This blog will provide some practical advice on how to improve noisy dining areas to create a better environment and experience for customers and staff. A restaurateur’s obligation is to their customer. If the dining atmosphere is too noisy and uncomfortable, it can negatively impact future business. If the room is too reverberant, sound will bounce all around the room. This lowers speech intelligibility, hindering ones ability to carry on a conversation. In a noisy environment, customers tend to raise the volume of their voice to compensate, compounding the problem.
As a restaurant owner or manager, your plate is full running the day to day business. You don’t have time to become an acoustical expert. You just need some direction on how to solve the problem at minimal cost, without changing the “look and feel” of your restaurant. If this sounds like you, please continue reading. Soundproofing your restaurant will provide a better experience for your patrons and create a better working environment for your staff.
1. How do I solve the problem?
In a nutshell, the objective is to add the right amount of absorptive material to cover to the flat, reflective surfaces of the restaurant. This will reduce reverberation by “absorbing” the sound waves before they can bounce around to bother other customers. Fluffy and porous materials, like acoustical foam or fabric wrapped fiberglass panels trap the sound within their core. The sound energy gets converted and does not reflect back into the room. So, use sound absorbing materials to stop the sound wave from generating bad echo.
2. How does absorptive material work?
Here is an analogy, picture a super ball bouncing uncontrollably inside and all around a dining room. When the super ball hits a hard surface like a wall or a chair or a table, it bounces off that surface until it hits another hard surface and so on. Now imagine thousands of them all doing the same thing. Eventually each super ball loses its kinetic energy and “dies” on the floor. Similarly, thousands of sound waves are bouncing around the dining area, creating noise and ultimately an uncomfortable dining experience for customers. What makes it worse is that as the noise level rises, diners need to speak even louder in order to be heard.
Think of absorptive material like a sandbox inside the same dining room with the same thousands of super balls bouncing all around. When the super balls hit the sandbox, the sand absorbs their kinetic energy and they “die” almost immediately. Similarly, when a sound wave hits an absorptive material it “dies” in the same way. As sound waves are absorbed, the overall noise level in the room is declines. Diners speak softer because they can be heard and the problem is solved.
3. What absorptive product should I use?
We offer many product choices to absorb sound and improve your customer’s dining experience. The most popular product that we sell to restaurants are fabric wrapped panels. These panels are available in standard or custom sizes, wrapped in various types and colors of fabrics to match room décor and are be easily mounted to room surfaces. Additionally, images may be printed onto fabric so the panel not only absorbs sound, but looks like a work of art.
AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels
AlphaSorb® Anchorage Acoustic Panels
AlphaSorb® Whisper Acoustic Panel
AlphaSorb® SoundSuede™ Acoustic Wall Panels
AlphaSorb® Studio 54 Acoustic Panels
AlphaSorb® Acoustic Art Panel
Another popular product for restaurants are baffles and clouds. These products hang from the ceiling, so they may be less visible to customers. Each product has its advantages and disadvantages, but in the end they all accomplish the same objective of absorbing sound waves. Some materials are better suited to be abuse resistant, others are wipe-able or visually intriguing.
4. How much absorptive material do I need?
A basic rule of thumb is to spread absorptive material evenly throughout the room equal to about 40% of the exposed surface area of the room. So, for a 1,000 square foot room, install approximately 400 square feet of absorptive material. This is a great place to start. This amount of absorptive material will have an immediate, noticeable effect on the space.
5. How will this affect the aesthetics of the restaurant?
Our absorptive products come in may sizes, shapes and colors. Please review our Hospitality Case Studies to see how other restaurants and venues have used these products effectively.
Pearl Raw Bar installed AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels direct to the ceiling to improve the room acoustics.
Roma Restaurant - Restaurant dining room using Sonex® Acoustical Foam on upper walls to reduce noise levels.
Pasture Restaurant - SoundSuede™ Ceiling Clouds in their dining room area to reduce ambient noise levels in restaurant.
Casa Del Barco worked closely with Acoustical Solutions to design and install custom manufactured art panels in their restaurant.
Väsen Brewing Company improved the acoustics in their commercial taproom by installing two inch thick fabric wrapped acoustical panels up in the ceiling.
6. What about the cost, I have a limited budget?
The cost varies depending upon the product chosen and the size of the space requiring acoustical treatment. We are happy to provide a price quote for various options that will meet the acoustical need as well as your budget. It’s important to remember not to let “perfect” get in the way of “better.” Putting any amount of absorptive material in the space is better than having none at all.
7. What about installation?
For the most part these products can be installed DIY. There are installation instructions on the product pages as well as videos that show how our products are mounted. However, if DIY is not possible, finish carpenters or even handymen should be quite capable. If you simply want a turn-key solution, we also offer installation services for the products we sell.
8. How quickly can I receive the products?
Lead time can vary based on the type of product chosen. However, we do offer some quick ship fabric wrapped panels options with a 3-day lead time that can be ordered on-line.
AlphaSorb® QS Acoustic Panel
AlphaSorb® QS Acoustic Ceiling Cloud - 2' x 2' x 1" - Grey Mix
AlphaSorb® QS Bass Trap
9. Who do I call with questions?
Please talk to one of our Acoustical Sales Consultants by calling 800-782-5742. Over the past 30 years, we have successfully helped thousands of restaurants solve their noise problems.