Talk:Dynamic range

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human hearing has 140dB dynamic range?[edit]

The so-called "source" for this claim is a book by self proclaimed expert, with no reference to scientific literature, and no scientific peer review. I have read the mentioned book, it contains many inaccuracies and exagerations. How is this dynamic range defined? up to ear-bleed? permanent deafness? ...

Which book? I'm unaware of the original source, but I've always accepted that 140dBSPL is the highest level sound the human ear can safely be exposed to. Bob Katz accepts it, the AES accept it, the SAE teach it, it's taught in most high school physics textbooks....
Like I say, I don't know the original source, and even if I did, I don't know how to properly cite sources on WP yet. But I'm tempted to go ahead and remove the "dubious" tag in this case, it's an almost universally accepted fact, erroneous or not. Also, sign your talk page comments. AJRussell (talk) 00:51, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
140dBSPL can be safely exposed to human ear?! That's news to me. Can you provide reference to scientific literature supporting this claim? According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines: The safe exposure limit is up to 85dBA over 8 hours. For every 3dB above this level the exposure time is halved (ex: 100dB is only allowed for 15min/day). Exposure to 115 dB (or above) for any duration may pose a serious health risk. google for it. And please don't use scientific claims from audiophile books, thank you. (talk) 03:46, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
You're making confusion, friends. Decibel is a dimensionless unit, that is used to compare two values. It's been conventioned that, when representing a sound pressure level, the level in question is compared to a .0002 microbar pressure. But keep in mind that dynamic range is completely unrelated to sound pressure. The dynamic range is the comparison, using logarithmic scale, of the highest and the lowest possible values for a quantity. The affirmation that the human hearing has a dynamic range of 140dB doesn't have anything to do with the affirmation that the sound pressure of 140dB might be harmful. Navegador2 (talk) 21:05, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
IF the the definition of dynamic range is not limited to safe exposure limit, then why limit to 140dB? Humans can definitely sense 150dB, or 160dB, or any larger number, at least once in their lifetime... reductio ad absurdum. This definition has no meaning without a limit. I suggest replacing the text by:

"The dynamic range of human hearing is 115 dB, as determined by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guidelines' safe exposure limit". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:50, 2 March 2012 (UTC)


Who put in the editorialisation on language? e.g.:

For example, when referring to the range of sound intensity that can be reproduced by an audio system, dynamic range says no more than range used by itself. What actually "ranges" from inaudible to loud is sound intensity, not a quality called dynamic. Thus sound intensity range would be a more useful and accurate term in this case.

The word "dynamic" indicates the quantity can be expected to vary widely.

