What is a Decibel?  

What is a Decibel?

Decibels are the units of measurement of sound pressure, or in other words, decibels can be used to denote how loud something is.

Decibel (dB) scales begin at 0 dB, the threshold of hearing, and go up from there. Each increase of 10 dB on the scale is actually a ten-fold increase in sound pressure, e.g. 55 dB is ten times as loud as 45 db.

Here is a chart that might be handy to use when evaluating what a decibel rating means:

  • 0 dB- Hearing threshold- the quietest detectable noise, for the average person
  • 10 dB- Pin drop
  • 20 dB- Soft whispering, rustling leaves
  • 30 dB- the ambient noise level of a library
  • 40 dB- a quiet conversation, the ambient noise level of a quiet office
  • 50 dB- light traffic, a teacher addressing a medium-sized classroom
  • 60 dB- conversational speech, the ambient noise level of a busy office
  • 70 dB- the ambient noise level of a busy restaurant or a busy sidewalk
  • 80 dB- an alarm clock, the ambient noise level of a laundromat
  • Extended exposure may cause hearing damage from this point on: 90 dB- a lawn mower, heavy city traffic
  • 100 dB- a chainsaw, a subway train
  • 110 dB- a jackhammer, a car horn, a rock concert
  • 120 dB- a jet taking off
  • Decibel levels starting here will cause physical pain: 130 dB- loud thunderclap, air raid siren
  • 140 dB- jet engine, a fire cracker explosion
  • Sources and more information: jimprice.com: Understanding dB Motionizer.com: Reference Desk

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