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posted by mrpg on Friday April 20 2018, @06:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the say-what-again dept.

Vox presents an article about restaurant noise levels and why they've risen over the years.

When the Line Hotel opened in Washington, DC, last December, the cocktail bars, gourmet coffee shops, and restaurants that fill its cavernous lobby drew a lot of buzz. Housed in a century-old church, the space was also reputedly beautiful.

My first visit in February confirmed that the Line was indeed as sleek as my friends and restaurant critics had suggested. There was just one problem: I wanted to leave almost as soon as I walked in. My ears were invaded by a deafening din.

[...] In reckoning with this underappreciated health threat, I’ve been wondering how we got here and why any well-meaning restaurateur would inflict this pain on his or her patrons and staff. I learned that there are a number of reasons — and they mostly have to do with restaurant design trends. In exposing them, I hope restaurateurs will take note: You may be deafening your staff and patrons.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bradley13 on Friday April 20 2018, @06:38AM (9 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @06:38AM (#669536) Homepage Journal

    I suppose it depends on what you want. TFA claims that this trend started in NYC, and that it's all about feeling "energy" when you walk into a restaurant. Maybe if your customers are the young'n'trendy types that's important. For myself, I find packed, loud restaurants unpleasant - and I won't go back. Who is the target audience?

    Of course, walking into a completely empty and completely silent restaurant is weird. But someone is always first, someone walks into the empty restaurant. So what do you do? A simple solution is quiet music. That provides some background sound for the first customers. Once there are enough customers to provide a certain level of sound, the music can't be heard anymore - but it's still there, in case there is some lapse in the overall conversational level, which does happen sometimes.

    Fancy acoustic analyses shouldn't be necessary. Provide soft surfaces to soak up the sound. That can be acoustic tiles on the ceiling, or wall hangings, or simply upholstered furniture. Don't have single, huge rooms - who wants to eat in a warehouse? Break a large area up into smaller sections with some sort of movable partitions - which can themselves be soft-surfaced.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kazzie on Friday April 20 2018, @08:20AM (6 children)

      by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @08:20AM (#669562)

      This trend in restaurants may have started in NYC, but the trend of music in places where people spend money is anything but new. Many UK supermarkets and stores have done this for decades on end.

      Ten years or so ago, licensing bodies started to get pickier about workplaces that have a radio turned on where members of the public can hear it. This, as far as they're concerned, is a public performance, be it in a hairdressers, garage, etc. and needs to be licensed [radiocentre.org]. The fact that the radio station has also paid royalties to such bodies to broadcast such music isn't enough. (example case [telegraph.co.uk])

      As a result, most national chains of stores/supermarkets/banks that piped background music on their premises decided to update with the times and switch to producing their own (private) internet radio station to pipe into their stores. As well as (presumably) having more control over what royalties have to be paid, they can stick in adverts for their own products and merchandise between songs. My eyes roll when I'm in a bank and hear "You're listening to HSBC live!"

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by krishnoid on Friday April 20 2018, @08:40AM

        by krishnoid (1156) on Friday April 20 2018, @08:40AM (#669564)

        My eyes roll when I'm in a bank and hear "You're listening to HSBC live!"

        Particularly when you look around and think, "Isn't this Bank of America?"

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bradley13 on Friday April 20 2018, @09:29AM (2 children)

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @09:29AM (#669577) Homepage Journal

        Yes, well, copyright is sick. We have the same thing where I live: every household is required to pay an annual license to cover radio/television. Given that, you might assume that every person in the country would be covered - but no: every business also has to pay, because they might play the radio/television to their employees or customers. Even though said employees/customers have already paid privately.

        Frankly, f*ck 'em. They've license their music to the radio. They don't get to pick who the radio broadcasts to, or who picks up the broadcast. Same for CDs: If I buy a CD (or an MP3 or whatever), it's mine. I can play it for myself, for my family, or for half the world. After accepting payment, it's none of their business, after receiving payment for the CD. The only thing that copyright should restrict is duplication for resale - as a purchaser, I cannot make and resell copies of their music.

        The whole area of copyright needs massively whacked back. Limited, short terms of protection, and no more impingement on other people's rights to use a product that they have purchased.

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
        • (Score: 2) by NewNic on Friday April 20 2018, @07:03PM (1 child)

          by NewNic (6420) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:03PM (#669763) Journal

          We have the same thing where I live: every household is required to pay an annual license to cover radio/television

          I don't think that you understand the TV license scheme very well. Hint: it's a TV license (although covers streaming BBC programs these days)! Also, if there is a resident over 75 years old in the house, that person can get a free license, which covers anyone also living in the house.

