NDSU to study decibel levels at playoff football game

It’s time to find out if NDSU football fans have the lungs to compete with their record-breaking counterparts in Seattle and Kansas City.

Mark Schroeder, assistant professor of practice in electrical engineering and computer engineering, and Laura Dallman, administrative secretary in the same department, will conduct a study of the decibel levels reached during the Bison’s playoff football game against Furman at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.

“We have a lot of anecdotal evidence about how loud it is in the Fargodome during games,” said Troy Goergen, NDSU associate athletic director for marketing. “But nobody has charted it accurately with scientific equipment. This is a chance to do that.”

A pair of sound-level meters will register crowd noise throughout the Fargodome, Goergen said. Meters will gather readings from the student section, on the field and elsewhere in the stands for much of the game.

Data will be collected to determine the Fargodome crowd’s volume during the home team’s pregame introduction and at pivotal points in the game. The stadium’s video board decibel meter works, but NDSU staff is unsure of its accuracy or where the monitor’s microphone is located, Goergen said.

Schroeder, an NDSU graduate and faculty member since 2001, is currently working with a design group testing the characteristics of the iTunes equalizer to possibly engineer a hearing aid filter system to help people with hearing disabilities. He said it’s good for children and adults to consider wearing earphones or earplugs in loud environments to help prevent hearing damage.

“It will be nice to put real calibrated numbers together so we can prove or disprove how loud it gets in the Fargodome in relation to other places,” Schroeder said.

The crowd at the Seattle Seahawks game against New Orleans last Monday set the Guinness World Record for crowd noise with a decibel reading of 137.6, taking the title back in a battle with Kansas City. Chiefs fans registered at 137.5 during a game in October, a month after Seattle registered a record-breaking 136.6.

The Seattle Times also reported that fans jumping up and down registered a Magnitude 1 or 2 on seismic equipment during the game against the Saints.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead conducted an informal study of Fargodome crowd noise from the press box during a playoff semifinal game last December. The readings showed a high of 111 decibels following a late touchdown by quarterback Brock Jensen. The decibel meter consistently read 102-106 throughout that game, according to The Forum.

According to the Federal Interagency Committee on Noise, a 110 decibel reading is equivalent to a turbo-fan aircraft taking off at 200 feet. A reading of 140 is similar to the volume of the deck on an aircraft carrier.

“We’re curious to know where we stack up to other places,” Goergen said.

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