by Jan L. Mayes, MSc, Audiologist, Member, The Quiet Coalition

SoundPrint’s first annual 2021 Find Your Quiet Place Challenge will be a benchmark for noise data. SoundPrinters submitted sound levels at over 2000 different venues, and nominated over 350 Quiet Places. Venue categories included restaurants, nightlife, coffee or tea shops, retail stores, and gyms.

Across venues, only 50% were rated safe for hearing health and good for conversation. Not surprisingly, nightlife came in at the loudest. But it’s alarming that about 66% of restaurants (at peak) were rated too loud for conversation, with some rated loud enough to endanger hearing health. The venue categories showed noise doses in the 71.3 to 78.1 dBA range (A-weighted decibel), which could put people at risk of noise-induced hearing loss and other auditory problems like tinnitus or hyperacusis.

I’m excited about how SoundPrint plans to use the 2021 data as a noise benchmark for future reference. This evidence will show whether noise at different types of venues gets better or worse in future.

SoundPrint is going to keep raising public awareness on hearing health, including partnering with stakeholders like the American Restaurant Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and the Association of Fitness Studios.

Best of all, SoundPrint is going to “put venue managers on notice about excessive noise.”