Cell Phone dB Meters

Discussion in 'Support' started by awbw8, Nov 19, 2013.

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    1. awbw8
      Balanced

      awbw8 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2013
      Hello All,

      I went to a bar the Friday before last (Friday Nov. 8th), and when I walked in it felt kind of loud so I pulled out my little cell phone db meter. I know these are no replacement for a real one, but for getting a general guess and having something handy I use it. Also, since getting tinnitus, I feel like I'm scared of noise levels, even the ones that aren't damaging, so it gives me the guts to just enjoy.

      Anyway, when I took out my little meter, it said "76", so even though I was a bit nervous, I got myself a beer stayed there about an hour even though I was apprehensive. I really should have just left (or put in ear plugs...which I had on me), looking back, because it really seemed way too loud. Hearing seemed maybe a bit dull when I left...but I really could have been making it up out of nerves and then I got a cold that weekend too, so that probably skewed my perception. Do you think an hour in a bar would have done a wild amount more damage to my hearing? T was a little grumpy about a week later, but it goes up and down anyway...hard to tell - but of course I kick myself. I know it's in the past now, but advice is always appreciated...maybe just to chill me out a bit :)

      Anyway, I know these things aren't all that accurate, but how accurate, or not so are they? Is there an especially good one to get? Or a good hand-held db meter?

      Thank you all for your help and kindness :)
       
    2. LadyDi
      Busy

      LadyDi Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Barotrauma/airplane
      I have one on my phone and my sense is: not too accurate. But when you think about it, how different is it between 76 and 80 db, the danger threshold? My SOP these days is before I even walk into a bar or restaurant of any size, I put in the plugs.

      There are a lot of sound professionals on this board who, I am sure, will give you a much better answer than I.
       
    3. Markku
      Inspired

      Markku Director Staff Benefactor Hall of Fame Team Trobalt Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Syringing
      You might find the attached PDF worth a read.

      It contains an article:
      Comparison of a Type 2 Sound Level Meter vs. Sound Level Meter Applications on an iPhone
       

      Attached Files:

      • Like Like x 1
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    4. James
      No Mood

      James Member Benefactor

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      Pulsing 03/2013
      I didn't read that pdf file.

      Concerning Accuracy?
      At the end of the day, if you think or feel its too loud, it is.

      I bought a cheap sound level meter. The readings vary quite a bit with music or anything.
      It is also a max/min button. Things to consider, I think, are frequency and time of exposure,
      meaning higher freq and longer exposure times are worse.
       
    5. Erlend
      Question it

      Erlend Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Scandinavia
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2013
      In COMPLETE silence my phone says 36 dB. I think it's calibrated wrong or my phone makes an internal sound sound or something that causes the app to think it it is external noise. Almost like my phone has got..... Tinnitus:beeranimation::thankyousign:
       
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    6. meeruf
      Badass

      meeruf Member Benefactor Team Awareness

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Diving
      My audiologist scolded me when I said that I was going to buy a db meter. She said if I was going to go around in pubs and restaurants measuring the noise levels. I will never get over T. She got a point.

      You should not be afraid of 80 db. You have to stay in that noise level for 8 hours before its even considered unhealthy for the ears.
       
    7. erik
      Breezy

      erik Manager Staff Benefactor

      Location:
      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      I used Sound Meter app on my S4. Last week I was at a hockey game and I was in the tech booth. They had a professional DB meter registering the noise level. I fired up the app to compare. To my surprise it was fairly accurate. Within 2-3db all the time through the loud and soft times. So for general use, I would say this app would give you a good indication of general noise level. But I wouldn't use this too much. It's similar to wearing earplugs all the time and over protecting your ears. You don't want to give it too much attention or worry about noise all the time because you will focus on your T more, it may get louder and you may slow your habituation progress. Use it a louder than normal events. If too loud, throw in some ear plugs.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    8. awbw8
      Balanced

      awbw8 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2013
      Thank you all so much. I appreciate it. I just got one called "Too Loud?" (haha) which has an easier calibration system and seems to be accurate-ish.

      Long story short is, if I hadn't been at this bar on a first date (the first in a long time since getting T), I never would have stayed. I wasn't a fan of loud noise even before t, so it wasn't my scene. I have no shame about telling friends I can't stay somewhere or popping in the earplugs, but a new date who already got a new drink when I arrived...oye. It's more a case of me learning my lesson about putting my health above my chance of awkwardness/embarrassment/fear of rudeness. An obvious choice, but harder in the moment when you've deceived yourself with your iphone db meter ;)

      @erik - thank you so much, it's heartening to hear yours was somewhat accurate. What is the exact name of your app or the maker? I looked up "sound meter" but there are a dozen different options, just kind of curious how yours stacks up against mine in terms of accuracy. My internal definition of "too loud" can be awful finicky these days (I had bad hyperacusis when it started), so I use the meter mostly to let myself know that places seem like they're quiet, but feel loud to me, aren't really bad. Happy to say I've gone from having a harmful earplug addiction to (with the exception of this date night - lesson learned), only using them in appropriate places.

