New Apple flagship in California has a noise problem

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Apple's structurally impressive new store in Palo Alto, Calif., will have you visually stimulated, but may also have you cupping your ears, over stimulated by sound, as some have complained about the acoustics calling the new flagship unbearably noisy.

“The wife of a friend walked in, spent a few minutes, and vowed to never return for fear of hearing loss,” writes Jean-Louis Gassée former president of the Apple Products Division, in his Monday Note” column ““Minding The (Apple) Store."


The store is structured in such a way that it seems sounds bounce around the store, he said.

“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,” Gassée described.

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He even pulled out his iPhone and put the SPL Meter app to use, measuring sound pressure levels. Gassée found that the noise level around the Genius Bar exceeded 75 dB, on a “relatively quiet Saturday.” Outside, the traffic noise registered 10 dBs less, at just 65 dB.

“For reference, a normal conversation at 3 feet is 40 to 60 dB; a passenger car 30 feet away produces levels between 60 and 80 dB,” he said.

Referencing Wikipedia, Gassée points out that the “EPA-identified maximum to protect against hearing loss and other disruptive effects from noise, such as sleep disturbance, stress, learning detriment, etc. [is] 70 dB.”

But Gassée isn’t the only one performing semi-scientific research on the cacophony of the building. He spotted a professional grade SPL recorder inside the store as well as two employees wearing omnidirectional sound recorders on their shoulders.

“Thus, it appears that Apple is taking the problem seriously.”

Click here for more from the Monday Note.