Skip to main content

Restaurant noise: how much is too much?

I went out for dinner this weekend at a tapas restaurant. The food was great, and the ambiance could have been great, too, if the restaurant had taken some steps to reduce noise. After all, going out for Spanish tapas should evoke feelings of pleasure, relaxation, great flavors, and a general "chilled out" environment.

However, like many trendy eateries, the floors and walls were made of hard surfaces, and the sound just bounced and amplified. Every table was full of patrons -- which was great, of course. But when we walked in, we were greeted to a blast of noise. We had to yell at our table to hear each other. So I pulled out my mobile phone and checked one of my decibel-reader apps. It was 88.8 decibels.

This article from Restaurant Engine states that normal conversation ranges from 55 to 65 dB, conversation gets difficult at 75 dB, and noise becomes "damaging" at 85 dB. Yet our table was clocking in at over 88 dB when we were just sitting across from each other and not even trying to talk.

Primacoustic is a Canadian-based company that makes acoustic panels and wall treatments for noisy environments, including restaurants. Watch their video as they take you step by step through the before and after of different sound treatments. Listen to what a difference the treatments make. (Good news: Primacoustic distributes internationally.) It seems like a win-win for restaurants to use acoustic panels as part of their interior decor.

How many of you think that a restaurant feels more successful if the noise level is really high? Do you think restaurant owners intentionally keep their businesses noisy to increase the table turnover? Have you ever walked out of a restaurant because the noise level was too loud?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Combining QuietRock and Green Glue together

Two great products work great together. As I've mentioned before, I'm experimenting around with ways to reduce some of the noise problems in my apartment on a tight budget. I think I've found the best combination to date: adding a layer of QuietRock 510 over an existing layer of gypsum drywall with a layer of Green Glue inbetween.

This was sort of the best of both worlds: taking a pre-made, sound-dampened drywall and then adding it over a powerful, viscous layer of glue....onto drywall that was already on the wall studs. No demo needed. In this project, I basically added two sound-dampening layers to the original 1950s drywall (one layer in the QuietRock and the other layer created by the Green Glue) to address "flanking noise": feet, furniture, and shoes pounding on the bare floor of my downstairs neighbors' apartment. The amount of banging, bashing, and foot-stomping sounds coming from their very "wooden" apartment has been severe, and I've …

Blow-in cellulose and your hollow walls

It's not too late to insulate.  A few years ago, most American homes had no insulation in them. When a homeowner did insulate, it was usually with fiberglass batts.

Then along came some better products. One of them is blow-in cellulose insulation. Does it work? I can attest to this: YES. I've used it in walls and ceilings, and it works quite well for airborne noise. If you live in an uninsulated home and you hear your neighbors voices coming through your walls or ceilings, cellulose will dampen that noise or mute it entirely.

It doesn't work for all types of noise. But it doesn't eradicate impact noise. You might still hear the sounds of someone walking across a bare hardwood floor with their shoes on, for example, or hear wall-mounted cabinets opening and closing. There are other solutions for that, and by combining different solutions you can control most structural noise and create more privacy.

Low cost Blow-in insulation is inexpensive. You can hire a specialist …

D.I.Y. sound panels and studio hacks

Inexpensive D.I.Y. sound panels for home studios Looking for acoustic ideas for your home studio? YouTube has plenty of D.I.Y. videos for controlling sound and adding absorption.

If you're running a business (especially a restaurant), you need to buy professional, fire-rated sound control panels that conform to local codes. You might also need to speak with an acoustics expert. But for home projects, you might need only a quick hack for a small room.

These four videos show a range of materials. Notice that I didn't include any that use fiberglass batts because you don't want those tiny glass fibers coming through the fabric.

This video from DIY Perks shows how you can repurpose some old towels into a sound-absorbing panel.:



And this guy from JT Guitar leaves no stone unturned as he details everything you need to build sturdy wood-framed panels with insulation in them, including the shopping trip, the tools you need, the measurements (special bonus: metric), exactly where …