We've all experienced it...twisting our head to get closer to our conversational partner, stating "huh" or "what" as the din of plates/music/conversation revolves around us. Dining out can be a real pain, and let's face it, a lot of restaurants and bars are simply too loud!
We recently learned of a free iPhone decibel meter app called SoundPrint that was created with these troubles in mind. The app allows you to discover the quieter venues in your city. So how does it work? Using the app’s internal decibel meter, you can measure the actual noise level of any venue, which is then submitted to a SoundPrint database that anyone can access to find out if a certain venue is quiet or loud.
The app started in New York City, and currently has data on more than 3,000 venues that have been measured three times or more. The decibel measures have found that on average restaurants noise levels are at 77 dBA, and bars are even worse with an average 81 dBA. These sound levels are equivalent to placing a garbage disposal (80 dB) or vacuum cleaner (70dB) near your ear - and with restaurants and bars, that is often for an extended period of time, which can be a factor in noise induced hearing loss. The makers of SoundPrint have curated a list of 30 local quiet spots in NYC, where you can dine or drink without excessive noise in the background.
Gregory Scott, founder of SoundPrint, gave us the inside scoop on use of the app in SF! "The database already has about 400 venues in San Francisco that have been measured," says Scott. "Mostly in the areas of the Mission, North Beach, Russian Hill, Pac Heights, and Cow Hollow." If you're in the South Bay, do not fear, "Palo Alto also has a decent number of venues measured too (about 75)." Scott and his team are looking for more data points here in SF to help curate a list of local quiet spots where you can engage in conversation without listening fatigue, and connect with others.
Join the SoundPrint movement today to help add data to the Bay Area's sound map, and to find optimal listening environments for your dinner conversation!