Sound Level Meter Apps – How Accurate Are They?

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Ever wonder how loud the noise really is and if it could be damaging your hearing? You can download the free app on iTunes. The SLM app can help you prevent permanent hearing loss caused by noise—a problem that can occur immediately or over time. Although the app is designed for use at worksites, it also provides accurate noise measurement for everyday use, and can be downloaded and used by anyone in any location, including concerts, movie theaters, sports events, and even school cafeterias. For example, NIOSH SLM reports the sound level in different weighted decibels, including A-weighted decibels , which can give you a good idea of the level of sound that could harm your hearing.
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Decibel Meters vs. Sound Meter Apps & Cheap Noise Meters

Decibel Meters vs. Sound Meter Apps – How accurate are they? There is a growing number of sound meter Apps available as free downloads on Google Play Store and the Apple Store, many of these provide standard noise measurement functions, but when used with the internal microphone in your smartphone or tablet do not offer compliant noise measurements, and therefore have no standing legally.

This is because: The decibel meter and its microphone must meet IEC For compliant measurements, the microphone and noise meter must be calibrated with an acoustic calibrator before and after your noise measurements. It is not possible to calibrate the internal microphone nor smartphone apps. Because of the range of smartphones available on the market, there is also the potential for significant variations in their accuracy and performance comparing model to model, thus allowing discrepancies to arise as a result.

In most smartphones, the internal microphone is positioned in the lower edge of the device i. Users have shown a tendency to hold the device with the microphone typically facing their body, or laid out on a table both of which affect the frequency response of the device. By the nature of the core purpose of these inbuilt microphones, they are also designed to cancel out some noise. The location of the microphone on tablets is more variable as these are not intended to be used for calls, however, they are invariably laid flat on a table when measurements are taken not held, and also include noise cancelling.

It is possible to use a mobile with a suitable external microphone which meets the relevant instrument standards.

Nevertheless, some Health and Safety Officers may find these smartphone apps can serve a purpose for carrying out quick spot checks of noise when a professional decibel meter is not available, or as range-finding devices, and may help workers make quick educated decisions about whether they need to put their hearing protection on. One commercial company now offers a sound level meter app in a watch.

This app measures noise at the person’s wrist, not their ear though, and has similar issues with the microphones to mobile phone offerings, however it does give you noise exposure times. Cheap noise meters – should you use them? Many of the points made above about the smartphone Apps apply equally when we look at the accuracy and compliance limitations of cheap noise meters. Noise measurement instruments, and decibel meters, in particular, can vary hugely in cost as well as in complexity.

Although there are many professionals who are using complicated and expensive decibel meters every day, for the majority of health and safety practitioners, noise is just a small part of their jobs. They understandably are looking for the cheapest and easiest meter to ‘get the job done’. There are several applications, like with the smartphone Apps, that these simple meters might be adequate for, such as testing fire alarm noise levels and simple office or machinery noise level checks.

However, many of these meters are not legally compliant with international noise measurement standards. This means that they cannot be used to measure occupational noise in compliance situations for example in workplace noise assessments under the Noise at Work Regulations.

The Pulsar Nova Range of sound level meters is ideal for meeting these needs and more. The minimum requirements for a compliant noise at work sound meter are that it is an integrating averaging meter compliant with IEC The equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level LAeq The maximum C-weighted peak sound pressure level LCPeak If there is a need to prescribe suitable hearing protection it should ideally also: Measure equivalent continuous C-weighted sound pressure level LCeq ; or The Leq in octave frequency bands.

Are smartphone Apps and cheap noise meters worth it? So, should sound meter Apps and cheap noise meters be used where there is a requirement to be compliant with a standard or regulation? These are the standards, regulations and guidelines to which most Health and Safety Officers and Environmental Officers are working to around the world. Pulsar is not here to approve or disapprove of the use of these sound meter Apps or cheap noise meters.

Apps can play a role when used with the appropriate microphone, and likewise, there are many applications where they and very basic noise meters can be an effective way to take quick indicative measurements. Contact us to find out more.

Sound Level Meter Apps – Conclusion

Decibel Meters vs. Sound Meter Apps – How accurate are they? There is a growing number of sound meter Apps available as free downloads on Google Play Store and the Apple Store, many of these provide standard noise measurement functions, but when used with the internal microphone in your smartphone or tablet do not offer compliant noise measurements, and therefore have no standing legally. This is because: The decibel meter and its microphone must meet IEC For compliant measurements, the microphone and noise meter must be calibrated with an acoustic calibrator before and after your noise measurements. It is not possible to calibrate the internal microphone nor smartphone apps.

VIDEO: Sound Level Meter Apps – How Accurate Are They?

If you think you may be in an at-risk environment, you can open the app and check the decibel meter, which adjusts in real time. But, you don’t. How do you know when loud is *too* loud? Here are some great decibel and sound meter smartphone apps for measuring noise levels. A sound level meter is used for acoustic measurements. It is commonly a hand- held instrument .. To calibrate the sound level meter apps one must use an acoustical calibrator rather than relying on the pre-defined profiles. This study indicated.

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