Restaurants are too loud! This app helps you find peace and quiet while you dine

You may pick a restaurant because of the food. Maybe it's time to find places that aren't so loud. There's an app for that.

February 27, 2019
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Back in the day, you knew you were in a fancy, pricey, upscale restaurant because it was quiet. The place was carpeted. The walls were covered by elegant wallpaper and thick velvet curtains. You sat in a booth on a plush, overstuffed banquette around a table covered by a linen tablecloth.  The servers spoke in hushed, discreet tones. The loudest sounds you heard were the clinking of glasses and the occasional burst of laughter from someone who was giddy from a couple of glasses of Champagne. 

Well, things are different now. These days, if you walk into a restaurant and it's too quiet, you think, "this place is dead. Let's find someplace that's happening!" The hottest new dining spots -- or bars, or cafes -- are noisy. Tables full of diners are talking as loud as they can to be heard over the din of the music, the voices of the other diners, and the sounds of the open kitchen.

In some situations, the background noise makes sense. The typical din of a coffee shop, with multiple conversations punctuated by the banter from the baristas and the hiss of the espresso machine, make for a comforting environment for a lot of us. But I'd guess that most of the people in a coffee shop aren't having a romantic, intimate conversation as they might be doing over dinner in a hot new restaurant. 

There are lots of theories about why restaurants are so noisy these days. Modern interior design is probably the biggest culprit, with its minimalist look, hard materials, and lack of plush surfaces to soak up the sound. Obviously, the energy and buzz you get in a noisy room make the place seem cool and in-demand. Some experts have even theorized that restaurateurs want things loud because a cacophony of sound makes people nervous, and nervous people drink more, and it encourages quicker turnover because the noise fatigues people more quickly. 

But now a bit of a backlash is starting. People may be longing for a little more tranquility when they spring for a spendy meal. And, as always, there's an app for that: It's called Soundprint

Soundprint says it's: . . . .

 . . . like Yelp,but for noise. Tired of trying to have a connected conversation over the thick layers of noise, background music, and dense variety of groups in conversation? SoundPrint allows you to rate and review places based on their sound levels. This way you can plan your next meeting, date, or family outing around a great place to eat to hear and connect with each other.

The app lets search and sort restaurants new you by sound level. And with the app, you can take a sound reading with your phone and upload it to the app, contributing to Soundprint's database of ratings.

Just open the app, tap the button, hold the phone in the air for a 15-second sample of the environment, and you can upload it right away. Your phone can tell the app where you are, so you don't have to type in your location. (As you can see above, Bellevue's quietest restaurant is apparently Ruth's Chris Steak House.) 

And in the app, the sound level reading contains a link to the Yelp review so once you find a restaurant that seems potentially quiet enough for you, you can find out if the food is actually any good. 

We're probably never going back to the days of whisper-quiet dinners out, but I bet as the population ages, more people will appreciate a slightly more tranquil environment.

But then again, maybe we'll all just have our faces in our phones for the entire meal and we won't care how loud things are because nobody will be talking to anybody!

 

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