Your music was created to be played loud – so it’s time to raise hell with our guide to the loudest speakers.
As speaker technology advances, we appear to be becoming more interested in ‘loudness’ and how it is achieved. It has been proposed that we prefer louder sounds to quieter ones, particularly when listening to music, and some researchers believe that a song played louder than the previous one actually sounds better.
There is no evidence to support this, but it did fuel the ongoing ‘loudness wars’ that lasted several decades and is no longer relevant because streaming services regulate output levels and compression.
This whole psychoacoustic thing got me thinking about our obsession with loudness and how louder sounds affect our ears and bodies. While researching speakers for our article on the Loudest Bluetooth Speakers, I became curious about the decibel levels that the world’s loudest speaker could produce.
We did some research and compiled a list of the world’s loudest speakers at the moment. Sure, some of these aren’t available on the open market, but they’re still interesting!
How Loud Is The Loudest Speaker In The World?
Before we jump into the countdown, let’s quickly recap the decibel scale and the effects of loud sounds.
|10dB||Quiet breathing, distant rustling leaves||None|
|40dB||Quiet library, average home background noise||None|
|60dB||Conversation speech at 3ft||None|
|75dB||Vacuum cleaner at 3ft distance, curbside of a busy road||Slight|
|90dB||Diesel truck in close proximity, bar background noise||Moderate|
|100dB||Chainsaw when operating||Irritating|
|120dB||Large jet plane takeoff||Painful|
It’s worth noting that this scale differs from person to person- while one may find discomfort in sounds at 75dB, another may have a pain threshold that allows them to reach volume levels of 100dB.
1. The 60-Inch Subwoofer By Georgia Tech
It’s no secret that car audio enthusiasts are some of the most dedicated bassheads on the planet. The 60-inch subwoofer was created as a bass experiment for vehicles in the late 1990s, but it was never installed because it was simply too powerful for any vehicle to handle. The cone of the subwoofer moved up to 6 inches from peak to peak, and even at 50% volume, this speaker was simply too powerful to use. At half power, doors flew off cars and vehicles ballooned several inches in and out as subsonic energy circulated within the vehicle, which is rated at 188dB.
Bass can be difficult to manage, and we’ve seen it all when it comes to overpowering low-end energy. Bass can be extremely dangerous if the wrong gear falls into the wrong hands, from speakers catching fire from the load to people’s bodies shaking uncontrollably and suffering some unfavorable conditions as a result.
2. 9918Z By Digital Designs
The 9918Z is a speaker and subwoofer combo that can reach incredible levels of up to 180.5dB. Other speakers in the 9900 price range are available from Digital Designs. The 9918Z is built around an 18-inch subwoofer, a standard size for large concerts and movie theaters, which reproduces the lowest audible bass frequencies and gives you that thumping sensation in your chest. This isn’t a toy!
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3. WAS 3000 By Wyle Laboratories
Wyle Labs’ WAS 3000 is a 300W monster capable of reaching playback levels of 165dB. However, the WAS 3000 is not used to play music or broadcast announcements. It is primarily used as an airstream modulator, a noise reduction technique that employs large systems to play a reversed-polarity version of the unwanted noise, along with compressed air and nitrogen, generating pockets of sound where noise reduction can take place. This has been used in airports to control the low-frequency rumble of aircraft, as well as for battlefield simulations for the US military.
For many years, the WAS 3000 was the loudest speaker in the world, but it has since been surpassed by more modern designs.
4. ESA Horns In Noordwijk, Netherlands
The European Space Agency (ESA) has an acoustic division that created a set of four horns to help with shuttle take-offs. The four horns function as a noise reduction device, much like the WAS 3000, which is used to limit the unwanted air pressure that surrounds the space shuttle, satellites, and other delicate equipment on the launchpad.
If you’ve ever seen a satellite launch, you may have noticed them dumping water on the launch platform; many people believe this was done to cool the engines, but it was actually done to absorb some of the acoustic energy that would have caused serious damage to the shuttle. These ESA Horns emit sound at a volume of 154dB, which is comparable to multiple large jets taking off at the same time.
