How to Measure the Decibel Level of Headphones

Updated April 17, 2017

Listening to headphones that are too loud for an extended period of time can damage your hearing. Sound waves coming from headphones, though not as large, can be as damaging to your hearing as sitting in the front row of a rock concert. That's because the waves are concentrated on your ear canal. To see if your listening levels are safe, you can measure the decibel level of your headphones.

Fold a paper towel to make a 4-inch square. You will use it to seal the sound level meter to the weight plate.

Push the round microphone on the end of the sound level meter through the middle of the paper towel. The towel should now sit on top of the meter with the microphone coming out of the middle.

Place the microphone on the sound level meter into the hole on the 5-pound weight plate. The microphone should sit flush with the weight and not go all the way through. The paper towel on the microphone should fill the gaps around the hole on the weight.

Turn on the sound level meter. Turn it upside down so the bottom of the weight is facing up with the meter underneath.

Place one side of your headphones over the hole on the weight.

Turn on your music and turn the volume to the level that you want to measure.

Measure the decibel level coming from your headphones on the meter on the sound level meter.


Not all sound level meters work the same way. Consult your owner's manual.

Things You'll Need

  • Sound level meter
  • 5-pound weight plate
  • Paper towel
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About the Author

Allen Coleman has been writing since 2002. He got his start with "Oregon Insider Sports" covering college athletics. Since then Coleman has had work published in "Tailgater Magazine," "PDX Magazine" and on several websites including He is currently on the radio in Portland, Oregon and writing his own scripts. Coleman studied communications at Concordia University and Southern Oregon State.