Everyone likes the lively feeling of hubbub, which is not the same as a space that is too noisy. Hubbub is “background noise”. Hubbub means to the owner that business is going strong and it means to the patron that people like to be here.
It’s Too Noisy…
The single most common complaint about restaurants, for example.
It’s not about food, the server or the wait, it’s about too much noise. There is a way to maintain a vibrant noise floor, but still provide acoustic intimacy for your customers. Most restaurants fail to resolve this persistent problem. So what is the problem with eateries and noise, the patrons and the owners?
In truth a loud restaurant, bistro, pub or bar can border on the sound volume you would find in a manufacturing environment. There are many regulations regarding this. OSHA has guidelines in place to keep sound levels below 85db, and hearing protection is required above 90db
If a restaurant is too noisy, that means that the place is full of people and business is booming, and restaurateurs like that. If it is too quiet, that means the place is empty. Owners like the noise and don’t like the quiet and don’t like anything that makes their restaurant quiet. No one goes into a quiet restaurant – it feels empty.
Fine dining aside, eating in a quiet restaurant is unappealing. A quiet restaurant means something is wrong, thus acoustics are not added to quiet down a restaurant. We are using the “Q” (quiet) word to talk about restaurant acoustics and the “Q” word is not the right word to use.
One of the better restaurant interior designs are large restaurants with high ceilings, lots of hard reflective surface – an open air design meant to induce vibrancy. These spaces have a steady din of hubbub, that backfills any lull in the conversation. The noise volume is loud enough that table top conversations are not overheard at adjacent tables. Not all commercial buildings have the ability to produce this design, and are wide enough but have a lower ceiling. Low ceilings act like megaphones beaming sound everywhere, and loudly.