Post by Swedish sound expert and blogger Jonas Christensson.
The new Bond movie, Spectre, premiered a little while back and as I’m interested in sound, I measured the sound levels when I attended the premiere at my local cinema and was surprised that the sound level was 70 dB(A); less than many Swedish school canteens!
It’s difficult to draw conclusions from just one measurement so I actually measured the same movie in five different cinemas around Sweden. I measured the equivalent sound level and when I looked at the results I could see that sound levels varied depending on where in the theatre I was sitting and between cinemas. The equivalent sound level during Spectre varied between 69 and 73 dB(A). This is a level that is, unfortunately, often exceeded in many Swedish school canteens.
Sound levels in Swedish school canteens:
A study done by Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, measured sound levels in 12 school canteens. Results varied between 67 dB and 80 dB and the average was 74 dB(A). Another study from earlier this year, measured 71 canteens and every fourth reached levels above 80 dB(A).
When sound levels exceeds 75 dB(A), our sense of taste declines; maybe this is part of the reason why students sometimes refer to school lunch as “tasteless”?
If you want to know more about how sound levels impact our sense of taste, read this paper in the scientific journal Food Quality and Preference.
My tips on how to lower sound levels in canteens:
- Install sound absorbers in the ceiling and on the walls in order to decrease reflections and lower sound levels.
- Use soft tabletops in order to minimise clattering plates.
- Use chairs that don’t create noise when pushed in and out of the table.
- Another thing that can be effective involves dividing the space using sound absorbing screens.
- Minimise noise from the kitchen by using quiet appliances and machines.
If you speak Swedish, feel free to follow my blog, Ljudskolan where I publish posts on research, recommendations and much more from the Swedish world of sound environments in education.
Image: www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany