Question: Decibel meters for iPhones?

warren is asking a question about decibels
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by warren | April 24, 2017 16:07 | #14133

I got a request via email for iOS apps that can record sound levels for tracking noise pollution. Does anyone know of good ones, or methodologies for doing this? Thanks!


Hi! We tested hundreds of apps, published results in the Journal of Acoustical Society of America, if you'd like more information, check out our science blog for more info and links to studies. In Summary, out of 192 Android and iOS apps we tested, only 4 iOS apps met our accuracy criteria. Check the link above for a list of those apps.

After those studies, we built our own app (NIOSH SLM), it's free and tested in our labs against a type 1 sound level meter.

My recommendation is to use one of the 4 apps in the study or our own app. For folks interested in making better noise measurements, we have been recommending the use of an external microphone that can be calibrated with acoustical calibrators. You can find all such information in the links provided.

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Hi, all - via Wig Zamore on the discussion lists:

Hi Jeff and Everyone, I often participate in environmental health practicums that involve matching up local university classes focused on environmental health and local community concerns. These tend to be at the masters level but occasionally have doctoral candidates and undergrads as well. Once in a while high school groups also focus on similar issues, soemtimes during afterschool or summer programs.
A few years back one of these practiums, at BU SPH, used NoiseTube software and found that several different models of Android and iPhones worked well with this software in calibrating overhead jet noise, even in the 45 to 55 DBA range. For example iPhone 4s, which should be especially affordable these days, worked quite admirably.
More recently, STEP in Somerville has acquired a set of REED 4023 noise meters which I have used with Northeastern seniors and which several neighborhoods in Belmont MA are deploying right now in a new 2017 Spring semester university / community practicum, based again at a BU SPH class.
Folks might also want to check out Erica Walker's web-site noiseandthecity - see link below. Erica was a Tufts UEP Master's student when she did a thesis on community noise in Somerville MA, under current UEP Chair Mary Davis, for which I served as reader.
Erica then went right into a Harvard SPH doctoral program which she is just now wrapping up, focused very holistically on community noise in all ranges, with many different sources, including low frequency. Erica has done a huge amount of monitoring in neighborhoods of Boston and adjoining communities, using portable equipment she moves around via bicycle. Cheers, Wig

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