# Sound pressure level

Sound pressure is the difference, in a given medium, between average local pressure and the pressure in the sound wave. A square of this difference (i.e., a square of the deviation from the equilibrium pressure) is usually averaged over time and/or space, and a square root of this average provides a root mean square (RMS) value. For example, 1 Pa RMS sound pressure (94 dBSPL) in atmospheric air implies that the actual pressure in the sound wave oscillates between (1 atm Pa) and (1 atm Pa), that is between 101323.6 and 101326.4 Pa. Such a tiny (relative to atmospheric) variation in air pressure at an audio frequency is perceived as a deafening sound, and can cause hearing damage, according to the table below. As the human ear can detect sounds with a wide range of amplitudes, sound pressure is often measured as a level on a logarithmic decibel scale. The sound pressure level (SPL) or Lp is defined as where p is the root-mean-square sound pressure and is a reference sound pressure. Commonly used reference sound pressures, defined in the standard ANSI S1.1-1994, are 20 µPa in air and 1 µPa in water. Without a specified reference sound pressure, a value expressed in decibels cannot represent a sound pressure level. Since the human ear does not have a flat spectral response, sound pressures are often frequency weighted so that the measured level matches perceived levels more closely. The International

lectrotechnical Commission (IEC) has defined several weighting schemes. A-weighting attempts to match the response of the human ear to noise and A-weighted sound pressure levels are labeled dBA. C-weighting is used to measure peak levels.Sound pressure or acoustic pressure is the local pressure deviation from the ambient (average, or equilibrium) atmospheric pressure caused by a sound wave. Sound pressure in air can be measured using a microphone, and in water using a hydrophone. The SI unit for sound pressure p is the pascal (symbol: Pa). Sound pressure diagram: 1. silence, 2. audible sound, 3. atmospheric pressure, 4. instantaneous sound pressure Sound pressure level (SPL) or sound level is a logarithmic measure of the effective sound pressure of a sound relative to a reference value. It is measured in decibels (dB) above a standard reference level. The commonly used "zero" reference sound pressure in air or other gases is 20 µPa RMS, which is usually considered the threshold of human hearing (at 1 kHz).The instantaneous sound pressure is the deviation from the local ambient pressure caused by a sound wave at a given location and given instant in time. The effective sound pressure is the root mean square of the instantaneous sound pressure over a given interval of time (or space). Total pressure is given by: where: = local ambient atmospheric (air) pressure, = sound pressure deviation.