Best Sound Level Meters

Review & Comparison, Last Update March 16, 2017
Noise can be a potential hazard in most jobs. It also can be plainly discomforting. With the help of sound level meters, you can easily measure the noise level in your environment to see if it reaches a critical level. Read our review to find the most suitable device for your needs. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Sound Range
Frequency Range
Accuracy
Features
Warranty
 
PROS

The LCD display has a convenient battery indicator, so it will inform you in advance when it is time to replace the batteries.

CONS

Is not suitable for measuring very low frequencies

OUR VERDICT

Its broad functionality and high accuracy make this device suitable for professional application.

detailed parameters
Sound Range

40 - 130dB

Frequency Range

300Hz - 8KHz 

Accuracy

+/- 2dB

Features

A+C weighting,
Records max/min values over time
Max hold function,
Auto power off function,
Set fast/slow response time, 
Possible to mount on a tripod 

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The device comes with a portable carrying case for safe and convenient storage and transportation.

CONS

Comes with batteries of poor quality.

OUR VERDICT

The device is perfect for people, who work as safety engineers. It will provide accurate readings in any premises: offices, factories or plants.

detailed parameters
Sound Range

30 - 130dB

Frequency Range

31.5Hz ~ 8.5KHz

Accuracy

 +/- 1.5dB

Features

A+C weighting,
Set response time,
Max hold function

Warranty

30 days

PROS

This device is furnished with a foam wind guard to improve the accuracy of measurements outdoors.

CONS

Limited functionality

OUR VERDICT

This sound level meter is a great choice for casual users, who do not want to overpay for excess specifications they won't use. 

detailed parameters
Sound Range

30 ~130dB

Frequency Range

31.5Hz ~ 8.5KHz

Accuracy

+/- 1.5dB

Features

Max and min sound level measurements,
Backlight,
Possible to mount on a tripod,
Auto power off function

Warranty

1 year

PROS

Compact and lightweight design with ribbed rubberized gripping on the sides will fit comfortably into your palm.

CONS

Lacks in precision when measuring low sounds.

OUR VERDICT

Thanks to a well-thought-out design, this device is more suitable than other sound level meters in the same price range for use in harsh operating conditions.

detailed parameters
Sound Range

30 ~130dB

Frequency Range

31.5Hz – 8KHz

Accuracy

+/- 1.5dB

Features

Max and min sound level measurements,
Data hold function,
Possible to mount on a tripod,
Auto power off function

Warranty

1 year

PROS

This sound level meter can run not only on 4 AA batteries but also when connected to a PC via a USB cable. 

CONS

MiniSD is required.

OUR VERDICT

If your job involves taking measurements of noise levels, which you afterward have to submit in a printed report, then this device will simplify the task and help eliminate a bulk of manual labor. All you need to do is connect it to a PC, transfer the data and save the readings in text or Excel format. 

detailed parameters
Sound Range

30 ~130dB

Frequency Range

31.5Hz ~ 8.5KHz

Accuracy

+/- 1.5dB

Features

A+C weighting,
Set response time,
Max hold function,
Auto power off function,
Connect to PC

Warranty

30 days

What is a Sound Level Meter

The health experts claim that being exposed to sounds or noise that exceed 85 dB may be harmful to your hearing and even cause noise-induced hearing loss. A regular exposure to consistently elevated noise levels can lead to other negative health consequences such as disorders of the nervous system, including annoyance, aggression and sleep disturbance. Besides, practitioners state that prolonged stay in such environment can also cause the development of other health conditions, such as hypertension and ischemic heart disease.

To avoid such problems, you need to know how loud the sounds or the noises in your environment are. For such measurements, you can purchase a wonderful tool - a sound level meter. It will help you quantify the loudness of sounds at work, at home, outdoors or any other environment that may cause hearing impairment. With this device, you can easily take any measurements of noise levels to determine if it presents potential health hazards.

Naturally, such a device is a must if you experience elevated noise levels at your workplace, working in such industries as construction, mining, traffic, rail, airport etc. Those who are operating a jackhammer on a construction site would definitely need to protect their hearing, as the noise that this device emits reaches 100 dB. Proper precautions must be taken if you are working with explosives. For instance, a firecracker may produce the noise of 140 dB.

