Understanding decibels: basics, measurement and applications

Decibels: A comprehensive explanation

What is decibel?

The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit for measuring volume. Originally developed for amplifying electrical signals, it is now also used to measure sound intensity in acoustics. An increase of 10 dB corresponds to approximately doubling the perceived volume. The human ear can perceive sound intensities from 0 dB (complete silence) to around 130 dB (very loud sound such as when an airplane takes off). Sound levels above 85 dB can cause irreparable hearing damage.

How does the decibel scale work?

The decibel scale is logarithmic, meaning that every 10 dB increase is perceived as a doubling of the volume. The reference value (0 dB) is the lowest sound intensity that a human ear can perceive. For example, normal whispering is about 30 dB, a conversation is 60 dB, and a rock concert can reach up to 120 dB.

What decibel units are there?

There are several specialized decibel units:

  • dB(A): Takes into account the sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies.
  • dB(C): Used to measure very high or very low frequencies.
  • dBFS: Used in digital audio technology and refers to the maximum amplitude of a digital signal.
  • Bel and Neper: Additional units for measuring gains in various applications.

How accurate are decibel apps?

The accuracy of decibel apps varies. Factors such as the quality of the smartphone microphone and the calibration of the app affect the measurement accuracy. However, professional sound level meters are usually more precise than apps. Decibel apps are good for a rough estimate of the volume in the environment.

The best decibel app

One of the best decibel apps is “Sound Meter” for Android and iOS. It offers precise volume measurement and is designed to be user-friendly.

Can I measure decibels with the iPhone?

Yes, the iPhone can be used to measure decibels. There are numerous apps, such as “Decibel X”, that allow accurate measurements.

How can I measure the volume in decibels?

To measure the volume in decibels, you can use a decibel app on your smartphone. Place the device's microphone near the sound source and start the measurement.

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