What is SPL? That’s a great question, and one that is seldom thought about in much detail. Before we get into specifics, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this article
What is SPL?
SPL vs. Volume
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
You may have been perusing microphones online and come across something like, “Can handle SPL levels of up to (insert dB level here).” Generally the higher the number, the more you can scream into the mic without distortion. 😀
Some mics, like the AKG C214, have SPL’s of up to 156dB. What’s great about this is that you won’t have to worry about playing too loud or singing too loud, thus getting a crappy recording.
What is SPL?
Sound pressure level, abbreviated SPL, and measured in decibels, is how humans actually hear. You would think volume is the standard measure, but this isn’t actually the case.
A decibel is a measure of sound intensity, or loudness. Both of these terms (dB and SPL) are based upon the logarithmic principles of Alexander Graham Bell.
Informative video on dB:
Think of a water faucet: At the point where the water comes out, Pressure and Volume are both 1. At the point where the water is just about to hit the sink, the pressure is around 0.5 while the Volume is still 1.
Now just apply this to sound.
If you’re farther away, the volume is still the same but the sound pressure level is diminished.
The closer you are to the sound, the more pressure you will hear.
So volume does affect sound, but it doesn’t directly affect our perception of it’s loudness.
Professional studio monitors can produce more pressure with less volume than a consumer speaker can. That’s why we’re able to (and are supposed to) mix down a track at low levels with a monitor. What are studio monitors?
The pressure and the damage done
Did anyone catch that reference? Anywho, generally our ears start to really feel it when there’s an SPL above 80dB. Because standard rock concerts hover around 100-130 db, it’s handy to have ear protection. I can tell you first hand that I thought I did permanent damage after my first metal show. Lol.
Interested in learning more? Check out this video (parts 1 & 2)
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope I’ve answered the question, What is SPL?
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please Contact me!!