top of page

Choosing noise measurement equipment for Noise at Work

Cirrus Optimus

Asphyxiates | Toxic Gases | Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) | Benzene | Explosive gases | Atmospheric pollution | Dust/Particulates | Noise & Vibration | Ionising Radiation | Calibration and Service | Hire


Noise legislation, designed to protect hearing and prevent noise nuisance, is becoming tougher and more widespread. It’s a response to our increased understanding of the damage that noise can do to hearing, and the negative impact it can have on quality of life in the wider community. It has resulted in a growing need to measure noise and rising demand for noise measurement equipment. However in order to gather accurate and meaningful information about noise levels in your workplace, or the impact you might be having on your neighbours, it is essential that you invest in the right measurement equipment for the task in hand. This article aims to provide advice on how to choose the best noise measurement tools for your application, and outlines one or two issues for consideration after the equipment has been purchased.


So we need to look at the following factors:

1. Does the instrument give the measurement functions needed to comply with any Standards, Regulations or Guidelines? » For the Noise at Work Regulations in the UK and Europe, the essential measurements are LAeq,t and LCPeak

2. Is the instrument available with all of the accessories needed to operate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions? » A Sound Level Meter should be supplied with a suitable Acoustic Calibrator, Windshield and Protective Case

3. Does the instrument meet the specifications required by the Standards, Regulations or Guidelines? From the 2005 Control of Noise at Work Regulations[1]: » Your sound level meter should meet at least Class 2 of BS EN 61672-1:2003 (the current instrumentation standard for sound level meters), or at least Type 2 of BS EN 60804:2001 (the former standard). » Your dosemeter should meet the requirements of BS EN 61252:1997. » Your calibrator should meet at least Class 2 of BS EN 60942:2003.

4. Can the equipment be recalibrated and serviced according to both the manufacturer’s recommendations and the requirements of any Standards, Regulations or Guidelines?

So lets explain in a little more detail!

Choosing a noise measurement instrument

Choosing a noise measurement instrument Noise measurement instruments, and Sound Level Meters in particular, can vary hugely in cost as well as in complexity. It is possible to find instruments, usually via the Internet, Internet, for little as £20 and it is possible to spend well over £5,000 on a sound level meter. Deciding which to buy can therefore be confusing, and expensive if the wrong choice is made.

A simple instrument may require less training to operate, but might not give the measurement parameters needed. An expensive instrument may provide the data required, but the level of training and understanding needed to use it could turn it into an expensive bookend. Although there are many professionals who are using noise measurement instruments every day, the majority of users are those for whom noise is just a part of their jobs. For this type of user, there is a strong case to be made for choosing an instrument that meets the practical requirements of any regulations, standards or guidelines whilst keeping the instrument as simple as possible. Before choosing a supplier or instrument, consider a few points.

What measurements are required?

As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the Sound Level Meter, the more functions the instrument will provides. However, these functions should not get in the way of making the noise measurements needed to comply with regulations and guidelines. The level of training and experience required to operate complex Sound Level Meters can often get in the way of making good quality noise measurements. For example, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires the following measurements for compliance:

1. The equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level (LAeq)

2. The maximum C-weighted peak sound pressure level (LCPeak)