Most restaurants have music playing for guests while they eat and enjoy the atmosphere. It creates an experience that makes people remember the great time they had when they came to your place.
But is this a cost you can afford? What is involved in pricing this option for your restaurant?
How do you decide what’s best? There are many factors to consider.
A restaurant sound system can cost anywhere from approximately $500 to upwards of $3,500.
The size of your restaurant and the environment you want to foster are the biggest considerations in deciding which kind of sound system you’ll need.
Some places require fewer speakers than others. Some restaurants need equalizers and digital systems to control the sound in different areas of the restaurant.
There are a lot of ways to price a restaurant sound system to keep your costs reasonable. You also need to consider any maintenance, operating the system on your own and training others to use it properly.
If it’s too complicated and you’re not there to run it, that could be a big problem on a busy night. If you don’t have enough speakers or the music is always too loud, that’s another issue that can be worth upgrading to a more expensive system.
- What Components Do You Really Need?
- Consider Who Will Use Your Restaurant Sound System
- Event Spaces and Club/Restaurant Hybrids
- Where Will Your Sound System Go?
- Write Down Your Findings
What Components Do You Really Need?
This is probably the most important factor when pricing a restaurant sound system.
Do you really need a fully digital control unit with special effects, control over separate areas, and long-range sound on the speakers? How do you know?
Large Square Footage Doesn’t Automatically Mean Pricey Equipment
You might think that you need a big fancy system to get the right sound if you have a big space but that’s not necessarily true.
The amount and type of equipment depend more on the layout of your space than the square footage.
- Is your space separated into sections? Sections that have walls and the construction material of those walls. For example, glass and wood affect how sound travels differently than drywall or cement. This helps you determine how many speakers you need.
- Do the different sections each have their own purpose? If you’re using one section for large pre-booked parties and another section for regular seating, you may want to be able to control the sound in each section. This requires more specialized equipment than the basic sound system.
- Is your restaurant carpeted? This and the material the walls are made of will determine a lot about the acoustics you’re dealing with. This is how the sound bounces around the walls, ceiling, and floor and how you may need to control it. This may require an equalizer that gives you control of effects like treble and base.
- Will you need to make announcements? In larger restaurants, it’s common to have a waitlist system using pagers or by announcing names of parties when they’re ready to be seated. If this is the case for you, that might require a separate sound system for the lobby and/or outside the front doors.
What Environment Are You Trying to Create?
Does your restaurant have a specific theme that relies on music as one of the major details? Are you trying to create an easy atmosphere where people can talk and relax?
These questions matter when you’re trying to figure out which equipment you need for your restaurant sound system. Some examples include:
- Creating a relaxing environment conducive to conversation means that your speakers don’t need to have a long range. You can mount them on the ceilings and play light music at a low volume. You wouldn’t need to do much else to create ambiance in regards to music.
- A theme that relies on specific culture or music from a special genre would need to be heard to complete the experience. You’d need a good equalizer to control the music around acoustics and you may need extra speakers to reach all different areas of the restaurant.
- A restaurant that also puts on events in a backroom or on the patio will need a sound system that allows you to control different areas of the restaurant. You may need different volume levels and effects in each of the different spaces. Events, patio dining, and indoor dining each have their own atmosphere to begin with.
Consider Who Will Use Your Restaurant Sound System
You can’t be everywhere all the time. There will be instances when you’re not at your restaurant and someone needs to adjust the music.
In these cases, you have to consider who will use the sound system and how you’ll train them. If you end up spending thousands on new equipment, you don’t want it broken by user error.
Expensive systems can be sensitive. It’s prudent to only allow a select few to use them when you’re not there.
It’s a responsibility that should be entrusted to managers and they should be thoroughly trained on every component in the system and how it works.
Make sure they know who to call if something breaks through no fault of their own. That can happen, especially with heavy use of the system.
Ensuring the Sound System
No amount of training will stop every mistake and the more people that handle your restaurant’s sound system, the more potential there is for it to break.
When you purchase the system, ask about insuring the components and what it entails. Include anyone who may also be handling the system to ensure their use is covered as well.
Remote Sound Systems
Some restaurant sound systems allow you to control them remotely through your computer or an app on your phone.
If you don’t believe there’s anyone at your restaurant that you trust enough to handle the sound system or if the selected few also won’t always be there, you can choose a remote system.
These systems, in the capacity needed by a restaurant, are often significantly higher priced than a traditional sound system.
It may end up costing you approximately $1,000-$2,000 more to install a remote system that you can control when you’re not on the premises.
Event Spaces and Club/Restaurant Hybrids
Restaurants aren’t all just about food and drink. Some places hold events in a space in the back or have a bar area that’s more like a club with a dance floor.
If your restaurant falls under one of these special places, you’ll have to consider a few other things in regards to the sound system.
- Live shows, open mic nights, and karaoke can bring in a lot of business for any bar area of a restaurant. But they require far more specialized equipment than the average restaurant sound system. You’ll have to factor in the cost of microphones, amplifiers, and a full soundboard to get the best quality from your stage.
- Dance music in a bar area or restaurant with a dance floor might be louder than the rest of the floor. You’ll need to be able to control the sound in each separate area so that people who don’t want to dance aren’t bothered and people who do can hear the music well enough to get into it.
- A jukebox or “choose your own track” system can be a huge draw in some settings. Be sure that your sound system allows people to hear their personal choices at their tables. They’ll want to come back to pick their own tracks all the time.
Where Will Your Sound System Go?
After you’ve considered all the factors of which equipment you’ll need, consider where each piece of equipment will be placed.
- Do you need a sound booth where specialty equipment can be housed and locked away?
- Will there be speakers outside that will be exposed to the elements on a regular basis?
- Will any part of your system (like jukeboxes or karaoke microphones) be handled by your guests?
- Will you need to house the main system and controls in an office and away from other people?
- Will you mount speakers in the walls or on the ceiling? Will you have speakers mounted anywhere else?
- Will you put speakers in the kitchen?
- Will you have an intercom system?
All of these factors could impact the cost of your system. Where you plan to put things could require the purchase of other specialized equipment or altering the walls/ceiling to keep things mounted securely.
If things might be exposed to elements like water or extreme heat, that needs to be considered too.
Write Down Your Findings
Once you’ve looked at all of these factors, write out the details of what you want to do and where you want things to go. This will help when you talk to a restaurant sound system supplier and get your quote.
They’ll need to know where you want things to go and what you want your sound system to do.