One of the most important things to understand about noise is decibels. Decibels are units used to measure how loud a particular sound is.
Sometimes, you may be exposed to environments and to sounds where there is a lot of loud noise and where the sound comes at very high decibels. As you may know, this could be extremely harmful to your hearing.
However, sometimes you might not know how loud the noise is in the particular environment that you are in. In this case, you will need to use a decibel meter, or sound level meter.
A decibel meter helps by measuring noise levels of the sound you are exposed to and give you (hopefully) an accurate reading.
This article will discuss the different types of sound level meters and some of the best sound level meters available, along with a detailed review.
Top 7 Best Decibel Meters
If you are consistently exposed to noises above 85 decibels, you are exceeding the noise dose threshold and very likely to damage your hearing if you don’t use the proper protection.
The best sound level meters will help you determine how much noise exposure there is, and whether you should be using some hearing protection.
Different Types of Sound Level Meters
Several different types of noise level meters are important to consider. These devices may also be referred to as sound level meters.
These instruments are classified with two types, under the IEC 61672 Standards, set by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
For starters, sound level meters are typically divided into two classes: Class 1 and Class 2. These determine where and when you can use the particular device.
A Class 1 device will naturally be a lot more accurate and will be used to provide a more precise reading. However, they are not typically used by the average person to measure the loudness of everyday noises.
You will typically use this class of noise level meter if you are working in a place like a laboratory or building acoustics where you will need to look at the quietest types of noises or specific frequencies for analysis.
You will be more likely to purchase a Class 2 sound level meter. Most sound level meters are Class 2 and used more in everyday settings, such as when you are at work, a sports game, a concert, and more.
They’re naturally going to be cheaper and a little less accurate, but that is to be expected, given that they’re meant for everyday use. They come with a wider range of options and much lower price tag.
The frequency weighting is an important feature so you can get a different range of sound level measurements.
A-Weighting – the same frequency response as the human ear. Cuts off most sounds below 500 Hz and above 8 kHz.
C-Weighting – mimics the frequency response of the human ear at higher intensity levels of around 100dB, where the ear is more sensitive to lower frequencies.
Z-Weighting – This is a flat frequency response, it has no weighting between 10 Hz – 20 kHz.
A-weighting is the most commonly used weighting curve for measuring sound levels.
Popular Brands Who Sell the Most Sound Level Meters
There are many sound level meter brands, but we will talk about three of the most popular ones.
VLIKE is a brand that has produced some of the highest-rated sound level meters. On any website, you will see that some of the best devices are made by this brand specifically.
The brand does not limit itself solely selling noise level meters; it also sells plenty of other tools and headphones. As a result, many people trust this brand with its tools and consider it one of the best in technology.
Tacklife is another brand that has built quite a reputation for having great tools to work with. Some of these tools also include noise level meters.
Of course, if you aren’t quite aware of these products, you might have never heard of the brand, but they claim to provide people with some of the best quality tools on the market.
They also claim to have affordable prices worth a lot less than the quality of their products. So you may also want to consider purchasing your noise level meter from this brand.
PCE is also a brand not to be underestimated when producing some of the best decibel meters on the market. Many top-rated noise level meters have also come from this brand specifically.
The brand prides itself on creating high-quality and precision products that you can use for all different purposes. They also provide important information on their site about the purpose of noise level meters for those who may not be as aware.
PCE provides many universities and other high-level institutions with their products, which shows they are trustworthy.
Best Sound Level Meter Reviews
A quick search online will show just how many sound level meters are available on the market. All you need to do is read the reviews, and you’ll see how trustworthy many are.
However, when purchasing any noise dosimeter, you always want to ensure that you are getting one of the best quality products possible.
Now, we will get into the top 5 best SPL meters listed above. First, we will discuss the decibel meter reviews, what these products offer, and why so many people have given these products high ratings.
This is one of the top-rated noise level meters because of its features and affordability. It has a measurement range of 30 dB ≈ 130 dB and measures in both dBA and dBC frequencies.
It’s straightforward to use and understand, and every reading that the device provides will be in dBA. If you happen to be using this product when you are in a dark location, you will still be able to read what the screen says, thanks to the backlight.
You can use it in almost any given situation, including when you are at home or outdoors. It has an easy power button, built-in microphone and does the same job as the others on our list.
The device is lauded for being very affordable and comes with a 1-year guarantee against manufacturing defects. It’s versatile and will last you a long time before you need to change the battery.
As we mentioned before, VLIKE is one of the most popular sound level meters with a measuring scope from 30 to 130dB. According to the sound level meter reviews, people were pleased with this product’s accuracy. This is one of the best sound meters for home theaters.
This sound level meter has C-weighting for extra low frequencies, and A-weighting frequency weighting options. The external microphone is mounted on a rod to get a better reading of ambient noise.
It’s small, so you will easily use it and carry the device with you. The sound level meter will turn off automatically when you are finished using it to preserve the battery life. The large LCD display has a backlight feature, so you can also use it at night.
You’ll be aware that you’re being exposed to very loud noises that could potentially damage your hearing, which makes this product completely serve its purpose well. We think this is the best sound level meter with the most accuracy.