Besides being indispensable in the heavy industries, sound level meters can be also useful in everyday life, for example, if you need to measure the noise of the various power tools such as a Jointers or Hammer Drills. This sound level meter may also come in handy during the installation of sound insulation.

In this review, we prepared a shortlist of 5 best sound level meters and carefully analyzed their features and capabilities to help any interested reader make an informed decision when purchasing this device. 

Besides, you may be interested in other manual tools that make our lives easier, such as moisture meters and multimeters.

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What Features to Compare

Sound Range and Frequency Range

To select the appropriate sound level meter, you need to understand the functionality and capabilities that the device can offer. This information could influence your choice. The first thing you should pay attention to is the operating frequency range. As a rule, a very large frequency range is inherent in more professional models. If you intend to purchase a sound level meter for domestic use, sufficient frequency range is around 31.5Hz ~ 8.5KHz. Regarding the Sound Range, the sound level meter monitors and captures the measurements of up to 130 dB, which is also more than enough in the majority of cases.

Accuracy

Another important characteristic is the accuracy with which the sound level meter works. For regular checks in heavy industries or for monitoring workplace machinery, you should probably give preference to a more precise device with the accuracy exceeding +/- 0.7 dB. If you are purchasing it for a professional use, every one-tenth of a decibel may count. At the same time, if you are a casual user, you may not have an urgent need for precision. Thus, the common accuracy range of 1.5-2 dB would be acceptable. You can easily check the efficiency of sound insulation, noise from electrical appliances, calibrate the audio system or home theater, as well as simply use it for a hobby. 

Features

Various sound level meters may offer a variety of additional features, functions or specifications that can make their use more convenient. Some devices are equipped with the filter selection function. They are usually denoted by the letters A (for low volume), B (for medium) and C (for high volume). The most commonly used choice of filters A and C, B is extremely rare. Also for precise measurements, there is an option to select the dynamic characteristics or time weightings: F (Fast) is usually selected for continuous noise, S (Slow) for interruptible and I (Impulse) for discreet. 

In addition, when selecting an SPL meter you should pay attention to some other features, such as the presence of a backlight for use in dimly lit places. In fact, a variety of additional capabilities can be present in a device, including the possibility to use a built-in memory card or connect it to a PC for a further more detailed analysis of measurements. 

To sum it up, when choosing an SPL meter, take all of these factors into consideration to find the one that best meets your needs.

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Review of Extech Instruments 407730 Digital

Extech Instruments 407730 Digital

Extech Instruments 407730 Digital

The Device With Excellent Background

We would like to present to your attention a fantastic sound level meter from one of the most reputable manufacturers of portable tools, Extech сompany. 

This sound level meter is designed for various tasks: 
  • setting or checking the audio and alarm systems; 
  • monitoring equipment or machinery;
  • handling product noise certification;
  • noise reduction. 

In short, the tool is aimed for use in manufacturing and industrial environments. It should be noted that it is equipped with excellent functionality and great accuracy to cope with any challenging task.

Review of Extech Instruments 407730 Digital

Superb Functionality For Every Occasion

This digital sound level meter from Extech features an excellent large 2000-count LCD display with backlight. All the measurements are clear, large and readable regardless whether you are using the device indoors or outdoors, in a bright or dim light. In addition to the decibel indicator, it is possible to observe the readings at a fast-responding analog bar graph with a range of 50 dB, that updates every 40 milliseconds to demonstrate varying trends. Besides dual readings, the screen also displays all the selected measuring modes and settings. 

On top of this, thanks to the conveniently displayed battery level, you can easily prevent the unexpected switch-off and will never lose any measurements on this device. 

Also, the device is furnished with an electric condenser microphone. To prevent any distortions in readings, you can conveniently use a windscreen.

In addition to this, you can monitor the sound level changes over time. Alternatively, use a function of registering the maximum and minimum values over a specified time interval. You can also save the measurements for a more detailed analysis, if necessary.

So, as we said, the functionality of this device is excellent. You can easily choose any filter, sound intensity and time weightings to get most precise measurement results. 

Extech Instruments 407730 Digital in the use

Conclusion

There is only one conclusion to be made: if you're looking for a reliable digital sound level meter with advanced capabilities for professional use, the Extech 407730 is definitely worth a look. The device has an excellent overall performance. It weighs only 5.6 oz and fits perfectly into your hand. 

