A decibel dB(A) is a unit of measurement that indicates how loud a sound is.

Humans can hear sounds between 0 and 140 decibels.  0 decibel does not mean that there is no sound, merely that we cannot hear it. 0 decibel is the so-called hearing threshold for the human ear.

While we can hear more than 140 decibels, it is too painful for our ears and if you expose yourself to such a loud noise you are at extremely high risk of permanent damage to your hearing.  The table blow shows how loud sound is.

Decibels metre

According to United Kingdom legislation you are obliged to wear hearing protection if you work in an environment with 80 decibels of sound or higher on a daily basis. For fun, check out the folloing  decibel metre . Below the table is a video in which the volume within various genres (rock, hip-hop, dance, etc.) is shown.

Example of decibels

10Almost inaudibleA leaf falling
20AudibleRustles of autumnal leaves
30Very quietWhispering
40Living room, quiet classroom
50Limited soundRefrigerator working, car driving past
55Percolating coffee-maker
60AudibleSound of human voice, machinery
70IrritatingTelevision set on loud, vacuum cleaner, several people on the telephone
75Constant soundBusy restaurant around lunchtime
80UnpleasantAlarm clock, freight traffic, doorbell
85LoudSawing, mixer
90Extremely unpleasantTruck close by, screaming, yelling, shouting
95NoisyDrill, violin
100Extremely unpleasantMachine in a factory, compressor, fighter jet at 300 m
105Even louderHelicopter close by, large drum
110Extremely loudRock concert, chainsaw
120Human voice at its loudest, police siren
140Pain thresholdFirst Monday of the month siren from close by
150Permanent damage to hearingFireworks
160Shooting with pistol or rifle
170Avalanche firework
180Rocket launch platform
194Saturn rocket