3 Ways to Measure Decibels
Decibels (dB) are units used to quantify the intensity of sound. From checking noise pollution to measuring loudness in concerts, decibel measurement plays a crucial role in our modern world. In order to effectively measure decibels, there are several methods available. This article will discuss three ways to measure decibels: using a smartphone app, a dedicated sound level meter (SLM), and the computational method.
The convenience of smartphones has made it possible for users to measure sound levels through apps. These applications utilize the built-in microphones on smartphones and transform them into portable sound level meters. There are several reliable apps available for both iOS and Android devices, such as NIOSH Sound Level Meter (NIOSH SLM), Sound Meter, and Decibel X.
To measure decibels with a smartphone app, simply install the application on your device and launch it. These applications often feature an easy-to-read interface that clearly displays the current dB level and other relevant information. Remember that the accuracy of smartphone apps can vary depending on the device’s microphone quality; while not as accurate as professional SLMs, they can provide reasonably accurate measurements for everyday use.
2.Dedicated Sound Level Meters (SLMs)
For more accurate measurements of sound levels, dedicated Sound Level Meters (SLMs) are your best bet. These devices have built-in microphones specifically designed for measuring sound pressure levels. They often feature metrics such as A-weighting or C-weighting filters that help tailor the measurement for human hearing or different types of noise frequencies.
To use an SLM, turn it on and position it toward the sound source you’re trying to measure. Make sure that there is nothing obstructing the path between the microphone and the sound source to ensure accurate readings. The displayed value on the SLM will be an accurate measurement of the sound level in decibels. Notable SLM models include the BAFX Products Sound Meter, Extech SL10 Type 2 Sound Level Meter, and Reed Instruments R8050.
- Computational Method
Lastly, for those with a knowledge of mathematics and physics, you can also measure decibels using computational methods. By determining the sound pressure level (SPL) and referencing it to a known value like the threshold of human hearing (20 µPa), you can calculate the dB level.
Here’s the formula for calculating decibels:
dB = 20 × log10(P1/P0)
Where dB is the decibel level, P1 is the measured SPL, and P0 is the reference SPL (20 µPa).
Keep in mind that this method requires accurate measurements of sound pressure levels as well as an understanding of logarithms. It might not be suitable for everyday use but serves as an alternative when other methods are unavailable.
In conclusion, measuring decibels can be achieved through various means: smartphone apps for casual users, dedicated SLMs for higher accuracy, or computational methods for those with a physics background. No matter which method you choose, it’s crucial to understand how to measure sound levels correctly and safely.