We have also mentioned that TACKLIFE provides some of the best tools on the market, including sound level meters. This product does the job it’s supposed to and offers many of the same features as the others we have listed with high precision.
There are two modes you can choose from: fast and slow. The fast-response mode is used for steady-state noise, while the slow-response mode is used for large fluctuations.
It has a LED backlight for easy reading when you are in a dark environment, and you will be able to measure various sound levels while using it. In addition, many people have noticed a nice bonus is that this product is one of the more affordable noise dosimeters.
This product will provide readings for a sound range between 30 and 130 dB. While Meterk isn’t necessarily one of the brands people have raved about, it is one of the best-rated decibel meters on the market.
You will be able to read the screen regardless of whether it’s light or dark where you are. You will also be able to use it in a large variety of settings, including at work, home, school, and more, even if you are in a loud environment.
It’s a lightweight device and one that you can easily carry with you wherever you go. Plus, it has an auto power off feature so it will automatically turn off when you aren’t using it to preserve the AAA batteries.
This device accurately measures and monitors sound levels ranging from 40 to 130 decibels. It offers precise readings with +/-2 dB accuracy and 0.1 dB resolution.
It has a compact and lightweight design, so you can easily carry it on the go. The large LCD screen displays results in two ways: by number or a fast-responding analog bar graph. There is a windscreen included, which prevents distortion in the readings. It runs on AAA batteries.
Sound Level Meter App by NIOSH
The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) program brings together the leading characteristics of authority sound level meters and noise dosimeters in one effortless, convenient bundle. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health developed the app to provide personnel with knowledge about their sound environment and advance superior hearing health protection efforts.
Though not as perfect as other noise detectors, it protects staff from noise exposure to avoid hearing impairment. The noise meter application comprises many features and can do nearly everything a conventional sound level meter can.
How To Choose a Sound Meter?
When choosing which noise level meter to buy, there are several things you should take into consideration.
For one, you will want to check the price. Sometimes a high price tag does not necessarily mean that the product is made from the best quality materials.
There are plenty of less expensive noise meters, but they still provide the same quality as those with a higher price tag.
Then, you will also want to consider the versatility of the product. As we mentioned, there are two classes of sound level meters available. You might want one with a tripod mount.
You can use many of the ones you will be able to find in various situations, such as industrial settings, neighborhood noise complaints, schools, factories, offices, normal conversation and more.
It is important to be able to use the meter wherever you are because you may be working in a loud environment that requires you to read the sound level.
How Do Sound Meters Measure Noise Levels?
Professional sound level meters use a microphone mounted on a rod surrounded by a flexible membrane which moves when sound waves hit it. This generates an electrical current which a sound level meter measures. The more intense the noise levels, the greater the current, leading to a higher reading. These changes in sound pressure levels are what cause the membrane surrounding the microphone to vibrate.
If you are using it to calibrate audio applications or in long-term data collection field calibration may be required.
Are Decibel Meters Accurate?
Class 1 Professional decibel sound meters are incredibly precise at both low and high frequencies. Class 2 decibel readings have high accuracy within a range.
Finding a product that will provide the most accurate readings is also important. Of course, you will have to read the reviews carefully for this, but accurate measurements will help you better understand your next course of action. When looking to reduce decibels with an NRR product, it’s important to know your baseline. Noise reduction rating needed can be a crucial consideration.
Plus, if the meter is drastically inaccurate, it means that you could potentially cause a lot of damage to your hearing. On the other hand, if the meter has an accurate measurements, you’ll be able to determine what kind of protection you need for your ears.
And, of course, you must find a product made by a reputable brand. Some of the products we listed were not created by well-known brands. But if you choose something made by a good brand, you can almost be guaranteed that you’ll have the best Decibel Meter which will last you a long time.
What is the difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 sound level meter?
Class 1 Sound level meters are professional models often referred to as precision grade meters, while Class 2 Sound level meters are commonly known for their lower tolerances. A lower or higher frequency larger than the tolerance for this range, and a higher frequency is smaller.
Class 1 sound level measurers are noise measurement devices that meet the international standard ISO 61672-1:2002. Using these standards, the user is required to meet many complicated accuracy performance criteria for calibration and performance.
Class 2 sound level meters are usually A-weighted and C-weighted and are less precise, but much cheaper.
Can a cell phone measure decibels?
You can turn any smartphone or computer into a noise detector and discover how loud the noises are. Download Soundmeter on the Android or iOS. This works with the microphone measuring the maximum ambient sound levels in decibels (dB).
It converts your iPad into an audio-level measurement tool that detects harmful ambient noises and protects you against harm and noise. DecibelX is another noise metering application with highly precise measurements and supports dBAs and dBCs.
Are SPL meter apps accurate?
A sound level meter app works okay for sound measurement if you need to wear ear protection or not. But they do not have incredible accuracy or are approved for occupational safety.
It is worth considering getting a sound level meter if you work in an area with a loud noise. This will help you determine how loud the noise is and how much damage it could cause you.
After careful research, our number recommendation is the BAFX Products Decibel Meter, which features a measuring range of 30-130dBA and can measure high/low peaks with a 0.1 dBA resolution.
It’s effortless to use and has a backlit display so that you can use it during the day or night. Another reason why many customers choose it is that it’s affordable and comes with a 1-year guarantee.