We’ve all been there at one time or another. You make a reservation at a restaurant where the food is out of this world, the service is perfect and the décor transports you. But then you sit down with your guest or group, and you can barely hear anything that’s being said. So you raise your voice to communicate and you’re now adding to the cacophony of sound from the others in the room who are in the same boat you’re in. Sound familiar?
How can this be? Doesn’t the owner realize how awful the acoustics are? But it’s a very common problem. Restaurant designers and owners are not acousticians. Room décor always comes first and if there’s any money left in the budget, it’s probably not going to get spent on acoustical treatment. But it should.
Many dining and drinking establishments are in rooms that once served other purposes. Warehouses, industrial facilities, machine shops…all are likely candidates to spend their second life as a hospitality establishment. Patrons tend to like high ceilings, brick walls, hard wood floors, exposed beams, and other architectural elements that make you feel like you’re not in your office. But all such elements are highly reflective, acoustically speaking.
Fortunately, it’s not an insurmountable issue, but it does require some time, attention and money (though the last can be surprisingly minimal). The problem with overly noisy environments is quite simple. It’s all about acoustical reflections. If the sonic energy generated by the guests who are speaking to one another is not absorbed, then it simply reflects from one hard surface to another in the room, until it eventually dissipates. What’s needed is a