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Reducing Noise in a Busy Cafe - A Case Study
Ever been in a bar with friends where you could barely hear a word they were saying because the room was just so noisy? It kind of defeats the purpose of the outing in if you can't enjoy a simple conversation. Whether it's an excessively noisy bar, cafe or restaurant, straining to hear someone or constantly asking people to repeat themselves can be really tiresome.

Don't despair, especially if you're the owner of such an establishment. There is something that can be done to improve the situation, and it's not as complex or costly as you may think. This case study describes just such a situation.

More Than Just a Venue
The owners of a Melbourne cafe wanted to create a venue that was different. They wanted their restaurant to be known for comfort and ambience. It was to be a place where patrons could enjoy good food, fine wine and most importantly a pleasant conversation with friends and loved ones. A big driver was to encourage repeat business, and to have customers tell others about their great experience at the venue.

Trouble's Brewing
Having found a great location, the owners could see noise was going to be a problem. The construction materials present in the venue were predominantly glass and concrete. These materials are notorious for causing sound to bounce around, causing a room to feel 'noisy'. This location was an ideal candidate for employing sound absorption materials; materials which would still allow for the retention of the raw and rustic look that the owners wanted.

How Bad Could it Be?
It was estimated that if the space was left untreated, the room's reverberation time would be around 2.9 seconds. This is roughly three times more than what's recommended for restaurants by Australian standards. It was suspected that this could be significantly reduced by installing sound-proofing products.

Don't Give Me Problems, Give Me Solutions!
A sound absorber is specifically designed to absorb noise energy and reduce reverberation. It is made primarily from recycled glass, is non-combustible and does not deteriorate over time. The panels are easily fitted and can be cut or shaped with standard wood-working tools. The panels were installed in the ceiling and along a side wall. They maintained the industrial look the owners desired, but still allowed for many finishing options.

Mission Accomplished
After installing only 70 square metres of panelling, the reverberation time in the room went down to 0.43 seconds (average RT). This is a dramatic improvement, meaning patrons no longer needed to raise their voices to be heard.

The owners were amazed with the results. Many patrons commented on how pleasant the atmosphere was compared to other noisy establishments. Most importantly, the cafe owners had become the venue the owners always dreamed of. A place with minimal sound disturbance, where friends can relax, have a conversation, and enjoy themselves for many hours.

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