Well, of sorts.
You see, even if the deafening noise makes you want to smash a glass against the wall and never, ever come back to this city (just me?), it's actually designed to draw you in, assuming that "you" are a young, attractive patron who will buy lots of drinks.
According to the New York Times, it's typical for New York's busier restaurants to have decibel levels hovering in the 90s — regular conversation levels are in the mid 60s. And, according to a lot of market research, louder music and faster tempos get sheep like us to buy more drinks and eat faster. They also discourage pesky, unwanted "old people," who tend to balk at the insane noise levels the rest of us deem normal.“You can control your audience,” said one acoustical engineer. “If you want young people in there, give them a specific type of sound.”
Zagat editor Curt Gathje concurred, "There's a new generation that instead of going to nightclubs they go to restaurants, and nightclubs have sort of bled into restaurants. People don't want to go to a place that seems dead. Younger people feel they want some action."
Naturally, the elevated noise levels are terrible (and in violation of government regulations) for the people who actually work at these places — one Lavo waitress reported taking seizure medication to treat her work-related migraines — and restaurants like The Brooklyn Star and The Dutch have recently implemented various measures (soundboards, padding, etc.) to mitigate the problem.
But even if restaurants are starting to get their act together on this, the problem has also cropped up everywhere from spin classes at Crunch to chain stores including Abercrombie, Hollister, and H&M.
This is less likely to change, as spin class attendees are apparently fans of the noise: "The pounding music helped them forget they were exercising, [patrons] said, and made them feel they were reliving the club days of younger years."
And if that isn't one of the most depressing sentences you've ever read about aging, I don't know what is.