Unless you can show that this is in fact a matter of notable concern, with references, the section goes - David Gerard 10:28, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Who put it in, you ask? Doesn't the article history show that? Why would you ask that? That language seems designed to demean the contributor.
Second, why does my contribution warrant being called a rant, or editorialization? Comes rather close to a personal attack. If you disagree with the inclusion of a view or material, can you not refer to it in neutral, inoffensive terms?
Third, you say that "'dynamic' indicates the quantity can be expected to vary widely." That's simply not the case. Not all ranges vary "widely," as you suggest. Some indeed speak of a particular device as having a "limited dynamic range," turning a simple redundancy into an oxymoron as well, as you would use dynamic. (If you doubt this, Google "limited dynamic range" for 6700 web hits.)
Saying "dynamic range" to denote that something can vary (widely or not) is like saying "free" in "free gift" indicates that something is free. Sure, but the word "gift" already indicates that something is free. In fact, the word "range" already and sufficiently indicates that something can vary. "Dynamic" is superfluous. Can you see it now?
Why would the incontrovertable fact that dynamic range is a widely-used idiomatic, redundant term not be worth noting? Your disposal of the factual distinctions between the terms range, dynamics, and dynamic range was rather heavy-handed, in my view. I would appreciate having language issues restored to the Dynamic range article. Wikipedia is a good place for such knowledge. If you disagree, please offer a constructive alternative--something besides an axe. --NathanHawking 21:38, 2004 Oct 2 (UTC)
It's editorialisation as per Wikipedia:No original research. That is, an article in Wikipedia is to be a secondary, or tertiary, source of information on a subject.
If your debate over the terminology dynamic range is to go in, provide references that show that this is sufficiently a matter of concern amongst experts in the matter that someone looking for an article to explain what "dynamic range" is really needs to know it. Particularly right up front in the lead section - are your (or the hypothetical reference's) concerns of such importance to the matter that they need to be the first thing the reader sees? I really think not. But show me references to the great debate over the terminology dynamic range and prove me wrong on this - David Gerard 21:59, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I see we are no longer discussing the factuality but now its originality. Fair enough.
I thought I was stating the obvious. But clearly the fact that you and others have difficulty seeing, at first glance, the pleonastic nature of the term accounts for its widespread use. So, am I the first to recognize this? Perhaps, though doubtful.
I don't think all things Wikipedic need to be the subject of a "great debate," but can agree that the language issue does not merit first mention. Does it, however, as a simple fact, deserve to be ignored?
In the redundancy article, for example, I inserted a section on language redundancies, and a short list of commonly used expressions. Am I obligated to find an already-published authority to justify my inclusion of terms like "past history," or is the fact that it's an obvious common redundancy sufficient?
As you have more experience on this project, your guidance is appreciated. I suggest you temper your use of offensive words like "rant," however, and stick to facts. As a newcomer, it will take me some time to gain perspective, and becoming adversarial and insulting will not assist that.
Do you have any suggestions on how we might appropriately include the simple fact that dynamic range is pleonastic and imprecise? --NathanHawking 23:05, 2004 Oct 2 (UTC)
I would say you haven't even shown it's a matter of concern for anyone other than yourself. That would surely be a first step before considering it of sufficient importance for the article.
Remember what it says on original research - merely being right isn't enough. - David Gerard 23:24, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The use of language is of concern to many, and the use of redundancies in particular. See pleonasm. Here is one authority's view. Does a particularly common techno-redundancy have to meet with your approval to merit listing? Or must Professor Brians obligingly place it on his list and in his next edition to qualify? --NathanHawking 00:30, 2004 Oct 3 (UTC)
As an outsider (I just contributed the little bit about Dynamic Range in music) I can see that the problem here is that NathanHawking things this is an article, whilst to David Gerard it's a simple disambiguation page. I think the question is whether there is enough information about 'Dynamic Range' to warrant an indivual entry. If Nathan's edits (as I suspect) are designed to point out the ambiguity in the term, but would not have merited mentioning if there was not an article with this name, then this info is not relevant here (and there should be only a passing-reference to it in the individual articles, if relevant). If this is not the case then Dynamic Range should contain the information that needs to be put forward, and Dynamic range (disambig) should be created to link to the specific meanings. --HappyDog 01:55, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)
No, I think it's an article ... but having been around the term "dynamic range" for many years myself (in the field of sound), I've never encountered a debate about the usefulness of the term. If the term's validity isn't a matter for debate anywhere else, then it shouldn't be one in Wikipedia either, full stop. Wikipedia is not a platform for advocacy - David Gerard 12:15, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I am around this term all the time, and have never heard anyone dispute the usefulness of the term. Perhaps there is some confusion about the meaning of the word "dynamic"? I believe it comes from the musical definition of dynamics:
"Of or relating to variation of intensity, as in musical sound."
and not from the "varying" definition:
"Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress: a dynamic market."
Perhaps this is why someone thinks the term is redundant? So, no, it's not a "range of the quantity dynamic", but it is a "range of dynamics". - Omegatron 13:55, Oct 4, 2004 (UTC)
It's a "range of dynamics?" Does that really say any more than range or dynamics alone? Why not use the expressions "lifetime length" or "altitude height" or "time period"? (That last one shows up rather frequently, in fact.)
Certainly. Just like "fish" ≠ "tuna fish", "lifetime length" ≠ "length. "Dynamic range" and "range" are certainly not the same thing. Range is just a general term, and needs a qualifier to tell what it is a range of. In this case it is a range of dynamics, or loudness, or intensities, or volume. (I believe using it in reference to signal level or whatever stemmed from the original use referring to sound level. That is just an assumption, though, not a researched fact.) - Omegatron
Your formulations are true, but misleading you into drawing the wrong conclusion. More appropriate representations are:
"tuna fish" = (tuna(a fish)fish) and
"lifetime length" = (lifetime(entailing a length)length) and
"dynamic range" = (dynamic(entailing a range)range)
Read your own definition again: Dynamics is "variation in force or intensity"--dynamics carries its own connotation of range, which is why it is often used alone in music. Something cannot be dynamic without having a range--range is INHERENT in dynamics. If, in music, dynamics specifically denotes loudness, as we've agreed, it does not denote SOLELY loudness. A FIXED loudness would not be dynamics, unless the measure is zero dynamics. See BELOW.--NathanHawking 03:33, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
I've had a lifetime of exposure to the term as well. I don't dispute the usefulness of the term as idiom, any more than I dispute the usefulness of "tuna fish" and "future plans." Those terms are "useful," but they are also pleonasms.
I've also had a lifetime of identifying redundancies, blatant and subtle, and have discovered that familiarity with a term often blinds us to its linguistic nature. (Just yesterday I noticed that "tuna fish" got by a Boy's Life editor. They flow trippingly off the tongue with nary a second thought.)
Yes, "dynamic" does indeed denote the potential for or presence of variation. No argument there. But so does range.
But this use of dynamic is the definition that pertains to loudness of a sound, not to variation itself. Perhaps this is what you actually have a problem with? That dynamics should not have two different definitions? - Omegatron


