“The visually striking glass roof becomes a veritable parabolic sound mirror”
Apple’s recently-opened Palo Alto store (in California, USA) might be a little too loud for those with sensitive hearing, according to Jean-Louis Gassée, a general partner for Allegis Capital who lives in Steve Jobs’ home town.Gassée admits that the store is impressive, “but its [sic] also unpleasantly, almost unbearably noisy.”
In a blog entry made this past weekend, he proceeds to cite several people who agree with his take that Apple’s new glassy store churns up more decibels than the traffic noise on the street.
The blogger points out that “The sound problem stems from a combination of the elongated ‘Great Hall,’ parallel walls, and reflective building materials.”
“The visually striking glass roof becomes a veritable parabolic sound mirror. There isn’t a square inch of sound-absorbing material in the entire place,” he writes.
However, what Apple has equipped the store with is a professional SPL recorder “perched on a tripod inside the store,” as well as omnidirectional sound recorders on employees’ shoulders.
“Thus, it appears that Apple is taking the problem seriously,” Gassée concludes.
Others beg to differ, of course. In Apple’s defence, Gizmodo points out that “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?” according to the tech site.
Of course, you can’t take anyone’s side here since this is a highly subjective matter.
For example, some people like to visit their local Apple store on a regular basis. For them the Palo Alto store might indeed be a tough place for a tech-driven Sunday stroll.
Others, however, see this as a sign of Apple’s tremendous success in the retail business, and downright applaud it. But in the end, everyone hates noise at one point. Surely we can all agree that a quieter store wouldn’t bother as many ears as a noisy one would.