In addition, there is another feature that can come in handy: this sound level meter is furnished with a special thread and can be easily mounted on a tripod. Mounting the device on a tripod will enable convenient hands-free readings and a more secure and stable fixation without any swaying or vibration, which could affect the accuracy of readings. 

In a word, the sound level meter will without a doubt become a reliable assistant in your work.

Detailed review of Extech Instruments 407730 Digital

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Extech Instruments 407730 Digital
Extech Instruments 407730 Digital
 
Review of Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses

Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses

Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses

Good Instrument Is A Convenient Instrument

We would like to offer to your consideration one of the most popular models of the sound level meters in its price range - Foneso GM1356. It is not hard to find a reason to praise this device as it boasts a multitude of excellent features and they immediately catch the eye. 

For starters, it is worth noting that the device is compact and lightweight. Thanks to its nicely grooved sides it can be comfortably held in hand. In addition, it comes with a portable carrying case for convenient storage and transportation. Given that the sound level meter is excellent for measuring noise levels in offices and factories, or in any other places where it is necessary to constantly move around, the presence of a carrying case is indeed an asset.

The device does not require additional calibration as it works perfectly right out of the box.

Review of Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses

Top Rank Functionality

Certainly, the advanced functionality of this device should not go unspoken. You have the option to set a filter, depending on the sound intensity and volume. This is one of the cheapest devices that offers both A and C weighting as well as fast and slow time weighting modes. Regardless whether you are a casual user or a professional, you can use A-weighting mode for measuring ambient noise levels, for instance, at industrial workplaces or construction sites. C-weighting mode would be suitable for calibrating your home sound system or home theater speaker levels. In any case, when properly setup, the device will unfailingly provide accurate and consistent readings.

This device will also prove useful for taking measurements around the house or to quantify the actual noise from your neighbors' vibrations (voice, TV or stereo)! Besides, you can use it to test dB readings on vehicles before sound dampening or the efficiency of sound insulation at home.

In addition, the device offers a fantastic accuracy of readings equal to +/- 1.5 dBA. Besides, the device is furnished with the function to present a maximum value of readings captured over an operating time interval. 

This digital sound level meter is powered by four AA batteries. Provided you use high-quality batteries it can continuously operate for an extended period of time. The only thing that is missing is a battery power indicator on the display. However, we suggest if you keep a spare set of batteries handy, it won't be a problem to replace the batteries when they run out of charge.

Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses in the use

Speaking Of The Sound...

Speaking of sound level meters, we want to give some general information on the nature of sound. In general, a sound is a vibration that propagates through the transmission medium. A human brain is capable of perceiving the sound waves which are received through an ear. 

Interestingly, the speed of sound waves depends on the medium of transmission and its density, since the wave propagates by alternating compression and expansion of the medium. Therefore, the harder the medium is to compress, the faster the sound will travel. The particles of the medium are so close to each other, that they move and respond very quickly. Thus, metals are by far the best at transmitting the sounds. On the contrary, in easily compressed media, such as gas or even water, particles respond in a more sluggish way to the motion of their neighboring particles. Thus, sound travels longer and its speed is limited.

Detailed review of Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses

Additional Info

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Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses
Foneso GM1356 Tester for Indoor/ Outdoor Uses
 
Review of BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy

BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy

BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy

Secret Of Doing More With Less

Sometimes the sound level meter may be needed not only for use in professional work but also in everyday life. For example, when moving into a new house or apartment, it would be nice to measure the level of noise to understand clearly how comfortable it will be there and if additional sound insulation is needed (in fact, this device will also help analyze the efficiency of its installation).

When purchasing such device, not all the users are seeking an advanced functionality. If you are one of those who does not wish to overpay for extra capacity or a number of additional features you will never use, then BAFX3370 SPL meter is exactly what you need. It can be considered as a reasonably priced budget option, but it copes incredibly well with its main purpose - noise measurement. 

Its functionality offers the possibility to determine the maximum noise readings. Max Hold function will capture the highest noise value and will keep it until a higher value is detected. Overall, such functionality should definitely suffice if you intend to use it as a handy home appliance. 

