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What is Dynamic Range?

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asked Apr 15, 2015 in Audio Terms by AlexTinsley (924,360 points)
What is Dynamic Range?

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answered Apr 15, 2015 by AlexTinsley (924,360 points)
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Dynamic range can be defined as the distance between the loudest possible level to the lowest possible level. For example, if a processor states that the maximum input level before distortion is +24dBu and the output noise floor is -92dBu, then the processor has a total dynamic range of 24 + 92 = 116dB.  The average dynamic range of an orchestral performance can range from -50dBu to +10dBu on average. This equates to a 60dB dynamic range. 60dB may not appear to be a large dynamic range but do the math and you’ll discover that +10dBu is 1000 times louder than -50dBu!  Rock music on the other hand has a much smaller dynamic range, typically -10dBu to +10dBu, or 20dB. This makes mixing the various signals of a rock performance together a much more tedious task.