An idea for the acoustics of restaurants
I wonder why restaurant designers don't create rooms where people can easily hear what the other people are saying?
by Dave Winer Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I went to a group dinner last night in NYC, it was great, but it was hard to make out what people were saying. Some people have booming voices and move their lips visibly. Those are relatively easy to follow. Others have high pitched voices or cover their mouths. My ears and brain have a lot of trouble processing that. 

And then people, having trouble being heard, raise their voices until everyone is screaming, and the problem gets worse and hearing never gets easier. 

I recorded a few seconds of random conversation around the dinner table last night. See if you can make out what anyone was saying. 

I wonder why no one has designed a restaurant that solves this problem. I used to do sound work for music when I was a kid, in a strictly amateur way, but I learned the basics. The acoustics of a room is determined by its surfaces. If the walls are hard, like brick or stone, sound reflects, and the room is loud. If you put soft stuff on the walls, they absorb the sound, and the room feels quiet. This is why recording studios have thick sound-absorbing foam on the walls. They want just the sound coming from the instruments and the amps, nothing reflective. If they want that effect, they can add it. They don't want the room to add any sound of its own. 

So why not design a restaurant so that the walls absorb sound? It would be the place people go to have a quiet evening of conversation. Or just to not go insane trying to be heard! :balloon: