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8 Ways to Use Sound Level Meters

8 Ways to Use Sound Level Meters

What is a sound level meter?

A sound level meter (also known as a sound pressure meter or decibel meter) is a portable hand held sound measuring device. Sound level meters are commonly used to ensure noise pollution levels are kept within legal requirements and are of a safe level.

How do they work?

Sound meters measure sound by measuring the pressure given off by sound waves on the device’s microphone. The level of pressure obtained from the device is then converted into decibels and placed within a noise level scale to determine safety.

8 ways to use a sound level meter:


Cinema Screen

Whilst there is still some discrepancy as to the optimum levels of audio in cinemas, cinema complexes need to corporate with sound recommendations in order to prevent hearing damage and to ensure audience comfort. As a rule, the average, safe sound level of a movie should be around 75-80 decibels. Studies compiled in the USA from the National Institute of Deafness (NIDCD, indicate that audio levels over 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss.

Sound level and decibel meters can be used to monitor audio levels in both commercial and home cinemas for safe and comfortable viewing. Speakers can be calibrated to the desired level by referring to a sound level meter. The compact design and portable nature of these devices allows for greater convenience and simple storage when not in use.

Music festivals, Concert halls & Music studios)

Music Concert

Similar to cinemas, audio levels at large gatherings and festivals need to be carefully monitored to avoid permanent hearing damage of listeners. Auditoriums and opera houses need to measure acoustics within the building to ensure adequate audio levels. Similarly, stages at music festivals are designed to amplify sound over large distances. Noise level meters include built-in decibel measurement for monitoring audio levels of speakers too ensure that music is not loud enough to cause discomfort, but adequate for all listeners to hear.

Music studios and sound boxes monitor sound levels to ensure sound recordings meet adequate levels to be played on radio or through other audio playing media. Sound level meters are ideal for ensuring audio levels are optimum throughout a recording session and can also be used to detect background noise disturbance during live performances.


Decibel and noise level meters are often used to measure the sound levels of busy construction sites. Noisy equipment such as pneumatic drills and testing equipment can cause permanent hearing damage when used consistently over prolonged periods of time which is why soundproof ear protectors must be used at all times when operating these tools. Sound meters are used by health and safety professionals to monitor the noise levels of construction sites for ensuring noise cancelling equipment is effective.


School Exams

Sound level meters are often used in schools to track noise and its effects on student performance. It is proven that increased noise levels have a negative effect on student concentration which is crucial for a learning environment; pupils talking loudly, loud screaming or yelling can reach decibel levels up to 130 which is significantly over the recommended safe noise limit of 80-85 decibels. During exam time, sound level meters can monitor rooms to ensure adequate levels for test conditions.


Car Part Grinding

Most engineering takes place in factory environments where workers are constantly exposed to high levels of noise on a daily basis. Automotive manufacturing employs advanced machinery to design, create and weld vehicle parts together as part of the production process. Sound level sensors can monitor noise levels during particularly noisy periods to determine whether sound safety equipment is required.


Noise levels in the workplace are a constant concern for employers in any industry, whether your staff work predominantly in a factory or office environment. Offices may be subject to group discussion, air conditioning units along with other electronics that contribute to the day-to-day background noise. In contrast, factory operatives may have to contend with heavy machinery that extrude noise consistently for hours at a time, this prolonged level of noise can lead to hearing damage if not properly checked using an appropriate sound level meter or noise testing sensor.


Jet Turbine

Airports are highly-reliant on sound testing and decibel meters to ensure noise pollution levels are kept to a minimum. Aircraft are noted as a major source of noise and can exceed 140 decibels during take-off. When designing aircraft, manufacturers can use sound level meters to test noise levels of jet engines and turbines. The Federal Aviation Administration provide a wealth of information on aircraft noise emissions and standards.


Kuala Lumpur City

Large built-up suburbs and cities accumulate a surprising amount of background noise over recommended safe noise levels. Large levels of noise pollution are generated from transport including trains and cars, whilst emergency vehicles can reach up to 120 decibels. Music levels from bars and clubs may also exceed safe levels, therefore business owners must comply with noise health and safety standards for both customers and the public. Governments and local authorities frequently use potable sound level meters to monitor noise pollution levels in dense urban areas.

The Measurement Shop’s range of sound measuring equipment

Sauter SU sound level meter

Sauter SU Sound Level Meter

A cheap, low cost sound level meter perfect for measuring noise pollution levels in decibels. SU sound meter models can measure sound levels in Lp, Leq and Ln; they also have a built in track function that can be used for continuous recording of variable environmental conditions.

Sauter SW sound level meter

Sauter SW Professional Sound Level Meter

A high-quality sound level meter for measuring a wide range of sound pressure levels including: Laeq, LcPeak, LaF, LaFMax, LaFMin, SD, SEL, E and LN. The SW sound level meter includes the Octavo function for targeted sound analysis and is perfect for use in airports, building sites and factories.

Reed R1920 sound level meter

Reed R1920 Sound Level Meter

The Reed R1920 compact sound level meter is a cheap alternative to other professional sound meters on the market. This device has fast and slow time weighting and is perfect for measuring noise levels in decibels at concert venues, festivals and within urban areas.

Reed R8050 sound level meter and calibrator kit

Reed R8050 Sound Meter & Sound Calibrator Kit

Reed’s R8050 sound level meter and calibrator kit offers an all-in-one sound measuring package complete with hard carry case and laser-etched foam interior. The R8050 type 2 sound meter has a measurement range between 30 and 130 decibels and meets ANSI and IEC type 2 approvals standards. The R8090 sound calibrator generates a stable acoustic signal at a controlled frequency and amplitude to verify the accuracy of your sound level meter.

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