What is a sound level meter?

A sound level metre is a noise measuring device. To measure the temperature, use a thermometre. For humidity, use a hygrometre. Sound measurement also has its reference measuring instrument: the sound level metre (and its variants). The sound level metre assesses the intensity and the sound environment and then expresses the measured noise level in decibels, a unit noted dB which measures the "strength" of a sound.

Sound-level-meter, decibel metre, exposure metre, or noise dosimeter?

The sound level meter is the reference device used to perform acoustic measurements, collect sound level data and provide clear information about the surrounding noise. Noise-level.

The decibel meter is simply the other name for the sound level meter, there is no real difference between these sound measuring instruments.
A noise meter also called a noise dosemetre exposure meter, is also a variant of the classic sound level meter. Now called a personal sound exposure meter (PSEM) and with its international standard (IEC 61252:1993), it is often used in the workplace because of its accuracy.

How do these instruments work to provide sound-level data?

Operation of a sound level meter to measure environmental nois

To establish accurate noise measurements and to provide data on the noise level in its environment, the sound level meter measures the noise as well as its propagation. It is equipped with a microphone that first captures this noise and then converts the sound pressure into a value expressed in decibels (dB). This is how the sound level metre accurately reflects the sound level as perceived by the human ear.

In other words, the sound level meter (and other similar instruments capable of assessing a noise level) transforms sound pressure into an electrical signal. This signal is then filtered according to a standard curve to produce the RMS value that it integrates for a chosen duration.

The Netatmo Smart Weather Station can replace a sound level metre: it has a measurement range from 35 to 120 dB thanks to its SPL sensor for measuring acoustic levels. Receive this data (in addition to humidity, temperature, or weather forecast) directly on your smartphone!

Why install a sound level meter ?

Main use cases

Assessing noise with a precision measuring instrument can serve several purposes:

  • Quantify the level of noise pollution;
  • Validate the compliance of the noise level with the acoustic standards;
  • Measuring possible noise pollution

Who uses a sound level meter for noise measurement?

The sound level metre has many uses because of its accuracy in assessing the sound level of a location. These instruments are therefore regularly used by:

  • The construction industry;
  • The public works sector;
  • The transport sector;
  • Industry in general;
  • Occupational medicine;
  • Local policies;
  • Scientific studies;
  • Entertainment professionals;
  • And finally, individuals.

Sound level meters are therefore used by both professionals and private individuals. The sound level meter is a specialised measuring instrument.

Each of these user categories has a specific purpose for a sound level meter. They all seek to measure data related to noise and sound level, but for different purposes: occupational medicine uses sound level meters to check that workers' exposure to environmental noise does not cause additional stress, while entertainment professionals sometimes use a sound level meter or decibel meter to act as an applause meter and determine the level of success of an artist according to the audience, for example.

Choosing your sound level meter

Several criteria can help you choose your sound level meter or noise measuring instrument:

  • Is it an analogue or digital device?
  • Light and mobile instrument or a bulky and massive one?
  • Data provided in indicative values or regulatory values?
  • What range does a sound level meter have?
  • How accurate is the noise level measurement?
  • A measurement range that extends over what values (in dB)?
    These are the main characteristics that differentiate the many instruments used to measure sound level.

What class of microphone should I choose for a sound-level-meter?

Last but not least, choose your sound level meter according to its microphone: the better it is, the more accurate your measurements for noise level will be! Microphones are thus classified as Class 1 or Class 2. Class 2 has a lower price and quality but is still sufficient in most cases. Often when required by law to use a Class 1 microphone.
Don't forget to calibrate the microphone of your sound level meter or other sound level measuring instrument!

Need more than just a sound level metre? The Netatmo Smart Weather Station regularly measures the noise level in your home and provides you with lots of other air quality data. Better measurement means having all the cards in hand to act afterward.

How much does a sound level meter cost?

Most sound level metres, decibel metres, and other noise measuring instruments can be found on the market at prices between £20 and £100.

On the other hand, some are sold for much less (cheaper for less quality) and others for much more, sometimes up to £1,000. These latest ultra-high-end sound level metres are often the most connected, intelligent, digital, and equipped with LCD screens that display sound data with unparalleled accuracy.

In short, there's a bit of everything and it's best to know what you need before you buy a sound level metre. Do you need a small device to measure the approximate noise level in your bedroom, or do you need the latest in noise measurement for your work?

Sound level metres and other instruments for measuring sound levels vary. To make the right choice, first, define your needs and then compare the offers. Finally, please note that no installation is required (except in exceptional cases).