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Technology and society

Chhavi Sachdev
Podcaster and Independent Radio Producer/Reporter
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piqer: Chhavi Sachdev
Thursday, 28 February 2019

Why Are Restaurants So, So Loud?

I generally like taking deep dives into different sounds that define our community with the episodes of 20 Thousand Hertz, but this one really, really spoke to me. Super loud restaurants are a pet peeve of mine (of course, I work in audio so I find noise quite jarring). Shouting at each other in spaces where you can hear everything except your companion really gets on my nerves. Apparently, I'm not alone. I'm not the only person requesting the establishment to turn their music down. But it's not just that, right? Host Dallas Taylor talks to architecture design and architectural acoustics expert, Kate Wagner. Together they talk about how restaurant design has changed, partly because of the move towards minimalism (think wooden furniture, filament lightbulbs, exposed pipes) which do nothing to muffle or absorb sound. (Ironically, she says the best acoustics abroad are in Indian and Nepali restaurants with their carpeting and table cloths – unfortunately a thing of the past here – in India!)

Wagner says there are studies that tell us loud music and noise make people stressed. In a restaurant, studies have proved, people overeat, make unhealthy food choices, and also drink more alcohol: 

These are all things that benefit restaurateurs, they have lower overhead, they have less maintenance and they have higher turnover and more alcohol sales. But at the expense of everyone who dines there.

See, it's not just the fact that you're flattening your basilar cilia (the tiny hairs inside your ears) so that your hearing is irreparably damaged! It's also just plain bad for your physical and mental health. 

You can't change existing restaurant architecture, but the episode ends with a couple of things you can do, including my go-to: keep asking the management to please turn it down.

Why Are Restaurants So, So Loud?
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