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How loud is loud at Neyland Stadium?

Is Neyland Stadium loud? We won't know until we measure it.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Stoops' "Come on" comment yesterday, and especially Will's one-sentence Facebook synopsis of his post on the topic ("There is a noise 102,455 can make that 85,000 simply cannot."), got me thinking about noise in football stadiums and decibels in general. When I heard that someone somewhere had suggested that we Vols fans attempt to break the noise record this weekend and that that record was 142.2 decibels, I thought that sounded crazy wrong. We've been using something we call a "Woo-Meter" (it's a decibel meter, but don't tell it because it thinks its name makes it cool) at the store for tailgating parties to let people earn discounts by hitting a certain level on the thing, and although I haven't been writing down the results, I think the record is something like 122.

Sure, that's one person, but I started thinking back several years to a physics of sound class I took at Belmont one summer, and I thought I remembered that the decibel scale was somehow exponential. Doesn't it double with every point or something? So I started looking around.

Yeah, sorta. An almost inaudible sound (near total silence) is 0 decibels. A sound ten times more powerful (which we'll just call "louder" for simplicity) is 10dB. A sound 100 times louder than near silence is 20dB. And a sound 1,000 times louder is 30dB. It gets pretty sciency in a hurry, but the thing you need to know is that the difference between 142 and 143 is not the same as the difference between 10 and 11.

So can 142.2 really be right? It turns out that folks have been measuring decibel levels in football stadiums, both college and NFL, for some time now. Here's a synthesized list:

  1. Arrowhead Stadium (Chiefs): 142.2
  2. CenturyLink Field (Seahawks): 137.6
  3. Husky Stadium (Washington): 133.6
  4. Memorial Stadium (Clemson): 132.8
  5. Tiger Stadium (LSU): 130
  6. Autzen Stadium (Oregon): 127
  7. Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Saints): 122.6
  8. Beaver Stadium (Penn State): 122
  9. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida): 115
  10. Michigan Stadium (Michigan): 110

Sound level probably has as much to do with structure and environment as it does with the actual noise generated by the source, but the absence of Neyland Stadium on that list must be remedied.

Let's get Neyland ranked this weekend, but let's try to stay below burst eardrums (150 dB) and definitely below the noise that can kill you by rupturing your lungs (200 dB). We have a game next week, too, after all.