A few years ago, we provided famous YouTuber Mark Rober with the Simcenter SCADAS XS and a binaural headset to find out the best and loudest way to cheer for your favorite sport’s team. As a firm believer of the scientific method and his very interesting approach to testing things, we trusted he would manage to find an answer using our equipment.
He set out to measure the loudness of the different types of cheering that occur at a stadium (clapping, screaming, vuvuzelas, …) by standing in the middle of the field with an acoustic engineer scientist and, of course, the measuring system. But how did they go about it?
Many people think that you need use a decibel (dB) value to quantify how loud a sound is. However, dB values only show the amplitude of a sound, not the perceived loudness of a sound. While your traditional dB scale can be great for a typical microphone measurement, it definitely does not represent very well how the human hearing works. We are in fact, quite flawed sensors.
First of all, our brain has a built-in integrator, causing us not to perceive instantaneous pressure fluctuations, but rather an RMS (root mean square) value. Next to that, depending on the frequency content, and length of the signal, we may perceive a sound to be, subjectively, more quiet or loud. Luckily, psychoacoustic metrics, such as Loudness (with units sones or phons), exist to represent that perception in an objective and reproducible way. Loudness gives us a much better representation of how humans perceive the level of a sound, which is the metric they used for this experiment.
The result was an interesting, fun, and well-produced video… a video you can watch below!
Here’s another fun story where we let science show us which sport is more exciting: skiing or snowboarding?