We did a rough analysis by segmenting SoundPrinted restaurants by ethnic cuisine (i.e. Japanese, Thai, Spanish, French, American) and calculating the average sound levels.
Based on 500+ American restaurants, the average sound level was ~79 dBA, which means that a large number of American restaurants are dangerously noisy (see guidelines below). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Indian and Chinese restaurants are much quieter, as their average sound levels registered as Moderate, which means they are more likely to be safe for hearing and conducive for conversation.
Americans are indeed quite a noisy bunch of people! Of course, there are caveats with this data. Americans eat at all types of ethnic cuisines and most of the patrons are indeed Americans. So perhaps a better interpretation is that a particular restaurant cuisine can more likely be either quieter or louder than other types of cuisines.
Certain types of restaurants tend to have better sound-absorption materials, less background music, and an ambiance that discourage shouting.
So, if you want to increase your chances of hearing your companions at dinner, opt for Indian or Chinese rather than American restaurants! There are quieter American restaurants, so be sure to check out the NYC Quiet Spots list frequently to discover them.
- Quiet = 70 dBA or below (safe for hearing health, conducive to conversation)
- Moderate = 71 – 75 dBA (safe for hearing health, manageable for conversation)
- Loud = 76 – 80 dBA (likely safe for hearing health, conversation is difficult)
Disclaimer: SoundPrint measures the approximate decibel level and is not a replacement for a professional sound level measuring device. The dBA numbers displayed on the iPhone app and the website are averages of all the historical SoundChecks measured and submitted to the database. These SoundCheck dBA numbers are historical and thus are a reasonable guess as to what the specific venue’s sound level are and will be in the future. There is no guarantee that the average dBA displayed is or will be the actual noise level in the future.