          I am making an assumption that you are a UK resident, so my apologies in advance if you are not.

          --
          lib·er·tar·i·an·ism ˌlibərˈterēənizəm/ noun: Magical thinking that useful idiots mistake for serious political theory
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @11:17PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @11:17PM (#669846)

            "But No Billag’s proponents argued that freeing taxpayers of the 451-Swiss franc annual fee would unlock new economic potential, create a more competitive media sector and ultimately foster more choice. The cost is due to drop to 365 Swiss francs next year, but everyone will have to pay, even if they do not own a television or radio, after the government decided both platforms were watched and listened to via the internet." https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/05/switzerland-votes-overwhelmingly-to-keep-its-public-broadcaster [theguardian.com]

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday April 20 2018, @09:34AM

        by anubi (2828) on Friday April 20 2018, @09:34AM (#669578) Journal

        DelTaco has some nice music... or, at least, I like it better than most streams I have listened to.

        I'd like to find out if they are streaming it and how to tie into the stream. However, from what I can tell, some "expert" gets the store internet running, the sales registers tie in, as does the music, and a hot spot for the diners, then the expert leaves. The restaurant manager just has a number to call if the thing messes up... which very rarely happens. I was hoping it was simple as something like a Jango stream.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by nobu_the_bard on Friday April 20 2018, @08:08PM

        by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Friday April 20 2018, @08:08PM (#669791)

        Some of this is deliberate; some places have music annoying to people they don't want to stay long. Awkward covers with scratchy music at gas station pumps (to make everyone want to leave); lame oldies at small restaurants (to discourage the trendy kids from hanging out); searing hip-hop at clothing stores (to discourage the older visitors from shopping); etc etc

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Thexalon on Friday April 20 2018, @11:25AM (1 child)

      by Thexalon (636) on Friday April 20 2018, @11:25AM (#669594)

      For myself, I find packed, loud restaurants unpleasant - and I won't go back.

      Can't help but be reminded of a classic Yogi Berra-ism: "Nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded."

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Friday April 20 2018, @06:58PM

        by Nuke (3162) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:58PM (#669760)

        Can't help but be reminded of a classic Yogi Berra-ism: "Nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded."

        I check the good food guides and good pub guides, and I avoid the highly recommended ones because they are always crowded. Very often these places seem to get high votes (in the case of those guides that rely on the users' feedback) only because they are crowded which seems to appeal to the kind of people who fill in survey forms, and because many people assume that if something is popular it must be good, and also simply because the more people using a place then naturally the more survey returns they tend to get for it. I cannot say the food at these high rated places is generally any better (some exceptions), and I find it hard to taste food anyway when there is 80db going on in your ears.

        Unlike some posters here and the critics in TFA, I don't mind being the only customer in a place, I prefer it and tend to go early: it is quiet, you get better attention, and you can read a book or whatever undisturbed by a drunk party crowd at the next table.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @06:40AM (23 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @06:40AM (#669537)

    Just last week, in fact. We had seen a Pho place online, and went to the wrong side of the street where there just happened to be another Pho place. They were playing music way too loud, and it was almost empty. We realized our mistake, went across the street and the other place was actually more quiet even though it was full. I can't say the meat in the soup was very good though. Part of the problem may be that "fatty" is assumed to be "pure fat" in some soups; but mine was supposed to be a mix of other cuts that are lean. There was gristle. There's no excuse for gristle. I'd give it two stars, and order the meatballs if I ever went back... but I digress.

    The solution to this problem is to not patronize noisy restaurants. As long as patrons tolerate it, it will persist. No bars with live music, OTOH... it's kind of understood it'll be loud but even that can get out of control. This one place we used to go to... so loud people gave up on talking and texted. Nothing I could do to get out of that, except decide to be antisocial with co-workers, so I just dealt with it. That's what happens when you shove an amplified band into a bar that's built into a 20-foot wide urban retail space.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by anubi on Friday April 20 2018, @07:14AM (8 children)

      by anubi (2828) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:14AM (#669541) Journal

      I got ran out of several Starbucks and Border's bookstores when they invited in live musicians.

      Those venues simply weren't designed for that level of acoustical energy, and had it confined. It was like comparing a backrub to a beating.

      Even my Church got so loud I had to leave.

