Designing for Acoustics: Sound Management in Bar Interiors

As soon as you walk into a bar, you want to feel at ease, relaxed, and welcome. You want to pick up the vibe and atmosphere of the setting instantly, and you want the sounds and aesthetic of the venue to be in line with your expectations and the kind of experience you are looking for.

In this blog post, we will dive into the importance of acoustics and sound management in a bar setting – with insights on how to ensure your bar remains an enjoyable place for guests to spend time during the day and at night.

Why acoustics matter in a bar

Acoustics refers to the sound levels in an inside or outside setting, considering both volume and the reflection or fragmentation of sound.

One of the challenges that designers and business owners face is the use of materials throughout modern interior design, which rely increasingly on angular edges and hard surfaces – all of which are notorious for reflecting sound and producing echoes and extra noise. This might not matter in a modern home where the only noise is that you make yourself, but if you follow the same design format in a hospitality or busy bar setting, the result is an incredibly loud space where different noises all compete against each other.

The point is that acoustics is the term we use to describe how sound travels in certain places, with interior design decisions all contributing to the way that sound is fragmented and dispersed or reflected directly back into the space. The more the sound reverberates, and the fewer soft textures there are to soak that sound up, the more lasting noise it creates.

And when we’re talking about a bar, which often gets busy with lots of people chatting, ordering drinks, and moving around, reverberating sound can create quite an overwhelming setting.

The result? Some guests might be unwilling to stay as long and may favour quieter bars with more of an eye for acoustics in the future.

How to manage acoustics in your bar setting

Bar acoustics

So, what changes can you make to the interior of your bar to keep acoustics and sound management under control?

Depending on the size of your establishment, one of the easiest ways to create a range of different settings for different guests is to segment your bar into different areas. A private area for parties or large groups, separate from the smaller tables for couples and smaller groups can help to provide guests with a little privacy and give them a more luxurious experience.

Another thing you can do, particularly if your bar is a single-room space, is to integrate more in the way of soft furnishings, which soak up the sound and minimise reverberation and sound reflection. Sofas, fabric booths, rugs, and even curtains are all effective tools in the management of sound, particularly if you want to create a high end experience into which guests can relax and spend more time.

One of the most innovative solutions that is increasingly being used by bar design specialists is the use of suspended acoustics discs, which hang from the ceiling at different heights and are designed to break the flow of sound before it can hit the ceiling and reflect back down into the space. These can be shaped however you like and can be finished in your choice of colours and designs, to compliment your bar brand, theme, or overall setting.

Making your acoustics work for you

The fact is, without the right balance of acoustics and sound management in place, your bar will feel overwhelming – with sound complaints among some of the most common issues cited by diners regardless of how good the food, drinks, and overall level of service at a restaurant or bar is.   

Here at Carroll Design, we work with clients throughout the hospitality sector to identify their sticking points when it comes to acoustics and find ways of overcoming the challenges – marrying different bar settings and spaces with the best solutions. For more information on our services and previous work, get in touch.

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