I am looking for the loudness limits, expressed in decibels, for the human ear.

Google and Wikipedia is only giving me the frequency limit that the human ear can receive, but I cannot find mention about the decibel limits.

Related question on acoustic frequency: why-do-humans-hear-better-between-2khz-and-5khz

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Decibel limit for what? The lowest discernible sound? That depends on frequency, age of listener, etc. The level at which damage occurs? What kind of damage? The level at which deafness occurs? How quickly are you talking about? Seconds? Minutes? Instantaneously? Basically, please edit your question (don't respond in the comments) and clarify what exactly you're looking for. Otherwise, this question may be closed as "Too Broad" or "Unclear What You're Asking". $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ i am not asking in frequency limit, i want answer in decibels, db. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ I edited your question to improve its clarity $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ ok why you removed word decibel in the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ sorry, thank you, for making my question more clear $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


Short answer
Hearing threshold is 0 dB SPL at 1 kHz, and pain threshold is around 125 dB SPL at that frequency.

Loudness thresholds depend on acoustic frequency (pitch), as depicted in the following figure:

Loudness contours in human. Source: Stanford Uni

When expressed in dB sound pressure level (dB SPL) the threshold of pain is approximately 125 dB SPL. The lower bound peaks at a hearing threshold of about -5 dB SPL at 4 kHz (maximum sensitivity). Outside that frequency, hearing sensitivity declines (and threshold hence increases).

Note that dB SPL references to a sound pressure of 20 µPa = 2 × 10−5 Pa. This sound pressure corresponds to the hearing threshold at 1 kHz and is hence defined as 0 dB SPL. (Stanford Uni).

Further reading
Why do humans hear better between 2kHz and 5 kHz

  • $\begingroup$ but you haven't mentioned any number between this and this is the decibel limit for human ear. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ I did, and it's in the graph. Now in the short answer as well. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ @KlaytonThomas - since you are new here - if the answer is to your liking and sufficient please accept it by clicking the check button on the left and/or upvote it. If it is not what you were after, just let us know :) $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 2:56

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