      Is it any surprise why late night TV ( aimed a lot at retired people like me ) is so full of ads for hearing aids? Even though I have not made my plight public on any places where my real name and mailing address are available, somehow I get a lot of mail from hearing doctors and their sales pitches.

      And some of them are telling me to blame one of my previous employers, which I flat refuse to do, because they didn't do it. You can't tell me that the oil refinery I worked at was anywhere near as loud as that Starbucks or in that Church, with kilowatts of power amplifiers in an enclosed room.

      I know the problem is with me, because I can hook my old analog HP651-B audio generator to a speaker, run its frequency up and down, and it sounds to me like the signal generator is malfunctioning and drops output at certain frequencies. However, my oscilloscope, looking at a microphone, does not verify what I think I hear. Its pretty damned obvious to me where my problem is.... I blew out a lot of my cochleas before I realized what was going on. And I should have left that church a lot earlier. But I had to learn the hard way. We humans seem to be awful gullible at times, and do things trying to meet someone else's expectations. Kinda like taking your car on faith to what you believed was a mechanic who understood stuff a lot more than you did, only to find out he's playing you for a fool and has your car phuched up beyond belief.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Grishnakh on Friday April 20 2018, @12:58PM (3 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 20 2018, @12:58PM (#669614)

        And I should have left that church a lot earlier.

        This line needs to be emphasized here. It's absolutely true, no matter which church you're talking about, if it's a church in America, and it's not just because of the noise level.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @04:13PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @04:13PM (#669691)

          Oh, yes, that's right. American churches. The European ones are SO much cooler.

          You are such a pathetic tool.

          • (Score: 4, Funny) by bob_super on Friday April 20 2018, @04:38PM

            by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 20 2018, @04:38PM (#669699)

            > American churches. The European ones are SO much cooler.

            Made of ancient stone, badly heated, and mostly empty outside of Christmas/Easter. They are literally a lot cooler.
            Much much fewer are Evangelical, too.

        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday April 20 2018, @06:00PM

          by HiThere (866) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:00PM (#669735) Journal

          You are making assumptions. There are decent churches in the US, at least. I know of three. I don't go to any of them, being a heretical gnostic pagan of the Jungian faith, but they are still good churches. They do their best to promote ethics and self-awareness. And they fulfill a social need that for many people is much stronger than their religious needs.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by SomeGuy on Friday April 20 2018, @01:02PM (2 children)

        by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday April 20 2018, @01:02PM (#669617)

        Even my Church got so loud I had to leave.

        Because everyone knows that ball gargling must be heard at a bazillion decibels to make people believe in child-molesting imaginary sky fairies.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26 2018, @08:03AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26 2018, @08:03AM (#672069)

          It definitely seemed they favor quantity over quality. I came there to hear someone talk about God.

          What I got was an hour of either loud music or browbeating over tithes.

          I now found two TV preachers that filled my need... Les Feldnick out of Kinta, Oklahoma, and Arnold/Dennis Murray out of Gravette, Arkansas.

          Its been my experience that most TV preachers are predatory beggars and have little to do with spirituality.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26 2018, @12:07PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26 2018, @12:07PM (#672121)

          child-molesting imaginary sky fairies.

          Are you 13 or something? This is something that edgy Reddit atheists with no actual arguments would post. Your Cognitive Dissonance is really showing.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @08:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @08:44PM (#669809)

        Is it any surprise why late night TV ( aimed a lot at retired people like me ) is so full of ads for hearing aids? Even though I have not made my plight public on any places where my real name and mailing address are available, somehow I get a lot of mail from hearing doctors and their sales pitches.

        What? Speak up, sonny!

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by AthanasiusKircher on Friday April 20 2018, @12:50PM (4 children)

      by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Friday April 20 2018, @12:50PM (#669607) Journal

      Part of the problem may be that "fatty" is assumed to be "pure fat" in some soups; but mine was supposed to be a mix of other cuts that are lean. There was gristle. There's no excuse for gristle.

      My understanding is that gristle is actually a common thing in Vietnamese (and other Southeast Asian) cuisines sometimes. Westerners tend to trim it out in most dishes. I've been to several pho restaurants over the years that actually advertise "gristle" as something deliberately added to the soup (e.g., a list of "rare beef, tendon, tripe, gristle,..." etc.). I may be imagining this, but I feel like that inclusion has lessened over the past decade or more as pho has spread and become more popular in the U.S. -- and pho tries more to conform to Western expectations.

