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Improve Room Acoustics

Scraping cutlery, excited conversations and rattling from the kitchen - everyone is acquainted with these background noises in restaurants. While some guests like a cheerful soundscape, others prefer a somewhat quieter atmosphere with their meal. So what to do? We've put together some tips for you on how to optimise the room acoustics. This will help you do justice to your guests and your location.

Loud, louder, Lombard-Effect

In addition to the menu and service, the ambience in the restaurant must also be right. Easier said than done, because cafés and restaurants are hot spots for loud noises. Besides telephone ringing, a shrill playlist or the fully automatic coffee machine, loud laughter from the regulars' table can also become an absolute disturbance factor. Of course, making guests aware of their loudness is not very charming and definitely not conducive to sales. Moreover, they often cannot help it, as they are subject to the Lombard effect. This means that a person automatically increases his or her volume in order to be better understood when background noise is present. Since high frequencies are more resistant to background noise than low frequencies, many people also increase their pitch. This leads to a vicious circle, as the noise level increases and therefore the speech volume is further adjusted. All these sounds add up to one thing: noise!

Wild Party or Candlelight-Dinner - what makes for good room acoustics?

What kind of atmosphere is to be created depends on the type of catering. Is it a café, a bar, a pizzeria or a award-winning restaurant? And what do your guests expect from the respective location - a cosy evening, a business dinner or a party with friends?

Two examples illustrate the respective differences:

  1. In the trendy tapas bar, guests can expect South American sounds, a small dance floor and lively conversation. Here waiters walk around between the small and narrow groups of tables, creating a sense of community. For this location the sounds have to be swallowed as far as possible across the room, so that the whole background noise is muffled.
  2. At a romantic dinner in the chic restaurant, the couple engage in intimate conversations and express their love. In order to provide as much privacy as possible and to create a relaxed atmosphere, room dividers with a soft surface are suitable, for example. But beware: too many acoustic elements, such as in the tapas bar, can lead to a dull sound.

Not only the occasion is relevant, but also the individual needs of the guests. For example, make sure to place people with hearing aids in a quiet corner of the restaurant. This way they can also take part in the table talk and feel well looked after.

The way to silence - how can I reduce noise?

Not every location has an immediate issue with the room acoustics. Many new buildings are now designed and decorated to absorb noise. However, older or converted buildings may present specific challenges depending on the degree of angulation, room size, ceiling height or noise level.

Already starting with a sound pressure level of 45 dB(A) a normal conversation is made more difficult, from 50 dB(A) the voice has to be raised and from 60 db(A) the voice is already loud. For comparison: 70 db(A) approximately has the volume of a vacuum cleaner operated at a distance of one meter. At a sound pressure level of more than 80 dB(A), an ear-splitting environment prevails in which your guests absolutely feel uncomfortable. This can distress everyone involved and, in the worst case, lead to loss of revenue due to a shorter stay or absence of guests.

We also use noise-dampening measures in our offices - of course with stylish greenbox motifs!

greenbox akkustik Element in der Küche
greenbox Deckenpaneele und Trennwände
Wandbilder aus schall-absorbierendem Stoff

Measures to reduce noise

In order for neither you nor your guests having to settle with library whispers, we have put together some easily implementable measures for you:

  • Scaling down the room
    As a general rule, the larger a room and the less furnishings there are, the louder it appears. Use plant boxes or partition wallsto divide the room into smaller sections. These provide private seating groups with privacy and at the same time prevent sound from spreading. Partition walls can also be moved at any time so that you remain flexible in your room layout.
  • Using walls and ceilings
    To shorten the reverberation time, you also have to work on the walls. Sound reflections are caused by hard walls and high ceilings that reflect sound. Ceiling canopies or ceiling panels are ideal for compensating for echo effects from high rooms. If it is not possible to stretch large ceiling elements, you can use acoustic elements such as foam cubes instead. Bare and smooth walls that convey an industrial look are particularly popular in large venues. However, hard surfaces of stone, concrete, glass, wood or plastic cannot absorb sound waves, so the walls reflect them back. To avoid this ping-pong effect between the walls, you should use soft materials, i.e. instead of mirrors and pictures in glass frames, you can use large-format pictures with an absorber / acoustic foam behind them. You can easily order these online and have them printed with any motif you like, such as colours, logo or photos of your restaurant. In addition to the optical enhancement and sound absorption, you can also equip the fabric pictures with LEDs for lighting and use them to hide unattractive places, such as a power box cover. The rule of thumb is that at least 30% of the room surfaces should be sound-absorbing.
  • Do not forget the floor
    Fluffy and thick carpets are ideal as sound and footfall absorbers. However, they are not very hygienic in a food environment. What can be implemented quickly and cheaply, however, are felt caps for the chair legs. Scraping noises when getting up will be a thing of the past.
  • Furnishing and decoration
    The same guidelines apply to furniture as to all other sound-absorbing elements: Soft, fluffy and an uneven texture reduce the volume. Cushions, heavy and thick curtains as well as decorative elements such as lampshades with fabric covers are suitable for this purpose. Hard and smooth surfaces such as leather, wood or metal furniture should be combined with soft textiles. If you're aiming for a minimalistic or industrial look, you can mount self-adhesive sound absorbers under the tables and chairs so that they are not visible. This will also prevent wear and tear from touching and abrasion.
  • The effect of music, light and colours
    Rooms with a sober and cool appearance are automatically perceived as more reverberant - regardless of whether they actually are. To avoid this psychological effect, you can use warm wall colours and lamps. Music is also helpful to cover up disturbing noises. However, it depends on the volume and the sound design, which should be adjusted to the desired ambience.

Conclusion

As you can see, you don't necessarily need an interior designer or an acoustician to control noises, but you can also do it yourself at a reasonable cost. If you still want to spend a little more money, a professional can analyse your room structure, measure the reverberation times and offer you a tailor-made solution. He can also provide you with information on applicable fire safety regulations, which are mandatory for commercial premises. Conclusion: Whether it's a chic restaurant or a busy tapas bar, it's important that you create an oasis of well-being for your guests that suits the establishment, so that nothing stands in the way of a pleasant atmosphere for conversation and quality of stay!