Such a great question! My basement listening level when the house is quiet is about 38 db. I'm in Denver but not in the city, but pretty dense. We have a small place in the mountains and I did an SPL (above ground) there just to see what it was -- 18 db! There may have been snow on the ground, I'm not sure, but what a striking difference.
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At night when no car pass by 20 Db...With a car passing by at 20 feet of my house add around 10 Db...More for a truck and way more for a motorcycle...
At day when no car pass by and my ionizers are off; 25 Db
With my 2 ionizeers working: 30 Db....
My audio room is on the second floor, not near the kitchen appliance for sure....
It feel "relatively" silent.... If not for some traffic in day time few cars each 5 minute relatively to the hour of the day....I am used to and it is not bothering me but any noise decrease the audio quality....
The only way to compensate is some isolation of the room.... But mostly increasing the S.Q. with ACTIVE room controls...
My last discovery is how to use Helmholtz diffusor engines....The gained level of details i gain with these is staggering and compensate for the 10 DB in excess with the traffic....
I moved my room into a concrete bunker in the basement. Within a few seconds the beating of my heart is bugging me, and a few minutes later the blood coursing through my ears is unbearable. I tried meditation to stop my heartbeat, but it was just no use. So now it is a sensory deprivation chamber so effective it takes only about 20 minutes for the hallucinations to kick in.
i have a room built on concrete, inside another room, inside a barn, 75 feet from my home, in the middle of 5 acres, in the mountains, away from any urban activity.
so zero outside ambient noise comes in. no mechanical systems in the structure to source noise.
my HVAC has it’s air box isolated by rubber and it’s in the attic not above my listening room. there are -3- 90 degree turns in the air vents to the air output. twin outputs and twin returns for high volume, low flow zero noise. the heat exchanger is outside on the opposite side of the barn with three inside walls between it and my room.
when the HVAC cycles on i can hear a soft relay when the music is not playing. that is rare.
it’s quiet. spooky quiet. my signal path gear has very low self noise.
and the inverse is also good; i can go completely crazy at high SPL's and no one can hear it outside the barn.
If it gets too quiet it does get spooky. You can hear the little timers and equipment switching as it comes online. Amazing how loud relays cases warming up and expanding. Junior (the rabbit) calms down.. He's happy to see me.
Trains going by get's me.. Rumble, a heavy semi without air ride too, I hate those.. 1/2 mile of NOISE in every direction.. Delta Pete will transfer noise via ground rumble for a mile.. Trains running on pylons in the delta aren't quiet on the neighbors.. 50 + years it's like a lullaby to me now..
Mine is in the low 20’s. I’ll have to give it a try at night. The most important component to my system is my listening room. While in close proximity to a city, three sides are underground with no local traffic. I make sure the air conditioner / heater does not come on… it is controlled by my iPhone… so if it comes on I can turn it off without getting up.
The listening area is large and irregular making it an incredibly good room. My audio guy says it is one of the two best he has ever heard… and in over thirty years he has heard a lot… many very expensive custom made for high end audio… better to be lucky than good… I sure was.
In answer to your question… for quiet… underground. For acoustic, large and irregular (mine is about 32 x 42.. two offset rectangles).
Incorrect if you have a good system. The noise floor is critical in hearing nuances in most music.
Mine is 23… but I have to hold my breath. A breath takes it into the thirties. I would imagine late Sunday night at midnight I could find a bit lower… my favorite time to listen.
One of my favorite experiences at the symphony and listening at home is the slow trailing off of the orchestra when a piece intentionally drops off into the silence… there are the moments of near absolute silence as the harmonics decay into silence. It can be incredibly moving.
I'm in the process of building the music room, lowest level on one side of a split-level on concrete but mostly above ground. Reframed with 6" wood wall studs then sprayed with open-cell spray foam (all surfaces).
Then SAFB and finally Quiet Rock. Empty room as it sits right now, save for a shop vac. With the NIOSH app on my iphone I get 18dB. This is with no rugs, curtains or acoustic treatment. Funny that at that level of quiet even a very slight stomach burble bounces the app up to around 21-23dB.
wolfie62, power relates to the quality of the sound, not the relative listening level. It has no bearing on the issue of ambient noise in the listening environment. You could use a cheap 50wpc amp or an expensive 1,000wpc amp, and the environmental noise issue is unaffected, given that the amps are quiet. Power is irrelevant.
Perhaps you could do a little test to learn about ambient noise masking the signal. Take your audio system outside. Play it while the neighbor is cutting grass with a lawn tractor.
Is the lawn tractor masking the music? Ah, then you obviously need a 1,000wpc amp! That should fix it all, right? Obviously, power makes the ambient noise go away, right? Or, perhaps you were simplistic in your assessment. :(
Having a quiet listening space allows for appreciation of nuances such as the difference between a noisier vintage tube amp and a newer, more absolutely quiet class D amp, such as I wrote up for Dagogo.com, the i.V4 Ultra from Legacy Audio. It would be a bit tougher to hear those distinctions outside with the neighbor's lawn tractor running. But, relatively easy to hear such distinctions in a quiet room.
Please do not disdain what you do not understand! :)
This morning I got an average reading of 18.4db
with a low of 13.8db in my living (listening) room. I have an acoustic ceiling in the living room. It’s not an open layout. Hardwood floor and giant Persian rug.
I think old houses with new windows may be quieter. Quiet neighborhood does help.
I do hear faint road and freeway noise and the quartz wall clock ticking.
