You have probably heard the word “decibel” before, but you may not know exactly what it is.
To set the record straight, a decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure sound. The more decibels something generates, the louder it is.
The decibel scale has a very wide range. The typical human ear can hear a wide range of sounds, from a tiny squeaking mouse to an enormous airplane lifting off. The decibel scale starts at the smallest audible sound, 0 dB.
Here are a few examples of common sounds and their ranking on the scale.
- Almost silence – 0 dB
- A whisper – 15 dB
- Rainfall – 50 dB
- Busy traffic – 85 dB
- A car horn – 110 dB
- A rock concert or a jet engine – 120 dB
- A gunshot or fireworks – 140 dB
Twice as loud
Similarly, the farther away you are from a noise, the quieter it becomes. These noises were all recorded from nearby.
Of course there are certain dangers that come along with hearing sounds at high decibels for an extended amount of time. For example, you can only listen to 85 dB (busy traffic) for eight hours before you will be affected by hearing loss.
You’re almost guaranteed to experience hearing loss at rock concerts, because they are measured at 120 dB, and it’s only recommended to be exposed to that level of decibels for no more than 30 seconds at a time.
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