Noise Level Charts of Common Sounds With Examples

Norvan Martin

A noise level chart (dB level chart, decibels level chart) is a chart that shows the effects of sound at different dB (or dBA) levels.

This guide includes several noise level charts (dB level charts) which show the effect of sounds and noises at different decibel levels.

Some of these charts also show the typical sounds which produce noise at different decibel levels. You can use these charts to determine what kind of noises are too loud (you can determine what classifies as noise pollution for example).

Noise Level Charts | Noise Level DB Charts

Most noise level charts show examples of sounds with dB levels ranging from 0 to 140 decibels or in a few cases 0 to 180 decibels.

However, sound can go all the way up to 190 dB!  That’s ground-shattering! But, ist possible, so we will include dB noise charts which include dB levels all the way up to these high dB levels.

We will show several dB level charts that show sound effects at different decibel ranges (e.g. 0 – 140 dB and 0 – 180 dB).


Decibel Levels 0 – 140 dB 

Noise Level Chart 1: Decibel Chart Of Common Sounds

Let’s start with the lower decibel levels (up to 140 dB). This decibel level chart shows sounds from silence at 0 dB to loud noises at 140 dB such as a jackhammer. This db chart also shows the maximum safe exposure limit for humans which is 85 dB.

This doesn’t mean you will sustain any permanent hearing loss or ear damage at this level if you aren’t exposed to it for long periods. However, extended exposure will cause headaches, nausea, and ultimately hearing damage or even hearing loss.

DB LEVEL CHART LOUD

The chart below will highlight the decibel range for safe sounds vs the decibel range for sounds that can harm you over time:

Decibel range for safe sounds vs the decibel range for sounds that can harm you over time

Noise Level Chart 2: Decibel Levels Of Everyday Sounds

This noise level chart shows the noise effects of sound within the range of 0 – 140 dB.

The important thing here is that it shows the effects of noises within different ranges from typical noise levels to irritating noise to hazardous noise to highly hazardous noise.

 

NOISE LEVEL CHART LOUD

Noise Level Chart 3: Decibel Chart Of Common Sounds

This decibel level chart shows noise effects within the range of 40 – 140 dB.

This range of sound ranges from simple, hush noises such as raindrops at 40 dB to loud, explosive sounds such as gunshots or fireworks at 140 dB.

Like the previous chart, it shows that exposure to sound at 85 decibels for more than 8 hours per day can cause hearing damage.  This chart also shows the threshold of pain at about 130 dB.

common decibel levels chart

Industrial Noise Chart

Here is our final and simplest noise chart showing industrial noises up to 140 dB. A chart like this is especially important for those working in noise polluted industries such as mining, quarrying, oil, metal works, etc.

Industrial noise chart

 


Decibel Levels 0 – 160 dB

This db level chart shows the noise effects of sounds within the dB range of 0 – 160 dB.

dB noise level chart

 


Decibel Levels 0 – 180 dB

This db level chart shows the noise effects of sounds within the dB range of 0 to 180 dB.

At 180 dB, we have moved beyond loud gunshots to the piercing blast of rocket launches.

DB LEVEL CHART

Here is another noise level chart showing examples of regular sounds with decibel levels ranging from 0 to 180 decibels.


Decibel Levels 10 – 190 dB!!!

Now we are getting into the big leagues! We are talking about sound up to 190 dB. At this level, we have reached the loudest possible sounds. We are talking about eardrum-bursting sounds. We are talking about the no-go zone!

noise level examples chart


Decibel Levels 0 – 194 dB!!!!

This is the ultimate! The loudest possible sound you can imagine. In fact, you can’t imagine it, because it would probably kill you.

