Outdoor Ambient Sound Levels

Outdoor ambient sound level (dBA) in rural and urban business and industrial environments with or without limited traffic

In residential areas most noise comes from transportation, construction, industrial, and human and animal sources. Road traffic noise is the major source of noise.

The noise can be highly variable. It is common that Day-Night sound levels - Ldn - in different areas may vary a range of 50 dB. The outdoor level - Ldn - in a wilderness areas may occur as low as 30-40 dBA compared to 85-90 dBA in a urban areas. Most urban dwellers lives in areas of Ldn more than  48 dBA

The table below indicates common outdoor sound pressure levels in rural and urban environments at the different octave bands.

Outdoor Sound Pressure (dB)
ConditionsOctave Band Center Frequency (Hz)
Rural, no nearby traffic of concern 42 37 32 27 22 18 14 12
Suburban, no nearby traffic of concern 47 42 37 32 27 23 19 17
Urban, no nearby traffic of concern 52 47 42 37 32 28 24 22
Business or commercial area 57 52 47 42 37 33 29 27
Business or commercial area 62 57 52 47 42 38 34 32
Industrial or manufacturing area 67 62 57 52 47 43 39 37
Within 300 ft (91 m) of continuous heavy traffic 72 67 62 57 52 48 44 42

Related Topics

  • Acoustics - Room acoustics, acoustic properties - decibel A, B and C - Noise Rating (NR) curves, sound transmission, sound pressure, sound intensity, attenuation and more
  • Noise and Attenuation - Noise is usually defined as unwanted sound - noise, noise generation, silencers and attenuation in HVAC systems

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