Print Page

Taking Sound Level Readings

Measuring Noise Levels

One of the first and most important steps in reducing noise and/or adjusting the acoustics of a room or area is the proper and accurate measurement of noise levels. To do this, you’ll need a quality sound level meter such as those described in this manual. For accurately and consistently recording your sound level readings, we recommend using the ASI “Octave Band Analysis Worksheet”. The following are recommended procedures for taking sound level readings and using the worksheet.

Taking Sound Level Readings:

  1. First and foremost: read, understand and follow the operating instructions for the noise level meter you are using.
  2. Do not get too close to the noise source. Take readings where the nearest employee stands.
  3. If you are measuring the loudness of a specific machine, stand as far away from the machine as the longest dimension of that machine. For example, if the machine is 6 feet long, take sound level readings from 6 feet away from any part of that machine.
  4. Also, when measuring the sound level of a specific machine, make sure the background noise is at least 10 dB lower than the noise you are trying to measure.
  5. When taking readings, hold the meter upright at shoulder level, facing away from plane surfaces that can reflect noise and adversely influence your readings.


Many sound level meters, including those Quest models in this manual, can automatically perform the dB(A) Weighing calculation when you take the reading. In that case, all you’ll need to do is take the reading and enter it directly into the “Adjusted db(A)” column. See your sound level meter’s operating instructions for further information.