1000 dB

Friend baald passes this on from a mailing list currently speculating on the actual loudness — and energy requirements of — a hypothetical 1000 dB stereo system.

They were discussing what 1000 dB really means in real world terms. As one guy said “it’s about the entire energetic output of the universe…” If you take a 100-dB-per watt speaker (like a horn speaker – that’s something pretty efficient, speaker wise…), to make it play at 130 db would require 1000 watts. Assume that the highest power audio amps currently available are 1000 watts. Want to play at 190 dB? You’ll need a million of those honkin’ amps strapped together. Lets call that a mega-amplifier. Strap a billion of THOSE mega amplifiers together and you still won’t crack 300 dB. After a while, one guy started speculating on the necessary mass of a planet that had a dense enough atmosphere to sustain 1000 dB sound pressures. Actually, most things would be disintegrating long before you got up to 1000…

Music: The Carolina Tar Heels :: Peg And Awl

10 Replies to “1000 dB”

  1. Reminds me of Disaster Area, the loudest band in the universe, seen in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Led by Hotblack Desiato, who was “spending a year dead for tax purposes”. They played their instruments remotely from a spaceship orbiting the planet on which zillion-watt amplifiers were installed, more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Wonder what the wattage rating on those suckers was…

  2. ok, here’s som more conversions:

    1000 dB (assuming an 8 ohm speaker) would require a speaker cable 7 quadrillion miles in diameter to handle the current without overheating.

    the power required in watts — about 1.00E+90 — is equivalent to a 2.39E+74 megaton explosion lasting 1 second.

  3. ah! finally getting into units big enough to dispense with the scientific notation, cool!!! what’s the energetic or power equivalent of a light year? (i mean a comparably HUGE unit (no, not *that* kind of huge unit, get yr mind outta the gutter, shacker))

  4. Loudest possible sound

    The sites I’ve been reading suggest that the loudest possible tone is 194db. Instant eardrum perforation happens at something like 140 or 160. And as for the 1200 light year speakers, um, they’d be utterly silent. Space. Vacuum. All that. :)

  5. Jim, that’s the speaker *cable* that’s 1200 light years in diameter. The speakers themselves would of course be much larger than the cable. A few parsecs wide, no doubt — and that’s for the bookshelf model.

  6. yeah, it gets better and better (and one always needs a break from testing….)

    so i’ve been reading up on nuclear bombs and blast radii and such. the above mentioned blast would have a blast radius (the “complete destruction” blast radius, as opposed to the “severe damage” one, which is about 2x) of about 2.3E+25 miles. except the above megaton calculation assumed a 1 second duration, and atomic blasts are much quicker, like a few billionths of a second. make it 4.9E+27 miles complete destruction radius for good measure. light years? about 6 trillion.

    btw – the error came from the conversion of power (time-based) to energy (non time-based).

    and since we’ve gotten a bit off course…

    the power required to play an imaginary speaker 1000dB (were it possible), were it released in the form of a nuclear bomb instead, would destroy everything in a 6 trillion light year radius.

    (yes, i’m working on it, but am only up to about 114 db…)

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