E2S Warning Signals has published an educational guide that seeks to ‘de-mystify’ the dB (decibel), one of the most common units in engineering, yet also one of the most confusing. The guide can be found at http://www.e2s.com/soundbasics.
The main difficulty in comprehending dB measurements is that it is a log-linear scale, which, while it is very useful in representing very large differences in a more user-friendly scale, also compresses the scale.
Sound is defined as any pressure variation that can be heard by the human ear. The Threshold of Hearing is defined as 0 dB; the threshold of pain is around 130 dB, a scale that can be readily understood. However, as the power difference between the two levels is 1013 : 1, or, to spell it out in full, 10,000,000,000,000 or ten million million to one, expressing it in these terms suddenly gives a much better idea of the change.
E2S Warning Signals
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