2022 Find Your Quiet Place Data Findings
October 2022 marked SoundPrint’s second annual Find Your Quiet Place Challenge. The campaign inspired hundreds of participants and over 30 organizational partners to measure sound levels in their local communities to raise awareness for hearing health and make the world a quieter place.
During the month-long event, participants made SoundChecks at over 2,000 unique venues worldwide. Our prominent organizational partners, including hearing health service providers, hearing protection manufacturers and technology companies, were instrumental in promoting FYQP’s data collection initiative among their communities.
- 1,300 nominated Quiet Places and 975 Noise Complaints submitted by users
- 76.5 dBA average sound level
- 43% Good for Conversation, 57% Difficult for Conversation, 27% Dangerous for Hearing Health
- 77.8 dBA average sound level
- 21% Good for Conversation, 79% Difficult for Conversation, 57% Dangerous for Hearing Health
Overall, across all venue categories worldwide, 2022 (73.4 dBA) registered a much higher sound level than 2021 (70.0) as it increased by 3.4 decibels (dBA). A huge increase. While such an increase may not be ideal, the good news is that it still remains below pre-pandemic levels (76.4).
The 2021 (76.4 dBA) and 2022 (76.5 dBA) sound levels for Restaurants remained roughly the same. This is the most significant and potentially positive trend where restaurants may be adapting to a quieter world. This could take many forms ranging from lower background music, better table spacing, improved acoustic design, or venue managers simply being more sensitive to acoustics following the quiet of the pandemic.
Additionally, the percentage of restaurants conducive to conversation, defined as either Quiet or Moderate, reached its highest level over the past five years at 43%. Similarly, the percentage of restaurants that endanger the hearing health of patrons and employees barely budged upwards, at 27%. The restaurant sound level will be the key variable to monitor in 2023 and we hope this sound level remains consistent or even decreases.
Nightlife levels are still at elevated levels (81.5 dBA) and had a small increase over 2021 (80.9 dBA), but remain below pandemic levels (~83 dBA). The threshold by which sound levels endanger hearing health is 80 dBA. These elevated sound levels are not surprising as patrons expect such venues to be very loud and hence engender less noise complaints than restaurants and coffee shops and other venues.
Nominations to SoundPrint’s list of Quiet Places have been growing steadily at a 26% increase for 2022. The Quiet Place list, currently more than 3,000, rewards venues with quieter environments that are safe for hearing and conducive to conversation.
FYQP 2022 yielded significantly higher SoundCheck submissions across the Coffee/Tea, Retail, and Gym categories. Findings showed that 20% of Gyms are dangerous to hearing health. Fortunately, the Coffee/Tea and Retail categories are within safe levels at 86% and 89% respectively.
SoundPrint’s SoundCheck’s user-based community plays a vital role in raising hearing health awareness through its users and their submissions of sound level measurements. Specifically, the user-community helps in the following three fundamental ways:
(1) building out an evidence-based sound level database that helps benchmark annual sound levels to enable monitoring whether the world is getting quieter or louder.
(2) discovering and promoting the quieter venues via SoundChecks measured as Quiet or Moderate and making recommendations that certain venues be added to SoundPrint’s Quiet List.
(3) helping the public community locate and avoid noisier venues while putting venue managers and their employees on notice that the loud environment may jeopardize their hearing health. This is done via SoundChecks in venues that are Loud or Very Loud and making noise complaints on the SoundPrint app.
We expect the 2023 FYQP Challenge to show continued participation increase as the pandemic’s impact gradually subsides while further enriching SoundPrint’s database and raising hearing health awareness.
With gratitude to our organizational partners
ACS | AG Bell | American Tinnitus Association | AudioTelligence | Better Hearing Australia (Brisbane) | Dallas Hearing Foundation | Deafness Forum of Australia | Diversability | Ear Peace Foundation | Ear Research Foundation | Eargasm | ENT & Audiology News | European Federation of Hard of Hearing People | Heard That | Hearing Health Foundation | Hearing Tracker | HLAA | Hyperacusis Research | International Federation of Hard of Hearing People | Jan L. Mayes | Living with Hearing Loss | Mimi Health | National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing | NHCA | Nolu | Puro Sound Labs | Quiet Mark | Soundfair | T-Minus | The Children’s Hearing Institute | The Hearing & Speech Center | U. of Nebraska College of Engineering | UK Hearing Conservation Association | UK Noise Association / The Bottom Rung
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