Thank you everyone for your replies to this post. I was up at 1:30 this morning and sat down in my living room to see what I would get. The average was 32 dB. I thing all of the air conditioner units running in town are adding to the noise floor. I am definitely going to look into some of the techniques I have read above to try to make my new space as quiet as possible. Would it be weird if I started looking for a new house with a finished basement instead of adding on?...lol. I think my wife would think so.
Interesting. Everyone is so interested in environmental noise. The noise on a record might be 60 dB down if you are lucky. Now , if your turntable is not isolated you can take that environmental noise at say 80 dB down and amplify it with your turntable so it is 40 dB down. Clever. So, if you are really worried about it get a decent isolated turntable or buy yourself a MinusK platform.
Mike all that stuff is great but it will not save you from the trucks driving down the street. It does sound like your place is out of the way. I Live on a cul-de-sac 1/2 mile from a main street. On my other side is an 18 hole golf course. So, for a house not to far from society I'm pretty quiet. But, noise is never a problem for me. Maybe I listen louder than most but for whatever reason noise is never an issue. Fortunately our brains can only pay attention to the loudest noise. If the noise is over 30dB down you will never hear it.
Okay some of you, I worked in a recording studio. I made a dB meter when I was 13 and it was calibrated to an NIST standard as my uncle worked for NIST. I don't dispute your list of sound levels. Some of the dB reading you guys are quoting must be "L" weighted. BTW "shouting in the ear" is way higher than 110dB!
fiesta75, yes, I was thinking the same thing. 7 is imo not attainable in a domestic environment. Recording studios are doing well to be under 20dB.
mijostyn, Have you experienced what a room with reduced environmental noise does for the listening? Obviously, reducing source noise is advantageous, but irrelevant to this discussion.
The genre of music played is absolutely associated with this topic. If you listen to music that has quiet or silent passages, guess what? You can hear environmental noise if your system doesn't intrude with its own noise. Those in normal domestic environments will have little appreciation of that variable.
For instance, the start of Shelby Lynn's "Just A Little Lovin'" begins with a field of silence into which individual drum and cymbal strikes repeat. I assure you that a deeply depressed ambient noise field changes the musical perception radically. Any ambient noise, from an AC unit to an appliance motor running, etc. intrudes obnoxiously. At about 2:45 there is a pregnant pause as the instrumentation fades until almost silence. Again, if there is ambient noise of any degree in the room, it will sound like utter intrusion. Perhaps that is not your preference of genre of music, but simply because it is not important to you doesn't mean it's not an issue/consideration for other hobbyists. :)
7dB is totally obtainable. I was able to go much lower than that even. Remember, dB is a log scale of pressure differentials. We like to think of it as measuring sound pressure level when really it is measuring pressure wave differentials. Sound is a wave of compression followed by rarefaction. High pressure followed by low pressure. This is the key concept to keep in mind when trying to lower your dB.
Since what dB really is measuring is the difference between the two then the way to get it lower is to eliminate this difference. This is done most cost-effectively by filling your underground concrete bunker with liquid nitrogen. Within a few hours, a day or two at most, all motion ceases and you have virtually 0 dB. At least I am pretty sure. Every time I try and check my meter freezes over.
I read your posts and think that you make many good points. Your decibel scale is way off! First off there is no such thing as zero decibel and obviously no one has "heard" zero decibels. Even the quietest room in the world is not "zero". Secondly and finally...if you think that screaming in someone's ear is only 110 dB take a flight to NJ and I'll ring your ears for days with a few seconds of full blast vocal chords. Not sure where you got that info, but you are being misguided by it. All the best.
Thanks. we are on the same page. I absolutely loathe intrusive noise of any kind.
Particularly phones which are banned from new and former listening rooms.
Secret Intel: I unplug the main connections to the house land line when I'm seriously listening. Now, only you and several A'goners know. All the best
If you believe the science, the average background noise level in an urban setting is +/- 25 db. Even standing in your listening room when you can't hear a thing. Two reasons. 1) there is background noise below, or above our hearing threshold. 2) Our brains have learned to tune out a lot of the usual background noise as it has learned there is no significance to it.
@douglas_schroeder , irrelevant? I have news for you, noise is noise whatever the source. But, fortunately our brains can only pay attention to the loudest noise. It is called Masking. People who have tinnitus which bothers them at night will run a droning fan in the bedroom. It will mask their tinnitus. Listen to the background noise on a record between songs. It disappears once the music starts. It is being masked by the music. Unless you have jackhammers in your listening room any noise in the house, refrigerators, air conditioners, your kids, all of it disappears once the music starts playing. If you hear something just turn up the volume.
Having an absolutely quiet room would be nice, certainly could not hurt. But, it is not mandatory for the best performance. Look at all these people who prefer vinyl. It is horrendously noisy compared to digital. The noise doesn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm.
Most of the music will be above the noise floor, so yes, in that regard you are right. You will not hear the fridge, air conditioner, etc….BUT, there will be passages that fall below the noise of those item and it will be masked. I want to hear all of the music with as much of the fine details as possible.
...high '20s' to mid '30's, but in town. Traffic dies off at night. Next to rails, so occasional 'loudnesses' beyond control....
...sounds of Industry, all that....*s*
No 'real close' neighbors, so dB is what I'd care to do.
Source: 'Live' calibrated into R/T eq display...
Space itself is....'tolerable'.....most 'noise floor' is just the sound of 'things'....Multiple 'puters, light racket....