Sound Level Meter Apps for SmartPhones

There's an app for that?

True Story

With the two units side by side, “their” phone app measured 68 dBA; my calibrated analyzer measured 57 dBA.

11 decibels is a huge discrepancy. Nonetheless, they dismissed it, saying that they had also “measured 68 dBA the other day with similar weather conditions.”

We're not sure how another uncalibrated measurement made under conditions remembered as "similar" could be evidence for accuracy. We will only add that the next app/phone combination we encountered was off by 6 dB.

There is a growing awareness that you can buy a smartphone sound meter app for 1.99.

The graphics are colorful and attractive, and the apps use scientific-sounding terms, but all of them produce unreliable and uncalibrated results. It is even more dangerous when the readings occasionally approach the correct value, creating a false sense of security.

Well, ok, they’re not absolutely accurate. But perhaps using the same app to measure two different noises could yield a valid comparison?


There are simply too many variables involved, operator error among them.

It is difficult to measure sounds properly; difficult even to know what to measure. It is more difficult still to use measurements to form conclusions and make recommendations. It is hard enough for trained consultants; much harder for an amateur.

Expertise and proper measurements can save time, trouble and money.
Read "A Case Study in Two Letters": A cautionary tale of a job done twice and a lawsuit as told in two letters of thanks from a client (finally) enjoying some quiet.

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