FAQ

On the recent version of the SoundPrint app – I no longer see a history of my submissions – how do I retrieve them? 

See this link HERE for what to do.


I want to help get more venues measured in my city (i.e. raise noise pollution awareness), How can I help?

SoundPrint has a city ambassador program currently in the works where you can help lead or contribute to efforts to raise noise pollution awareness by increasing the number SoundPrint submissions to the database to enrich the data so that the public, venue managers and city officials can be informed as to how loud or quiet a venue in their city actually is.

To join, fill out this form here.


I do not see the venue listed in the database – how do I manually add a venue to the database? 

First, to be sure, close the app and run the SoundCheck and submit again. Sometimes the app needs to repopulate with your new location to show the exact places around you – this tends to be true if you’re doing multiple submissions and moving between venues.

Second, it’s better to leave your WiFi button on (the WiFi does NOT need to be connected to a WiFi network) as this enables SoundPrint to more precisely know your location to populate the venues near you.

If that does not work, then after doing a measurement reading (iPhone) or user-based input (Android) on the SoundCheck screen, and pressing submit, you’ll notice a “+” (plus) sign on the upper right hand side of the screen. Press this ‘plus’ button and create the venue. After inputting details, confirm the venue to be added to the database and then select your newly created venue from the drop-down list and you will now have made a submission to the database.

Where is SoundPrint accessible? Both iPhone and Android models? 

SoundPrint is available via the iPhone and an Android version.  Note that some select Android devices have an objective decibel meter (currently, the main flagship Samsung models) while other Android models (i.e. Pixel, LG, Motorola, Nokia), at least for now, do not. 

Samsung Phones that have an objective decibel meter are: S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, S10 Lite, S20, S20+, S20 Ultra (to be beta released late 2020, early 2021) 

For the Android models that do not have an objective decibel meter (the non-Samsung flagship models), there is a subjective input SoundCheck where the user subjectively determines whether a venue is Quiet, Moderate, Loud or Very Loud.

Why is there not an objective decibel meter for many Android phones?  The Android ecosystem is difficult to work with due to the varying accuracy of the different hardware, software and microphones across numerous Android devices and operating systems. This can make for less accurate sound level readings and a lack of a sufficient comparison between Android devices – hence there is an alternative subjective input version. 


 

Accuracy of measurements 

Iphone: The iPhone devices are reasonably accurate compared to a Type 1 professional sound level meter – they have been rigorously tested by engineers at the University of Nebraska and various devices have been found to be 90% of the time, within +/- 0 – 1.2 dBA.

Android Devices:

Similar to the iOS devices, it is best to approach Android sound level measurements as a directional approximation of sound levels rather than an accurate measurement of sound levels (even more so than the iOS). Given the wide variety of Android hardware devices (read: quality and quantity of microphones) and software operating systems (lack of consistent operating standards for audio), the Android devices have more variability with respect to sound level approximation, especially in the quiet and mid-level frequency ranges (i.e. between 30-70 dBA) and as well as the very loud frequencies (82+ dBA), and notably in outdoor environments.

The Android microphones tend to pick up different sounds than the iOS - notably in the lower and mid-level frequency ranges, leading to a wider dispersion of sound levels.

Note that SoundPrint measures the approximate decibel level and is not a replacement for a professional sound level measuring device. The dBA numbers displayed on the app and the website are averages of all the historical SoundChecks measured and submitted to the database. These SoundCheck dBA numbers are historical and thus are a reasonable guess as to what the specific venue’s sound level are and will be in the future. There is no guarantee that the average dBA displayed is or will be the actual noise level in the future.


What is a decibel and what do the sound categories mean?

A decibel (abbreviated dB) measures the intensity of sound. Zero decibels (0 dB) is the quietest sound audible to a healthy human ear. A logarithmic scale is used, thus every increase of 3 dB represents a doubling of sound intensity.


What decibel numbers are sent to the database?  

The decibel number shown for a venue within the app is the AVERAGE decibel across historical submissions. Each time you take a sound level measurement, you will see the CURRENT dBA number inside the circle while the MAX and AVERAGE are shown on the top of the Soundcheck screen. It is the AVERAGE number (top right number) that is displayed when you are looking at the sound levels of venues that have already been measured.