      Still, places that offer it usually tend to have soup versions that would definitely not have it. And if you ordered a version that was just "lean beef," it's typically trimmed out. But there is not only an "excuse" for gristle; it's a typical part of the textural experience of pho (which originated in its modern form as cheap street food to deal with the less desirable cuts of beef at a time when the French demanded more beef but mostly consumed the better cuts).

      • (Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Friday April 20 2018, @12:57PM (1 child)

        by AthanasiusKircher (5291) on Friday April 20 2018, @12:57PM (#669613) Journal

        Also (and this is really off-topic, I know, but I can't help)... If you go back and order the meatballs, note that many pho places seem to deliberately include hunks of gristle (and tendon) in their meatball mix. I can't figure out how it would happen otherwise, given the fine grind I've seen with many meatballs -- they must deliberately chop gristle more coarsely to put it in and give texture and flavor.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @11:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21 2018, @11:34AM (#670024)

          Meatballs with gristle is an actual product type not a flaw. Google for recipes and videos.

          I actually prefer that type in most cases, more interesting texture (doesn't normally add flavor).

          If you don't like gristle maybe tell them you don't want those, or eat at a place where they have gristle free alternatives. Same for the meat choices and cuts.

          Don't be like someone who orders a t-bone steak and complains there's a bone ;).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @06:03PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @06:03PM (#669738)

        Original AC here. I had a feeling that I might have something
        to learn about Pho, so I'm not going to two-star this place.
        It was packed for a reason. Maybe I'll just have to admit that
        I don't like *authentic* Pho.

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday April 20 2018, @07:36PM

          by Immerman (3985) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:36PM (#669781)

          Don't *currently* like authentic pho. There was probably a time you didn't like coffee either - if you like pho , it's quite possibly worth acquiring a taste for "authentic" pho as well, if only to increase the range of dishes you can really enjoy. I'm not a big fan of pho myself, but I can say that once you get used to the unusual texture of gristle it has a lot to offer in many dishes. Fat too - though I much prefer it grilled or smoked to boiled.

    • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Friday April 20 2018, @12:54PM (1 child)

      by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday April 20 2018, @12:54PM (#669610)

      A while back I tried a "Jimmy Johns" sandwich shop near me. They had music blaring so loud I had to yell when I placed the order. I'd imagine people working there would go deaf quickly. No chance in hell I'm going back there.

      Also noticed similar at a new Zaxby's (Suxby's). Blaring loud music. They had other sanitation problems, and food that wasn't any better than Walmart microwavable frozen crap. Awful place.

      I had a theory that perhaps they were using such loud music to regulate and reduce the number of people eating in, preferring that people use their drive through instead.

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday April 20 2018, @01:00PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 20 2018, @01:00PM (#669615)

        For chain restaurants, I like Panera Bread, and many of them seem to be reasonably quiet. The food is generally very good for the price, and I've found it to be a nice place to hang out with my laptop and use the free wi-fi. Some locations are better than others for this though, so YMMV.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by ledow on Friday April 20 2018, @02:54PM (5 children)

      by ledow (5567) on Friday April 20 2018, @02:54PM (#669659) Homepage

      In the UK, we have pubs.

      Pubs can be:

      - Quiet family place, roaring fire, oak beams, garden out the back, bartender's dog asleep under the bar etc. etc.
      - Loud "bar" full of raucous sports-fans watching Sky Sports and getting drunk.

      or anywhere in between.

      Literally, if you advertise your pub as having sports on, I walk past. Even if it's not on all the time, only certain days, only in a certain section, etc. Just one sign will do. Same for "live music".

      Similarly, walking into a place if it's heaving and loud, nah. I'll find somewhere else instead. Especially if it's "to be social"... I need to be able to hear my friends!

      Restaurants - it's not nearly so bad a problem in the UK. Even "pubs" can be restaurants (gastro-pubs). But you never really see a restaurant with anything other than light music. Certainly not loud blaring TVs or sports channels.

      If you can't hear when I say "I'm going" and leave... then I will be leaving and you won't notice, so... kind of self-fulfilling. I think the bartenders should be thinking the same. If they can't notice customers coming in because of the racket and business, I'm not going to be noticed when I walk in there, so I'm likely not going to get good service. I'm sure you can make money hand-over-fist in such places, but if I don't get service you won't be seeing *my* money.

      I've walked into a restaurant before now, said "Oh, it's packed, I don't think we'll get a table", and a member of staff has heard me, assured me there are plenty of spaces, and showed me to a an empty seating area, etc.
      If you can't hear your customers doing that, they likely are just going to turn around and walk out.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @04:16PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @04:16PM (#669693)

        Hey Grandpa, if the music's too loud, you're too old.

