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Decibel vs. Hertz: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 7, 2024
Decibels (dB) measure sound intensity or loudness, while Hertz (Hz) measures frequency, or the number of sound waves per second.

Key Differences

Decibels quantify the intensity or loudness of sound, indicating how powerful or strong a sound wave is. Hertz, on the other hand, measures the frequency of sound waves, signifying how many times a wave oscillates per second.
The decibel scale is logarithmic, meaning each increase in 10 dB represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. In contrast, Hertz is a linear scale, where each increment represents a fixed increase in the number of oscillations per second.
Decibels are used to express a wide range of sound levels, from the threshold of hearing to the threshold of pain. Hertz defines the pitch of a sound, with higher frequencies corresponding to higher pitches.
In decibels, sound levels can range from 0 dB (near total silence) to over 120 dB (the level of a jet engine). Hertz measurements vary widely, from about 20 Hz (the lowest audible frequencies) to 20,000 Hz (the highest pitches audible to humans).
Understanding decibels is crucial in sound engineering and hearing protection, as it relates to the intensity of sound. Hertz is fundamental in music and acoustics, determining the tonal qualities and pitch of sounds.

Comparison Chart


Sound intensity or loudness.
Frequency of sound waves.

Scale Type

Logarithmic scale.
Linear scale.


Used in measuring sound levels, noise exposure.
Determines pitch and tone in music, acoustics.


From near silence to extremely loud sounds.
From low to high frequencies (pitch).

Unit Significance

10 dB increase signifies tenfold intensity increase.
Increment indicates a fixed rise in oscillations per second.

Decibel and Hertz Definitions


A decibel is a unit measuring sound intensity.
A whisper is about 30 decibels.


Hertz measures the pitch of a sound in cycles per second.
High-pitched sounds have high hertz values.


Decibels are used in acoustics to compare sound levels.
The sound of a jet engine is typically over 120 decibels.


Hertz helps determine the pitch and tone of musical notes.
A higher hertz value means a higher pitch.


Decibels measure the relative loudness of different sounds.
Normal conversation is around 60 decibels.


A hertz indicates the number of oscillations in a sound wave.
The human ear typically hears between 20 and 20,000 hertz.


Decibels are crucial in assessing hearing damage risks.
Prolonged exposure above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.


Hertz is used in physics and acoustics for frequency analysis.
Ultrasonic waves exceed 20,000 hertz.


A decibel is a logarithmic unit used in sound engineering.
Reducing noise by 10 decibels halves its perceived loudness.


Hertz is a unit of frequency measuring sound waves per second.
Middle C on a piano vibrates at about 261.6 hertz.


A unit used to express relative difference in power or intensity, usually between two acoustic or electric signals, equal to ten times the common logarithm of the ratio of the two levels.


A unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second. See Table at measurement.


A common measure of sound intensity ratio that is one tenth of a bel on the logarithmic intensity scale. It is defined as dB = 10 log10(P1 / P2), where P1 and P2 are the relative powers of the sound.


In the International System of Units, the derived unit of frequency; one (period or cycle of any periodic event) per second. Symbol: Hz


A logarithmic unit of sound intensity; 10 times the logarithm of the ratio of the sound intensity to some reference intensity


A unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second; it is abbreviated Hz. It is commonly used to specify the frequency of radio waves, and also the clock frequencies in digital computers. For these applications, kilohertz and megahertz are the most commonly used units, derived from hertz.


The unit of frequency; one Hertz has a periodic interval of one second


German physicist who was the first to produce electromagnetic waves artificially (1857-1894)


German physicist who with James Franck proved the existence of the stationary energy states postulated by Bohr (1887-1975)


What does a decibel measure?

Decibel measures the intensity or loudness of sound.

How is hertz defined?

Hertz measures the frequency of sound waves.

Does higher hertz mean higher pitch?

Yes, higher hertz indicates a higher pitch.

Can decibels indicate sound quality?

Decibels primarily measure loudness, not quality.

What is the usual human hearing range in hertz?

Typically from 20 to 20,000 hertz.

Is hertz important in music?

Yes, for determining note pitches.

Are decibels used in audio equipment?

Yes, for measuring sound output levels.

What decibel level is harmful to hearing?

Prolonged exposure above 85 decibels can be harmful.

Is there a maximum hertz humans can hear?

Yes, typically around 20,000 hertz.

How does hertz relate to sound waves?

It indicates the frequency of the sound waves.

What's a dangerous decibel level for daily exposure?

Above 85 decibels for prolonged periods.

Is hertz relevant in ultrasound technology?

Yes, ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves measured in hertz.

Can decibels measure vibration?

Decibels are primarily for sound, not general vibrations.

Are decibels used in hearing tests?

Yes, to assess sound sensitivity.

Are decibels linear or logarithmic?

Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale.

Can hertz measure electronic frequencies?

Yes, it's used for all types of frequencies.

Do hertz affect sound quality?

Hertz affects pitch but not inherent quality.

Do all sounds have a hertz measurement?

Yes, if they are within the audible frequency range.

Can decibels be negative?

Yes, in certain logarithmic scales.

Can decibels be converted to hertz?

No, they measure different properties of sound.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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