Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I wonder whether there is some application / site that can help with estimation of computer speaker loudness (in dB) for different levels of sound volume.

For example I want to know how loud is laptop X with win 7, when it plays music at max volume, or when I plug headphones to it (let's say that I know some properties of these headphones like power and resistance).

Any way /ideas ?

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Shinrai, RedGrittyBrick, bwDraco, alex, Sathya Nov 17 '11 at 7:42

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Every speaker is going to product different decibel levels at the same volume level based on its inherent properties such as cone size, resistance, RMS power, etc. The easiest way to measure would be a simple decibel meter available from any hardware or box store for around $20. – Garrett Nov 16 '11 at 22:29
for practical purposes, what you can do is generally say one is louder relative to another. if dB will tell anybody exactly how loud it is, then fantastic, gman's comment looks great. And anyhow if measuring from a speaker, it is heavily electronic related, and gman's answer/comment is of that nature – barlop Nov 16 '11 at 22:29
Decibels will tell you exactly how loud it is. That's what decibels MEAN. – Shinrai Nov 16 '11 at 22:47
The computer has no way of telling how loud the output of the speakers will be. It only sends the signal. The speakers can turn that into a whisper or an ear-deafening scream. +1 for gman's decibel meter. - @Shinrai: By definition of loudness, you are right. But frequency weighting plays a big role for practical purposes. – Dennis Nov 16 '11 at 23:05
What if I plug in microphone into line in, shouldn't it be able to estimate loudness somehow (I know that I have no idea about microphone properties) – Darqer Nov 16 '11 at 23:32

The general wattage output of the audio amp on many things are listed deep in the specs, it could help you a teeney tiny bit in figuring out if the device "has audio" or you can actually hear it over the road noise :-)

Soo many problems though , the specs are often copy pasted, and you cant rely on them to be usefull. What G-man already said, the differance between speakers or even headphones. Some devices like to reduce the output to the headphone output (sometimes for "safety"). Even if there are specs, it wont reflect what your going to get often enough. Add that almost every set of specs say at the bottom "subject to change". (as we send it off to china to have it built to sorta close to the specs :-)

Add the hardware stuff to the software stuff: The files your playing might not have utalised the whole digital range available (or slams it into the ceiling). The windows 7 system has a new way of mixing the audio, which seems to be leaving a lot of "headroom" to keep from distortions. layers of "mixers" and digital manipulations of the data. A simple driver or change of driver, or even registry entry for the driver could change the way it works completly. Not only possible, but now a given with the system. It is nothing like pouring a raw file , or cd into a hardware audio anymore, those days are gone. Because of that even users data might vary so much.

Users themselves, even given a DB meter to test thier possible high volume, one user might enjoy a raspy metal of distortion as the system pours out distorted junk, at a level that is to high for the electronics to play cleanly. One user might only play classical, and expects some "fidelity" , from thier music. if all the users had DB meters , one of them would stick it into the speakers and say "mines Louder ha ha" and one might actually follow the directions.

If you need to find something that works, it pretty much leaves go to the store and test it for real with your actual files on the actual operating system, even some cute DB numbers are not going to help unless it is from a reliable Reviewer that reviews the machine you actually got , not the one they got sent for free to review :-) Even then the reviewer probably is going to use specific files, that might even be encoded properly.

If you wanted to have the computer be a DB meter it would just be a simple matter of having a similar piece of mic on a hunk of hardware that sends its digital output data to the computer, have software that reads it somewhat calibrated. undoubtedly they already exist. But that isnt the problem, the problem is just finding stuff that does what you want. Could be why stores still exist.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.