A Guide to Noise Measurement Terminology [Free eBook]

There are 100s of different acoustic parameters that can be used during your noise measurements. Each parameter can tell you something different the noise you’re monitoring. How do you remember what all this noise measurement terminology means and what it does?

We’ve already covered Occupational Noise Terminology and Environmental Noise Terminology in our previous eBooks. The latest eBook in our terminology series, A Guide to Noise Measurement Terminology, reveals the most terminology you need to know. We’ve included a brief explanation of each acoustic parameter and noise term to help you with your noise measurements. This complete Acoustic Jargon Buster is available for free download.

What the Noise Measurement Terminology Guide includes:

  • Key noise terms that anyone measuring sound needs to know
  • Descriptions of all the noise terminology and acoustic parameters for noise measurements
  • Explanations of the more general noise measurement terms used
  • Reference guide for the Standards for Sound Level Meters, Noise Dosemeters and Acoustic Calibrators
  • For Cirrus customers, a look at what the different View Screens on the Optimus® Sound Level Meter can show you

Example: Key Noise TermNoise Measurement Terminology Guide

Peak Sound Pressure: This function is often confused with the maximum Sound Level. Whereas the maximum is the highest sound level, the Peak level is the actual peak level of the pressure wave.

The reason for this is that the maximum sound level is the RMS level with a time constant (F,S or I) applied, whereas the Peak is the highest point of the pressure wave before any time constant is applied.

The measurement of Peak sound pressure levels is required by the UK Noise at Work regulations where it is C-weighted. In this case, the value would be written as LCPeak = 134dB.


Example: Noise Terminology and Parameters

% Dose or Dose % The noise exposure expressed as a percentage (%) of a fixed level for 8 hours.

For example, if the noise limit is 85 dB and a person is exposed to a constant or equivalent sound pressure level of 85 dB for eight hours, then the result is a 100% noise dose.

In the UK a 3dB Exchange Rate, or Q, is used. This means that a noise level of 88dB has twice as much energy as a level of 85dB and so a constant level of 88dB is a 200% Dose.

The 8 hour average level is known as LEP,d (Daily Personal Noise Exposure) or LEX,8h.


Example: General Noise Measurement Term

Decibel (dB) – The Decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.

In the case of noise measurement, the measured sound pressure, p (in Pascals) is compared to a reference value p0 of 2×10-5 Pa using the equation: 

Pascal to decibel equation


Clarke Roberts

Senior Marketing Executive at Cirrus Research plc
Clarke is a Senior Marketing Executive and is responsible for helping people to find Cirrus Research's innovative noise measurement solutions by using all aspects of the marketing mix.

He particularly enjoys writing content about product applications, including noise nuisance, occupational noise and environmental noise pollution.

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