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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.


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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