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DB Soundmeter

Updated on June 22, 2017
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years on museums and libraries.


As we age, we are more sensitive to noise. In my own case, I have noticed that some noise are especially annoying such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers. Police and ambulence sirens are also very loud and grabs your attention. I found a free app on the iPad called DB Soundmeter. It records the decibel levels of its souroundings so one can visualize the noise level. It is a great function.

- June 2017


The measurement of sound is in a unit called decibel. It is a log based value. Here is a plot that shows what a decibel relates to sound level. An increase in 3 decibels will lead to a noise twice as loud. An increase of 10 db will be 10 times louder. It seems confusing but there is a logical reason for this. The noise level is related th the amount of power that is needed to move air.

History and Original Use: The decibel unit was originally invented by Bell Telephone Labs as the Bel and given its name after Alexander Graham Bell. The decibel is 1/10 of this original unit. The Bel unit was defined as a ratio of power levels of 10 to 1 (ten times the power or one-tenth the power).

Some Common DB numbers

  • indoor room - 50 db
  • outdoor - 60 db
  • inside a car idle - 70 db
  • AC running on high setting - 77 db
  • lawnmoer idle - 92 db

Screen Capture of DB App

Some Common Uses...

One way to use this app is to detetmine if a device is low in noise level. For example, I wanted to buy a new Air Conditioner for my family room. I shopped around for the best price and BTU and the energy ratings but there is no rating on the fan noise. With this app, I can measure for myself the sound level of each unit and find the quietest unit.

The Frigedaire model FFRE1533S1

15,100 BTU

850 Sq. feet cooling power

115 Volt/60 Hz.

11.8 EER Energy efficient ratio

Sound level:

Hi - 79 db

Med - 77 db

Lo - 75 db


I just decided on replacing an old Gibson room air conditioner with this Frigidare model. It is quiet and cools a large area. It is also very efficient EER rating. My old Gibson was a great buy. It lasted over 30 years of use. It was one of the quietest machine on the market. Unfortunately, they no longer make that model.

The DB Soundmeter is a great app. I recommend it highly. It helped me find a good replacement.

© 2017 Jack Lee


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