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Noise - Terms - Sound Level/Power Output

There is an important difference between sound pressure level [SPL] and sound power level [SWL] and people fail to appreciate the difference; If you speak to a manufacturer of,say, gas fires; they often respond in terms such as "noise - it produces 70 decibels", but unless there are more details as to how and where the measurement was made, this figure tells you nothing about noisy the gas fire is, but if you are told the sound power level you can work out how loud it is.

As an analogy, typically an electric fire output is measured in Kilowatts [kW] the temperature at any given difference from the fire will depend on the power output of the fire, the distance from the fire, the environmental/room conditions and so on.  It is the same for noise, the noise level (sound pressure level) at any given distance from a source will depend on the sound power level of the source and the distance from the source, environmental conditions and so on.

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