The new Apple Store in Palo Alto just opened a few weeks ago, and while its design is indisputedly gorgeous, some are complaining that the place is too loud. They're even using scientific instruments to try to prove it! Deep breath people. It's not as bad as it sounds. We're going to get through this.
Blogger and Palo Alto resident Jean-Louis Gassée is very fond of Apple Stores. So he was understandably thrilled when a new store came to his town, and equally dismayed at how loud the store was. And it wasn't just him: He heard others complain of the din inside the store.
So Gassée decided to investigate. He returned to the Apple Store armed with the SPL Meter iPhone app, which measures the sound pressure of the store in decibels.
On a relatively quiet Saturday evening, the noise level around the Genius Bar exceeded 75 dB.
Outside, the traffic noise registered a mere 65 dB. It was 10 db noisier inside the store than on always-busy University Avenue!
Then as if to justify his grievances, Gassée notes that he saw professional sound measuring equipment inside the store (above). Proof of failure!
Except no. Traffic in a real city usually clocks at a much louder 85 dB. Indeed, 75 dB is probably only a big deal for library-loving nerds from Stanford. Regular human conversation usually registers about 60-65 dB—or roughly the SPL that Gassée measured outside the Apple Store. It makes complete sense that the collected sound of many human conversations might be a little louder, no? For reference, 75dB is the SPL of a toilet flush. You want loud? Try a 120 dB heavy metal concert or a 117 dB college football game.