If you are curious or concerned about how loud the noises and other sounds in your environment are, then you might want to buy a decibel meter. It’s a convenient tool to have when you want to precisely determine the loudness of sounds in a room or another environment.
But choosing from among the many decibel meters for sale can be quite confusing for some; that’s why reading up on consumer reviews can be helpful. Later on we’ll show you the top sound level meters according to user ratings and reviews.
What Is a Decibel Meter?
Also known as a noise dosimeter, decibel reader, or noise level meter, a decibel meter is a device that measures the intensity of sounds using the decibel (dB) unit. It lets you know just how soft or how loud noise is. A normal conversation, for example, would measure about 50 decibels. Compare that to the noise at a live rock concert, which typically measures upwards of 100 decibels, and you will probably see just how useful a decibelmeter can be.
Why Use a Noise Decibel Meter?
Health experts say that being exposed for too long to sounds that measure more than 85 decibels can result in hearing damage or impairment. This is why those in the live music industry regularly use sound level meters to set up and adjust instruments’ sound levels at concerts.
An audio meter is also used in certain work environments where loud noises usually occur, in order to protect workers from hearing loss. Someone operating a jackhammer on a construction site, for instance, would need hearing protection since a jackhammer emits a noise of around 100 decibels. A firecracker, on the other hand, produces a noise of about 140 decibels; so imagine the kind of risk of hearing loss that those who work with explosives are exposed to if they don’t take the proper precautions to protect their ears.
What to Consider When Buying a Noise Level Meter
Not all decibel meters offer the same capabilities and features. A lot of them are capable of noise measurement levels of 30 up to 130 decibels. However, there is also a number of noise dosimeter devices that have a wider measurement range that is capable of detecting audio that would seem distorted to the naked ear.
You should also consider the environment wherein you will be using a sound meter. Some decibel meters are designed to work best in enclosed spaces and thus would not give the optimum reading if used outdoors.
Should you go for a handheld audio meter or one that you can plug directly into an audio device? It depends on your needs and budget. Handheld sound level meters have a microphone that detects sound and measures it accurately. Some professionals prefer using the pluggable device, even though it tends to be more expensive, because it directly analyzes the sound of a piece of audio equipment.
Top 3 Best-Rated Decibel Meters According to Reviews
If you go to sites like Amazon.com, you will find quite a few reviews of products by people who have purchased them. There are many decibel meters for sale online, at various price points from below $100 to upwards of $1,000. Here are three noise level meters that have among the highest number of positive reviews.
1. Scosche SPL1000F 135DB Max Spl Meter
This sound meter from Scosche certainly seems handy to carry around since it weighs a mere 3.1 ounces. Its noise measurement range is from 60 to 130 decibels, and it has a number of five-star reviews. Here are some of the things that buyers like about it as they described in their reviews.
- It gives accurate readings in the 60dB-130dB range
- It performs well for its price
- An audio engineer in-training said that successfully measured a signal of 34.5 decibels
- The minimum and maximum feature records the lowest or highest reading
- It is easy to use and read
- It’s suitable for measuring the noise of appliances and power tools
- Some say the sound made when pressing the maximum/minimum switch affects readings
- Some reviewers complained that it doesn’t pick up sound below 60 decibels
- The automatic shut-off feature turns the device off after about ten minutes
2. Mini Digital Sound Level Meter
This audio meter is from Parts Express and weighs 7.2 ounces. It features a one-button operation and an auto power off function. It can measure sounds from 40 dB to 130dB. It has a large backlit display for easy reading of measurements and also has a threaded insert that makes it easy to mount it on a tripod.
- A customer said in her review that the price point is appropriate for the unit since it is accurate and easy to use
- Another user said the decibel meter is useful for him to monitor his sound level at gigs where he works as a disc jockey
- The design is solid and durable
- The readout is large and easy to understand
- It has a user-friendly interface
- Measuring just under six inches, it is ergonomic and easy to handle
- It is simple enough for even children to use
- One reviewer said the unit accidentally gets turned on and off because the power button is not recessed
- The wind screen tends to slide on and off too easily
- It does not have a high/low reading capture
3. Extech 407730 40-to-130-Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter
This noise decibel meter from Extech Instruments also has some five-star reviews from users. It is capable of measuring sound levels from 40 to 130 decibels. Output can be read on the large LCD screen either by number or a fast-responding analog bar graph. The wind screen prevents distortion and the unit weighs less than six ounces.
- It has both “A” and “C” ratings available for use
- The Max Hold function keeps the highest reading on display
- The metal tripod mounting thread ensures stable positioning on a tripod
- The price is very affordable
- It’s easy to use.
- Some people find the auto power shut-off feature to be inconvenient
- The foam wind sock covering the end tends to come off easily
- The battery cover can be a bit tricky to remove
If you’ve always wanted to know the noise levels in your home, your workplace and other places you go to, we recommend you find out more about the decibel readers described above. Reading the sound meters reviews posted about them can help you choose the right device to help protect your hearing and reduce noise pollution.