Chicago’s noise limit for domestic music is 70 decibels

Have a neighbor that is playing music too loud? Stand outside their window, 10 feet from the source and measure the sound with decibel meter. 70 decibels is the limit. How loud is 70 decibels?

60 decibels is half as loud as 70 dB

  • 60 dB: Conversation in restaurant, office, background music
  • 60 dB: Air conditioning unit at 100 ft

70 decibels is the noise limit in Chicago

  • 70 dB: Vacuum cleaner
  • 70 dB: Hair dryer
  • 76 dB: Freeway at 50 ft from pavement edge
  • 77 dB: Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft away

80 decibels is 2 times as loud as 70 dB

  • 80 dB: Garbage disposal
  • 83 dB: Diesel train at 45 mph at 100 ft
  • 84 dB: Diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft
  • 85 dB: Milling machine
  • 88 dB: Food blender
  • 88 dB: Propeller plane flyover at 1000 ft
  • 89 dB: Car wash at 20 ft


There are 182 iOS decible apps in the iTunes store. The iPhone app with the best reviews is Decibel Meter Pro with 4.5 stars from 69 reviews. I bought and love it. Just $0.99.


If you’d like to export your decibel readings, then use the $3.99 app Decible Ultra Pro.

Or if you want to buy a physical decibel meter, I did some research on Amazon, and the best-ranked cost-efficient decibel meter is the Mini Digital Sound Level Meter

From the Municipal Code of Chicago, as of 2011: ARTICLE XXI. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND VIBRATION CONTROL (pdf link)

$300 fine for first time violation:

11-4-2740 Remedies for violations.

“(a) Unless otherwise specifically provided, a violation of the provisions of this article is subject to a fine of $300.00 for a first offense, $500.00 for a second offense committed within a one-year period, and $1,000.00 for a third or subsequent offense committed within a one-year period.”

Music cannot be louder than conversation at 100 feet away.

11-4-2800 Music and amplified sound.

“(a) No person on the public way shall employ any device or instrument that creates or amplifies sound, including but not limited to any loudspeaker, bullhorn, amplifier, public address system, musical instrument, radio or device that plays recorded music, to generate any sound, for the purpose of communication or entertainment, that is louder than average conversational level at a distance of 100 feet or more, measured vertically or horizontally, from the source.”

70 decibel limit

11-4-2810 Mechanical stationary sources.

… “70 dB(A) when measured from a distance of 10 feet or more from the source. The place of measurement shall be from the nearest adjacent public way, or nearest adjacent property, whichever is closer to the source.”

Hours are between 8pm and 8am

11-4-2900 Limitations on noise not otherwise addressed.

For any noise source not specifically addressed in Part B of this article, except where exempted or excluded by section 11-4-2920, the following general limitations shall apply:

(b) Between 8:00 P.M. and 8:00 A.M., no person shall generate any noise on any private open space that is louder than average conversational level at a distance of 100 feet or more, measured from the property line of the property from which the noise is being generated.

(Disclaimer: The Amazon links in this blog post are affiliate links, so I can make a few extra coins to help pay for a fraction of the cost to host this website. #CommissionsEarned)

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