There are four sound level categories

(1) Quiet = 70 dBA or lower       (safe for hearing health + conducive to conversation)
(2) Moderate = 71 – 75 dBA       (safe for hearing health and conducive to conversation, but a little bit louder)
(3) Loud = 76 – 80 dBA              (likely safe for hearing health, but difficult for conversation)
(4) Very Loud = 81+ dBA            (unsafe for hearing health + not conducive to conversation)

Note: these are guidelines as safe noise exposure is never guaranteed. 

A Loud atmosphere is likely safe for hearing health. As the dBA begins to increase from 76+ upward, the likelihood of noise-induced hearing loss increases; it can be very difficult to hear your companion.

But, a Very Loud atmosphere is potentially very dangerous for your hearing health and it is recommended you take steps for protection:

(1) Ask the venue manager to reduce the volume of background music
(2) Move to a quieter spot in the venue
(3) Wear earplugs
(4) Leave the premises and go somewhere quieter
(5) Complain to the venue manager to suggest they incorporate more sound-absorption features in their interior design.


How to take a proper SoundCheck noise measurement?  Check out this video here for demonstration

 


How to search for venues and use the filters?  Check out this video here for demonstration

 


What do the blank black pins on the Search Map mean? 

The Search Map represents a select number of the venues (although not all) that have been measured in your area. The default setting is 1 mile, so be sure to expand the default radius mile in your filter (upper left corner of the screen) if needed. The blank black pins represent venues that have not been measured.  These do not represent all the venues that have not been measured, but rather serve as an incentive and reminder request to users to make submissions.

The best way to search for venues to submit is to begin first with the SoundCheck function by measuring the venue and then select (or enter in the search box) the venue name and press submit. See above video for how to take a SoundCheck.


What type of venues can be measured through the app? 

Many venues can be measured. This includes, but is not limited to: restaurants, bars, cafe’s, retailers, movie theaters, gyms, hotels, offices, hospitals, arenas, parks, libraries and more! After submitting a SoundCheck, during the process of when you’re searching for a venue to tag, enter the venue name in the search bar and if its in the database, it will show up. If the venue does not show up, click on the plus ("+") button on upper right portion of screen and manually create the venue for submission. 


Why do I need to have the WiFi button on? 

The text alert to turn on your WiFi button occurs when the iPhone needs a better signal to download the data. Note this does NOT mean you need to actually connect to a WiFi network, but just that the WiFi button signal needs to be turned on.  This is more likely to happen when your data signal is poor, a lot of people are using the network or when there are a lot of venue submissions that need to be downloaded.


How come I do not see my manual based submissions on the map? 

User based submissions – where you manually enter in the venue information from the “+” button on the upper right corner when submitting a Soundcheck – are sent and stored in the database but they do not show up on the map due to lack of geographical coordinates information that can not be entered by the user. However, they should be stored under your “My Submissions.”


The sound level measurement is off or too low/high or the microphone is not working – what do I do?

  1. Check that your SoundPrint’s microphone settings are on via the App’s settings (rather than through the iPhone’s hardware settings). You can access this via “Settings > SoundPrint > Microphone > Make sure this button is on as it should be the color green (see photo below)
  2. Check that nothing is inserted in the headphone jack or that there is a heavy iphone cover that could block the receiver
  3. Clear any debris from the microphones or iPhone receiver
  4. Be sure that there are no bluetooth devices paired to your phone during the reading
  5. Be sure the "hearing accessibility function of 'sound notifications' that listens for certain sounds in the background is turned off (iOS Sound Recognition Feature Link, Android Link)
  6. Apple also has helpful guidelines that help you test whether the microphone is working HERE.
  7. If above fails, delete the app, power on/off the phone, re-download the app again and be sure to “enable microphone” the first time you take a recorded reading

How do I enable location services on the app? No pins are appearing on the map in the Search function

Check that your SoundPrint’s Location settings are on via the App’s settings (rather than through the iPhone’s hardware settings).
You can access this via “Settings > SoundPrint > Location > Make sure you click on Never and then click on “While Using the App”(see photo below)