You will note that beyond 140 dB, even short-term exposure is likely to cause some serious, permanent damage.

noise level chart up to 194 db

At this level ( 194 dB) sound waves become shock waves. We are talking about a very high danger level.

detailed noise level chart


Decibel Levels 0 – 160 dBA

Isn’t this one cool? This noise level chart shows typical sound and their related dBA levels. As we explained before, dBA is just decibels adjusted to take into account the human threshold of hearing (we don’t really hear sound below 1 kHz).

NOISE LEVEL CHART


Noise Level Standards

Noise level standards vary from one country to another and in some cases vary by region. In the US, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mandates a recommended exposure limit (REL) for noise. The NIOSH REL for noise is 85 decibels. 

too much noise noise decibel chart

This was arrived at using the A-weighting frequency response (in dBA) over an 8-hour average or Time-Weighted Average (TWA). Any exposure to noise at or above this level is considered hazardous.

Noise and Hearing Loss

As you can see from the noise level charts, decibel charts, and decibel scale charts above, noise can have serious effects. However, we all live in an exciting and bustling world where noise is all around us!

From the train station to the park, unless you live in a very remote area, you are likely to be affected by noise pollution. The issue is, that extreme noise can have serious negative effects on your hearing.

You shouldn’t think just because you live in an area where there aren’t any excessive noises, then you are safe. Noise from loud concerts, a loud movie, or even a plane flying overhead can have serious effects.

The important thing is to realize that while you can’t always prevent it, you can do your best to minimize the effects, and that’s what we will discuss now.

This is why 10 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) – the official term for permanent hearing loss due to excessive noise.

One of the critical problems with this is that this type of hearing loss can often occur gradually over time. This makes it hard to detect until the damage is already done. So now, the big question is, how loud is too loud?

You have probably already seen from each decibel chart that anything over 80 dBs (more specifically 85 dBs) can cause severe problems over time. At 85 decibels, the maximum recommended exposure time is 8 hours.

The fact is, extended or repeated exposure to noise of 85 decibels or above can cause permanent hearing loss, it’s as simple as that.

Now there are three factors that influence hearing loss, it’s not all about sound level. These factors are:

  • sound level/sound intensity (how loud the sound is, as we have been explaining)
  • proximity (how close you are to the source of the sound)
  • exposure time (how long you are exposed to the sound)

Of course, the louder the sound, the faster it will damage your hearing. Further, the closer you are to the source of the sound, the quicker it will damage your hearing and the longer you are exposed to the sound, the quicker it will damage your hearing.

So, for all intents and purposes, you want to minimize these factors. If you are going to be exposed to loud noises, you want to ensure that you are not too close to the source or exposure will be for a limited time.

Exposure time is especially important since, for every 3 dBAs over 85 dBA, the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur is cut in half which is very drastic when you think about it.

decibel chart based on time exposure

Of course, you should still be guided by the decibel charts because this will not necessarily apply to sounds that are extremely loud.

Of course, there are other measures that you can also take, for example, you can wear protective earbuds or even protective headphones depending on the intensity of the noise you will be faced with. It’s all a matter of judgment really but be guided by the decibel charts.

Acceptable Decibel Levels for Residential Areas

Human hearing is generally thought to be harmed by sound levels of more than 85 decibels (dB). As a result, this is the most common maximum value permitted in industrial areas.

However, the acceptable decibel level in residential areas is lower. The acceptable decibel level for residential areas usually varies from state to state and country to country. However, there is a generally acceptable noise level for all residential areas. 

Acceptable Decibel Levels for Residential Areas 

Any noise that is louder than 70 decibels is deemed disturbing. Residential noise regulations are normally set at 60 or 55 decibels (the equivalent noise of a regular vacuum cleaner). There may also be time restrictions usually between 10 pm to 7 am. 

Noise levels that are allowed will vary depending on where you reside and local laws and regulations. They will also be affected by the time of day when the disruption happens. It’s usually a good idea to double-check these restrictions with local authorities.

The decibel level that is considered too high for neighbors is determined by how loud the noise is when measured at your property boundary and it isn’t measured from the source.