        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday April 20 2018, @06:05PM (3 children)

          by HiThere (866) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:05PM (#669741) Journal

          You know, in the '60's lots of people liked to go to places with really loud music. It took a few years, but many of them have ended up deaf. I avoided those places, and I've still got decent hearing. This is just one data point, so don't take it too seriously, but others have reported the same thing, so you might consider it.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Friday April 20 2018, @07:06PM

            by Nuke (3162) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:06PM (#669766)

            I avoided those [loud] places, and I've still got decent hearing. This is just one data point

            Me too, so two data points. In fact there are millions of data points - any hearing specialist will tell you that loud environments damage your hearing.

          • (Score: 2) by NewNic on Friday April 20 2018, @07:09PM

            by NewNic (6420) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:09PM (#669770) Journal

            Counter example:

            I used to help organize the Saturday night concert every week while I was at university (mid '70s). So, I heard a lot of loud music over a 3 year period decades ago. My hearing is not 100%, but it is still good. I often have trouble hearing my wife, but I think the problem is not my hearing, but my attention.

            My father, on the other hand: worked in his factory his entire career and he had quite severe hearing loss towards the end of his life.

            So, perhaps it's not the loud music in the '60s that caused the problems as much as the loud work environments.

            --
            lib·er·tar·i·an·ism ˌlibərˈterēənizəm/ noun: Magical thinking that useful idiots mistake for serious political theory
          • (Score: 2) by ledow on Saturday April 21 2018, @12:32PM

            by ledow (5567) on Saturday April 21 2018, @12:32PM (#670031) Homepage

            To be honest, all the people I see that are into really loud music have that problem. They don't even need to be particularly old.

            And it's self-exacerbating. If you start getting hearing trouble because of the loud music, you turn the music up, which means you damage your hearing more, which means...

            Sure, it's fun to blast out some loud music in the car occasionally, or be at a noisy party. But when that takes preference to every scenario, such as chatting with friends in a pub, etc. then you are exposing yourself to enough of it to damage your hearing. Oh, and seriously hurting your ability to have a conversation that isn't about music and how cool you are.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday April 20 2018, @04:49PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 20 2018, @04:49PM (#669705)

      Asian food places (except maybe Sushi) are noisy by design. It's considered "lively". Not exactly a surprise to Americans.
      Europeans are much more sensitive to noise pollution (no 140dB cop sirens), so the average restaurant is less systematically noisy, unless it's targeting younger crowds.

  • (Score: 2) by RedBear on Friday April 20 2018, @07:20AM (8 children)

    by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @07:20AM (#669542)

    Interesting that the article is smart enough to talk about the fact that it can also be uncomfortable to converse in a place that's so dead quiet that you feel like everyone in the room is listening in on every word you whisper. What you want is to be in a place with a nice reasonable level of mostly unintelligible "burbling" like a small backwoods creek calmly flowing over river stones. Just loud enough that it doesn't feel weird to open your mouth and talk in a normal voice to the person across the table, and not so loud that you have to raise your voice or strain to understand the other person. Apparently finding such a balance is no longer a priority even in high end establishments.

    I thought I was mostly alone in finding it very unpleasant to have a meal in what amounts to the caustic ambiance of a highschool cafeteria. If I wanted to eat dinner at the Super Bowl, I would buy Super Bowl tickets.

    The bizarre thing is it really shouldn't be that difficult to bring the noise levels down, but I guess all the decorative elements that used to help with that, like carpeting and drapes and columns and partitions between seating areas, have become stuffy and passé. I have fond memories of a long-vanished local Mexican restaurant that had all those things, and good mood lighting to boot. Not too bright, not too dark. Wooden frames between seating areas, draped with fabric. The place we go to these days is much more barren, much louder and lit up with fluorescents like an office. Ambiance? What's that?

    I know the acoustic treatments can be spendy, but I can't help but think restaurants would attract more satisfied repeat customers if they went back to taking the noise issue more seriously as a design requirement. The article is right, above 80-85dB and staff should be wearing earplugs to avoid permanent hearing loss.

