Sound: What Is It … More Importantly, Weighted Scales of Frequencies

We’ve blogged about sound and what exactly it is before, see the link. Understanding that sound is vibration traveling through the air which it is utilizing as an elastic medium.  Well, rather than me continue to write this out, I found a great video to share that is written in song to better recap how sound is created.

Now that we have that recap and understand better what sound is let’s dig a little deeper to better understand why some sounds may appear louder to a person when they may not appear different on a sound scale that is shown by something like a Digital Sound Level Meter.

Loudness is how a person perceives sound and this is correlated to the sound pressure of the frequency of the sound in question.  The loudness is broken into three different weighing scales that are internationally standardized. Each of these scales, A, C, and Z apply a weight to different frequency levels.

  1. The most commonly observed scale here in the USA is the A scale. A is the OSHA selected scale for industrial environments and discriminates against low frequencies greatly.
  2. Z is the zero weighting scale to keep all frequencies equal, this scale was introduced in 2003 as the international standard.
  3. C scale does not attenuate these lower frequencies as they are carrying the ability to cause vibrations within structures or buildings and carry their own set of risks.

To further the explanation on the A-weighted scale, the range of frequencies correlates to the common human hearing spectrum which is 20 Hz to 20kHz. This is the range of frequencies that are most harmful to a person’s hearing and thus were adopted by OSHA. The OSHA standard, 29 CFR 191.95(a), that corresponds to noise level exposure permissible can be read about here on our blog as well.

When using a handy tool such as the Digital Sound Level Meter to measure sound levels you will select whether to use the dBA or dBC scale.  This is the decibel reading according to the scale selected. Again, for here in the USA you would want to focus your measurements on the dBA scale. It is suggested to use this tool at a 3′ distance or at the known distance an operator’s ears would be from the noise generation point.

Many of EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products have the ability to decrease sound levels in your plant. If you would like to discuss how to best reduce sound levels being produced within your facility, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

1 – Fun Science: Sound – @charlieissocoollike – https://youtu.be/xH8mT2IQz7Y

 

Sound: Explaining Power and Pressure

Sound Power…  When I hear that term all I can think of is the classic commercial Maxell®Sound made in 1983.  I was only a year old when that commercial graced the presence of everyone’s TV.  I did see it throughout the years and recall recording Casey Kasem’s Top 40 on Maxell cassettes.  Then, in college it was a classic poster you would see around the dorms.

1(Maxell / Retrontario, 2009)

Needless to say, this does show sound power and sound pressure which is the point of this blog. This video however is not an industrial environment that most of us are accustomed to when worrying about the sound power / sound pressure within an environment.

If you observe the video above the speakers and the driver of the speakers is the generator of sound power.  That is the energy rate emitted by a source.  This power then begins to fill a space which is equivalent to the sound intensity.  This is because the sound energy has a direction that is given to it, think of the speaker.  The speaker gives the sound energy a vector to travel.  Then when the vector hits surfaces that is the sound intensity.

This sound intensity can then be interpreted as the sound power transfer per unit of surrounding surface at a distance.  This will then give the information needed to convert the information to the Sound Pressure level.  This is the force of a sound on a surface area perpendicular to the direction of the sound.

With this information we can then observe the logarithmic unit (or value) used to describe the ratio of sound power, pressure, and intensity, the decibel.  The decibel is what all industrial hygienists and safety personnel are concerned with.   In the end, all of this is started at the point of power generation, when observing compressed air blowoffs, this is the exit point of air from the device.  If you optimize the point of use device to use the least amount of compressed air and be the most efficient then the amount of sound power being generated and eventually being measured as decibels at an operator’s work station, then the result will be lower ambient noise levels.

If you would like to see any of the math behind these conversions (an amazing blog by our own Russ Bowman), click the link. If you want to discuss optimizing your compressed air operations and lower the noise level of the compressed air products in your plant, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

 

 

Video Source: Classic Maxell Cassette commercial – Retrontario – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk71h2CQ_xM

 

EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meters Measure Noise Exposure Levels

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Digital Sound Meter

EXAIR offers the model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter.  It is an easy to use instrument for measuring and monitoring the sound level pressures in and around equipment and other manufacturing processes.

Sound meters convert the movement of a thin membrane due to the pressure waves of sound into an electric signal that is processed and turned into a readable output, typically in dBA.  The dBA scale is the weighted scale that most closely matches the human ear in terms of the sounds and frequencies that can be detected.

Noise induced hearing loss can be a significant problem for many workers in manufacturing and mining. To protect workers in the workplace from suffering hearing loss OSHA has set limits to the time of exposure based on the sound level.  The information in the OSHA Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a) is summarized below.

OSHA Noise Level

The EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter is an accurate and responsive instrument that measures the decibel level of the sound and displays the result on the large optionally back-lit LCD display. There is an “F/S” option to provide measurement in either ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ modes for stable or quickly varying noises. The ‘Max Hold’ function will capture and hold the maximum sound level, and update if a louder sound occurs.

Certification of accuracy and calibration traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is included.

If you have questions about the Digital Sound Level Meter, or would like to talk about any of the quiet EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

Measuring and Adding Sound Levels

Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, is one of the most common occupational diseases. This doesn’t occur overnight, but the effects are noticed gradually over many years of unprotected exposure to high sound levels. This is 100% preventable! Through proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), NIHL can be prevented. It is irreversible, so once the damage is done there’s no going back. OSHA standard 19 CFR 1910.95(a) states that protection against the effects of noise exposure shall be provided when the sound levels and exposure time exceed those shown in the table below.

OSHA Chart

Intensity of the sound pressure level is expressed in decibels (dB). The scale is logarithmic, a 3 dB reduction cuts the sound level in half. A 10 dB reduction decreases it by a factor of 10, and a 20 dB reduction decreases the sound level by a factor of 100. To calculate the dB level, we use the following formula:

Sound SPL

Where:

L – Sound Pressure Level, dB

P – Sound Pressure, Pa

Pref – reference sound pressure, 0.00002 Pa

For example, normal conversation has a Sound Pressure of .01Pa. To calculate the dB level:

dB = 20 log10 (.01Pa/.00002Pa)

 = 54 dB

When designing a new blowoff process, it’s important to consider the sound levels produced before implementation. EXAIR publishes the sound level for all of our products for this very reason. If you’re implementing multiple nozzles, you’ll need to add the sound levels together. To do so, we use the following formula:

Sound Addition

Where:

L1, L2… represent the sound pressure level in dB for each source

A customer was using ¼” open ended copper tubes for a blowoff application removing trim after a stamping operation. They had a total of (4) tubes operating at 80 PSIG. Not only were they VERY inefficient, but the sound level produced at this pressure was 94 dBA. To calculate the sound level of all (4) together we use the above formula:

L = 10 x log10(109.4+ 109.4 + 109.4 + 109.4)

L = 100 dB

At this sound level, permanent hearing loss begins to occur in just two hours of unprotected exposure. We recommended replacing the loud and inefficient copper pipe with our 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, Model 1126. At 80 PSIG, the 1126 produces a sound level of just 75 dBA.

L = 10 x log10 (107.5 + 107.5 + 107.5 + 107.5)

L = 81 dB

At almost a 20 dB reduction, that’s nearly 100x quieter! Don’t rely on just PPE to keep your operators safe from NIHL. Replacing loud inefficient blowoff methods with EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products will take it one step further in ensuring your creating a safe working environment for your employees.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD