Are Restaurants Way Too Loud?

A friend of mine recently came back from Vegas—with a sore throat. The cause? Having to talk over the loud music in a bar, for several nights running.

Photo credit:  © Mommamoon |

The New York Times published an article about the trend for bars, restaurants, health clubs, and even shops to play loud music.

Why do they do this?

For starters, research shows that music in our environment can influence our behaviour.

People drink more when the music is loud. We also chew more quickly with fast tempo music.

In a nutshell, people potentially spend more—both on alcohol and food—when the music is loud.

One engineer called it the “weaponization of audio”.

It might work against the entertainment and shopping industry if OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) fined establishments for violating noise standards. According to the Times, in 2011, none of the noise violations issued by OSHA in NYC were given to restaurants, bars or clubs.

Workers are actually required to wear hearing protection when noise reaches a level of 90 dB for an 8-hour shift (these levels are easily reached in our daily lives, even by things such as blow dryers and garbage disposal units!). But workers are unlikely to complain, or comply—for fear of losing their jobs.

It’s hard on people with already-existing hearing loss, too. I’ve asked for music to be turned down at local restaurants—and they usually do. Would you?

Related articles:

Common Environmental Noise Levels

Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention

Seven Tips for Hearing Better in Restaurants

  • Photo credit:  © Alan Fortune

    Sandra Vandenhoff

    Dr. Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder of HEARa, Hearing Strategies coach, speaker, and Canadian author, who gave her GPS away long before realizing that it was a good brain-boosting move.

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