Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Learn how to select an ideal model according to your professional demands without spending too much money. There are different types and shapes of decibel meters. By knowing how to differentiate each model your purchase will be more rewarding.

There are versions with extra power in noise measurement, while some less dedicated models cost low prices. Let us discover which are the different versions referring to the decibel meter. It also knows the models that have constant search in the market, methods to compare the models, among other relevant subjects.




Summary

  • Digital decibels are the most popular today, but there are also analogue editions.
  • Decibel meters only generate reliable results when they have a calibration certificate.
  • Some models work with additional functions like temperature, radiation or humidity meter.

The Best Decibel Meter: Our Picks

Buying guide

What does it mean? What is a decibelimeter used for? How to use it? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the device? These and other answers can be found in our shopping guide.

Uma mulher com roupa de operária, óculos de proteção transparente e protetor de ouvidos na cor amarela.

Discover information to help you choose a decibelimeter to monitor noise in the factory (Source – Voltamax / Pixabay)

What is a decibel meter?

MNPS (Sound Pressure Meter) is an acronym in Portuguese that designates the name of the device called decibelimeter. It is present in analogue or digital format and needs to be calibrated to offer accurate results.

The device consists of a type of control with on-screen displays. Coupled to the product there is a microphone whose objective is to capture the sound pressure level, in other words, the auditive sensation of the sound volume.

Decibel meters are devices which measure or read noise levels instantaneously, and may be used for single or isolated measurements, according to specific purposes – Alexandro Demétrius Pereira, a Brazilian specialist in occupational health and safety.

What is the decibel meter used for?

Due to the particularity of measuring sound pressure, this device is a guaranteed presence in factories. With it you can manage noise levels, ensuring that the noise does not exceed the legal limits, for the well-being of employees.

In traffic, the decibelimeter is also used by traffic police officers. It is possible to use this equipment to measure the height in car or home sound boxes.

In civil construction it is frequently used, especially during the execution of works, bearing in mind that excessive noise can generate very serious noise pollution. The use of the model helps in the achievement of reports.

The decibelimeter is used by neighbours annoyed with the loud volume of construction or parties in the neighbourhood, who may call the inspection who also carry out their own measurement with the device before taking action.
Even during events the decibel meter is used to measure the height of sounds in decibels. See an example:

How does the decibel meter work?

After being turned on, the device triggers the sound height levels capture. This happens via the microphone present in the upper part of the decibelimeters, whose responsibility is to transform the mechanical signals captured from the sound vibration into electrical signals.

The measurement response may be slow or fast, depending on the product adjustment made by the operators.

It is possible to program the devices for measurements within certain time intervals. For example: every 20 minutes. This practice is among the most widely used for measuring the evolution of sound from drills or other machines in work environments.

How to use a decibel meter?

There are no secrets to using the machine. First you insert the batteries before turning it on. Then it is important to direct the device from the point where you hear the noises.

For example, the decibelimeter should be used in the exact place where the worker is, or the neighbours who complain about the loud sound. The results should then be lower than the legal limits.

What are the advantages of the decibel meter?

Once they are calibrated according to the required standards, decibel meters generate accurate decibel results in each measurement. It is impressive to note that the exact measurement is originated in a small product, simple to fit on tripods.

The small model can also be used by hand. On the market you can find different versions in terms of colour or shape, from mid-priced editions to dedicated options costing higher values.

In the digital versions there is memory for you to record and save the measurements, which can be taken instantly or on a timed basis according to certain periods.

It is an indispensable device in different working environments, leaving the noise at the necessary limit to ensure that employees do not develop deafness or other health problems.

To work perfectly, in addition to calibration, the models also require powerful microphones, justifying the retail value of the device.

There are also decibel meter applications that measure the sound level using a mobile phone. To get an idea these applications are great, but they are far from working with the perfection of decibelimeters.

