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General Data > Sound Levels

The chart below shows the average noise levels for a variety of activities and appliances. Some of these entries may be checked against when using a sound level meter in lessons involving acoustics. Also included on this page are average loudness readings for specific musical instruments, audible perceptions of dB increases and at the bottom of the page is a link to a HSE document covering guideline daily noise exposures at work.

Relative sound levels

Sound level General audible level Activity or appliance
120dB+ Uncomfortably loud Jet aircraft at takeoff power at 30m, disco speaker at 2m
110dB   Riveting machine, Rock band, Boeing 707 at 1.6km
100dB Very loud Jet flyover at 1000 feet, pneumatic road drill at 4m
90dB   Power mower, Motorcycle at 25 ft, Propeller plane flyover at 300m, Food blender
80dB   Diesel truck 40 mph at 15m, door slamming at 2m
70dB Moderately loud Vacuum cleaner at 2m,
60dB   Normal conversation
50dB Quiet Bird calls
40dB   Background noise at home
20dB   Whisper
10dB   Just audible
0dB Silence Threshold of hearing

Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level

Imperceptible Change 1dB
Barely Perceptible Change 3dB
Clearly Noticeable Change 5dB
About Twice as Loud 10dB
About Four Times as Loud 20dB

Average Sound Levels of Music

Normal piano practice 60 -70dB
Fortissimo Singer, 1m 70dB
Chamber music, small auditorium 75 - 85dB
Piano Fortissimo 84 - 103dB
Violin 82 - 92dB
Cello 85 -111dB
Oboe 95-112dB
Flute  92 -103dB
Piccolo 90 -106dB
Clarinet 85 - 114dB
French horn 90 - 106dB
Trombone 85 - 114dB
Tympani & bass drum 106dB
Walkman on 5/10 94dB
Symphonic music peak 120 - 137dB
Amplifier rock, 2m 120dB
Rock music peak 150dB

The following link takes you to an HSE chart showing how to calculate daily noise exposure in a place of work.