Background noise, music and hard walls that turn the restaurant into a noisy, echo chamber. It all makes conversations with your dinner companions difficult or impossible.
In part, that’s because even the best hearing aids have trouble separating the voices of your companions from the sounds of other conversations around you. All that hubbub submerges the voices you want to hear.
Another major factor is the acoustic design (or lack thereof) of most restaurants and bars. Many owners prefer a loud establishment. They crank the music up, use reflecting surfaces such as concrete walls or mirrors that amplify the general noise. They want to create a lively, busy ambience.
So a couple of tips for anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on a night out:
Zagat and Yelp are not much help. Zagat used to have “quiet” or “quiet conversation” as search terms or tags. No longer, and Yelp is not much help either. So it requires a lot of sifting through reviews to find any useful information.
Best bet is Chowhound. You can add a “quiet” tag under the “add filter” box. Here’s a sample Chowhound search:
As well, Zoomer media launched their Anti-Noise Pollution League to address the issue. Sadly, their reviews are getting a bit stale:
And finally for some background on the subject, Susan Pigg of the Toronto Star wrote an excellent piece: