How Restaurants Got So Loud – The Atlantic

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Let me describe what I hear as I sit in a coffee shop writing this article. It’s late morning on a Saturday, between the breakfast and lunch rushes. People talk in hushed voices at tables. The staff make pithy jokes amongst themselves, enjoying the downtime. Fingers clack on keyboards, and glasses clink against wood and stone countertops. Occasionally, the espresso machines grind and roar. The coffee shop is quiet, probably as quiet as it can be while still being occupied. Even at its slowest and most hushed, the average background noise level hovered around 73 decibels (as measured with my calibrated meter).

That’s not dangerous—noise levels become harmful to human hearing above 85 decibels—but it is certainly not quiet.

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