That's the flaw in your reasoning: Dynamics does NOT "pertain to loudness of a sound," per se. If I say a sound loudness is 50 dB, I have said absolutely NOTHING about the dynamics. Once again, M-W defines dynamics as: "variation and contrast in force or intensity (as in music)." Get it?
If I say that the range of loudness is from 0 dB to 110 dB, then I have spoken of music dynamics or loudness range. In the context of music, when I speak of dynamics I've already invoked the concept range implicitly. In music, dynamic range is a redundancy. See?
It's probably worth noting that your argument along this line has uncovered one interesting distinction. In using dynamic range in photography and other fields, the word dynamic is probably the useless word. In music, though, since dynamics is the term which relates to sound intensity and connotes range, range is the useless word. Interesting. --NathanHawking 03:33, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
Range is "6 a : the space or extent included, covered, or used : SCOPE b : the extent of pitch covered by a melody or lying within the capacity of a voice or instrument." (M-W Online.) Note that even M-W is defining them--range and the musical dynamics to which you refer--as synonymous.
The range of an instrument refers to its frequency range, not intensity range. A perfect example of why dynamic range and range are not the same thing. :-) - Omegatron
In my haste, I misspoke. You're right--and wrong. You're right about dynamics and range referring to different things in music. In the context of music, dynamics refers to loudness range and range refers to frequency range. But you're wrong in trying to have it both ways.
Look what you're doing jamming dynamics and range together in the context of music. Standing alone, you say, range refers to tonal range, but in the phrase dynamic range you are implying that range has the generic, nonspecific meaning. And you're exactly right. Which is what makes you exactly wrong about dynamic range. Dynamics, in music, refers to the range of loudness (not just loudness). Dynamic(s) range means "the range of loudness range." Think about it.--NathanHawking 08:51, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
In other words, what does dynamic range say that range alone, or dynamics alone, does not? In the vast majority of cases, nothing. (See my talk page for a description of a rare instance where dynamic range might be a accurate term, though, if you're interested.)
(I'm adding this later as an afterthought: dynamic range would also be nonredundant if used in contrast with the terms narrow range or limited range. "In contrast," we might say, "this instrument has a dynamic range." Here we use dynamic as an adjective, and not a noun, where dynamic range is really a redundant noun phrase.--NathanHawking 22:43, 2004 Oct 4 (UTC)
Having said that, I agree with David that this may be an obscure, perhaps even original, observation. So I won't press for a lengthy Wikipedia entry on the view.--NathanHawking 19:54, 2004 Oct 4 (UTC)
From the dictionary:
range: An amount or extent of variation
dynamics: Variation in force or intensity, especially in musical sound.
Concatenating them together gives a good definition of dynamic range:
dynamic range: An amount or extent of variation in force or intensity, especially in musical sound. - Omegatron 22:49, Oct 4, 2004 (UTC)
Not really. You're really just repeating yourself, hard as it is to see. Don't concatenate--factor!
The definition of a redundancy is when one term is implied or subsumed in the other. Read your own definition again and answer two questions:
  • 1. Can you have dynamics without variation?
  • 2. Can you have a range without variation?
The answer to both is no: variation is the concept common to both; one is implicit in the other; neither enlarges upon the other without redundancy. When used as a noun phrase, range tells you no more about a dynamic, and dynamic tells you no more about a range. Dynamics is not a type of variation range--it IS a variation range.
Many in music are content to use the term dynamics alone, since the loudness and range are both implicit, without the use of range. Similarly, a vocalist, in the context of her highest and lowest notes, might speak of having a range of three octaves, without resorting to tonal dynamic range or somesuch. The literature of music is filled with such useage. That demonstrates that either word alone is sufficient, that combining them conveys no more conceptual content--the very definition of a redundancy.
If it's not clear by now, I suggest reading this again in a month. It's surprising to me how difficult this is for some to grasp--but if I'm correct, then that difficulty might explain why the term has lain unnoticed by other commentators on language... it's a bit more subtle than I'd realized. --NathanHawking 01:24, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
This discussion is getting kind of ridiculous.  :-) Are you sure you know what these terms mean? Dynamics means a variation in intensity. Range means a limit to a variation. Dynamic range is the limit of variation of intensity. It defines where the variation in intensity stops. It defines an upper and lower bound for the variation, usually in a precise, numerical way. For music, sound pressure level range is certainly a valid synonym. Range by itself is not. Dynamics by itself is not. (Be careful in your quest to eliminate redundancies that you aren't removing the subtle meaning of the words. Remember 1984?  :-) ) - Omegatron 13:41, Oct 5, 2004 (UTC)
As you suggest, the discussion has become repetitive. Now you are suggesting that without the term range, dynamics would suggest a variation without limits. Sorry, I don't buy that. Merriam-Webster sees fit to define dynamics without the use of range. Why can't you?