    --
    ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
    ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kazzie on Friday April 20 2018, @08:03AM

      by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @08:03AM (#669557)

      On the "too quiet" front, many years ago I visited a county archives with my father. We commented on how pleasant it was to have a classical music radio station playing quietly in the background, something neither of us have encountered elsewhere. The archivist thanked us for our comments, and explained that having moved from an old (Victorian) building to a modern, warehouse-like building, the new acoustics were uncomfortable when it was completely quiet.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday April 20 2018, @12:57PM (1 child)

      by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @12:57PM (#669612) Journal

      The court in the capital of the Shilla kingdom, Kyeongju, in Korea, ate their summer meals in a garden [wikipedia.org], Poseok-jeong, where a winding water course bore floating dishes. I thought that ideal for the reasons you're talking about.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Friday April 20 2018, @05:11PM

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Friday April 20 2018, @05:11PM (#669715)

        The last time I ate at a place with garden dining, I heard other patrons complaining about the hornets' nest as I waited for a table. I opted to eat indoors.

        --
        Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Grishnakh on Friday April 20 2018, @01:07PM (3 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 20 2018, @01:07PM (#669621)

      I know the acoustic treatments can be spendy, but I can't help but think restaurants would attract more satisfied repeat customers if they went back to taking the noise issue more seriously as a design requirement.

      I completely disagree. They'd get more satisfied repeat customers from the older part of the SN crowd perhaps, but that's not representative of America. One of the main problems was listed in TFA at #4: Americans are fucking loud. Americans *like* these noisy restaurants where you have to yell to talk to your date, because they're always yelling anyway. The restaurants are just giving the people what they want. The same goes for the other person here complaining about restaurants all having TVs blaring, with all kinds of horrible news all the time: Americans *like* that. Most Americans wouldn't be very happy in a dining establishment where it's quiet, where the waiter doesn't bother you and ask "How's that tasting for you?!!?!?!" every 5 minutes and instead just quietly monitors you and comes over when you actually need something, or where there isn't a TV tuned to Fox News or CNN blaring. That's why you don't see many restaurants like that, and instead there's tons of loud restaurants that are making money hand-over-fist. Americans like loud.

      • (Score: 2) by leftover on Friday April 20 2018, @03:32PM (1 child)

        by leftover (2448) on Friday April 20 2018, @03:32PM (#669676)

        You seem to know only the wrong Americans. New York City is to Americans as Paris is to the wonderful people of France.

        --
        Bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday April 20 2018, @04:06PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 20 2018, @04:06PM (#669687)

          I've been all over America. Americans are pretty universally loud; it isn't just NYC. Notice that TFA specifically cited a restaurant in DC. They do tend to be quieter in the coastal west-coast cities though. They're significantly taller there too. Certain subcultures also tend to be louder than others.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @11:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @11:11PM (#669844)

        There are some Americans who don't like loud. However, since most of the American restaurants cater to the ones who do like loud, we lovers of quiet don't eat out often, or at all.

        The past seven years, I've eaten out a restaurant only once. Since it was my retirement gathering, I felt somewhat obligated to attend.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Friday April 20 2018, @06:00PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:00PM (#669736)

      The bizarre thing is it really shouldn't be that difficult to bring the noise levels down, but I guess all the decorative elements that used to help with that, like carpeting and drapes and columns and partitions between seating areas, have become stuffy and passé. I have fond memories of a long-vanished local Mexican restaurant that had all those things, and good mood lighting to boot. Not too bright, not too dark. Wooden frames between seating areas, draped with fabric. The place we go to these days is much more barren, much louder and lit up with fluorescents like an office. Ambiance? What's that?

      Yeah, I was wondering how much of it is intentional, versus the fact that apparently this place is in a former frickin' church.

      Churches are not made to be quiet. They're made so that the organ and singing sounds good in them, acoustically, so I imagine noise carries more.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edinlinux on Friday April 20 2018, @07:43AM (5 children)

    by edinlinux (4637) on Friday April 20 2018, @07:43AM (#669551)

    Almost every restaurant / bar from Burger King to the classy wine bar down the street now has big flat panel TVs in every corner blaring away either basketball, #metoo, Syrian terrorists, Donald Trump and Mexicans or whatever.

    Its just a bunch of noise chatter, and ruins the entire experience. If I go to a wine bar, or even the fast food joint, I don't want to hear about sports, terrorists or Donald Trump. Most of it is 'negative shock news', is depressing and if I want to see it, I can see all that in my living room already or even on my phone.

    Its annoying and just adds to the din and noise all around..
    blech, its one of the main reasons I don't go out to restaurants much anymore.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Friday April 20 2018, @01:43PM (3 children)

      by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @01:43PM (#669629) Journal

      A couple years ago in the Tri-State area some of the gas stations started putting TVs on the gas pumps. You can't get away from the damn things. They're like that loud, obnoxious, unattractive person you hooked up with at a drunken blow-out years ago who keeps stalking you.

