Pump up the Volume!
A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale. Basically how loud or soft a sound is. Decibel meters are machines used to measure these units. Over half of Barcelona’s population is subjected to noise levels over 65 decibels during the entire day (0800-2200 hours) which explains why locals have to shout to make themselves heard. It also explains the rule of no noise after 10pm! As a music school that works with sound and music, we are aware of how vital it is to be mindful of the effects of sound.
One of the greatest benefits that a person feels from sound is relief from stress. Sounds are used in sound therapy, meditation, and in many locations to promote a peaceful setting. The soothing sounds help to re-tune your brain to cope with stress better by replenishing brain energy with high-frequency sound. Many people use sound therapy and music to get relief from chronic headaches and migraines, and music is proven to improve your mood, as well as your quality of life.
Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a guitar played loudly somewhere around 80 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
So let’s sound it out:
-9dB The world’s quietest room, at Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, is so silent you can hear your internal organs. The longest a person may stay in the room is 45 minutes, as zero sound does strange things to the mind, causing hallucinations and schizophrenia.
44dB Birds singing.
The loudest purr by a domestic cat is 67.8 dB and was achieved by Merlin, owned by Tracy Westwood (UK), at her home in Devon, UK, on 2 April 2015. Merlin is 13 years old.
70dB The average volume of an opera singer singing fortissimo (loudly). French tenor Avi Klemberg hit a reading of 109dB, his personal best, in 2010 on Scottish TV show The Hour.
80dB Chamber music concert.
105dB How loud Jaime Vendera sang (at the right frequency, 556Hz) to shatter a wine glass — recorded and confirmed on Mythbusters.
110dB The noise inside a video arcade. This is also the average for a symphony orchestra, though it can get louder.
113.1 dB The loudest bark in the world, according to Guinness World Records, set by Charlie the golden retriever from Adelaide, Australia.
115dB A baby crying.
118dB The sound in a cinema.
121dB; The loudest voice in the world (says Guinness World Records), belonging to Annalisa Flanagan, an Irish primary school teacher.
127dB; The volume, give or take a decibel or two, of a vuvuzela (if expertly blown). The referee’s whistle blasts at 121 dB.
129.5dB The last officially recorded measurement for ‘Loudest Band in the World’ (metalheads Manowar) by Guinness World Records in 1984. It stopped including the category because of hearing damage caused by record seekers.
137dB Measured at a Leftfield concert at London’s Brixton Academy in 1996. It caused chunks of plaster to fall on the audience from the roof.
The loudest drummer in the world is Col Hatchman (Australia) who hit a peak reading of 137.2 dB during a gig with his band, Dirty Skanks, at the Northern Star Hotel, Australia, on 4 August 2006.
The world’s noisiest land animals are the howler monkeys (Alouatta) of Central and South America. Once in full voice they can be heard clearly up to4.8 km (3 miles) away. Their howl measured at 140 dB.
The loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium is 142.2 dB and was achieved by fans of the Kansas City Chiefs (USA), at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, USA, on 29 September 2014.
150dB A jet taking off, if you’re standing about 25 metres away from it.
172dB A shot from a 0.357—calibre revolver.
Not only did it cause serious damage to the island, but the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 created the loudest sound ever reported at 180 dB. It was so loud it was heard 5,000 km away.
188dB Blue and fin whales emitting a sound underwater that can kill other marine creatures.