Are you tired of noisy restaurants? We need your help to crowd-source noise data!

09.06.2018 | Mary Ellen Eagan |

One of the most intriguing – and least technical – presentations I attended at inter-noise 2018 was entitled ‘Using sound level meter apps to raise noise pollution awareness: New York City case study’, presented by Gregory Scott, Founder of SoundPrint, an app that allows users to measure noise levels in restaurants and bars.

Scott’s key findings will not surprise anyone who has spent a lot of time in New York:

  • For Mainstream Restaurants in New York, 6% are Quiet, 23% are Moderate, 71% are High with 40% being Loud and 31% Very Loud. The average sound level for all mainstream restaurants was 78 dBA. Only a small percentage of restaurants in NYC are quiet enough to have a relaxed conversation.
  • Many of the neighborhoods below 34th Street (excluding the Financial District, Little Italy and Chinatown) tend to be louder than those above 34th Street. On the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 0% of the restaurants measured are Quiet, 9% are Moderate and 91% are High with 38% being Loud and 54% being Very Loud. The Lower East Side, Tribeca, SoHo, Chelsea, East Village, West Village, Flatiron and Murray Hill all have +70% of their venues in the High category. Not surprisingly, these neighborhoods also have the highest average sound levels for restaurants. In contrast, neighborhoods above 34th Street, except Murray Hill, such as the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Midtown East and Midtown West tend to have a lower percentage of venues in the High category and also lower average sound levels.
  • For bars, 2% are Quiet, 8% are Moderate and 90% are High with 31% being Loud and 60% Very Loud. The average sound level for all bars was 81 dBA.
    Here’s where you come in. Scott has developed the SoundPrint app (download at the Apple store), which allows you to both find quiet restaurants/bars and add to the crowd-sourced database of restaurant/bars.

For example, the map below shows the noise levels at restaurants near the inter-noise conference hotel.

Source: SoundPrint, Aug 2018

On my last evening in Chicago, I managed to contribute two submissions to the SoundPrint database: 79 dBA at Lena Brava restaurant (it was amazing, btw), and 101 dBA at Buddy Guy’s Legends (what can I say – can’t go to Chicago and not listen to some blues!).

Buddy Guy, August 2018

Won’t you join me in seeing how restaurants and bars ‘measure up’?

About the Author

Mary Ellen Eagan

President & CEO

As President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of HMMH, Mary Ellen is responsible for providing strategic, innovative leadership…

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