Tips to create a more pleasant acoustic dining experience for patrons and protect employee hearing
Many of you have inquired about inexpensive ways to reduce excessive or irritating noise, so we are providing some basic rules of thumb. Improving the sound ambiance of a restaurant is not as difficult as one may think, using the right acoustic materials on a few ceilings or walls make a noticeably pleasant improvement in the dining acoustic experience.
Noise is an essential component of any restaurant’s ambiance and your customer’s dining experience. Excessive noise is often the 1st or 2nd largest complaint from customers, it makes some less likely to return or recommend your venue to friends. And when we talk about noise, we’re really talking about unpleasant sounds (i.e. piercing sound reflections, machine noise or boisterous conversations that carry too far) as the “right kind and amount” of noise (i.e. soft music or quiet background conversation) can help diners enjoy their experience. Thus, acoustic design is more about diminishing unpleasant and irritating noise all the while enhancing diner’s comfort with sound. With a pleasant ambiance, diners are more likely to order more, enjoy themselves and return again.
There are a wide variety of sound absorption materials and basic layout changes that can be undertaken without major renovation to improving the acoustic dining experience.
(1) Take a look at your space
If less than 50% of your ceiling and less than 20-30% of your walls are not covered with sound-absorbing materials, then your venue is more likely to experience noise issues.
(2) Look for basic ways to change layouts
Some areas are louder than others, particularly bar stations, ice machines, soda machines, espresso machines, point-of-sale machines and kitchen equipment. If these are located close to the diners, they will raise their voices over these distracting sounds to speak with each other which can produce a snowball effect causing other diners to raise their voices, increasing the noise level. Thus, determine if there is any way to relocate these stations and machines away from dining areas or figure treating walls or ceilings with sound absorptive materials.
(3) An acoustic supply vendor can solve the most basic needs of your venue and recommend moderately priced materials
Acoustic products can be customized to size and shape in order to nicely blend into your interior design scheme. If panel coverage is planned well, material and installation costs can be kept to a minimum; avoiding major renovation work or possible shut-down.
Examples of sound-absorbing materials include:
- Acoustical Ceiling Panels
- Sound Absorbers and Fabrics for walls, hung from ceiling or freestanding
- Sound Diffusers
- Other parts of interior design that can help absorb sound: plants, carpeting, drapes, tablecloths and upholstered chairs
- Note: All acoustic panel products are NRC rated (Noise Reduction Coefficient .65 to 1.0 being the highest, most sound absorptive). Use only ASTM E-84 Class A fire rated sound-absorbing materials.
(4) If the above steps fail, contact an acoustic consultant
For a list of select vendors for acoustic supplies or an acoustic consultant - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading "Venue Tips"