:: The decibel (dB) ::

How loud is a decibel (dB)?


The decibel (dB) is used to measure sound level, It's most commonly used to compare sound levels in different environments. Many venues will have installed a Noise Limiting device (sound limiter) that will monitor the sound within the entertainment room and if it goes over the recommended levels then it will cut off the electrical system within the room.


It is important understanding what this means for you because weddings and parties are meant to be fun and the last thing you'd want is for a venues sound limiter to ruin your event. Most sound limiters are set to around 80 to 90db - this is an acceptable level and you should check with your venue what their settings are and inform the DJ to work with the venue and understand the venues sound requirements and also understand the consequences. Many venues have the overall right to stop any event if the sound causes nuisance to it's employees as well as local neighbors. The venue ultimately has its licenses granted by the local authorities and this can be taken away if rules are not obeyed.


The most common questions the decibel is used to address are "How loud is it?", or "How much louder is it?".

As a rough guide, the following levels (SPL) approximately correspond with the sounds described:

0dB SPL - The threshold of hearing. This is the quietest sound that a child or young adult with good hearing can detect at 1kHz. It is not silence/
10 - 20dB SPL Very Faint A gentle breeze through the trees.
20 - 30dB SPL - A soft whisper (at 1 metre).
30 - 40dB SPL - A quiet auditorium.
40 - 60db SPL - Background music in a cafe, bar or restaurant.
60 - 70dB SPL - Typical conversation levels (from the listener's position).
70 - 80dB SPL - The cabin of an aircraft during normal cruise conditions.
80 - 90dB SPL - Typical wedding or dinner-dance band (typical audience position).
90 - 100dB SPL - Loud orchestra (playing fff, as it would sound in the front row of the audience).
100 - 110dB SPL - Typical disco.
110 - 115dB SPL - A loud rock band (front rows of audience).
115 - 130dB SPL - Threshold of pain. Often given as 120 dB SPL, this varies with frequency, and from person to person.
140dB SPL - Jet engine from 3 metres.


More detailed examples:


225db Deafening 12" Cannon @ 12' in front and below
195db Deafening Saturn rocket
180db Deafening Aircraft at take-off
160db Deafening Ram jet
150db Deafening Turbo jet
140db Deafening Artillery fire
130db Deafening Threshold of pain, decibels at or above 130 cause immediate ear damage. Hydraulic press, pneumatic rock drill
120db Deafening Riveter, chipper, thunder, diesel engine room, fireworks display
110db Deafening Punch press, close to a train, ball mill
100db Very Loud Passing truck, home lawn mower, car horn @ 5 meters, wood saw, boiler factory
90db Very Loud Decibels at or above 90 regularly cause ear damage. Noisy factory, truck without muffler
80db Loud Noisy office, electric shaver, alarm clock, police whistle
70db Loud Average radio, normal street noise
60db Moderate Conversational speech
50db Moderate Normal office noise, quiet stream
45db Moderate To awaken a sleeping person
40db Faint Average residence, normal private office
30db Faint Recording studio, quiet conversation
20db Very Faint Whisper, empty theater, ticking of watch
10db Very Faint Threshold of good hearing
0db   Threshold of excellent youthful hearing



Noise Nuisance FAQ's


Are there any time restrictions for the playing of music?
There are no periods of time when the playing of loud music is specifically allowed. If the noise is causing a nuisance to others then it is a nuisance regardless of the time of day, or day of the week.



What types of entertainment may cause complaint?
The majority of complaints received from residents concern amplified music or voices. For example karaoke, l ive bands, DJ's. It is often the "bass beat" or low frequency content of the music that causes complaint as this can subjectively be heard as a thumping type noise in homes. The bass beat can also travel for some distance and through closed double glazed windows.

How is noise nuisance assessed?

A trained officer of the Council assesses it subjectively from within a residents' home. Factors taken into account include the time of day or night, the volume, frequency and duration of the noise, and the effect it has on the resident. Good indicators of whether a noise is a statutory nuisance include judging whether the noise is likely to cause sleep disturbance in a bedroom at night, or whether it can be heard above a normal volume level of a television in a living room. A noise that is audible is not necessarily a statutory nuisance though it may be an annoyance to residents.



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