Most audio engineers have used sound meters in the past. These devices let you measure the sound pressure level all around you. They are not necessarily expensive. But not everyone needs dedicated sound level meters. In fact, you can use your iPhone to do the measuring. Decibel 10th for iPhone is a free application that turns your iPhone into a sound meter.
Decibel 10th has a decent interface and tells you how quiet or loud your surroundings are. The app displays the Average, Peak, Max values and lets you plot your average values. You can record and export your data via email for further analysis. Sample rate, update frequency, and other settings can be modified easily. Measurements can be calibrated from -10dB to 10dB.
Decibel 10th is free at the time of this writing. This is a universal app, so it will work just fine on iPads. The app is not 100% accurate, so for professional work, you will probably need a real sound meter.
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