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Sound Meters

Typical digital sound level meter

Digital Sound Level Meter

Sound waves are not mysterious or insubstantial, they can be measured. Sound measuring devices, more commonly called sound meters allow anyone to measure the intensity of the sound waves around them. They work just like a thermometer, or a voltmeter, in that a higher temperature or voltage will produce a higher number on the meter. The Sound Level Meter shown above is reading 67, this level was produced by a Jazz Piano CD playing on a home stereo.

Sound is like voltage in that the longer the voltage is applied to a heater, the hotter that heater will get. If the voltage is low enough, the heater will not get hot at all. If the voltage is too high, the heater will likely malfunction and burnout. Your ear is like that heater, where the heater burns out with too much voltage, the ear "burns" out from too much sound level. Most electrical appliances have their acceptable voltage ratings printed on a nameplate. The Human ear has limits as well, they have been determined by the US Government through extensive research and study. This Gov. chart is available on the EarPain.org main page. To put it simply, once sound levels are higher than your ears safe level rating, damage can occur. The higher it goes above your safe level, the shorter amount of exposure time it will take to permanently damage your ears. Light bulbs are like that, the higher the voltage, the shorter the time before the bulb burns out.

For Further Reading check out these links for Other Types of Sound Meters

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