The 5 loudest sounds in the world

18 May 2021

The pain threshold for sound lies around 120-130 decibels (dB). These sound levels are so high that upon hearing them, you can get instant hearing damage.

The loudest single-event sound ever recorded is that of the Tunguska meteor in 1908. It crashed into earth with a staggering 300-315 dB! We can imagine it’s hard to comprehend just how loud this is, that’s why we created this list of the 5 loudest sounds that you could encounter nowadays.

5. Ambulance

Sirens of an ambulance can produce up to 120 dB. This is needed to warn other traffic that there’s an ambulance coming, but if you’re standing outside when an ambulance comes speeding by you better put your fingers in your ears for a bit! (And no worries, the people in the ambulance don’t hear the siren as loud as you do)

4. Fireworks

A fireworks explosion is already loud when you stand on the ground and it explodes in the air, but the explosion itself produces about 140-150 dB. Luckily we keep a safe distance (at least most of the time)…

3. NHRA Dragsters

Especially popular in the U.S., NHRA dragsters are very loud vehicles. Should you find yourself standing next to one of those dragsters when the driver takes off, you’ll be getting about 155 decibels blasted in your ears!

2. Space shuttle

Upon a space shuttle launch, it’s best to keep some distance; the shuttle produces about 160-170 dB during takeoff. This is enough to rip your eardrums and give you permanent hearing damage.

1. Blue whale

A surprising number 1: the blue whale is both the largest as well as the loudest animal on earth. Their 188 dB low frequency tones (which they use to communicate under water) are audible from miles away.

Hearing protection

In most cases above, using hearing protection alone would not be enough; keeping enough distance to the source of the sound is also necessary. You can follow this rule of thumb: doubling the distance to the source reduces the sound level by 6 dB.

Written by: Wendy