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The volume is a slang term for the strength of the sound at a specific location. Physically it can be measured as sound pressure or as sound pressure level . The volume is perceived by people as loudness . The psychoacoustics is concerned with the relationship between human emotion and the physical quantities of the volume.

Sizes to describe the volume

Physical quantities to describe the volume are

The sound perception of humans is taken into account for the following quantities:

See also the corresponding → main article that is linked to.

Volume level

Curves of the same volume level, older illustration

The volume level is a psychoacoustic comparison measure that describes the sound pressure level a sinusoidal tone with a frequency of 1000 Hz would have to have in order for this tone to be perceived as loud as the audible event being viewed . At a sound frequency of 1000 Hz, the sound pressure level, measured in decibels , and the volume level, measured in Phon, match. For sine tones of other frequencies and for complex sound events, however, different sound pressure levels are required in order to achieve the same volume impression. Which sound pressure level is required for a single tone at which frequency in order to achieve the same volume impression in each case is described in the "Curves of the same volume level" (Isophone). The curves of the same volume level are recorded in DIN 45630 Sheet 2 and ISO R 226 from 1961; see also older illustration. In 2003 a revised version of the standard (ISO 226: 2003) was presented in which the curves were redefined on the basis of research results from the past 20 years; see web links.


Relationship between Sone and Phon

See also → main article: loudness , sone

The loudness in sone makes a direct statement about how loud a person perceives the sound. Loudness in sone is a psychoacoustic quantity that is based on the isophones of the volume level. A sound with a volume level of 40 phons is given the loudness 1 sone. A sound that is perceived twice as loud receives twice the loudness value, and a sound that is perceived half as loud receives half the loudness value. DIN 45631 and ISO 532 B describe measurement methods for measuring loudness of broadband signals.

Loudness does not say anything about how “pleasant” and / or “uncomfortable” a sound event is perceived by a person individually. Additional psychoacoustic parameters such as sharpness and roughness etc. are necessary for this.

The volume level in phon and loudness in sone can be converted into each other, but not in dB as weighted sound pressure level. The guidelines for sound measurement and evaluation use weighted sound pressure levels , which reproduce the perceived volume less precisely than loudness measurements , but are much easier to use.


In music , volume is one of the musical parameters of a single note; a more precise term would be "psychoacoustic tone strength ".

Sound engineering

Different types of level meters are used in the field of sound technology. Fast-reacting peak meters (QPPM, Quasi Peak Program Meter) with a defined integration time in accordance with DIN 45406 (IEC 268-10, ARD Pf 3/6) are usually used as level meters in production . They represent a compromise between a quick response (≈ 10 ms) to protect the electrical system and an approximately hearing-related level measurement. To control the loudness, loudness meters standardized according to ITU BS.1770 with LKFS display (loudness, K-weighted, based on Digital full-scale). Occasionally there are also VU meters (VU, Volume Units) with an integration time of around 300 ms (according to ANSI C 16.5 or IEC 268-17).

Sound level meters with A or C weighting are used for sound level measurement in the field of sound engineering, for example for measuring studio monitors or for monitoring public address systems ; see evaluation curves .


Comparison of sound pressure (effective value) in Pascal, unweighted sound pressure level in dB (reference level = 20 µPa) and loudness in sone ( sound immission values):

source of sound
Sound pressure
(rms value) Pascal

sound pressure level
L p
dB re 20 µPa
Pain threshold 100 Pa 134 dB ≈ 676 sone
Hearing damage from
short-term exposure
20 Pa from 120 dB ≈ 256 sone
Jet plane
100 m away
6.3-200 Pa 110-140 dB ≈ 128-1024 sone
Jackhammer ,
1 m / Disco
2 Pa ≈ 100 dB ≈ 64 sone

Long-term exposure to hearing damage
0.36 Pa from 85 dB ≈ 22 sone
Main road,
10 m away
0.2-0.63 Pa 80-90 dB ≈ 16–32 sone
Car , 10 m away 0.02-0.2 Pa 60-80 dB ≈ 4–16 sone
TV in 1 m
0.02 Pa approx. 60 dB ≈ 4 sone
Normal entertainment
1 m away
2 · 10 −3 - 6.3 · 10 −3 Pa 40-50 dB ≈ 1–2 sone
Very quiet room 2 · 10 −4 - 6.3 · 10 −4 Pa 20-30 dB ≈ 0.15-0.4 sone
Rustling leaves,
calm breathing
6.3 · 10 −5 Pa 10 dB ≈ 0.02 sone
Hearing threshold at 2 kHz 2 · 10 −5 Pa 0 dB 0 sone
sone 1 2 4th 8th 16 32 64 128 256 512 1024
phon 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140


  • Michael Dickreiter, Volker Dittel, Wolfgang Hoeg, Martin Wöhr (eds.): Manual of the recording studio technology . 2 volumes. 8th, revised and expanded edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2014, ISBN 978-3-11-028978-7 or e- ISBN 978-3-11-031650-6
  • Thomas Görne: Sound engineering. 1st edition. Carl Hanser Verlag, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-446-40198-9
  • Gustav Büscher, A. Wiegemann: Little ABC of electroacoustics. 6th edition. Franzis Verlag, Munich 1972, ISBN 3-7723-0296-3

Web links

Wiktionary: Volume  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Relationship between sone and phon