Knowledge Base:  
Understanding Sound and Noise Levels
Last Updated: 04/30/2013
Sound Level Meters

Environmental Noise

Weakest sound heard

0dB

Whisper Quiet Library at 6'

30dB

Normal conversation at 3'

60-65dB

Telephone dial tone

80dB

City Traffic (inside car)

85dB

Train whistle at 500', Truck Traffic

90dB

Jackhammer at 50'

95dB

Subway train at 200'

95dB

Level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss

90 - 95dB

Hand Drill

98dB

Power mower at 3'

107dB

Snowmobile, Motorcycle

100dB

Power saw at 3'

110dB

Sandblasting, Loud Rock Concert

115dB

Pain begins

125dB

Pneumatic riveter at 4'

125dB

Even short term exposure can cause permanent damage - Loudest recommended exposure WITH hearing protection

140dB

Jet engine at 100'

140dB

12 Gauge Shotgun Blast

165dB

Death of hearing tissue

180dB

Loudest sound possible

194dB


OSHA Daily Permissible Noise Level Exposure

Hours per day

Sound level

8

90dB

6

92dB

4

95dB

3

97dB

2

100dB

1.5

102dB

1

105dB

.5

110dB

.25 or less

115dB


NIOSH Daily Permissible Noise Level Exposure

Hours per day

Sound level

8

85dBA

6

86dBA

4

88dBA

3

89dBA

2

90dBA

1.5

92dBA

1

94dBA

.5

97dBA

.25 or less

100dBA

0

112dBA


Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level

Imperceptible Change

1dB

Barely Perceptible Change

3dB

Clearly Noticeable Change

5dB

About Twice as Loud

10dB

About Four Times as Loud

20dB


Sound Levels of Music

Normal piano practice

60 -70dB

Fortissimo Singer, 3'

70dB

Chamber music, small auditorium

75 - 85dB

Piano Fortissimo

84 - 103dB

Violin

82 - 92dB

Cello

85 -111dB

Oboe

95-112dB

Flute

92 -103dB

Piccolo

90 -106dB

Clarinet

85 - 114dB

French horn

90 - 106dB

Trombone

85 - 114dB

Tympani & bass drum

106dB

Walkman on 5/10

94dB

Symphonic music peak

120 - 137dB

Amplifier, rock, 4-6'

120dB

Rock music peak

150dB


NOTES:

         One-third of the total power of a 75-piece orchestra comes from the bass drum.

         High frequency sounds of 2-4,000 Hz are the most damaging. The uppermost octave of the piccolo is 2,048-4,096 Hz.

         Aging causes gradual hearing loss, mostly in the high frequencies.

         Speech reception is not seriously impaired until there is about 30 dB loss; by that time severe damage may have occurred.


Sound Level Meters





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