Sound is measured in decibels, but what do decibels mean? How loud is a decibel? Moreover, there are some important decibels level like 30 decibels (a whisper) 60 decibels (a conversation). In other words, 60 decibels is about as loud as a regular, standard conversation. A sound level of 60 dB is regarded as moderate, safe, and unlikely to harm your hearing.
Understanding this is important because viewing things practically is the best approach to comprehending sound measurement and potentially dangerous decibel levels.
Importantly, note that the decibel scale is logarithmic, meaning that each unit jump increases the value by a factor of 10 with 0 dB being the lowest heard sound.
In this article, we shall take a look at how loud specifically 60dB is, what it sounds like, and if it can damage hearing.
What Is 60 Decibels?
Before we can properly answer the question ‘What is 60 decibels?’, we need to first clarify what decibels are. A decibel is a unit of measurement used to express the intensity of sound as it is heard by humans. The intensity or loudness of a sound determines its position on the decibel scale, with more intense sounds having a higher decibel value.
Now, 0 dB is considered the threshold of human hearing and 120-140 dB is considered the threshold of pain. As such, 60 decibels is in the middle of the range – is not so quiet as to be inaudible, nor so loud as to be painful. Specifically, 60 dB is typically associated with the sound level of a normal conversation.
How Loud Is 60 Decibels?
Given that no two sounds are exactly the same, it can be challenging to describe what 60 decibels sounds like. And there are a number of variables that affect how loud we judge a sound to be.
Your perception of a sound’s intensity is influenced by its source, your proximity to it, and how long you are exposed to it.
Take the 60 decibel sound of an air conditioner as an illustration. It differs from the sound of 60 decibel conversations. While the second fluctuates, the first sound is constant.
Next, even though most air conditioners produce about a 60 dB sound, the volume of that sound will vary based on how close you are to it. You’ll hear the air conditioner as loud if it’s close to your ear. You won’t even notice it if you are in a room opposite it.
How loud 60 dB also depends on a person’s sensitivity to certain sounds. For instance, a sound level of 60 dB, such as what you may hear in an office, can be regarded as normal to someone. Alternatively, it can be inconvenient, distracting, and stressful to another.
Can A 60 dB Sound Damage Your Hearing?
When a strong noise damages the cells and membranes of the inner ear (cochlea), hearing loss may result. Hearing loss can result from exposure to loud noises for extended periods of time as well as brief exposure to extremely loud noises. Noise-induced hearing loss can result from hearing damage, which may be transient or permanent.
More than 8 hours a day of exposure to noise over 85 dB is thought to be harmful to human hearing. Likewise, it is believed that brief exposure to exceptionally loud noises (over 120 dB), such as an explosion, may cause acute hearing impairment.
How Loud Are Everyday Sounds?
A sound that is nearly inaudible, such as a leaf falling, is what a human ear can detect at 0 dB. Any exposure to noises over 140 dB is regarded as dangerous for people, and continuous exposure to noises over 85 dB will also endanger your hearing.
However, if you don’t have a context for these figures we will give you a guide. As an approximate guide to decibel levels, it can be useful to use common noises you hear every day:
- 10 dB – Normal breathing
- 20 dB – Ticking watch
- 30 dB – Whispers
- 40 dB – Quiet library sound
- 50 dB – Refrigerator hum
- 60 dB – Air conditioner
- 70 dB – Washing machine
- 80 dB – Alarm clock
- 90 dB – Lawnmowers
- 100 dB – Car horn
- 110 dB – Ambulance siren
Even when sound levels have not risen to an uncomfortable or painful level, it is crucial to safeguard your hearing. Hearing loss may be permanently caused by even brief exposure to extremely loud noises.
It’s best to stay away from loud noises you hear every day, like yelling, and use earplugs around noises you can’t stay away from, like a leaf blower, a concert, or an airplane.
How Can You Tell If A Sound Level Is Safe?
Generally, prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels is considered unsafe. You can always use a decibel meter app to check the decibel level of various sounds. Low noise levels over extended times have the same impact as high noise levels over brief times. A sound level meter (SLM) can be used to gauge the level of noise in an area. There are free SLMs created as mobile apps. Some of these apps can forecast your daily noise intake limit.
When To Use Hearing Protection
Devices for hearing protection are made to safeguard your ears and lessen the harm that loud noises can cause. You need hearing protection if;
You Are Exposed To Loud Sound
Every time you are exposed to loud noises, you should wear hearing protection equipment, such as earplugs or earmuffs. Sounds louder than 85 decibels are considered to be hazardous to human hearing, particularly if you are exposed to them for longer than 8 hours per day.
As a general guideline, if you are having trouble speaking or hearing other people talk over the sound, it is too loud. Wear hearing protection or go away from the source of the sound in these situations.
You may be exposed to loud sounds if you work in factories or construction, use power tools, or are exposed to intense sounds caused by firecrackers, explosions, or gun blasts.
You Are Close To The Source Of Sound
The distance you are from a sound’s source determines how likely it is that it will harm your hearing. You will hear sounds louder if you are near the source of the sound. For instance, if you are standing close to the speakers at a party, you should wear hearing protection. Moving away from the sound source will also help you safeguard your hearing at the same time.
You Are Exposed To Sound For A Long Time
Extremely loud sounds or sounds with moderate strength but a prolonged exposure time might cause hearing impairment. This means that if you are exposed to sounds over 100 to 110 decibels for more than 15 minutes or over 85 decibels for more than eight hours, you should wear hearing protection.
How loud 60 dB is depends on varying factors such as distance to the source of sound and the individual’s sensitivity.
Although a sound of 60 dB isn’t considered harmful, it is advised that you use a hearing protection device if you will be continuously exposed to it.