About sound and decibels

  • Article by: BILL WARD
  • Star Tribune
  • April 25, 2012 - 2:43 PM


Sound is actually short for sound pressure level, or SPL, Steve Orfield said. It is measured in decibels, or dB, around which there are misconceptions. A few facts:

• Zero decibels is not the absence of sound but the quietest thing an infant can hear. (Infants have the most sensitive hearing.)

• Many animals have better hearing than us, including owls and dogs; Chihuahuas can hear to almost minus-30 decibels.

• The sound level in the average bedroom with seemingly nothing going on is about 30 decibels, Orfield said.

• Noise levels double with every decibel increment of 10, so 60 decibels is twice as loud as 50, and 90 decibels is 16 times louder than 50.

• During the 1987 World Series, the Metrodome reached 114 decibels, within 6 of a jet-plane takeoff.


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