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Verbal communication and noise in eating establishments

A new simple prediction model has been derived for the average A-weighted noise level due to many people speaking in a room with assumed diffuse sound field. Due to the feed-back influence of noise on the speech level (the Lombard effect), the speech level increases in noisy environments, and the suggested prediction model gives a 6 dB reduction of the noise level by doubling the equivalent absorption area of the room. This is in contrast to the lowering by 3 dB by doubling of the absorption area for a constant power sound source. The prediction model is verified by experimental data found in the literature. In order to achieve acceptable conditions for speech communication within a small group of people, a guide for the recommended minimum absorption area per person in eating establishments is provided.

from Applied Acoustics