How to measure noise with your Android phone

With a free app and your Android phone, we'll show you how you can turn your phone into a noise meter.

Ed Rhee
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
Ed Rhee

Have you ever wondered if you were listening to your music too loud or just curious how loud your partner's snoring was? With a free app and your Android phone, you can turn your phone into a noise meter and find out.

Download Sound Meter from the Android Market and launch the app. It starts right up to the sound meter and measures the minimum, mean, and maximum ambient sound levels in decibels (dB). It also highlights the typical noise levels of everyday sounds so you can get an idea of what those noise levels represent. Additionally, you can change the chart to a time-based graph.

Sound meter
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

The app uses your Android phone's mic for measurements, so depending on your phone's hardware, you may not be able to reach the top end of the scale.

If you're interested in learning more about noise and hearing loss prevention, check out the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It even has a noise meter on its Web site that lets you listen to a range of different noises and indicates what their noise levels are.