5. Matterhorn By Danley Sound Labs
The Matterhorn speaker is made up of 40 drivers, each of which contributes to the creation of this powerful wall of sound, capable of pushing around 152dB at its peak and 104dB at a distance of 820 feet. The speaker is powered by 40,000W and has nearly 1,100 feet of 12-gauge cabling and 23 pounds of.003 welding wire. This is a really impressive build!
The Matterhorn was created after Danley Sound Labs learned of the need for an extremely large and powerful military subwoofer. Tom Danley, their chief engineer, assembled a team and set out to create this speaker. Danley had previously built other military-grade instruments for a variety of purposes, such as sonic boom generators and ground zero bomb simulators to test troops’ ability to maintain focus in deafening conditions.
While it is not the loudest speaker in the world, it commands serious respect.
The Effects Of Loud Sounds On Our Ears And Bodies
Hearing damage can result from either a brief exposure to a very loud sound (such as a nearby gunshot) or a prolonged exposure to sounds such as heavy machinery or loud concerts. Hearing loss occurs as we age, and higher frequencies are the first to go, making it difficult to distinguish clearer tones as we get older.
If you’re experimenting with the volume levels of your speakers, or if you plan on purchasing any loud party speakers at some point, I strongly advise you to wear ear protection when operating such equipment. At the very least, there will be short-term damage. Just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean it’s not damaging our ears.
Aside from hearing damage, ringing in the ears, and headaches, there are several other non-aural consequences of prolonged exposure to dangerously loud sound levels.
Ultrasonic frequencies (above 20kHz) at volumes around 180dB have been shown in studies to cause physical damage and can be used as a weapon where the pain area can be localized. That is terrifying! Subsonic frequencies below 20Hz, on the other hand, cause vibrations that rattle some of your insides, the first and most noticeable of which are your eyeballs, which will shake uncontrollably, making it impossible to see clearly.
Aside from ultra-high and low frequencies, the rest of the audio spectrum that we can hear can be extremely dangerous at higher volume levels. The threshold for pain and human hearing, as shown in our chart, is around 120-130dB; anything above this is extremely painful for us. Because of the large air pressure changes, sounds around 150dB can cause complications within our lungs, and our vocal cords and bones will vibrate.
Flashbangs (also known as stun grenades) are a good example of weaponizing sound at these volumes because, while used as a non-lethal weapon by law enforcement, they can cause permanent hearing damage if the explosion is close enough to the victim. Flashbangs typically produce between 165 and 180dB of noise.
This loud sound will simply blow your eardrums and melt your ear wax. Humans should not be exposed to these sound pressure levels.
Large And Loud – Big Bluetooth Speakers
The first three speakers are the big guns. These large Bluetooth speakers are also among the loudest Bluetooth speakers available today. They all produce sounds that are louder than 100 decibels. Even within this small group, the speakers have a significant price difference. So, how much should you budget for?
These are serious speakers that cater to the highest demands of both volume and quality, so expect to spend up to $1000; however, we have included one option under $700, which, while not a budget product, is the more affordable option in this bracket of loud Bluetooth speakers. Too wealthy for you? Navigate to the Solid Mid-Size (and price!) options.
Aside from loudness, does it sound good?
The Soundboks is the loudest portable Bluetooth speaker available, but how does it compare to the competition in terms of quality?
The Soundboks’ insane amplitude is accompanied by high sound quality and a pleasant neutral sound signature. It’s common for large speakers to have muddy low bass, but the Soundboks’ low end is tight and clean, with no clicks, pops, or distortion.
FAQs About The Loudest Speaker In The World
What is the world’s loudest portable speaker?
SOUNDBOKS is the world’s loudest portable speaker, capable of producing high-quality sound with minimal distortion. It’s an extremely intuitive speaker that works just as well for a 15-person event as it does for a 100-person event.
What are the loudest speakers you can get?
The third generation of SoundBoks’ massive-sounding speaker line has arrived, and it delivers yet another sensory assault. It produces a whopping 126dB of sound thanks to two 10-inch 96dB woofers and a 104dB compression driver tweeter. In other words, it’s audible!
How loud is the PartyBox 1000?
The Partybox 1000 can be turned up to 11 without producing any distortion. When you turn up the volume on this speaker above 50 percent, it gets REALLY REALLY loud. It has a 1000W amplifier, so it can compete with concert-grade PA speakers.
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