Season 9 Episode 8

How much does sound affect eating and is it noticeable enough to make a difference?

In this week’s episode, we explore the beautiful relationship between music and food. We constantly talk about how flavour is made up of taste and aroma and we often judge food based on what it looks like and how it feels – but what about sound and how does that contribute to the experience of eating? This is a fun chat that will get you giggling, but will also make you think about how you can adjust your surroundings as you enjoy your next meal! Join in and let us know if you think sound can affect taste. Is there a certain style of music or a particular track that always takes you back to a specific dish? Comment below!

Best soundbite“If you go in there and you’re listening to Chinese pan pipes, then it’s not going to be the same experience.” – Jamie Spafford

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Something to make you think...

How do restaurants manipulate your dining experience using music? Do their playlists they build influence the way we eat with the use of tempo, volume etc?

Food for Thought

Tempo matters – eating pace directly corresponds to the tempo and rhythm of music. If you want faster turnover then faster tempo and more upbeat music helps. People order, eat and leave quicker. However, a slower tempo and more relaxed feel makes diners feel more comfortable and they stay longer, often spending more per head (dessert, coffee or an extra drink).

Volume matters – if it’s too loud… conversation becomes harder… instead guests eat/drink more.

Fun Stat: Across 3 Saturdays and 2 bars in France an experiment was undertaken. When the music in the venue was at 72 decibels it took an average of 14.5 mins to finish a 250ml glass of beer. This decreased to just 11.5 mins for the same beer, also on a Saturday night at the same bar when the decibel level was increased to 88 decibels (22% higher).
The number of gulps did not alter, but the intervals between gulps shortened.
On average meaning one extra drink per person per visit! (£££)


What would you like to feast your ears on?
If you want to contribute ideas or want to hear us discuss a particular topic then email us at


  1. MrsJimerson19

    well let’s think about this, our local Bubble Tea shop plays anime and K-Pop music. I think if you eat at a Japanese restaurant and they’re playing anime music it may (if you watch them), remind you how yummy anime food looks and change your expectations of said food!

  2. pamdick58

    Totally buying that sounds can affect taste. Anyone who ever had a cold knows that whatever affects the nose usually affects the ear and vice versa. So if sound is stimulating your ears I would expect it also stimulates your nose. We already know that taste and aroma are linked so to me it makes sense that sound can affect the way food tastes.

  3. danielahitstheroad

    Loved this podcast! It seems like there is a different dynamic when the normals are among themselves. Mike’s sciency prep was above par as per usual; I’ll be conducting my own studies with a piece of dark chocolate and my music collection now.

    • Sorted

      Let us know how you get on with the dark chocolate, glad you enjoyed the episode!

  4. konulshirin

    Borsch is a traditional Ukrainian and Russian soup based on beetroots, carrots, cabbage (often brined), with beef or pork meat, served with herbs and sour cream. Ultimate comfort food.

    Loved the episode and the topic. It was interesting hearing about the different studies.

  5. Annie1962

    What I got out of this

    Jamie – ‘Bach’
    Mike – “woof”

    Thanks for the podcast

  6. ch88

    Absolutely love this topic, it’s amazing how different senses work together without us even realising. Although I think this might be one of those cases where, once you notice it, that might lessen the effect? Having said that, it’s surprising how quickly you can tell when you go out for drinks or a meal and the background music just isn’t right, for example, when you go to a Chinese restaurant and they’re playing UK top 40 music… It really does seem to influence the experience of the food somehow. Or, rather, the food still tastes good, but the overall experience is just not quite right, if that makes sense?

    It was great that you brought up synesthesia, not that I experience it myself, it’s just a really interesting topic that doesn’t get mentioned very much. It’s another great example of how every single person experiences the world in their own, different, way. It seems to be one of those things that is hard to research because, how do you explain certain senses to someone who can’t experience them for themselves? So cool.

    This episode made me think of a Gastropod podcast I listened to a while ago that I really enjoyed and thought other people might like if they’re into this topic? I just had a dig through their archives, I believe the episode is called ‘Crunch, Crackle and Pop’, and it also goes into the science of how sound influences taste. I believe they discussed a different Heston Blumenthal project, funnily enough, as well as several other experiments. I might have to revisit it in the next few days and get googling for more information on this topic… I’m not sure how much research is out there, but is there enough material for another episode on different ways in which we experience food? Things like texture/touch, temperature (food and environment), surroundings, altitude, company, colour even? The geeky part of me would be totally up for more science-y episodes 🙂

    • Sorted

      Thank you for your comment, your insight and previous knowledge on the topic is really impressive. You’re totally right on the Chinese restaurant comment, you just know that your experience is off sometimes, even if you can’t exactly pinpoint why at the time.

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