How is sound measured?

David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
A sound's intensity is measured in decibel (dB) levels. Decibels are not precise units of measurement, like feet or yards, but rather a scale of progression. Every increase of 10 dB is significant -- it's not an additional 10 units but rather 10 times the original decibel level. The softest sound that an adult with normal hearing can hear is 0 dB, and the loudest sound, the sound of a rocket taking off, is more than 180 dB.
Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Sound is measured in decibels. A whisper is 30 decibels. Normal conversation is 60 decibels. A power lawn mower is 90 decibels. Rock concerts are 120 decibels. A shotgun blast or explosion is 140 decibels. Anything below 80 decibels (produced by a typical vacuum cleaner) is fine for the ears, but louder noises can cause the cells irreparable damage.

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