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What Are Decibels (dB) In Home Theater Audio?

Aug 24,2018 - (Free)

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Decibels (dB) are sound measurement units. Because sound reproduction is essential for the home theater experience, it’s critical to understand the meaning of decibels in music.

Experts agree that the best dB for speakers is 90dB. Audiophiles regard it as the pinnacle of perfection. Furthermore, according to industry standards, the average speaker should have an average dB level of between 87 dB and 88 dB.

What Does a Decibel (dB) Mean in Music?

A decibel, abbreviated as dB, is a logarithmic scale of loudness. Our ears detect volume changes in a non-linear manner. A variety of factors influence sound loudness, which is not always the same as volume. The amount of air that reaches the ear and the distance between our ears and a sound source are two examples.

The Decibel Scale

The decibel scale was developed to quantify the volume of sounds. A difference of 1 dB is perceived as the smallest volume change. A 3 dB difference is considered a moderate change, while a 10 dB difference is perceived by the listener as doubling the volume.

The hearing threshold is 0 dB. Here are some examples of common sounds, along with their decibel levels:

  • Whisper: 15 to 25 dB
  • Background noise: 35 dB
  • Normal home or office background: 40 to 60 dB
  • Normal speaking voice: 65 to 70 dB
  • Orchestral climax: 105 dB
  • Live rock music: 120 dB+
  • Pain threshold: 130 dB
  • Jet aircraft: 140 to 180 dB

How the Decibel Scale Is Applied

Decibels are a measurement of how much power an amplifier requires to produce a specific sound output level. To be twice as loud as another amplifier or receiver, you need ten times the wattage output, so a receiver with 100 WPC can produce twice the volume of a 10 WPC amp. To be twice as loud, a receiver with 100 WPC must have 1,000 WPC.

Decibels are also used to describe the output of loudspeakers and subwoofers at different frequencies and volume levels. A speaker may be capable of producing frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but at frequencies lower than 80 Hz, the sound output level (volume) may be -3 dB lower. This is due to the fact that at lower frequencies, more power is required to produce the same volume level.

The dB scale is used to describe the sound level output capability of a specific speaker when it is fed a tone with one watt of power. A speaker with good speaker sensitivity can produce 90 dB or higher sound output when fed a one-watt audio signal.

Decibel Measurement

A portable sound meter is one method for measuring decibels. There are also sound meter apps that work with a smartphone’s microphone.

Most home theater system receivers include built-in test tone generators for determining the generated decibel level for each speaker. Your sound listening experience will be balanced when all of your speakers register the same decibel level at a given volume level.

Measuring Decibels Without a Sound Meter

Many home theater receivers include an automatic speaker/room correction system that eliminates the need for an additional sound meter. A microphone that plugs into the front of the receiver is included. The receiver sends test tones to each speaker, which the microphone picks up and sends back to the receiver.

The receiver then determines the number of speakers, the distance between each speaker and the listening position, and the size of each speaker. Using that data, it determines the best speaker level relationship between the speakers (and subwoofer) as well as the best crossover point between the speakers and the subwoofer.

Frequently Asked Question

What Is dB?

dB is an abbreviation for decibels, which is a unit of measurement that indicates the ratio of a change in level. The level could be acoustic SPL (Sound Pressure Level) or electrical signal level.

One intriguing aspect of decibels is that they are measured on a logarithmic scale, as opposed to a linear scale. A logarithmic scale is a non-linear scale used to measure large amounts.

Now that we’ve covered the most important aspect of dB for speakers, let’s look at how it all fits together.

Is 65dB Loud For A Speaker?

65dB is significantly lower than the average for a speaker. The average speaker should have a maximum sensitivity of 88 dB. So a 65dB speaker is significantly below average and not as loud as you might expect.

How Can You Tell Speaker Quality?

Several factors, such as sensitivity, frequency response, and so on, can be used to determine speaker quality.

How Many Watts Is Good For Speakers?

Watts are a measurement of speaker power. So, for a large speaker, the ideal power wattage would be over 100 watts. However, for a home speaker, the ideal wattage would be between 15 and 30 watts.


dB plays a role in the decision-making process when purchasing a speaker. Its levels, like every other factor that prospective buyers must consider, show poor sensitivity and the best speakers you could ask for in a speaker. Experts consider any speaker with a dB level or sensitivity of more than 90 dB to be ideal. If the speaker sensitivity is less than that, you interpret it as having poor sensitivity. If the sensitivity of the speaker reaches 102dB, you may be looking at a high-end speaker. When researching speaker sensitivity, users will come across another term: speaker efficiency.

They are similar to some extent but, to be honest, quite different. The article discusses the distinction between speaker sensitivity and speaker efficiency. Finally, dB levels in speakers only measure one aspect of what constitutes a good speaker. Aside from the dB, several factors work together to help users choose the best speaker for their audio system.


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