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How do you build a decibel meter? Answered

I'm triying to measure noise contamination on an airport runway, so i need values from 60DB - 160 DB. I only have found high sensitivity sensors. Any idea on how to build a less sesitive one?


Contact your local Airport and Aviation Noise group. They can probably help you with sorting out the laws regarding airport noise and previous noise mapping. This is a link to some US groups http://www.nonoise.org/resource/related/source.htm#Airport and Aviation Noise

Be careful. Airports take a very dim view of anyone inside the fence that isn’t cleared to be there.

If you are planning on presenting your data to anyone, the results from a DIY instrument will be given no weight what-so-ever. Even with commercial equipment, you would have to show calibration, your training on operation of the instrument, your education on noise measurement, etc.

Hi Quadrifoglio, thanks for your observations, i had no idea that such groups exist. The thing is that i'm from Mexico.

This is a research for the university and we alredy did the mathematical model of the noise contamination, we're just looking for data validation, also we have all the permissions.

From now on i'll take close considerations to your advice on equipment. Thanks!

It appears that most sound level meters don’t exceed 140db for two reasons. It is a regulatory peak for the EU and other countries because it is extremely damaging to hearing. Even wearing really good noise reduction gear, you are only down to 110 db (-30db). Also, above 140db, most sound level meter microphones start to be distorted.

It took a lot of digging to find a meter under about $6,000.00 USD that claims to be capable of 160db. The 3M Quest SoundPro DL Datalogging Type 1 Sound Level Meter, with an optional preamp and microphone, claims it is capable of 160db http://www.raecorents.com/acatalog/Rent-3M-Quest-Sound-Pro-DL-SLM.html. I didn’t see this capability listed at B&K Precision http://www.bkprecision.com/products/environmental-testers.html or Larson Davis http://www.larsondavis.com/Products/SoundLevelMeters. You might want to contact a variety of handheld sound meter companies to see if they offer this capability. In the end, you will need to make the call as to what it is you need to satisfactorily complete your study.


"You can use a standard SPL meter to measure any sound level possible -

all you do is calibrate the path loss at a distance.

If the SPL is say 120 dB at the point of interest with some test sound

and drops to 70 dB at a point some distance away then you have 50 dB path


If you read 130 dB SPL at that distant spot then the SPL at the

original one must be 180 dB SPL."


Hi rickharris, actually that makes total sense, i'll dig more on that path. Thank you!