I admit to zeal in spotting redundancies, but I'd offer similar advice: be careful that in your zeal to preserve a familiar term you don't ignore the actual meaning of the words. I think, beyond my response(s) to HappyDog, I'll let it go at that.--NathanHawking 22:29, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
As a musician, dynamics, range and dynamic range have three distinct meanings in use (regardless of whether this is technically correct in linguistic/dictionary terms). This is what they mean to musicians the world over:
  • Dynamics: The markings on the page, e.g. f, mp, pianissimo.
  • Range: The range of notes an instrument can play. Similar to frequency range, but only frequencies that occur in the standard western 12-tone scale are valid, and it is expressed in terms of notes: e.g. 3 octave range, 18 semi-tone range.
  • Dynamic range: The difference in the maximum and minimum dynamic in a piece of music, or the range of dynamics an instrument can express (e.g. a harpsichord has a fixed dynamic range, a harp has a small dynamic range and a piano has a large dynamic range.
I hope that helps --HappyDog 15:04, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Can you cite a source which claims that dynamics refers only to the markings on a page? I doubt it. Near as I can tell, you made up your own definitions, no offense.
  • Wikkipedia Dynamics (music) says: In music, the word dynamics refers to the volume of the sound. (NOT just to the markings on a page.)
  • The Virginia Tech dictionary says: The loudness or softness of a composition. It actually draws a distinction between dynamics and the markings. It also uses dynamic contrast but not dynamic range.
  • Musicnet Dictionary says: dynamics: The degrees of softness or loudness in music indicated by signs or words on the score. (Indicated by, not the marks themselves.)
That's just the first five places I looked. And not one of them used the term dynamic range. Even if you could find some musical reference works which use the term dynamic range to describe loudness range, that would only prove that it's used, not that it is not pleonasitic idiom.--NathanHawking 22:29, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
As I clearly stated these are definitions in use, not dictionary definitions. They are based on the empirical evidence of having studied and performed music for most of my life. I know that most people who have studied music, but not necessarily linguistics, would agree with these definitions, and would recognise the distinction to be made between them. I would note that you are correct in that "dynamics" in this sense is a shorthand for "dynamic markings", but nevertheless it is a shorthand adopted by most musicians, probably without considering what it is shorthand for. It is also worth noting that this is the sense in which it is used in the term "dynamic range", which should be considered "the range of the dynamic markings". Remember that the difference between pp and ff is a relative one, determined by the performer or conductor and their interpretation of the markings, not by the markings themselves. The term "dynamic range" is also required to distinguish it from "pitch range", which for a musician is the usual meaning of "range" on its own --HappyDog 04:33, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Once again, I meant no offense. But dictionaries and glossaries are ultimately based upon usage, not dictated by "linguists." And for Wikipedia purposes, we must go with what references say about meanings, as Wikipedia is not a primary source. If your definitions reflect general usage but are at odds with musical dictionaries and glossaries, we'd have to go with the published references until they catch up with actual usage.
Beyond that, I think the dynamic range as language subject has been well covered by everything else on this talk page.--NathanHawking 22:03, 2004 Oct 6 (UTC)
Interestingly, my 1942 edition of the Oxford Companion to Music doesn't even mention the term Dynamics :) --HappyDog 22:51, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Webster's 1913 edition says of dynamics: "3. (Mus.) That department of musical science which relates to, or treats of, the power of tones." When dynamics were first annotated in music is well-known. But I can find only speculation as when the term dynamics (or some non-English equivalent) was first used to describe that quality and notation.
Omegatron's speculation that dynamic range (as a deliberately conjoined term and not an accidental juxtaposition) was first used in music is of interest, but I'm beginning to wonder if it might not have actually originated with audio/electronics and since cross-fertilized music, to the degree musicians actually use it. But I've seen no evidence to support either hypothesis. --NathanHawking 23:57, 2004 Oct 6 (UTC)
And I believe the other applications of the term descended from the musical term, first in audio reproduction equipment, then other electronic equipment, etc. Does anyone have an idea of how we can find this out for certain? - Omegatron 15:34, Oct 5, 2004 (UTC)
The first ten musical references I checked did not use the term dynamic range, only dynamics and dynamic contrast. I eventually stopped looking from boredom. Can you actually find a musical reference which uses dynamic range? Your thesis that the term descended from musical use, which I've heard elsewhere, would seem dependent upon it actually being used by the musical community.
Dynamic range is in wide use, whatever its origin. 650,000 Google web hits. I should emphasize that I actually have no more objection to the expression than I do any other idiomatic term. I only wish to note that it IS idiomatic and pleonastic--apparently in a way that's hard to understand.--NathanHawking 22:29, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)


