Safe Sound Pressure Levels (SPL)

Knowing what is a safe sound level, while running church audio, is probably the largest responsibility of any sound tech. Make sure you have the knowledge and tools to measure the pressure levels. If not, check out Audio Levels In Worship Environments; here you see how to measure the sound pressure level.

Time Vs. Sound Pressure

Damage can be attained thought the length of time. (Unless the levels are surpassed 140 Db, in which a second of this will cause permanent harm). The longer a person is exposed to the level, the worst it will be on their hearing. Below is a chart showing sound pressure levels and the time that it will cause damage.

Hearing damage at virtually any constant level will occur after a period of time. Below indicates the sound pressure level in decibels and the time after being exposed will cause hearing damage.

Decibel Level         Time Exposed

85 dB                      8 hours

88 dB                      4 hours

91 dB                      2 hours

94 dB                      1 hour

97 dB                      ½ hour

100 dB                    15 mins.

103 dB                    7 ½ mins.

106 dB                    3 ½ mins.                                         


It is so important to know exactly how long and how loud, you can run your church sound before damage will be attained. If you are ever thinking, ‘my ears are adapting to this sound level’; then you have already done damage to them. Do not fool your self into thinking your ears can manage louder levels. Use a sound pressure level (SPL) meter at least twice during shows and church services. Not only will this keep everyone contented with a comfortable level, but will also provide them with safety.

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