      Thank you all for your help and advice!
       
    9. awbw8
      Balanced

      awbw8 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2013
      also thank you @Markku that pdf was interesting. it actually had the app I used as one of the best ones, so that's nice. I have no idea where you find all these documents, but thank you for finding and sharing them :)
       
    10. erik
      Breezy

      erik Manager Staff Benefactor

      Location:
      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      Hi it is an Android app call Sound Meter by Smart Tools Co. The creator has a blog here: Android boy's Lab
       
    11. frohike
      Approved

      frohike Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
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    12. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      New York City
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2011
      I just downloaded the Sound Meter from Smart Tools Co. onto my Droid. Apparently my office is 43db (presumably the fan). What a great idea---thanks @erik! While I walk to the subway after work I'll be able to measure just how loud NYC really is!

      -Golly
       
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    13. erik
      Breezy

      erik Manager Staff Benefactor

      Location:
      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      Interesting that the study found the one I use Sound Meter inadequate. I see they only tested these apps with iPad 4 device. I would think different device models and makes could yield different results. I think this would account for the iTunes app store and Google Play store reviews of these apps where some people state that the app may be fairly accurate while other say it is wildly inaccurate. I will record a video next week that shows the app next to an actual sound meter to comparison on my device which is a Samsung Galaxy S4. Thanks
       
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    14. awbw8
      Balanced

      awbw8 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2013
      thanks for this @frohike very interesting! wish i'd been a bit more curious about the accuracy of these things earlier on, but better late than never :)
       
    15. Tenna
      Anime

      Tenna Member

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2013
      Windows RT lets me know that my room in silence is 60db, dangerous living.
      Carrying around a db meter at all times will make you think about the t at all time too :)
       
    16. Golly
      Bookworm

      Golly Member Benefactor Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      New York City
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2011
      I am pretty sure that continuous exposure to 60db is harmless. My understanding is that until you approach 85db, there isn't much to worry about. While 85db doesn't seem much higher than 60db, the non-linear property of the decibel measure (it is a log-scale) means that incremental bumps in the decibel reading will represent a disproportionately greater sound pressure. In this way, 85db is much louder than 60db. Note as well that duration of noise exposure is an important consideration, too. Take a look at these tables for guidance:

      Noise - Occupational Exposure Limits in Canada : OSH Answers

      Occupational noise exposure. - 1910.95

      Also, the ATA provides a good non-technical discussion:

      It's A Noisy World We Live In | American Tinnitus Association

      -Golly
       
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    17. Liesel

      Liesel Member

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      7/2013
      Does anyone know of a reliable app for measuring sound levels?

      I've tried two, Sound Meter and Noise Meter. On my phone, an HTC OneX, both apps get readings ~10db lower than the same apps on other devices. Specifically tested also on a Nexus 7 and a Galaxy S3.

      Makes me think there might just not be a reasonable app for this because it's so hardware dependent. Which is a bummer, I really need to find out if the cabin noise in my car is at a safe level or not. :sour:
       
    18. mick1987
      No Mood

      mick1987 Member

      Location:
      UK (England)
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I also have got the sound meter app for my android tablet, don't know if it is accurate or not, a few readings have been surprisingly low, so I'm not sure.
      Unless you drive a tractor or supercar/loud exhaust system I think you would be fine, I have had no problem's personally, only slamming shut the car hood has increased mine, no problems driving it though :)
       
    19. Liesel

      Liesel Member

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      7/2013
      I take 7-8 hour long drives a few times a month though, and apparently Honda is known for having less sound insulation than normal. Add in some radio and I think it may have pushed it over the safe sound limit. >.<
       
    20. LeQuack
      Scared

      LeQuack Member Benefactor

      Location:
      United States of Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bad luck and bad genes
      I wouldn't bother with those, buy a proper sound meter, they can be bought quite cheap, here:
      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=sound meter&sprefix=sound me,aps&rh=i:aps,k:sound meter

      Why not phone apps? Because the microphone in the phones are only designed and calibrated for sound in the human speech frequency, 2-4 kHz or something like that, whereas these sound meters usually measure 30 Hz up to 8kHz or even more for the better quality items.

      This is the one I got for around 60 EUR, it's a German store so not sure if they send to the US:
      http://www.conrad-electronic.co.uk/...t-SL-100-Digital-Sound-Level-Meter-5-Hz-8-kHz

      And some specs:
      Reading range - SPL 30 - 130 dB
      SPL resolution 0.1 dB
      Accuracy ± 2 dB (94 dB/1 kHz)
      Pick-up time 125/1000 ms
      Width 55 mm
      Weight 230 g
      Height 210 mm
      Can be calibrated to ISO
      Frequency range 31.5Hz - 8 kHz

      ft02b_noise_02.jpg

      Just look for the ones with the better accuracy and you should be fine. I'm very satisfied with mine. It has a tripod screw mount so you can fixate it and also that black sponge thing is the wind deflector, as you know wind can seriously affect sound measurements so that's essential for outdoors.

