The fast-developing Farmer J health food concept opened its second operation recently in the City of London in a strategic new development opposite Monument Station, at the entrance to London Bridge. A bustling, all-day operation, it serves wholesome, protein packed breakfasts and lunches on fieldtrays, with all food cooked on site using fresh ingredients. As it moves into the evening session for cocktails and dinner the atmosphere changes again.

To keep the mood constantly evolving during the different trading patterns owner Jonathan Recanati wanted a subtle, but high-quality sound system. Evolve Install had already undertaken some work at the original Farmer J in Leadenhall, boosting the original sound system there with some JBL Control 25-1. “And that primarily won us the contract for the full fit-out here,” believes director Elliot Patterson.

Working alongside music providers and customer profilers Open Ear Music, he said, “Jonathan liked the Control 25-1 in Leadenhall Street so much we said we would stay with the series, and move up to the Control 28-1. It’s important to keep this consistency as with a lot of leisure hospitality brands you see random speakers being used from unit to unit.

Arriving on site when the building—a much larger footprint than its forerunner—was still a shell, Patterson recalls that the client “was very clear and articulate in what he wanted … and that was a good, clean audio feed, sonically excellent and good aesthetically.”

He wanted to provide as much versatility with the source and volume control as Open Ear Music do with their own music players—whereby a mobile app is dedicated to the client so he has control and can effectively become the DJ, controlling the music and volume from any mobile phone.

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Evolve Install responded by specifying two JBL Control 28-1 at the livelier bar area and four JBL Control 25-1 distributed around the remainder of the open plan, single-floor venue (including the Entrance, which becomes the third zone). All are in white.

Alongside JBL, Evolve turned to the Crown and dbx brands within the HARMAN family, all sourced from UK distributor Sound Technology Ltd, to create an integrated solution of speakers, amplification and DSP.

The speakers are powered by three Crown XLi 800 amplifiers, offering plenty of headroom. “This means it won’t put the system under any stress if the volume is cranked up,” notes Patterson.

Preset sound levels for each day are stored in a dbx ZonePRO 640 DSP router, which has a display on the front panel. There is override behind the bar with three ZC8 local source select remote-control panels are stationed.

To create more flexibility, Evolve have also provided an input point for a possible DJ or band, for future use.

Summing up, Elliot Patterson said, “It’s reassuring that we have been able to keep with a high-end brand like JBL despite having to work within a tight budget, and it also helps with continuity when staff move from site to site.

“I have dealt with JBL for 20-plus years; these Control series speakers are easy to install and you can run them pretty much straight out of the box. Also they have 80° x 50° dispersion so the coverage is spot on, with no dead spaces.”

Farmer J has since opened in Canary Wharf, also featuring Evolve Install, with a fourth site expected to be announced soon.


  • Farmer J
  • Fast-expanding health-food restaurant chain

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