What Makes a Sound Loud?

It isn’t the decibels, it’s the LUFS (Loudness units relative to full scale).

Perceived loudness depends upon the sound pressure level, frequency content, and duration of sound. Note that the shape of the loudness curve varies with sound pressure level and, not surprisingly, is flattest near the intensity (in blue) of normal human speech. Because we perceive low frequencies as less loud at low intensities, some audio equipment boosts these frequencies when playing at low volume. This does not explain the “whumpa whumpa” cars that have kilowatt subwoofer amplifiers to play execrable “music” near the threshold of pain.


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