I had an interesting email a few weeks back from a fellow who wanted to buy a new massage chair, but was concerned about how loud it would be in his bedroom. He wanted to use it after his wife went to bed and didn’t want a loud chair that would awaken her from her slumber.
I went down to the showroom to listen to the chair he was interested in and it seemed quiet enough. But, I had no objective way to tell him how loud or quiet the chair actually was.
A customer of mine, Phill Ruhnke, was visiting our showroom from the Chicago area and I mentioned this customer’s request to him. He suggested downloading an app onto my cell phone that would measure the decibels (db) of a massage chair. In other words, quantitatively measure how loud a massage chair truly is. I thought it was a fantastic idea!
I immediately downloaded an app called “Sound Meter” and became familiar with it in quite short order. Over the last 2 days, I have been measuring the db levels of almost every massage chair in our showroom. I am going to present my findings to you in this blog post.
The ground rules for this little research project…
1. I measured the db level while sitting in each massage chair holding the cell phone and downloaded app approximately 6 inches from my face.
2. I began measuring the db levels after the scan on each chair was completed and an auto program began.
3. I chose 1 auto program per chair and tried to select the one program that seemed to be the most aggressive and that used airbags more rapidly. I hypothesized that the most aggressive program would also be the loudest.
4. I measured the db levels for a period of anywhere from 3-5 minutes and annotated the lowest and highest db’s found during that time frame.
5. Ambient noise was not eliminated but I did all in my power to minimize it, i.e. the air conditioning/heating unit was turned off; my cell phone was put on “mute”; I did the measurements during the day when traffic outside of our showroom was at it’s lowest point during the day (not during morning and afternoon traffic).
6. All neck, head, and low back pillows were removed so that my head was immediately adjacent to the rollers. I did not remove headpieces that had airbags built into the pillows, i.e. Inada Sogno, Osaki OS-7200H, IT-8200.
Here are the results of the testing (I will list the model of the chair, the program chosen, and the db range as displayed by the “Sound Meter” app):
1. Inada Sogno – “Morning” Program – 44-68 db
2. Inada Yume – “Rock & Massage” Program – 51-63 db
3. Osaki OS-7075R – “Weightless” Program – 50-73 db
4. Human Touch HT-9500 – Program #1 – 56-61 db
5. Human Touch HT-7450 – Program #1 – 53-63 db
6. Human Touch ZeroG 4.0 – “Refresh” Program – 54-64 db
7. Luraco iRobotics 6 – “Japanese” Program – 53-72 db
8. Osaki OS-7200H – “Wake Up” Program – 43-71 db
9. Panasonic MA70 – “Deep” Program – 36-68 db
10. Panasonic EP30007 – “Deep” Program – 41-65 db
11. Infinity IT-8200 – “Refresh” Program – 48-68 db
In order to give a decent frame of reference of what these db numbers mean, I will mention that at complete relative silence (some very minor ambient noise) the reading of the app was 32 db. The db range in a room with normal human talking was between 82-90 db.
Here are some things gleaned from this data:
1. Every chair made some level of audible noise, with the Panasonic MA70 registering the lowest db level during it’s program.
2. The chairs that had less airbags, i.e. Inada Yume, HT-9500, and HT-7450, registered the lowest numbers at the high end of the db ranges.
3. Conversely, the massage chairs that had the most airbags, i.e. Inada Sogno, Osaki OS-7075R, Osaki OS-7200H, and iRobotics 6, registered the highest numbers at the high end of the db ranges.
4. The two Panasonic models had the lowest numbers at the low end of the db ranges.
5. The three Human Touch models, along with the iRobotics 6, had the highest numbers at the low end of the db ranges.
6. The smallest ranges between high and low belonged to the three Human Touch chairs.
7. The widest range between high and low belonged to the Panasonic MA70.
I found that their were three things that contributed to “noise” as interpreted by the “Sound Meter” app: a.) the motors, b.) airbag deployment, and c.) the sound of the rollers rubbing against the chair’s upholstery.
Every study has variables that are hard to completely control, which might skew the numbers somewhat. In this little study, a couple of those factors would be:
a.) Not a fixed distance between my face and the phone position (I did not measure each placement exactly and my hand did tend to move with fatigue the longer the testing period went).
b.) Ambient noise from the street or from attached neighboring retail space. This app is quite sensitive and I don’t know how much outside noise it actually picked up, even though I may not have noticed any changes in with my own ears while I was focused on the readings.
c.) I did not test every program on each chair, nor did I test one program all the way through it’s pre-programmed timer.
Before I began this little “research study”, my experience with these chairs led me to believe that the iRobotics 6 would be the noisiest chair. My assumption was close, as the Osaki OS-7075R was the high at 73 db, with the iRobotics 6 coming in at a close second with 72 db.
Despite these ranges, I must say that all of these chairs are relatively quiet. I don’t think that many of them would awaken a sound sleeper at all. Some might disturb a light sleeper at some point during the program.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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