      TV, I'm not into you and never was. That moment we had years ago was, well, a mistake that I regret. So, why doncha move on m'kay bye

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @05:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @05:19PM (#669717)

        ...in the Tri-State area ...

        That represents the region that Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated has targeted for conquest. I'm not sure if any specific plans employed gas pumps.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Osamabobama on Friday April 20 2018, @05:24PM

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Friday April 20 2018, @05:24PM (#669720)

        There is a Lifehacker article [lifehacker.com] explaining which button to push to silence these things.

        --
        Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday April 20 2018, @05:52PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @05:52PM (#669730) Journal

        TV, I'm not into you and never was. That moment we had years ago was, well, a mistake that I regret. So, why doncha move on m'kay bye

        Phoenix666, you're quite the smooth operator.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Friday April 20 2018, @06:12PM

      by HiThere (866) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:12PM (#669744) Journal

      Even hospitals. I have gotten to the point where the thing I hate most about sitting around in a hospital waiting room is that you can't avoid the TV. But most people seem to like them. If I turn the thing off when the room is empty, someone will come in and turn it on. I've got a bad knee, but I still often end up standing around in the corridor outside the waiting room. It may be painful, but it's less annoying that that nlank-dashed TV.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kazzie on Friday April 20 2018, @07:58AM (7 children)

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @07:58AM (#669554)

    This morning on the way in to work I heard a report on BBC Radio 4. It started on the news that the British Museum's (disused) reading room is to host a performance [thetimes.co.uk] of Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes. The report then drifted into discussing just how quiet libraries are today,and whether the BL's reading room was actually quiet back when it was in regular use: one interviewee described the sound "of 400 academics breathing and murmuring".

    A further interviewee was a person who has recorded the ambient noise of numerous museums and galleries worldwide. His recording from the Sistine Chapel has the sound of security guards shouting(!) at tourists to be quiet, but he described his favourite recording ad being from the Museum of Broken Relationships (iirc) in Europe, where, due to the weather on the day, there's a steady noise of rain falling on the roof: almost in sympathy with the broken relationships therein. He was quite adamant that a quiet museum is the worst sort.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by krishnoid on Friday April 20 2018, @08:43AM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Friday April 20 2018, @08:43AM (#669566)

      His recording from the Sistine Chapel has the sound of security guards shouting(!) at tourists to be quiet

      Which made me imagine a scene where a hard-of-hearing couple decides to visit.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by aristarchus on Friday April 20 2018, @09:00AM (4 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) on Friday April 20 2018, @09:00AM (#669569) Journal

      The report then drifted into discussing just how quiet libraries are today,

      One of my favorite movie scenes is from Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire", [imdb.com] where black and white angels (as any astro-photographer knows, angels see in black and white, since they know what the wavelength of the light they are seeing is, but they just don't see it as color, since color is one of Locke's subjective properties, and is not actually real) walk through a library in Berlin. Being angels, and not Saxons, however, they can hear what everyone in the library is thinking, as they read and study and cogitate. One of the noisiest places you could imagine, if you could hear it.

      --
      "Believe it or not, your opinion on this topic is really not necessary,"
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday April 20 2018, @01:58PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 20 2018, @01:58PM (#669638) Journal

        That's an excellent movie. The poetry is rare in film. I can still hear the children's song [youtube.com], "Warum bin ich ich, and warum nicht Du? Warum bin ich hier, und warum nicht dort?" ("Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there?")

        But as somebody else in the thread pointed out, the sort of noise matters. There's a big difference between brash cacophony and the burbling of the water mills [vimeo.com] in the final scene of Akira Kurosawa's Dreams.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by jelizondo on Sunday May 13 2018, @03:15AM (2 children)

        by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 13 2018, @03:15AM (#679055) Journal

        You watch some weird movies Aristarchus!

        Thanks for the pointer, I just watched the movie and was blown away.

        Cheers

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Sunday May 13 2018, @10:13AM (1 child)

          by aristarchus (2645) on Sunday May 13 2018, @10:13AM (#679136) Journal

          Have you heard of Aristophanes? His comedy "The Frogs" is really quite pertinent these days. But, Greek drama is best viewed live, preferably in an amphitheatre.

          --
          "Believe it or not, your opinion on this topic is really not necessary,"
          • (Score: 2) by jelizondo on Sunday May 13 2018, @01:16PM

            by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 13 2018, @01:16PM (#679174) Journal

            Never had a chance to see a live Greek drama but I have read some of them (including The Frogs) and indeed war and deceit have been with us since the first hominid threw a stone or spear at another.

            We have made great advances in science and technology but our minds are the same as those of the ancient.

    • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Friday April 20 2018, @01:45PM

      by zocalo (302) on Friday April 20 2018, @01:45PM (#669631)

      one interviewee described the sound "of 400 academics breathing and murmuring"

      Or any recording of a performance of John Cage's 4'33". [wikipedia.org] Pretty much the same general effect, and that was the entire point - to emphasise that there really isn't any such thing as total silence; even in a sensory deprivation tank (which provided Cage's inspiration) a person with reasonably functional hearing can still hear the flow of blood in the vessels around their ears and a higher pitched whine of brain activity.

      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by MostCynical on Friday April 20 2018, @08:45AM (2 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Friday April 20 2018, @08:45AM (#669567)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @09:40AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20 2018, @09:40AM (#669580)

      By their very nature, restaurants are going to be noisy with all the din of utensils clattering on dishes. Then there's the kitchen noise.

      All the mixed conversations of several dozen diners, either eating or shuffling back and forth to entrances, tables, and the washroom.

      And for the grand finale.... Babies!!!!

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Friday April 20 2018, @04:09PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 20 2018, @04:09PM (#669689)

        Kitchen noise shouldn't be a problem: the kitchen should be isolated from the dining area so customers can't hear anything going on in there.

        As for babies, the article seemed to be talking a lot about higher-end restaurants, where there shouldn't be any babies or young children. It's not an appropriate environment for them.

        If the diners are generally quiet, their moving about, conversations, and silverware should not cause an overwhelming amount of noise. The problem is the people. Americans are just really, really loud people, as the article pointed out.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pTamok on Friday April 20 2018, @03:20PM (1 child)

    by pTamok (3042) on Friday April 20 2018, @03:20PM (#669669)

    One reason bars are noisy is that when people can't converse because of the noise, they drink more. Similarly, if you remove the seats and have trendy tables at a convenient hight to stand at, people drink more - they don't sit back, relax and chat. Noisy bars without seats make more money. They will also sell salty food/snacks - more salt makes you drink more. A quiet bar with comfortable seats and good food has far, far lower throughput and makes less money.

    Restaurants have a similar pressure. Fast food establishment deliberately have uncomfortable seats and bright lighting to discourage lingering. Non-fast food establishments will be doing their very best to pack in more than one 'sitting' in an evening. Some places are quite explicit about how long you can remain at your table and can even have hourly (or shorter) sittings. Noise encourages throughput, and increases profit - or at least enables you to keep your head above water in this business.

    If you want a quiet, relaxed meal, you will need to pay for it.

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday April 20 2018, @06:24PM

      by HiThere (866) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:24PM (#669751) Journal

      That's an odd conclusion. I don't like fancy places, and I don't like noisy places. So I generally go to small non-chain restaurants. I find they do quite well and have a low noise level. I prefer a restaurant where the lighting is such that I can read, and if there isn't a line waiting to get in (I try to pick the time of day when that's true) I don't feel any pressure to hurry out. Even when I do the pressure is self-generated, because I don't like to keep people waiting.

      I think you must like a very different selection of restaurants. AFAIKT the ones I go to have food as good as those in the fancier places. I can make the comparison, because I can't always avoid those. I've never seen a chain restaurant that I felt decent. The best ones I found were either IHOP or Denny's, and those were really only marginal, and to be avoided unless one is traveling.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by crafoo on Friday April 20 2018, @06:58PM

    by crafoo (6639) on Friday April 20 2018, @06:58PM (#669759)

    At some point most people figured out that they are boring and nearly all of their prospective dates are awful people. Anything at all to distract us from the reality of it is warmly welcomed. All the better if we can't talk to each other. If we did, we'd be constantly reminded of how vapid, shallow, and uninteresting we are. Conversation has devolved into repeating pop culture references and talking about things. Not ideas, or even events. Just our stuff and some other stuff that we would like to maybe obtain if we grind hard enough.

    I'd be very happy with a nice pub that served OK food, was quiet, and had a comfortable atmosphere. What I get within driving distance are loud hookup joints with an Americanized "Irish pub" or sportsbar theme. fat, overworked bar tenders, and a greasy plastic menu filled with deep fried foods. I've settled for visiting the fabulously overpriced fusion restaurant with a decent bar and no one in it. Still always has fox news and gold on the two TVs but at least the volume is usually down or off.

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