# How to convert volts to dB SPL

I am taking input from an electret microphone amplified using LM358 amplifier from my PIC16F877A's ADC unit. I am getting the readings in volts from the ADC which ranges from 2.5V to 5V.

How can I convert these readings into dB?

• Use the sensitivity figure given in the microphone's datasheet. Jan 12 '14 at 13:22
• Here is the datasheet of the mic:- dlnmh9ip6v2uc.cloudfront.net/datasheets/Sensors/Sound/… Jan 12 '14 at 13:32
• It's sensitivity is -46±2.0,(0dB=1V/Pa) at 1K Hz. Jan 12 '14 at 13:33

DB SPL is a pressure measuring unit.

You can't convert a voltage to an DB SPL reading unless you know:

• the microphone sensitivity (or simply the analog output voltage to the input pressure ratio) which tells you essentially the voltage level it will output for a given sound pressure level
• the gain that the preamp has applied

Your microphone has a sensitivity of -46dBV/Pa , this gives 0.005012 V RMS/ Pa
1 Pa (pascal) equals 94 dB sound pressure (SPL)

The dB equation for voltage is $20 \times \log \frac {V_1}{V_o}$
where V1 is the voltage being measured, and $V_0$ the reference level

If we do an example calculation for the measurement of 2.5v (assuming a unity gain for the amplifier) we get

$20 \times \log \frac {2.5}{0.005012} = 53.96dB$

so the SPL will be (-46) + 53.96 = 7.95 + 94 = 101.95 Db SPL

We assumed a unity gain for the preamplifier, if the actual gain was 20dB then the SPL becomes
101.95 - 20 = 81.95 Db SPL

if the actual gain was 10dB then the SPL becomes
101.95 - 10 = 91.95 Db SPL ...

• I knew the mic's sensitivity: It's sensitivity is -46±2.0,(0dB=1V/Pa) at 1K Hz But nothing about gain that the preamp has applied Jan 12 '14 at 13:42
• I suppose you could calibrate the preamp, or even use its ideal equations as a very close estimate. Jan 12 '14 at 16:15
• @alexan_e: Thank you very much. Just one more help in detemining the gain of my OpAmp. Jan 13 '14 at 5:09
• @user35456 You said you are using a LM358 preamp so the gain is set with the resistor values you have used and should be definable. For example, if it looks like this then the gain is set by R2,R1. Also check if you have applied any gain in your ADC (I'm not familiar with PIC ADC) Jan 13 '14 at 8:14
• I also have a very similar situation. I'm using Electret Mic with Max4466 amplifier. My mic's sensitivity is -44dB @1kHz but I don't know what the Op-Amp gain is. The amplified output is 1.5V to 3V where the supply voltage is 3V. According to the datasheet, the gain can be adjusted from 25x to 125x. Jan 15 '16 at 9:10

-46dB V/Pa is how I read it and 1 Pa is the sound pressure in newtons per sq metre. 0dB SPL is 20 micro Pascal therefore, 1 Pa is 50,000 times bigger or, in dB it is 94 dB SPL.

So, if you are measuring -46 dBV then you are measuring a SPL of 94 dB. -46 dBV is near enough 5 mV RMS so, again, if you measure 5mV RMS then the SPL is 94dB.

If you have a pre-amplifier with a gain of ten, then 50mV RMS equates to 94dB SPL and 5mV would equate to a SPL of 74 dB.

This should be enough to get you started.

• So, how to convert the volts I'm getting in the RMS?? Just divide it by sqrt(2)? Jan 12 '14 at 14:29
• I think you need to explain what you are measuring from your ADC. If it were me I'd be sampling at 50kHz and calculating RMS by squaring each sample, averaging and then taking the sqrt of the average. I have no idea how your code works or what it does. Jan 12 '14 at 15:24

Coming here many years later and I am still confused by the top answer, only because I am trying to solve this exact problem.

As stated in the top answer, voltage gain is calculated as 20*log10(V1/Vref) where V1 is the Vrms of the measured voltage and Vref is the microphone sensitivity. Then, the microphone sensitive in dB is subtracted off (-46dBV/Pa) before being added to dB SPL standard (94 dB SPL), but this doesn't quite make sense to me.

If you put a standardized tone generator outputting 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz, you would expect (and I have experimentally validated) to get exactly the value of the microphone sensitivity (in your case, 0.005012).

Plugging this into the top answers formula, you would get 20*log10(.005012/.005012) = 0 dB - 46 (db rel V/Pa; microphone sensitivity) + 94 db = 48 dB, when it should be 94 dB, because we are using a standardized tone generator.

I believe the correct conversion would just be 20*log10(V1/Vref) + 94 dB SPL, where V1 is the rms voltage of the signal and Vref is the microphone sensitivity.

• +1, I think you are correct. Adding -46 dB is unnecessary, cz it is already accounted for while voltage gain is calculated. Dec 15 '20 at 8:08