Restaurants: the newer the noisier

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article on noisy restaurants, and specifically why newer restaurants are noisier than ever.  Although the physical causes are nothing new—open kitchens, loud music, and hard finishes that provide little acoustic absorption—the article associates recent noise increases with the current economic downturn.  Interior style elements that traditionally absorb sound—heavy curtains, carpeting, linens, and upholstery— “telegraph a fine-dining message out of sync with today’s cost-conscious, informal diner.”

Of course, the clean, modern aesthetic sought by today’s upscale restaurant needn’t necessarily be a noisy one.  Acoustical treatments that absorb sound and reduce din don’t always take the form of plush carpet, soft upholstery, or heavy drapes; modern treatments can match almost any aesthetic conceivable, hiding behind smooth plaster, wood veneer, metal, transparent plastic, and even artwork.  Beyond matching acoustic performance to visual appearance, an acoustical consultant can  also ensure that these treatments don’t go overboard—unnecessarily deadening the lively, energetic feel that many popular restaurants thrive upon.

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