With today’s mobile technology, there’s seemingly an app for everything now. Whether you are ordering a burger or getting medical help, you are usually going to be using an app. You don’t even need to leave your house for many things anymore. However, you may be wondering if there are app substitutes for assessing sound and noise levels. Can an app truly replace professional sound level meters? In this article, we will be looking at some of the potential downsides to relying on your mobile phone to effectively monitor sound/noise levels and why you might want to opt for professional equipment instead.
Measuring Noise Through Apps
Within the United States, as many as 70 percent of people use smartphones. Therefore, it only makes sense that a lot of people who are interested in learning about noise in their environment would be tempted to find an app for it. You could be concerned with noise in your environment for several reasons. One could be that you want to see how much noise nearby construction is producing. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of different noise/sound measurement apps on both the App Store and the Google Play Store.
Here are some of the top apps available:
1. Decibel X
This is a good mobile app that measures sound. It’s one of the very few that is already pre-calibrated. It’s also one of the few applications on this list that can support the measurement of both dBC and dBA. You will find this app on both the Android and iOS respective marketplaces. Decibel X makes for a good app due to its portability and you can even save all of your measurement results for future analysis and share it across various social platforms.
2. Sound Meter and Noise Detector
This is an app specifically for Android devices. It’s available in the Google Play Store. It is great for recording and even graphing sound. The app is meant to run in the background. Therefore, you can use it while doing other things and it can save some battery. The biggest drawback of this respective app is the fact that they rely on advertising to monetize the app. This can make the app increasingly annoying to use.
3. Sound Meter Pro
This is a paid app. While it’s not free, it’s worth the price. A lot of apps that aren’t free will be void of advertising which can make the app much more pleasurable to use. This is the case with Sound Meter Pro which isn’t full of tedious and annoying ads. Sound Meter Pro is constantly being updated and improved. You can find more information on the company’s blog. They constantly update what they are doing to improve their app.
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While these apps do provide excellent indications of noise levels, the readings don’t necessarily meet the accuracy you might want or expect. The readings don’t meet the accuracy of International governing bodies for various reasons. Wondering what they are?
1. Smartphones Rely On An Internal Microphone
One of the major drawbacks of smartphone technology for reading sounds comes with its design. They rely on their internal microphones to read the noise levels. A lot of internal microphones are limited to detecting only a range of 30 to 96 decibels. This is the normal decibel reading for human voices. Because of this, they are inherently limited and flawed for this purpose.
2. They Are Designed For Communication
The phone of a phone is to talk on it. Thus, they are usually designed to limit external noise as well as possible. This means they use noise-cancellation technology. This makes for a very useful feature for making phone calls. However, it deters accuracy when it comes to detecting noise. Auricl acoustic consulting is a friendly, inclusive approach to acoustic consultancy on noise surveys.
3. You Need More Tools
While some of the apps do come pre-calibrated, you also need to use an external microphone plugged into your smartphone to make it more accurate. You also need to calibrate the phone with the external microphone to get the best results.
4. People Hold It Wrong
A lot of people end up holding the smartphone with the microphone positioned directly toward themselves. They do this instead of positioning it in the direction of the sound they are looking to read. Some will also place it directly on a surface that can hinder sound input.
5. Don’t Meet Standards
To effectively meet international standards, these meters need to meet international standards. No mobile phone does.
6. Too Many Smartphones Available
There are way too many smartphones available with different specifications and microphone technology. Thus, there is no standardization which leads to way too much variation and too much of a margin for error in the readings.
As you can see, these sound meter apps make for an excellent app to show you an approximate noise level. However, they are not near accurate enough to rely on. They don’t have any legal standing and they cannot be used to substantiate noise complaints. However, they do an excellent job of letting you know if you need ear protection or not. It’s still best to invest in and use a professional sound meter whenever possible.