- AudioDecibels

Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart

Here are some interesting numbers, collected from a variety of sources,
that help one to understand the volume levels of various sources and
how they can affect our hearing.

Environmental Noise

Weakest sound heard 0dB
Whisper Quiet Library 30dB
Normal conversation (3-5′) 60-70dB
Telephone dial tone 80dB
City Traffic (inside car) 85dB
Train whistle at 500′, Truck Traffic 90dB
Subway train at 200′ 95dB
Level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss 90 – 95dB
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
Short term exposure can cause permanent damage
Loudest recommended exposure WITH hearing protection
140dB
Jet engine at 100′, Gun Blast 140dB
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

 

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.
  • Hypertension and various psychological difficulties
    can be related to noise exposure.
  • The incidence of hearing loss in classical musicians
    has been estimated at 4-43%, in rock musicians 13-30%.

Statistics for the Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart
were taken from a study by Marshall Chasin , M.Sc., Aud(C),
FAAA, Centre for Human Performance & Health, Ontario,
Canada. There were some conflicting readings and, in many
cases, authors did not specify at what distance the readings
were taken or what the musician was actually playing. In
general, when there were several readings, the higher one
was chosen.

Categories: - Audio

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