Say What? New Study Ranks Nashville's Dining Scene The Noisiest In The Nation

Posted at 7:31 AM, Jun 15, 2018

If you think restaurants are getting noisier, you'd be right. Nashville just topped the charts for "loudest dining scene." 

"I was a little surprised that Nashville was number one out of 10 large cities, but the more we think about it, it is Music City," said Elizabeth Welch, Doctor of Audiology at Hearing Services of Franklin.

According to a recent study by Oticon, Nashville topped the chart, averaging more than 82-decibels.

"An average conversational speech is going to occur around 60-decibels. A jet engine is going to be at 120. Nashville, some of the restaurants, they had peaks at 130," she said.

There's even a term for this called the "restaurant dilemma," the tricky business of balancing noise levels. 

So why the noise increase? She says new design elements are partially to blame, with new buildings favoring hard surfaces and high ceilings.

"Unfortunately that open kitchen and hard surfaces, there's not a lot to absorb the sound," she said. 

She says getting a hearing check is a good idea. Go out to eat earlier to beat the crowds, or find a quiet corner.

Here's how the cities ranked in order of average sound levels within popular restaurants:     

1.        Nashville  82.19 db    
2.        Portland  81.92 db    
3.        Washington, D.C.  80.44 db    
4.        Denver  80.32 db    
5.        San Diego  79.23 db    
6.        Chicago  78.94 db    
7.        Detroit  78.45 db    
8.        St. Louis  78.14 db    
9.        Seattle  76.51 db    
10.      Austin  75.60 db