When Mikkel Borg Bjergsø started experimenting in his kitchen with his childhood friend Kristian Keller in 2003, the initial thought was to recreate the beer they most enjoyed and save themselves some money in the process. Today Mikkeller exports craft beer to over 50 countries and operates an equal number of bars and restaurants around the globe. The latest venture is Mikkeller Shanghai, the brand’s first bar in China and an exciting step into a new and developing market. Designed by Mikkeller’s own designer, Camilla Monsrud, the bar is a beautiful fusion of Chinese architecture with Nordic minimalism, including a Genelec 4000 Series sound system.
The accent throughout the bar is on raw, natural materials. Wooden furniture and soft lighting contrast with concrete floors and exposed brickwork. The Genelec 4030 loudspeakers are a perfect match for the quality and aesthetic criteria of Mikkeller Shanghai. Four 4030s are installed in the main bar area – which comprises a number of seated areas plus the bar counter itself – and another 4030 covers the shop space housed in a semi-enclosed mezzanine overlooking the main bar, where customers can purchase merchandising and bottled beer to take away.
The bar is run by Martin Aamodt, the managing partner of Mikkeller Shanghai. Aamodt has lived in Shanghai for many years and previously managed a Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen. He is also a musician, and therefore naturally attaches great importance to the sound experience of the bar. “I’ve travelled pretty extensively, and I’ve noticed that Genelec loudspeakers are widely used in the upmarket restaurant and bar sector, as well as in some live clubs,” he reveals. “I was keen to use Genelec for Mikkeller Shanghai as I felt that it was a great fit for us, both from a quality standpoint as well as aesthetically.”
Genelec sound systems have become a popular option in bars and restaurants thanks to their crystalline audio delivery at low levels that enables customers to enjoy the music without it intruding on their conversation. Aamodt agrees. “I think the mark of a good system for this type of environment is that it goes unnoticed – people are just enjoying themselves without really realising why. However, anyone from a music background or with an interest in music notices immediately that we have good loudspeakers – and that’s cool!”
Aamodt also appreciates the simplicity of the setup. “Genelec specialises in active loudspeakers, which is what we have with the 4030s. This means that there is no extra expense for amplifiers – including installation time – and we don’t even need a subwoofer. The 4030 is powerful enough to deliver the SPL I need and still have plenty left in reserve. It’s a relatively compact loudspeaker, but the sound is really big. I also like that there are so many different options when it comes to mounting brackets and other accessories – you know that they’ll have what you need. Finally, you know that a Genelec solution will last a lifetime, so even if the initial outlay may seem high, not only are you saving money in the long run, but you have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve invested in the best.”
The system was installed by Nanjing integration specialists FORCPACE, who made good use of the adjustable wall brackets to ensure that each loudspeaker was optimally angled. The individual room response controls on the back of each loudspeaker completed the acoustic setup. Each speaker can be individually adjusted for sensitivity and tone, which greatly facilitates system tuning.
“I wanted a simple, high quality plug-and-play solution that our non-technical staff could operate easily and that would integrate seamlessly with the environment. That’s exactly what I’ve got, and I’m delighted with the results,” said Aamodt. Indeed, the bar has enjoyed great success since its opening, despite the difficulties caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The popularity of Mikkeller in Shanghai has made Aamodt eager to conceive the next project. “The customised colours of the Genelec 4000 Series are really attractive. We are already considering using Genelec speakers that colour-match with our next new bar because it will look amazing! Perhaps we can even take the colours and location of speakers into consideration during the design stage so that they form part of
the blueprint for the new bar. This will guarantee us a high quality sound and design experience from beginning to end.”