Review of BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy

Precision is Everything

In spite of its rather unpretentious appearance and unsophisticated functionality, the device offers some nice capabilities that can make its use more convenient. Even though it is a fairly priced budget model, it features the same frequency range, as the more pricey models - from 31.5Hz to 8.5KHz. We are pleased with the fact, that with regard to this technical characteristic, the manufacturer did not limit the capacity of this lovely user-friendly device. In addition, this SPL meter offers a much bigger range of readings than similar inexpensive models and boasts an astonishing accuracy of measurements, +/-1.5 dBA. A backlit screen displays large and clear characters, which will suit people with poor eyesight.

This sound level meter is also furnished with a foam wind guard, which effectively reduces wind interference and, therefore, allows the device to produce more accurate readings when operated outdoors. It can also be mounted on a tripod to reduce vibration and make the measurements less susceptible to distortion. 

It is worth noting, that the device will automatically switch off if it stays idle for about 11 minutes. This is a great feature which ensures a more economical use of a battery. By the way, the meter comes with a 9V heavy-duty battery to start you off with 30 hours of continuous use. The convenient indicator on the screen will inform you in advance when it is time to change the battery.

BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy in the use

Everything You Need At A Fraction of Price

All in all, this device offers excellent quality, fantastic accuracy, impressive capacity and useful features – everything you need at a fraction of price! It is accurate and powerful enough to quantify noise levels not only at home but also in factories, offices, or theaters. It might be even suitable for calibrating audio and alarm systems. 

It is highly important to draw your attention to the fact, that this sound level meter measures in most commonly used A-weighted frequency. A-weighting accounts for the relative loudness perceived by the human ear and ensures that noises at lower frequencies are reduced. 

Detailed review of BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy

Additional Info

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BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy
BAFX Products BAFX3370 Compact and easy
 
Review of Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel

Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel

Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel

In Search Of Effective Solutions

Dr.Meter MS10 stands out in the market of sound level meters due to both its reasonable price and excellent quality. So, the good news is the price of this product doesn't break the bank and yet the device offers great functionality to make it an excellent tool for both professional and amateur use. 

The device boasts large LCD display with large and readable digits. It employs a half an inch electric condenser microphone to monitor and measure the noise levels from 30 to 130 dBA with an impressive accuracy of +/- 1.5 dBA and 0.1 dBA resolution. The frequency range of this device falls in the range from 31.5 Hz to 8 kHz. 

The sound level meter features two main functions: "Hold" and "Max / Min". Use the Hold key if you need to quantify the relative sound level at a given moment in time and display it on the screen. Press the "Max / Min" key, if you need to see the maximum and minimum readings over the whole operating time. 

We should definitely mention the auto power-off function, which provides a more optimal battery use in case you leave your device unattended and forget to switch it off manually. This function is activated if the sound level meter is not operated for approximately 15 minutes.

Review of Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel

Solid Design At A Reasonable Price

Certainly, if you search long enough you will probably find better sound level meters out there but only at a much higher cost. This model is nothing flashy, but it is a solid and reliable tool. It is easy in operation, featuring only two functions, and is ready for use straight out of the box. This SPL meter boasts compact and lightweight design with rugged rubberized sides for a firm and comfortable grip. The meter’s size is so modest that you can keep it in your coat pocket at all times and take it to church, a ball game or a live rock concert. It is a handy gadget which you can take wherever you go and have fun measuring the noise levels of your surroundings. It can also be used at construction sites or industrial workplaces, as its solid housing can withstand an accidental drop or two and it is very unlikely that it will be broken or cracked. Overall, it is clearly one of the best devices in its price range which will perform well in any conditions.

Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel in the use

Why You Need A Tripod

Keep in mind, that anything touching the device can transmit the sound directly to the microphone. Even clicking on the buttons or holding the device in your hand can distort the readings. Beware, that even putting it down on a surface may not solve the problem, since the surface can block a sound wave or reflect it back to the mic twice. Therefore, for most accurate measurements the ideal solution would be to mount the device on a tripod. 

The good news is Dr. Meter MS10 is thoughtfully furnished with a tripod mounting hole on the back side of the unit. You can even mount the device on a tripod and come back later to check on maximum and minimum readings. It will do the entire job for you, provide enhanced accuracy, improve readings and probably keep you from exposing yourself to potentially hazardous elevated noise levels.

