers, marantz, and yahamas from the mid to late 70s and early 80s, with WPC between 25-50, and I'm opting for a unit which I can get landed for under or around $200.

Don't know whether this is helpful, but to just list a few of the units I've been looking at...
pioneer: sx 636, sx 650, sx 737, sx 780, sx 303, sx 3000, sx 750, sx 1000tw, sx 3700
marantz: sr 2000, r 1270 (superscope), sr 5100, 2230, 2225, 2235
yamaha: cr 820, cr 800, r 300

So, what's y'all's take on it?
Thanks
Beavis

TimBuckleyBeavis
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 03:29

I should also say that I plan to play music either from a computer or mp3 player via the aux. The music will be a mix of world music, latin, jazz, and new wave. Very little raucous rock or metal.

aardvarkash10
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by aardvarkash10 » 14 Dec 2019 03:50

why do you want to go vintage and stereo?

A restaurant is a DIFFICULT room to fill with music. People keep getting in the way, cutlery and plates clattering knock the upper registers around, and any bass line that is clear and full but not overly loud at the table closest to the speaker is inaudible two tables away.

You are right in thinking you don't need a lot of power, but you do need well managed dispersement. Multiple ceiling level speakers is your only real option if you don't want to deafen some and give muffled sound to the rest.

Adamo0926
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by Adamo0926 » 14 Dec 2019 04:05

aardvarkash10 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 03:50
why do you want to go vintage and stereo?

A restaurant is a DIFFICULT room to fill with music. People keep getting in the way, cutlery and plates clattering knock the upper registers around, and any bass line that is clear and full but not overly loud at the table closest to the speaker is inaudible two tables away.

You are right in thinking you don't need a lot of power, but you do need well managed dispersement. Multiple ceiling level speakers is your only real option if you don't want to deafen some and give muffled sound to the rest.
I was ready to post my suggestions but then read this post. I agree with Aard, here. My suggestions would have been good if you were setting up for just a home system in the living room or something. But this atmosphere is something entirely different.

I think Aard's post sums up the issues with this type of venue perfectly. A 2 channel vintage component system would not work well in that environment.

TimBuckleyBeavis
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 04:19

The main reason I'm hoping to use these speakers instead of ceiling mounts is that they're beautiful. But I I'll definitely look into installing ceiling mounts in addition to the pioneers.

Secondly, the space is quite narrow (only 30' wide), and the speakers will be mounted between 5 to 7 feet high on the backbar, so the sound *should* be able to travel over the bar and easily reach the booths in back of the space.

I can't deny that y'all have points, though I'd still like to know whether you have suggestions for a good receiver to power the speakers.

Here's a little diagram of the space to illustrate the concept.


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aardvarkash10
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by aardvarkash10 » 14 Dec 2019 04:46

YOu don't need a lot. A commercial PA amp will be more solid and reliable. The speakers do not have any particular issues that mean they would need any special amp. For background listening purposes I would not imagine you need more than 30 good watts per channel.

Run them mono - no one is listening to any stereo effect in a bar.

Put in some sort of wave guide to stop the sound dominating your barman's attempt to sell more booze - you are there to make money!

Alec124c41
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by Alec124c41 » 14 Dec 2019 04:48

First I want to disagree with the supposition that a more powerful speaker would be detrimental to your sound. Exactly the opposite is true.
Too small an amp will go into clipping, if you turn it up too much. This will destroy your tweeters.
A larger amp can supply sufficient power to deliver satisfying sound, and have power left over for transients. This is called headroom. It makes for far more satisfying sound.
I have a Yamaha CR-2020 receiver in my living room. It can deliver 120 watts per side, but most of my listening is at less than 10 watts RMS. There is enough headroom to deliver good bass and good transients, without strain. And there is enough power to drive a second set of speakers.
Yes, I do like those old Yamahas. Pioneer, Marantz, Harmon Kardon, and Sony are other brands you might consider.
But don't go small. I would say, 50 watts minimum.
YMMV

Cheers,
Alec
Last edited by Alec124c41 on 14 Dec 2019 05:01, edited 1 time in total.

Ripvanvinyl
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by Ripvanvinyl » 14 Dec 2019 04:51

aardvarkash10 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 04:46

Put in some sort of wave guide to stop the sound dominating your barman's attempt to sell more booze - you are there to make money!
:lol: "sound" advice!

TimBuckleyBeavis
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 05:09

Thanks for the advice aardvark, I'll definitely look into waveguides! Don't want anyone to feel like they're drowning in sound.

And thanks Alec for the schooling. It's good to know that, for my purposes (and on my budget), I can't possibly go too big.

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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by aardvarkash10 » 14 Dec 2019 05:48

Here's why I advise a commercial PA amp. Its a commercial environment.

By that I mean, you will open at 11.30am for lunches and close at 11pm or later once the last person passing money over the bar has given up. You'll do this 6 or 7 days a week.

The first thing on is the till and the music. They are the last things switched off.

I loved vintage gear - its look, feel sound, smell, hell I've even licked it. But its not gear I rely on for 70 or more hours a week.

I have a little 10w mono PA amp. It runs 24/7. For the last 6 years. Its hidden because it looks so ugly and puny. But its reliable, built like a tank and delivers enough sound for background music in a 350-400 square foot space. It cost next to nothing.

TimBuckleyBeavis
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 05:56

Aardvark, what is a model of PA amp you would recommend. Also, I hear what you're saying about the receiver needing to endure. Just a question though-- do PA amps sound good?

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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by aardvarkash10 » 14 Dec 2019 06:11

I'm in New Zealand mate - anything I can get here is probably not over your side! The unit I have was made here, but its a pretty standard circuit. There are some name brands in the game, but a good commercial supplier will put you right.

Like almost any amplifier these days it will do below 20hz to above 30khz at acceptable distortion and frequency response. IT doesn't buzz hum or otherwise try to join in the orchestration, it just takes a signal and makes it bigger.

Keep and use your speakers - I like the idea of have them as a visual clue. Any PA will drive them. Google 'PA systems' and something will come up near you. I would not be surprised to find them secondhand on Craigslist or the 'bay

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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by vanakaru » 14 Dec 2019 07:57

I do a lots of work with sound and have run into many challenges to install sound in different rooms. First it is rather difficult to task as pointed out above. Also you need to understand for what you invite your customers to - listen music or chat and drink. And keep in mind that music can be annoying as well. Then the acoustics of the room will change dramatically when more people are in it - to the point when music starts to sound as part of the noise.
Since you plan to have good sound as part of the coffee experience you need to invest somewhat more. Good powerful amp as Alec explains is what I would get and ceiling speakers - these can be very good if you know what to look for. Your vintage speakers could be for the show but main sound should come from localised(ceiling) speakers. Run mono is another good tip. Believe me mono can sound really nice. The point is to make the sound come from many different spots mellow instead of one spot loud.

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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by rewfew » 14 Dec 2019 16:38

What ever you end up using in your cafe/bar. I would hope that you don't play the background music so damnably loud that patrons end up shouting to hear themselves. That seems to be an overbearing trend these days. Restaurants, bars with loud music, and sometimes, lousy music which just makes the pretense of meeting and enjoying friends company in a public space redundant.

TimBuckleyBeavis
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Re: Restaurant sound: choosing the right vintage receiver for my speakers

Post by TimBuckleyBeavis » 14 Dec 2019 16:42

Rewfew, I promise I will not subject my patrons to that infuriating trend

Okay, since everyone seems to be jumping onto the ceiling mount train, could someone suggest a good option for those?

And, similarly, could someone tell me more about PA amps? Would getting one of those mean I would need a separate preamp, etc?

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