      But about your question, the loudness of the car cabin. I've mesured my Kia Ceed and it's about 40dBA @ idle, 60 dBA @ 50kmh (~30mph) and 72 dBA @ 130 kmh (80 mph).

      Here is a list of 35 cars noise measurements for reference:
      http://elevatingsound.com/the-price-of-quiet-driving/
      Also have a look at this list about the quietest cars:
      http://elevatingsound.com/the-top-30-quietest-cars-a-cabin-noise-test-by-auto-bild/
      And the noisiest cars:
      http://elevatingsound.com/the-top-30-noisiest-cars-a-cabin-noise-test-by-auto-bild/

      Also a note about the dBA. Usually sound meters will include both the dBA and dBC weighted scales. For human hearing the dBA scale is more appropriate, just like the human ear it gives more weight to frequency ranges the human ear is more sensitive to and less weight to ranges the ear is less sensitive to. The dbC weighted scale however is weighted more uniformly, giving almost equal weight to all frequencies. See the below graph:

      decibel-scale-1.gif

      Also the usual sound meter will also two ways of measuring the sound. The fast and slow measurements types. The fast measurement is useful for sudden noises, gunshots, noise that change rapidly and so on. Whereas slow measurements is meant for measuring steady background noises, for example office or factory noise, car noise and so on.

      Hopefully I've shed some light on the subject.
       
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    21. Liesel

      Liesel Member

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      7/2013
      Thanks @LeQuack , that helps A TON! I was hoping I would be able to make the test before my next long drive in a couple days, but I think I'll end up purchasing a real sound meter for future use.
       
    22. LeQuack
      Scared

      LeQuack Member Benefactor

      Location:
      United States of Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bad luck and bad genes
      I think you'll find it useful, it just comes in handy in many situations.
       
    23. LadyDi
      Busy

      LadyDi Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Barotrauma/airplane
      I agree with Le Quack , smart phone meters have limited capabilities. And I have such an app. But for me the bottom line test is... Do you ears feel uncomfortable or painful driving in the car? If so, wear ear plugs.
       
    24. Knightofknots

      Knightofknots Member

      Location:
      Halifax NS
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2014
      Wasn't sure where to post this. I figure here was the best spot.

      Is there a really good dB meter app anyone would could suggested ? I have two at the moment on my phone and both are saying something different things. Not sure which one is accurate.

      Thank you.
       
    25. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Ppl say don't use dB meter apps bc they are not accurate and that maybe true to some degree but I found one that was reviewed to be very accurate and it's called "SPLnFFT". I purchased through iTunes for $5. Also know to use the "db(A)" setting too.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    26. iAzra
      Dreaming

      iAzra Member

      Location:
      Croatia
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma, Stress, Nose hit
      Why wouldn't they be accurate? I mean I don't really need some precision, if it's abowe 90 dcb it's no good :D
       
    27. Jay M
      Thinking

      Jay M Member

      Location:
      South Carolina, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      4/4/14
      Professional dB meters are calibrated for accuracy at the manufacturer. The apps do not come calibrated especially the free ones. Plus the quality of microphones on Smartphones vary. However, the one I mentioned received high praise for being the most accurate app available, so much so that it compared closely to an expensive ($2,000) db meter.
       
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    28. iAzra
      Dreaming

      iAzra Member

      Location:
      Croatia
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma, Stress, Nose hit
      But what is the difference, in how many dcb? If we are talikng small difference then it doesnt really matter for everyday use, does it?
       
    29. LadyDi
      Busy

      LadyDi Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Barotrauma/airplane
      General consensus, no surprise, is that a dB meter on your phone won't be as accurate as a professional meter. And that some phone models are better than others. This is reviewed at length in the above thread. The one I have on my phone is dB Meter Pro by Performance Audio. It got pretty good user reviewers but I may sample the one @Jay M uses, just out of curiosity.

      However, I think most of us certainly don't need a professional meter, and a reading that's "close enough" is just fine. I find my ears tell me right away when things are too loud. I usually break out the meter just out of curiosity: is it really too loud in here, as my ears are suggesting? My ears are so smart. They almost are always right! Bottom line: if you are uncomfortable, either put in the heavy duty plugs or leave.

      Also: Be aware that some people believe carrying around a dB meter and using it all the time just makes you hyper vigilant about your tinnitus, which will in turn thwart your habituation. I rarely look at my meter any more.
       
      • Like Like x 3
    30. iAzra
      Dreaming

      iAzra Member

      Location:
      Croatia
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma, Stress, Nose hit
      I use that one too.. I agree it helps to stress even more :)
       

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