How to Test Sound Levels Quickly

Testing your sound levels—that is, the decibel levels in the room as well as when people are speaking—is important when it comes to creating a clear recording. When you’re working in professional environments like courtrooms, medical practices and business conference rooms, understanding how the sound levels affect the recording can help you create much cleaner output.

Thanks to today’s technological advancements, you can easily test sound levels with your recording equipment or even your smartphone. Here’s what to do when you’re working with digital voice recorders in Seattle, WA.

Why is it important to test sound levels?

A decibel indicates the sound pressure level, which can tell you how loud something sounds to the human ear. When you’re recording people speaking, you need to ensure that they’re speaking at a higher volume than the background noise in the room. Testing sound levels is a good way to make sure you’ll be able to hear them on the recording, instead of losing them within the ambient noise.

To give you an idea of common decibel levels, 0 dB is complete silence, whispering registers at 20 dB, regular conversation usually clocks in at 50 dB and busy office environments come in at 60 dB. If you try to record a normal volume conversation in a busy office, the background noise is very likely to interfere with your recording. That’s why testing levels is so important—you can take that information and make adjustments to ensure every speaker is heard clearly. Sometimes that involves simply moving the microphone closer to them, while other times you may be able to adjust within your digital voice recorder in Seattle, WA.

How to test sound levels

Always take about 10 seconds of “room noise” when recording, so you can use it as a baseline to filter out extra noise later. Then test the levels of the speakers while they’re talking to make sure it’s not drowning them out. Here are some options to keep in mind:

  • Decibel level or SPL meter: A sound pressure level (SPL) meter is the most accurate way to test decibel levels in any given space. If you go this route, bear in mind that they’re more expensive—they start at around $200 for a quality piece—but they’re easy and accurate.
  • Built-in software: Your voice recording equipment may already come with an SPL meter—they go by multiple names, but have the same basic function. Check your owner’s manual to see where this feature might be located and how to operate it.
  • Smartphone apps: Finally, there are a number of smartphone apps that give remarkably accurate sound levels. Some are free, while you might need to pay a nominal fee for more robust features. Regardless, it’s a convenient way to be able to test levels anytime you choose.

Testing the sound levels is the key to getting a clear recording with your digital voice recorder in Seattle, WA. If you have questions about how to test levels and whether you need separate equipment, talk to the team at Efficiency, Inc. today.

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