Sound Level Meter – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Sound Design Glossary Terms

What is a Sound Level Meter?

A sound level meter is a device used to measure the intensity of sound in decibels (dB). It is commonly used in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, and entertainment, to monitor and control noise levels. Sound level meters are essential tools for ensuring compliance with noise regulations and protecting workers from hearing damage.

How does a Sound Level Meter work?

Sound level meters consist of a microphone, amplifier, filter, and display unit. The microphone picks up sound waves and converts them into electrical signals, which are then amplified and filtered to remove unwanted noise. The filtered signals are then displayed on a screen as a numerical value in decibels.

Sound level meters typically measure sound levels in A-weighted decibels (dBA), which are weighted to mimic the sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies. This weighting allows sound level meters to provide a more accurate representation of the perceived loudness of a sound.

What are the different types of Sound Level Meters?

There are two main types of sound level meters: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 sound level meters are more accurate and are typically used for precision measurements in research and laboratory settings. Type 2 sound level meters are less accurate but are more commonly used for general noise monitoring and compliance purposes.

Sound level meters can also be classified based on their features, such as integrating sound level meters, which measure the total sound energy over a period of time, and logging sound level meters, which record sound levels over time for analysis.

What are the applications of Sound Level Meters?

Sound level meters are used in a wide range of applications, including environmental noise monitoring, workplace noise assessments, and entertainment venue sound management. In environmental noise monitoring, sound level meters are used to measure noise pollution levels in urban areas, near highways, and around industrial sites.

In workplace settings, sound level meters are used to assess the noise exposure of workers and ensure compliance with occupational health and safety regulations. In entertainment venues, sound level meters are used to monitor and control the sound levels of concerts, clubs, and other events to protect patrons and employees from hearing damage.

How to use a Sound Level Meter effectively?

To use a sound level meter effectively, it is important to calibrate the device before each use to ensure accurate measurements. The microphone should be positioned at ear level and at a distance of at least one meter from the noise source. The sound level meter should be set to the appropriate measurement range and weighting to capture the desired sound levels.

When taking measurements, it is important to note the location, time, and duration of the measurement, as well as any relevant environmental factors that may affect the results. It is also important to take multiple measurements at different times and locations to ensure a comprehensive assessment of noise levels.

What are the limitations of Sound Level Meters?

While sound level meters are valuable tools for measuring and monitoring noise levels, they have some limitations. Sound level meters may not accurately capture impulsive or intermittent noises, such as gunshots or machinery malfunctions, due to their averaging capabilities.

Additionally, sound level meters may be affected by environmental factors, such as wind, temperature, and humidity, which can impact the accuracy of measurements. It is important to consider these limitations when using sound level meters and to supplement measurements with other noise monitoring techniques, such as personal dosimeters or area noise mapping.