How to calculate decibel level distances

Written by brett smith
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How to calculate decibel level distances
A conversation is about 60 decibels. (A businessman an businesswoman having a conversation image by sumos from

Decibel levels of everyday noises are easy to gauge once you know a few simple guidelines. Decibel levels vary according to how close you are to an object making noise. According to the Children's Hearing Institute, we experience decibel levels between 40 and 100 on a daily basis.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Estimate and compare the loudness of someone's shout based on your distance from the person. Someone shouting can give off a decibel level of 80. If you are within 90 cm (3 feet) of the shouting person to start, the noise level will be reduced to a quiet conversation level if you move about 30 m (100 feet) away from them. This is because decibel levels are reduced by six for every time you double the distance between you and the noise.

    For example, the same person shouting will be heard at 74 decibels when you are 1.8 m (6 feet) away from them, whereas they will be heard at 68 decibels when you are 3.6 m (12 feet) away from them, and so on. When you continue the equation, the shouting will be heard at 62 decibels from 7.2 m (24 feet) away, 56 decibels from 14.4 m (48 feet) away, and 50 decibels from 28.8 m (96 feet) away.

    Ninety-six feet is 29 m on a football field. At twice this distance, or 58 m (192 feet), the shout will be heard at 42 decibels, which is within the range of a whisper.

  2. 2

    Learn the decibel ranges of other common noises, so you can gauge how loud your environment is. The sound of a pin dropping is 15 decibels, whereas a home stereo at the highest volume can start to cause pain just above 100 decibels. Galen Carol Audio company states that a tube train passing at 60 m (200 feet)away is about 95 decibels. MP3 players may reach decibel levels over 100. Therefore, listening to an MP3 player at 105 decibels is the same decibel range as a chainsaw or a snowmobile.

  3. 3

    Learn how loud decibel levels are relative to one another. Pain for individuals may range from 120 decibels and above. However, the Royal National Institute for Deaf discovered in a study that repeated listening to 80 decibel noise levels or above could threaten hearing loss.

    Additionally, perceived loudness doubles for each 10 decibel increase. For example, If your baby's cry regularly reaches 80 decibels (which, according to the "American Family Physician Journal" is well within the norm for baby crying loudness), and you believe your baby just got twice as loud, he has probably just reached 90 decibels.

    How to calculate decibel level distances
    A baby's cry regularly reaches 80 decibels. (schreien image by Yvonne Bogdanski from

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