music in restaurants understanding audio dynamics

Understanding music audio dynamics in restaurants,
An analogy of background music.

How does music fit into the dining experience?

Music should enhance the dining experience. Unfortunately music can become just noise.

Music is the 3rd person in the conversation, at the end of your table. The music is in the background, but your brain will always try to make sense and interpret the songs, even if your brain finds it a struggle.

What do I mean? Well by default, we can’t turn off our cognition. This means when we hear music, unconsciously, we either try to listen and understand it, or we try to ignore it.

Why can music be tiring to listen to at restaurants?

Mental fatigue can happen when someone is constantly trying to ignore something or trying hard to listen to it, your brain does both of these things on it’s own, all day, unconsciously. This also happens with background music.

The analogy: What do I do with this "3rd person at the end of the table" (background music)

Music is the 3rd person talking at the end of the table, and can be hard to understand. What do you do? 

1) Ask them to talk clearer, so we can hear them more easily. Which means, clean up the music, or get a better physical quality, CD quality, not streaming quality. 

Turn up the treble, to clean it up a bit. Turn down the volume of the customers (that is what our acoustic panels do) and stop the music bouncing off the cement floor, then the ceiling, then to floor…etc..

2) Ask the 3rd person to be quiet.  This would be equivalent to playing instrumental music, so that you are not mentally and unconsciously trying to figure out the song, based on the vocals.

3) Ask the 3rd person to speak in a different language. That way my brain won’t be constantly trying to understand them, and then I can ignore them. This would be equivalent to playing music song in a different language.

Where does music fit in with the audio dynamics of my restaurant?

Music should have its own audio space, meaning it should not be on the same audio plane as voices, otherwise you will never be able to distinguish between voices and the music.

Why can't I just turn up the music?

If music is not loud enough, or better yet, not being easily heard, the tendency is to turn it up. If music occupies the audio spectrum as the voices of the guests in your restaurant, by turning up the music you have essentially doubled the noise in your restaurant.

What can help separate the music into its own space?

Tone, style, and audio frequency of the music all contribute to where the music sits in the audio spectrum.

How can acoustic panels help with my music issue?

Acoustic panels take away all the "extra" noise in a room, generated from music and voices, they clean up all the sound in the room, by stopping the sound reflections.

I have spend 10s of thousands of dollars on my sound system and it doesn't sound good, no one told me it would sound like this!

Unfortunately this happens quite often. The world's best sound system will sound horrible in a restaurant that has poor acoustics, or is not' tuned to the room.

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