Detailed review of Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel

Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel
Dr.Meter MS10 Digital Decibel
 
Review of T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional

T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional

T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional

Noise Level Meter + PC = Super Performance

Without a doubt, T Tocas noise level meter is a fantastic professional model that sits at the intersection of quality and value. It offers excellent specifications and uncompromised performance and comes at a very reasonable price. In comparison with other models, it has a great and tangible advantage. This noise level meter can be connected to your PC via USB cable to allow transferring of all recorded measurements. This incredible option will enable you to carry out a further more detailed analysis of the readings. Anyone would agree, that sitting at the computer and having all of the results in front of their eyes would make it much easier and more convenient to analyze the data than taking notes manually during the measurement with the device in your hands; and especially so, if you have to deal with a large number of readings. On top of this, transferring the readings to your PC would also spare you the trouble to type them up manually in case you have to submit the readings in a printed report. Recorded and downloaded sound level data can be saved in either text or Excel format. Besides, you can also record, download, view and print charts of the sound levels. The noise level meter comes with a CD containing complete Windows installation software, which is compatible with Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10(32/64 bits).

With this amazing device, it will be possible to prepare a report on all the recorded measurements with visually impressive and informative noise charts. In other words, a job that previously took an insane amount of time and labor will be immensely simplified with this incredible user-friendly noise level meter.

Review of T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional

Specs To Impress

The specifications of this device are indeed at the highest level. Regardless, whether you are an audio technician, theater director, an amateur rock musician, or an engineer, this device has everything it takes to win your favor. It is more sensitive and precise than the models in the lower price range, but we believe this device makes it worth every penny. 

To start with, this model features 4-digit clearly visible LCD display with large readable characters. We believe that many users will be pleased with the fact that in addition to numerical readings the screen also displays the sound level at an analog bar graph (1 dB per 1 bar graph).

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  • Level 1: 30 ~ 80 dB 
  • Level 2: 50 ~ 100 dB 
  • Level 3: 60 ~ 110 dB 
  • Level 4: 80 ~ 130 dB 
  • Level 5: 30 ~ 130 dB 

Depending on the volume, intensity, and type of sound you can set the device to A-weighted or C-weighted measuring frequency and choose the appropriate fast (for high speed) or slow (for low speed) time-weighting mode. You have the option to freeze the current sound level reading or select the Max hold function for highest sound value over the operating time. And certainly, the accuracy of this device will not disappoint you, as it falls within +/-1.5 dB. 

This model can be operated under various weather conditions: heat, cold, rain, fog or snow, as it will perform well at any temperature in the range of 0 ~ 40 °C (or 32 ~ 104 °F) and withstand the humidity of up to 80% R.H.

T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional in the use

In Conclusion

To store the data you can use an additional SD card, which is not included in the package and you will need to purchase one if more storage space is needed. However, this meter requires a quite rare MiniSD Card (as some users claim it is really hard to find), instead of more common and easily available format of MicroSD. Yet, nowadays you can buy anything online [even an elephant, so to speak] and in no time it will be delivered at your doorstep. 

Finally, we should also mention the fact that the device can operate on two power sources. It can run off 4 AA batteries for approximately 20 hours of continuous use. To make its power consumption more rational, this sound level meter automatically switches off after being idle for 15 minutes. To prevent it from shutting down, you can connect it to a PC via a USB-cable. It is another way to power the device, which will allow the device to operate without any interruption or battery drain for as long as necessary.

Detailed review of T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional
T Tocas BCBI10216 Professional
 

Sources:

1. Choosing The Right Sound Level MeterElectronicsforu. June 15, 2016.
2. Calibrating levels using a Sound Level or SPL meterDenon.
3. Tom Young Everything You Wanted To Know About Sound Level Meters (SLMs)ProSoundWeb. January 27, 2012.
4. Sound level meterWikipedia. February 7, 2017.
5. How to Use a Decibel MetereBay. March 13, 2016.
6. Chris Woodford Sound level (decibel) meters, Explain That Stuff. June 10, 2016.
7. About Sound Level Meters, InstruMart.
8. Isaiah David How Does a Decibel Meter Work? eHow.