A group called “Pipe Down” in the U.S. are trying to raise awareness of the issue of loud music in restaurants, stores and other public places. They also aim to encourage the use of more soft fabrics and sound absorbing surfaces in the design of these spaces to make it easier to hear.
I remember as a teen we used to frequent a classic old Chinese restaurant called Ali-San in the Claremont area of Perth. It was very acoustically friendly. They used plenty of soft furnishings including table clothes, curtains, carpet and even fabric napkins. This all made for a nice quiet environment even on the busier nights. It was conducive to gentle more intimate conversation.
After many successful years, Ali-San finally closed its doors. To my memory this seems to represent a turning point, the disappearance of the classic style restaurant. Today’s restaurant are largely made up of hard uncovered surfaces including; floors, tables and windows. These modern designs are acoustically very un-friendly and are in effect a resonating chamber. To top it off they pump out as my mother calls it the “Doof” music. The thudding base is high energy low frequency sound waves that pulse around this resonating chamber further masking over the high frequency details of speech.
It is little wonder that even people with normal hearing find it a challenge to properly follow conversation in such environments. It is very understandable that people with hearing loss develop a strong emotional aversion to attending social gatherings in such place.
Bring back the classic acoustically friendly restaurant!
According to an interview in the Times, Gorki Duhra, from Action on Hearing Loss, stated, “For some people, it can be irritating. But when it leads to you getting the wrong order or not being able to have a conversation and you’re missing the main bit of the joke because you just can’t hear it, you feel left out.
Background music makes it harder to pick up a particular voice. We would ask restaurants not to play any.”
This is a common problem and many people are annoyed at the loud background noises… even those without hearing loss.
Since it may take a long time for this movement to reach our area, come see me if you are having issues with hearing.
Together we’ll find the best solution for you!
Andrew Mackendrick (Harmony Hearing)