The prior system had served Yoshi’s well, reinforcing the music of jazz, R&B, and associated pop luminaries for a quarter century. But a grueling schedule of two shows six or seven nights a week, when combined with some questionable changes in front-end processing, had dulled the luster of the system. These signs of aging, along with demand for stronger bass by contemporary R&B acts, prompted Quiroz and General Manager Hal Campos to look at giving the venue a complete audio renovation.
Preliminary plans were put on hold during the Covid shutdowns, but when business rebounded, Yoshi’s gave the green light to move forward with a new system. Final designs were generated by Joe Mistretta of Meyer Sound Design Services working in collaboration with the ASG Audio Team and Key Accounts Manager Tom Menrath.
The new Yoshi’s system comprises two UPQ-D1™ wide coverage and two UPQ‑D2™ narrow coverage full-size loudspeakers for the mains, supplemented by three ULTRA-X20™ compact wide coverage loudspeakers for downfill and seven UP-4slim™ ultra-compact installation loudspeakers for front fill. Ample power for contemporary R&B acts is now available through four 900-LFC™ low-frequency control elements, mounted in pairs on the walls. A Galileo® GALAXY 816 Network Platform provides system drive and optimization, while artist foldback has been upgraded with the addition of 10 MJF-208™ and two MJF-210™ stage monitors.
“Down time is expensive for Yoshi’s as it costs not only the performance venue but their foundational restaurant business,” notes ASG’s Menrath, “so it was vital to get the new system up and running as fast as possible. Working with Brad Katz of Waveworks, we were able to get the old system out, the new one in, tuned, and back in action within nine days.”
Among the first to hear the new system were two of Yoshi’s founders and owners, namesake Yoshie Akiba and Kaz Kazamura. “When I turned it on, it literally brought tears to their eyes,” recalls Quiroz. “They had never heard this room sound so good.”
As an avid musician, Tom Menrath found this relatively small project nevertheless highly rewarding. “We do a lot of major projects with Meyer Sound, including huge installations for well-known Silicon Valley corporations, but Yoshi’s has been particularly satisfying,” he says. “This new system with the most advanced loudspeaker technologies is a stunning upgrade, and the artists who perform at Yoshi’s certainly deserve nothing but the best the industry can offer.”
Artists who have performed at Yoshi’s since the system upgrade — in addition to Weckl, Reinhart, and Jackson — include Jose Feliciano, Jesse Colin Young, Sheila E, Sergio Mendes, Arturo Sandoval, and Les Claypool.
Now celebrating its golden anniversary, Yoshi’s was first established as an intimate sushi bar by Yoshie Akiba (the “e” on her first name dropped for the restaurant) and her close friends in 1972. Seven years later, Yoshi’s moved to a larger location in Berkeley’s Claremont neighborhood, mainly to accommodate Akiba’s passion for dance and live jazz. In 1997, Yoshi’s moved again, this time to even larger accommodations at Oakland’s Jack London Square, where the expanded restaurant is complemented by the 330-seat music venue.
The original system installed for Jack London Square deployed Meyer Sound CQ‑1 and CQ-2 self-powered loudspeakers for the mains, with UPA-1P and HM-1 loudspeakers for fills and PSW-2 subwoofers for the low end.
Other artists who have graced the stage at Yoshi’s over the years include Van Morrison, Diana Krall, Taj Mahal, Max Roach, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Dave Brubeck, and Bonnie Raitt.
About Meyer Sound
Founded by John and Helen Meyer in 1979, Meyer Sound is a global leader in providing integrated solutions for sound reinforcement, spatial sound, acoustic systems, studio monitoring and high-end residential systems. Recognized as an audio technology pioneer, Meyer Sound was the first to introduce dedicated loudspeaker processors, source independent measurement, large-scale self-powered loudspeakers, and cardioid subwoofers, among other innovations. The premium professional brand maintains rigorous quality control in its design and manufacturing of sustainable solutions for concert touring and festivals, houses of worship, cinema, education, corporate offices and residential. Scientific research and innovative product development have earned more than 100 US and international patents along with numerous industry awards. Headquartered in Berkeley, California with operations globally, Meyer Sound is a company where employees are innovators and diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced in the workplace and the community.