6 Simple and Effective Tips to Measure Headphone Decibels?


We all crank up the volume while listening to our favourite song and take a break from the surroundings. How is this loud music going to affect your ear? Are you killing your ears?

Using premium quality-noise cancelling headphones can protect you from hearing issues like tinnitus. 

Here we help you on how to measure headphone decibels.

Importance of Measuring Headphone Decibels

According to the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the intensity of noise, proximity to the source, and listening duration are the three key factors affecting hearing loss.

In the case of listening through headphones, it is too close to your ears and you can’t do anything about it. If you care about your ears, the only option is to limit sound level and duration!


We usually use headphones for listening to our favourite music or podcast. So even if you are at dangerously high volume, you may not feel it.

Result-you may be killing your ears. It is critical to measure the headphone decibel and make sure that you are within the safe listening limit.

If you are exposing to a sound above 85 decibels through your headphone, then be cautious, you are getting deaf not in a day or two, but in a long and repeated exposure. 

Experts say that anything below 75 decibels is OK for your ear even for prolonged exposure.

Below we have listed some familiar sound and its decibel range for your knowledge.

ActivitySound Level (dB)
Normal Breathing10
Ticking of Watch20
Refrigerator Hum40
Normal Conversation, Air Conditioning60
City Traffic (Inside Car)80-85

Every headphone can produce sound above 85 dB, and absolutely they can cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

But the most important thing is that once you suffer hearing loss because of sound exposure, there is no going back, meaning you are Deaf, permanently. Nobody can repair your defect because you killed something which can’t be regenerated.

Actually, the louder sound through your headphone destroys the nerves that carry sound from hair cells present in your ear to the brain.

What does make it more dangerous is that these are occurring slowly and subtly. And you cant even sense until a predominant fraction of your hearing has been lost.

So it is necessary to know how to measure Headphone decibels.

How to Measure Headphone Decibels?

Now let us have a look into the various methods to measure sound of various headphone brands.

1.Method for iPhone users
2.Exclusively for android users
3.By using laptop/ computer
4.Method for Windows phone users
5.Using Specific instruments
6.Comparing with common noise

1. Measuring Decibels by using an Android Mobile

Can you measure the decibel using a mobile app? The answer is Yes—download and install an application named “Sound Meter” from your Android Playstore. 

It is absolutely free and needs only below 5 Megabytes. The accuracy of your reading depends on the quality of your smartphone. Top-quality mobile can measure high decibels with perfection.

How to carry out the test? It is very simple, open the app, start playing the music through your headphone and place the ear cups close to the microphone. And the app will give you the value.

Repeat the experiment at various volumes. This will help you fix the maximum level above that volume; it may affect your hearing. 

2.How to Measure Sound in an iPhone.

With Apple devices like iPhone, you can use Decibel Meter or Sound Meter to measure sound produced by headphones. The procedure is almost the same as mentioned above.

But the value delivered will be highly accurate and can even measure the highest decibels.

3.Measurement of Sound in Windows Phone

Windows phones are not popular nowadays. If you are using a Windows phone and you want to measure sound, don’t worry, here is the method.

At this point, you can proceed with another app Cyberxy Decibel Meter or Sound Meter.

4. Measure Headphone Decibel using Computer.

You can also use a Computer to measure the decibel of your headphones. For that first, you have to download the “free decibel reader” application, which is available in the Microsoft App store, it is free and consumes only a few megabytes of your system storage. 

Then you are supposed to play any music through your headphone. Make sure that you placed the headphone ear cups to the computer microphone as close as possible. 

Then the microphone of your computer reads the sound and show you the decibel level. You can check the value for various volumes.

You need not be a software expert to do this analysis because the procedures are simple to follow and readily available in the application itself.

Then limit the volume of your music in the comfortable range while listening to them for the next time.

5. Measuring using instruments (Decibel Meter).

The best method to get an actual sound level is by using a decibel meter.


The decibel meter consists of a meter at one end and a pad at the other end. First, you turn on both your headphone and the meter.
Then place the pad on the earcups such that it entirely covers it and make sure that no sound is escaping. The self-adjusting pads can make a perfect seal but, you still need to verify it physically.
The device will show you the sound level, and you can repeat the experiment at various volume levels and for different music.

I have also included the best five instruments you can buy that delivers the absolute value of your sound.

6.Measuring using Common Noises

Here we do not get any numerical value. But this method helps you to find whether your headphone sound is within the safe limit or not.

Here you need not download any application or buy instruments; just compare the sound produced by your headphones with environmental noise. The conclusion may not be accurate, but you will get an idea.

We have a few methods to do this as follows.

1.Relate with your Breathing or Respiration

Comparing with your breathing is an easy and simple method you can do. Normal breathing produced a 10 dB sound.

Suppose you cannot hear anything on your headphone while breathing, it means the sound produced is below 10 dB. It is a safer level, and you can listen to this much voice for a long time, and it does not harm your ear.

2. Comparing with the surrounding.

You can find the decibel of your headphone by comparing it with traffic, which is 15 m away is another choice. It is measured that traffic produces 80-85 dB.

If you could not hear the music through the headphone when you are 15 m away from traffic, your headphone is creating high decibel noise, which can harm your ear.

3.Comparing with extreme noises

Comparing your headphone noises with extreme noises of a power saw or jackhammer is another method to find decibel. Both of these tools produce a louder sound than any headphone.

If you put on your headphone and still can hear the noise produced by power saw or jackhammer, be extremely careful because you are listening to a very high decibel sound.

Final Words

Using good quality headphones with better ambient noise cancellation can deliver a better hearing experience even at a lower sound level. Thus can protect you from hearing loss.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OSHAS), anything above 85 dB will harm your ears if you listen to it beyond this period. The safe exposure time decreases with an increase in decibel.

We believe your doubts on how to measure headphone decibels are now over. We listed simple and most effective methods to measure it even without the help of others and additional instruments.

So it is necessary to keep your headphone’s volume below the permitted level to keep your ear healthy. Check and comment your normal listening levels.

  1. How many decibels is too loud?

    “How loud is too loud” is the most interesting and important factor in headphone listening. Anything beyond 85dB can damage your ears. If you are forced to rise the volume levels then you must give rest to ears at regular short intervals.
    Studies show that a normal headphone at maximum can produce audio of approximately 110 dB.
    This happens mostly when you are in public transport and your headphone is not effective in noise isolation.
    Always try to listen to songs or podcasts at 75dB or lower.

  2. Are phone decibel meters accurate?

    The results from a phone decibel meter depends on your smartphone. If your phone's sensors are good, then the output will also be reliable.
    Our experiments with various mobile phones of various brands and price ranges shoed that almost similar results.
    But as usual iPhone provided the best result close to audiometric test from a lab.

  3. Can I measure decibels on my phone?

    Yes, of course. Whether you are an iPhone, android, or windows phone user, you can measure your headphone decibel level. In the above article we have described step by step method to carry out the test at your home without other instruments.

Sanil VS is a Chemical Engineer by Profession and he loves to write and review gadgets on his free times.

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