Feature: Safe bet for Venetian Macau
Feature: Safe bet for Venetian Macau
One of Macau’s top hotels has opened a sleek Japanese restaurant and ramen bar with AV systems to match. Caroline Moss checks in with the Venetian Macau
Back in 2019, anticipating boom times ahead, the Venetian Macau was planning to overhaul its F&B outlets, raising the opulence levels even higher at the Las Vegas Sands-owned resort. Renowned Japanese chef, Hiroshi Kagata, was brought in to create Hiro, a high-end, modern Japanese fusion restaurant catering to a young, discerning clientele, serving teppanyaki cuisine in an elegant environment featuring a main room, VIP rooms and a sake bar. Hiro Ramen, meanwhile, was aimed at clients in a hurry to hit the casino. Both needed AV systems to deliver BGM which, as the evening progressed, would raise the tempo during cocktail hour and segue into DJ sets alongside vibrant video content. The hotel commissioned local Macau AV contractor Electrasia to supply, design, install and programme most of the AV systems, and Electrasia in turn brought in Hong Kong-based AV design house, the Den.
The main room at Hiro features high ceilings and reflective surfaces including a glass façade, steel teppanyaki hobs and granite floor and wall finishes. To overcome these challenges, a main mono system of five Quest Engineering HPI111 10-inch, two-way speakers has been mounted horizontally above the kitchen with asymmetric horns rotated to 90° x 50°. The directivity of the HPI waveguides projects clear HF and intelligibility to every table, especially in low level and subtle BGM mode, avoiding reflections on the walls. A sixth HPI111 is set vertically on a pillar near the entrance directed towards the sake bar; this has its own signal, giving the bar a stereo soundfield. A private seating booth and sofa area, as well as the waiting area and each of the VIP teppanyaki rooms, are covered by smaller HPI8i 8-inch two-way speakers, suspended vertically at a high level and focused on the target zones, using the speaker’s asymmetric beams of 90° x 50°. Five HPI12S super-compact 12-inch subwoofers are located above the natural wood ceiling of the restaurant and aimed downwards. The 12-inch version was chosen to provide the bass reinforcement required for a cocktail lounge without overloading the room with sub-low frequencies which would increase noise levels.
FrenchFlair AS-3 compact 3-inch cylindrical speakers with AS-S10 subwoofers provide BGM in the main VIP room and can also relay audio from a TV integrated into the furniture on a motorised lift. FrenchFlair AS-3s have also been installed in a corridor leading to the restrooms, with Quest QTC2080i ceiling speakers installed in the cubicles.
While Hiro is part of the Venetian Macau F&B public mall area and open to the public, Hiro Ramen faces the casino area and is designed for casino clients needing a quick refuel. Their attention will be captured by a 4.5m x 3m LED videowall floated from the ceiling, displaying content promoting the restaurant. A solution was needed to provide clarity at a distance of more than 100m, which would require bright LEDs but would also work at up to 10m away for those on nearby slot machines, and up to 5m for incoming visitors. The Den drew on its experience in LED design, selecting a pitch of p4.81 to provide clear resolution and high brightness LED pixels for far distance viewing and a granular view without overpowering brightness when close up. “To ensure the nearfield screen quality can be maintained at such a low pitch, we used an extremely flat type of video LED panel to ensure a perfect performance even at extreme side angles,” explains the Den’s senior AV adviser, Nicolas Kirsch. “At the time of design several uncertainties remained, such as the method of mounting the screen, the type of structure and maintenance access. To prepare for possible changes the DLW Magic Series from Digital Light Windows was identified as the best solution, as this series is the Swiss army knife of LED walls: suitable for both touring and installation, with front and rear maintenance and a wide array of pitches and customisation possibilities. Its touring-grade mechanical locking system ensures a perfectly flat alignment and makes system setup and alignment extremely fast; an important aspect as we were only given a single day for the installation of the giant LED videowall.”
Hiro Ramen has a modern take on a ubiquitous feature of Japanese ramen shops: the vending machine, which allows orders to be placed, paid for and relayed to the kitchen automatically. An LG 98-inch LCD TV is mounted vertically with a ZaagTech IR multipoint touchframe allowing clients to interact with graphic animations, browse the ramen menu, place orders and pay via mobile phone apps such as Apple Pay, Ali Pay or WeChat Pay. The interactive multimedia feature content was designed and produced by Japanese design agency Teamlab, which also provided the LED wall content. The animation soundtrack is played out via Quest HPI5 ultra-compact speakers installed within the wall. Orders are sent to the kitchen and queuing numbers displayed on a 55-inch display near the shop entrance, while clients who want to order at the table are presented with an iPad e-menu. Two BrightSign media players provide backup content for the two screens in case streaming from the Venetian video network is lost.
The sound system installed in the ceiling at Hiro Ramen comprises seven Quest HPI8i full-range long-throw speakers and two HPI12S compact subs, all aimed at the tables and waiting area below. The HPI8i was chosen for its directivity, which can cut through the nearby casino noise without overpowering the ambient acoustics nor bleeding onto the casino floor. A set of Xilica Rio input panels behind the service counter can connect to an iPod or microphones, while wall panel controls allow staff to adjust levels.
All amps and processing for the entire installation – a combination of Quest Engineering QX4280 four-channel and Quest Engineering Q1K digital amps and Xilica Neutrino matrixes – are integrated into a single 16U rack hidden inside a service cupboard. All room controls are provided by Xilica Mini Series wall panels and a master panel based on Xilica XTouch 80 and iPad control. From the single Xilica Neutrino 16x16 matrix, Dante lines have been run to three different Rio input panels located around the venue, receiving local signals including those from the TV in the VIP room, or to connect external sources such as DJ equipment and microphones. Such a small control rack is possible because of the Quest Q1K’s power capacity, which can drive up to 500W/8O per channel, or as a 70V line, 1,000W amp in bridge mode. Additionally, the Xilica Neutrino, a high-power DSP offering a range of functions, has the capacity to drive an entire system. “We pushed the system to the limits of its capabilities and the number of control and input panels that it can support,” says Kirsch.
All cabling is from the CAE S2CEB range of high-quality, flexible FHP speaker cable and AudioLan6 Cat6 network cable. Extron video switchers, a Novastar LED wall controller and Cisco Ethernet switch complete the picture.
Following a two-month kitchen preparation and rehearsal period during which all tuning and GUI programming was carried out, the new Japanese F&B outlets opened on 1 February 2020 and prepared to impress visitors to the hotel. Just weeks later, a by-now familiar tale unfolded as Covid hit Macau and closed the casinos. Some reopening has since been allowed and, when the territory is able to return to full capacity, it’s a safe bet that the Venetian Macau’s new star attractions will lure visitors keen to sample Chef Kagata’s Hiro cuisine and gamblers eager for a quick ramen before hitting the tables.