Sound level meters: Accurate measurement of decibels

Sound level meters are designed to help measure sound levels in decibels, both in the workplace and in the private sphere. Like temperature, noise is perceived subjectively. Someone complaining about his loud neighbour feels bothered by the music coming from his home: however, after measuring the actual volume in decibels, it often turns out that this subjective disturbance cannot be classified as noise. A sound level meter is also needed in the workplace to determine whether an employee needs special hearing protection or whether the existing sound level is reasonable and not injurious to health. Sound level meters are used in the following areas:

  • In apartments to determine the sound level from the surrounding area
  • In facility maintenance
  • In air-conditioning and ventilation technology
  • In workplaces, in the office and at machines
Sound level meter

The ideal sound level meter – precisely designed for your application

testo 815

Sound level meter
Measure the sound level of air conditioning, heating and combustion systems.

testo 816

Noise meter
Sound level meter certified according to IEC 61672-1.

Sound level meters: Standard-compliant measurements for trade and industry

Decibel meter

The sound level meter is suitable for carrying out standard-compliant sound measurements, and gives the readings in decibels. A sound level meter is indispensable, especially for employers, because they need to ensure that the occupational health and safety and emission control stipulations in the workplace are being complied with. This takes into account the issue of occupational health and safety, which focuses on keeping employees healthy. Equally important is the measurement of decibels in combustion, heating and air conditioning systems. The testo 815 sound level meter, for example, is available for this. The testo 816 sound level meter is also suitable for this purpose and is available as a standard-compliant sound level meter. It is always important to comply with the legal standards, which is only possible using tested sound level meters. Testo's sound level meters are based on the IEC 61672-1 standard, which has been valid for several years. In contrast to the previous standard, it is designed for a higher degree of accuracy. There are three accuracy classes, and testo sound level meters correspond to the outlined Class 2.

Sound level meters are frequently used in the following areas in particular:

  • Volume measurement in heating technology, in particular the burner
  • Measurement of the volume of machines and plants in production
  • Measurements in the domain of workplace regulations (e.g. noise levels in offices)
  • Determination of the decibel level at public events
  • Testing of assemblies and compressors (e.g. in refrigeration systems)

Sound level meters: Important settings

A sound level meter measures the volume in decibels and provides the user with an objective value. However, it is important to make some adjustments to the sound level meter in order to obtain results that can effectively be used. For example, the time weighting must be set so that the instrument can respond to slow or sudden changes in volume. The frequency weighting must also be selected in order to determine the sound level in a linear or aurally accurate way. The A-characteristic, which is standardized, is regarded as the aurally accurate evaluation of the volume. It is converted with precision by the testo sound level meters. Moreover, it is of course important that the microphone of the instrument is directed towards the noise source. Only if these settings are actually made can the noise meter correctly capture the sound waves and display the measurement result correctly in decibels.

Decibel meters: Correct application for reliable results

Not only does this depend on the settings with which the sound level meter starts the measurements, it also depends on the external conditions. The sound level meter makes no distinction between the different sources of noise. If the volume needs to be measured in decibels on a machine and the employees are talking very loudly in that area, this factor also plays a role. The total volume is measured, which is the correct value anyhow. Because the noise of the machine alone is not taken into account in protecting the employees who work at this plant. The key to this is the total volume to which the employees are exposed on a daily basis.

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DB meters: Do not exceed limit values

For evaluation of the measurement results in decibels, what the law says is important, and this stipulates specific limit values for the volume. The reason: Noise causes illness, first and foremost hearing loss. Once destroyed, hearing cannot be regenerated! Hearing loss therefore also tops the list of occupational illnesses, because in this case no subsequent improvements are of any use. It is therefore important to adhere to the specified values right from the outset. A sound level meter is intended to help prevent damage to health and indicates when any health concerns arise. At present, 55 to 85 decibels are considered harmless to health, although the level of the guideline values depends on the type of workplace. In a production hall, 70 decibels is the minimum value, but the same value would be far too loud for an open-plan office. There, the sound level should not be more than 55 decibels, which is roughly equivalent to a conversation at normal volume. However, in order to determine the exact value, a suitable sound level meter must be used.
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Noise meters: correct placement for measurement

If existing noise is to be objectively assessed, it needs to actually be measured at the location of greatest influence. If nobody has to work on the machine, its volume need not be monitored, at least for health and safety reasons. So it’s more important to take measurements where people are actually being affected and impaired.