FAQs

1. How Many Decibels Is Safe?

So how many decibels is safe? Sounds of less than 75 decibels are typically safe so even after lengthy exposure, these sounds are unlikely to cause hearing loss.

However, you must realize that extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. 85 decibels is about the sound level of a vacuum cleaner.

2. How Many Decibels Is Too Loud?

How many decibels is too loud and what is an acceptable noise level for humans? Extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 60 decibels is too loud and can cause hearing loss.

This means that the acceptable noise level for humans is at or below 60 dB. Even though noises around 60 dB are at safe decibel levels for humans, it’s important that you are not exposed for extended periods.

The louder the sound is, the more damage it can cause to your hearing, and also the quicker this damage will occur.

3. Why Have Noise Level Standards?

From loud Bluetooth speakers to loud boomboxes, we are all about loudness, we are BOOMSpeaker after all!

Here at BoomSpeaker, we are all about sound. When it comes to noise, however, the discussion becomes very serious as noise pollution can have detrimental effects.

This is why noise level standards are very important. We discuss a variety of systems from the simplest speakers to the loudest speakers out there.

Of course, depending on how you use them, playing speakers can be considered noise. So, we are looking at noise to help our readers to appreciate the importance of avoiding noise pollution.

4. Why Are Noise Levels Given in dB/dBA?

First of all, a decibel is a unit of sound measurement. It measures the loudness of a sound or the strength of a sound signal.

Now in some cases, you will notice that noise levels are given in dBA (A-weighted decibels). dBA is decibels adjusted to reflect the ear’s response to different frequencies of sound. This correction is made because the human ear is less sensitive to sound at low audio frequencies.

This is especially true for frequencies below 1000 Hz (1 kHz). In other words, although dB is more commonly used when referring to sound measurement, we humans do not hear all frequencies equally. So, dBA is just decibels adjusted to account for human hearing, that’s all.

In other cases, you will notice that noise levels are given in dB. dB does not include any adjustments. dB is normally used for louder sounds that the human ear can perceive.

It is often used for sudden, brief impulse sounds like many of those at 120 dB or greater are given in dB. This means there is no adjustment.

5. How Do We Measure Decibel Levels?

If you need to determine if some sort of sound level is harmful to your hearing, then you will be happy to know that there are several devices that you can use.

These devices are known as decibel meters. Decibel meters are often used in noise pollution studies and professional audio recording studios. They are used anywhere you may want to quantify the loudness of different kinds of noise.

One great option on the market is that REED Instruments R8050 Sound Level Meter.

If you can’t or don’t wish to purchase a decibel meter, a simple alternative is to download a decibel meter app. There are several options on the app store, but these are the best ones.

6. How Loud Is 60 Decibels?

A typical conversation between two people seated at a distance of roughly one meter (3 and a quarter feet apart) is about 60 dB loud. It’s the typical noise level in a cafeteria, restaurant, or office. To get more insights, check out our article on how loud is 60 decibels.

7. How Loud Is 55 Decibels?

If an item has a noise level of 55 dB, it sounds like a hairdryer, electric fan, running refrigerator, or peaceful street.  Generally, 55 decibels is considered a safe noise level to be exposed to for a long time.


Download Noise Level Charts

So we have provided several images of noise level chats so far. However, you may want it in a different format.

Whether you want a spreadsheet or pdf to download, we have provided a detailed noise chart within the range 0dB – 191 dB below. Use the links to download your preferred version.

Noise Level Chart Excel

Noise Level Chart PDF


Conclusion

In summary, this guide’s noise level charts illustrate the impact of various sounds, ranging from silence to extremely loud noises. Importantly, they demonstrate and emphasize the importance of understanding and managing noise exposure to prevent hearing damage. These charts are handy because they list usual noises by their loudness in decibels. This helps us see how dangerous noise pollution can be and reminds hearing protection is necessary in loud environments.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin