Updated: The best smartphone decibel meter apps to measure noise levels

In our bustling modern world, noise is everywhere—from the constant hum of traffic to the lively chatter in cafes. Some sounds we can walk away from yet others are pleasant and intentionally present. For example, the hired band at a wedding or the roar of the crowd at our children’s sporting games. Are these sounds too loud? Fortunately, you don’t need to rely on your best judgment to know the answer, modern technology offers a simple and accessible solution: sound level meter apps in the palm of your hand. They can determine if your environment exposes you to harmful noises that may cause permanent or temporary noise-induced hearing loss.

These innovative apps, although not as accurate as the professional handheld sound level meters used by industry professionals, are still powerful tools for monitoring and warning you when there are hazardous noise levels in your environment. With just a few taps, you can measure the decibel levels around you, helping you make informed decisions about your noise intake. Whether you’re at a concert, working in a noisy office, or simply enjoying a night out, these apps provide real-time feedback, alerting you when the noise reaches potentially harmful levels.

Using sound level meter apps is straightforward. We have accessed the sound level meter apps available and selected the ones that are designed with user-friendly interfaces, making them accessible to everyone, regardless of technical expertise.

Universal App Category Winners

(Compatible for both Android and iOS)

Decibel X

iTunes rating: 4.6 stars, free, in-app purchases
Google Play rating: 3.5 stars, free, in-app purchases

This highly-rated app turns your smartphone into a pre-calibrated, accurate and portable sound level meter. It comes in eleven different languages and has a standard measurement range from 30 to 130 dB. There is a handy chart that informs you of everyday sounds that corresponds to that particular level of sound input. It boasts many features for measuring the intensity of sound around you built into a nicely-designed, intuitive user interface. Great for the individual that likes to see detailed data and charts also.

SPL Meter

SPL Meter

iTunes rating: 4 stars, $.99, offers in-app purchases
Google Play rating: 4.7 stars, free

Very simple to use. The home screen has all the information needed with the decibel reading front and center. This professional-grade sound level meter is measured after a traditional sound press level (SPL) meter, including ballistics, ranges, filters and decay rates. It uses your 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.

iOS Category Winners

Decibel Pro

Decibel Pro: dB Sound Level Meter

iTunes rating: 4.6 stars

Measure noise at home or in the workplace and calibrate home or professional audio equipment with this free app which includes a noise dosimeter, spectrum analyzer with RTA, FFT and Spectogram, as well as a hearing test. An advanced app with extra features for the curious.

Too Noisy App

Too Noisy Pro

iTunes rating: 3.9 stars, $4.99

This app is designed for children and teachers. 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.

NIOSH Sound Level Meter

NIOSH Sound Level Meter

iTunes rating: 4.7 stars, Free

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.

SPLnFFT Noise Meter

SPLnFFT Noise Meter

iTunes rating: 4.9 stars, $3.99

Designed by a signal processing expert. This is a more advanced app for the technical minded. It includes a frequency analyzer, frequency meter, test signal generator and dosimeter. A simple interface displays the level of exposure using color—orange or red indicates dangerous levels where hearing protection is required. The app is recommended by the Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America.

Android Category Winners

Sound Meter

Sound Meter Pro

Google Play rating: 4.4 stars, $2.50

This app uses your smartphone’s microphone to detect sound and display it in decibels as well as display the last 30 seconds of data on an easy-to-read graph. Because the microphones in Android devices are used to record human voices, the maximum levels on this app are limited and sounds above 100dB are not recognized.

Sound Meter and Noise Detection

Sound Meter and Noise Detector

Google Play rating: 4.5 stars, Free

This app allows you to set your own custom warning alerts when a sound is over a certain decibel you would like to say clear of. 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.

In conclusion, the best way to prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss is to regularly monitor the noise in your environment and wear hearing protection when necessary. Regular hearing assessments are especially important for children, the elderly, and those exposed to loud environments, helping to preserve hearing and prevent associated cognitive and social difficulties. Prioritize hearing tests for a better, healthier life.

Through regular checks our audiologists can detect early signs of hearing loss, which often occurs gradually and even may go unnoticed. Early detection allows for timely intervention, such as hearing aids or other treatments, preventing further deterioration and improving communication abilities.

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.

Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing.
Disclaimer: iTunes Rating and Google Play Ratings were accurate at time of publication.