The best smartphone decibel meter apps to measure noise levels

You’re bringing the grandchildren to see your favourite professional sports team take on the league leaders. Will the roar of the crowd be enough to warrant wearing ear protection? Or maybe you’ve hired a local band to play outside at your daughter’s graduation party. Is the music too loud for your guests and the neighbours?

Fortunately, you don’t need to rely on your best judgment in order to know the answer. Thanks to modern technology, your smartphone can determine if your environment exposes you to harmful noises that may cause permanent or temporary noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Check out these highly rated smartphone decibel meter apps – costs vary from free to less than $10 and all are rated more than 4 stars:

Apps for both Android & iOS

Decibel X

Turns your smartphone into a pre-calibrated, accurate and easily portable sound level meter. It has a standard measurement range from 30 to 130 dB, boasts many features for measuring the intensity of sound around you, all of which is built into a nicely-designed, intuitive user interface.

SPL Meter

This professional-grade sound level meter is based on a traditional sound pressure level (SPL) meter and includes ballistics, ranges, filters and decay rates. It uses your mobile phone device’s microphone to detect sound and convert it into a SPL value. The app comes pre-calibrated for most mobile devices but can be adjusted to match professional calibrated meters. The universal app can be shared on all devices. A simple color-coded display indicates safe (green) and dangerous (red) hearing levels.

Too Noisy

This easy-to-use app is built specifically for measuring noise levels in environments where there are groups of children. Teachers can use the Too Noisy app to keep watch on the sound levels in the classrooms and control the noise level. The interface is simple and designed so children will respond to it, graphically displaying noise levels in a fun and engaging way. Teachers and other childcare workers can adjust the sensitivity of the app to cater to louder activities and sudden noises with the sensitivity and dampening sliders.

App for iOS only

NIOSH Sound Level Meter

Developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), this app is exclusive to iPhone and is a useful tool for anyone working in noisy environments. It can raise employees’ awareness about the noise levels in their workplace, help them make informed decisions about their hearing health and determine when hearing protection is necessary. Researchers can also use the app to collect data about noise exposure.

App for Android only

Sound Meter and Noise Detector

Like most sound meter apps, this one uses your smartphone microphone to measure the sound in your environment. The decibel level is displayed on an easy-to-read dial. The history function indicates how long you’ve been exposed to the noise along with the noise reference, i.e., noisy street or quiet library.

Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing. May 13, 2019

If you have concerns about your hearing, reach out to the team at Victorian Hearing, your local, independent, and Australian owned and operated hearing clinic. With ten clinics across Melbourne, you are sure to find a friendly smile and support from the Victorian Hearing team. Call (03) 9558 8842 or book online.