In the table you can see more pros and cons of decibel meters:

Advantages
  • Reliable results
  • Small
  • Compact
  • Different colours
  • Simple to use
  • Fast measurements
  • Measurements in certain time slots
  • Occupational health
Disadvantages
  • Need battery
  • Microphone must have quality
  • Small drops break the device
  • Requires calibration
  • Decibelimeter apps are not reliable

Decibelimeter and dosimeter: What’s the difference?

It is common for first-time buyers to confuse the decibel meter with the dosimeter, either because the names are similar or because both work for sound-related jobs.

By knowing the differences between the two types you can be more certain about which model you should buy. Read on:

Decibelimeter

This device works to measure the noise levels in a given location in a timely manner. The product is useful for determining the occurrences of sound.

Model used to find out the sound exposure to which workers are exposed. The use of this device is external, and it should be placed close to the height at which the workers’ ears are exposed.

This meter is simple, but sometimes companies hold events to show employees how to use this equipment.

Dosimeter

These devices must be connected to the workers’ bodies in order to determine the noise levels to which the workers are exposed.

Companies often use a dosimeter to measure noise levels over a full working day. For long measurements it is more suitable than decibelimeters which are better at instantaneous measurements.

Understand more about the differences between the two models below:

Decibelimeter Dosimeter
Use External Internal
Measurement objectives Sound pressure Chemicals, noise, vibration and radiation
Size Medium Small
Weight Medium Light
Microphone quality Superior Medium
Multifunction Less More
Continuous measurement Worse Better
Instantaneous measurement Better Worse

Buying criteria: How to compare decibel meter models

There are many models available in retail, which can create some confusion in our minds when buying. Therefore, it is worth using the following comparison criteria between the models as an advantage in your favour:

The significance of each point listed above will be demonstrated below:

Calibration

Do not think twice, buy only decibel meters with a calibration certificate, an official document that accompanies the product packaging. It is the seal that authenticates the fact that the products were tested by laboratories authorized by INMETRO.

With the document up to date you are sure that your product will not present accuracy errors when used in external or internal environments. Non-certified editions cost much lower in average prices.

Impulsive

When the decibel meter works in a more dedicated way it can pick up extra details from different sound levels.

If your goal is to measure noise from sharp presses, hammers, breaking glasses or gun shots buy a decibel meter sensitive enough to pick up impulsive signals. These versions can cost up to 5 times as much as basic models.

Um decibelímetro fixado em um tripé medindo a intensidade de ruídos em um ambiente externo.

Learn how to carry a fairly priced decibel meter that guarantees superior quality in your noise measurements (Source – Puntasit Choksawatdikorn/ 123RF)

Switching off

In the rush of work sometimes we forget that the device is turned on unnecessarily.

The worst thing is that this inattentive practice can exhaust the battery or the batteries more quickly, generating damage to the company’s budget and the electronic components of the device.

For this reason it is better to choose to buy models that have the auto switch-off function. These devices turn off by themselves when they are inactive for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Some versions even trigger audible or visual signals to show that the machine is on and inactive.

Tripod

Although it is possible to use a digital decibel meter by hand, engineers and other professionals choose to place the machine on a tripod to take measurements over long, continuous periods.

In these cases it is important to check to see if the tripod available in your office fits the decibel meter before confirming the purchase. If you buy the wrong size model, retailers will not refund your money.

Some kits on the market already come with a tripod that fits the instrument perfectly.

Range

The best decibel meters used by industry and construction in the digital model have a memory that records various results. These devices, although more expensive, are best for measuring noise levels at programmed times.

For example: you can set to record records every 20 minutes and thus better understand the average sound pressure existing in the location. Cheaper models do not have the resources to measure in an automated way.

Um manômetro de um decibelímetro analógico.

In general, the analogue decibelimeter does not have the memory to record several results (Source: Le Moal Olivier/ 123RF)

Case

When we are in a hurry, there is always the risk of some instruments falling or suffering impacts. A small fall can be fatal to the decibelimeter, whose internal part is full of sensitive components.

In order to protect your precious asset, there are models that include a protective case in the package. With this feature the device is less likely to break, thus optimizing the durability of the decibel meter.

(Featured image source: Puntasit Choksawatdikorn/ Pixabay)

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