App-titude: Get Smart About Noise

Published in The ASHA Leader, May 2013

by: Angela Adrian, MA, CCC-SLP and Maureen Fischer, MS, CCC-A

Over the course of eight hours one recent Saturday, my family and I attended a Division 1 NCAA basketball game and later, my son’s talent show in his grade school gym. I was prepared for the elevated sound pressure levels and range of frequencies at the game, from crowd noise to the throbbing bass of piped-in music, and recorded sound pressure levels as high as 95 dBA during especially loud moments.

But I was caught off-guard by the noise levels at the grade school production. As the talent show progressed, a soloist took the stage and belted out what would have been an impressive vocal effort without amplification. Combined with the band’s runaway volume and the unforgivingly hard acoustics of the cinderblock gymnasium, I clocked her amplified vocal at a whopping 97 dBA—significantly higher than my highest reading in the basketball arena earlier that day.

I used to carry a traditional sound-level meter to various hearing screening sites, in a suitcase too big to carry onto an airplane. Obviously, it’s not feasible to bring such a device to a basketball game or talent show. But after installing a sound meter application on my smartphone, I can objectively measure the sound pressure level in any situation. So what did I do in the gym? I pulled out my phone, of course, and measured the noise.

See entire article here.