Acoustic Terms Glossary

A guide to most commonly used acoustic terms used for noise and sound measurement found in sound level meters.

Decibels
dB
Ten times the logarithm (to base 10) of the ratio of two mean square values of sound pressure.
Frequency
Hz
The number of cyclical variations per unit time
Octave Bands
Hz
Frequency ranges in which the upper limit of each band is twice the lower limit. Octave bands are identified by their geometric mean frequency or centre frequency.
Sound Power
W
The acoustic power of a sound source expressed in Watts.
Sound Power Level
Lw
The acoustic power radiated from a given sound source as related to a reference power level.
Sound Pressure
P
Fluctuations in air pressure caused by the presence of sound waves.
Sound Pressure Level
Lp
The ratio expressed in dB of mean-square sound pressure to a reference mean-square pressure which, by convention, has been selected to be equal to the assumed threshold of hearing (20µ Pa).
SpectrumA term that refers to the frequency response.
Weighting Network
dB(A)
An electronic filter in a sound level meter which approximates, under defused conditions, the frequency response of the human ear. The ‘A’ weighting network is the one most commonly used.
Equivalent Continuous Sound Pressure Level
Leq
The equivalent continuous level which is a measure of the energy content of a sound over a time period. It gives a single figure expressing the equivalent of a varying level. It is an energy average.
Dose
D
Noise dose is a percentage number. Depending on a criterion level and exchange rate (eg 90dB and 3 – 100% Dose = 90dB for 8 hours).
Dose per Hour
DOHR
Designed to show the Dose exposure over each hour.
Projected Dose
Proj D
Projected dose allows the present accumulated dose, over the present logged time duration, to be projected forward to give the predicted 8 hour period.
Noise Exposure
Lex
Personal noise exposure (also known as Lepd), usually referred to a daily 8 hour rate.
Percentile
Ln
The dB level exceeded for n% of the time.

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