I want to be able to know what volume I'm playing my music in decibels when I'm using my Macbook Air. Is there any plug-ins or methods to show this information?

  • From wikipedia: The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit used to express the ratio between two values of a physical quantity. A sound doesn't have a dB as such that corresponds to a volume.
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 7, 2014 at 10:24
  • OP probably means dB SPL..
    – georgi
    Mar 7, 2014 at 12:45
  • 1
    The Sound Pressure Level in dB caused by the sound playing through the laptop speakers in your room depends on many factors that the computer doesn't know. It can be measured with an SPL-meter at a specific position.
    – EMV
    Mar 13, 2014 at 13:40
  • Thanks for all the answers. I'm sorry for getting my basic terminology wrong and asking a "bad" question. I will look into SPL meters.
    – apertur
    Mar 23, 2014 at 11:48

3 Answers 3


how far away? is your macbook air connected to speakers?

Your file has a "loudness" (RMS level) -> player volume (gain) -> system volume (gain) -> audio interface voltage specs (gain/level) -> amp (gain) -> speakers (sensitivity). So it's impractical to try and "compute" it with that many variables. Grab an SPL meter.

There are SPL meter smartphone apps that would allow you approximate measurements, but nothing too accurate.

If you're only looking to figure out the attenuation when you press the volume up and down keys, I couldn't find anything with a quick search. Play some pink noise and you can measure by how many dB each "square" of the indicator affects the output level.


The dB level depends on what you are playing and how far away you are from the speakers. The only way to get an accurate estimate of the SPL is to use a SPL meter.


In the box you can use Audio Hijack pro to Monitor your Level in dBFS. As it leaves your speakers you need a SPL Meter. There are some very Rough iphone apps that meassure the spl. And they are a good guideline!

  • 1
    Just to clarify for the OP, measuring the signal level (such as the first part of your answer) does not measure volume or SPL (sound pressure level). It only measures the relative signal strength to the capability of the hardware to represent a signal. It has no meaning at all related to SPL. It also seems iOS apps can be off by 6dB or more because of variation in sensitivity.
    – AJ Henderson
    Mar 7, 2014 at 4:24

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