They're not pleonasms. Tuna fish is food whereas tuna is a kind. (I would've switched those. I guess the fish is to explain the foreign[-sounding] term.) Future plans are planned plans (sometimes) whereas plans are now. Past history is when whereas history is when or now, after past history. A range may be either dynamic or static, the former making the range whereas the latter is made by the range. You're equivocating "variation"; dynamic is variation, but range is the limiting domain. At least you're right about free gifts. lysdexia 12:47, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Talk:Pleonasm is where argument for general cases (like tuna fish) belongs.
You dynamic range argument is somewhat incoherent to me; if you wish to discuss it, please explain it in some detail. Perhaps with some examples.--NathanHawking 02:14, 2004 Oct 19 (UTC)

That is funny. I have reffered this Wiki artikle exactly to trace the ethimology of this linguistically strange term, once I've got explanation of its meaning. IMHO, any range assumes some value dynamics (is any change a dynamics?), variation. This is only a constant value which has a zero-range, while the variables are allowed to change dynamically by definition in some range. Any dynamics (state change) takes place in some range. So we have dualism here: any dynamics implies a range as well as a range assumes some dynamics. So, why do we have "dynamic range" rather than "range of dynamics" or just "range"? The latter, IMHO, seems the most reasonable because concerning a range you always need to give its owner object/variable that the range belongs to. I feel that "dynamics" is not interchangable with "range" having a broader meaning including speed, range, stability and other laws. Just saying "dynamic range" does not furnish much clues compared to plain "range". Obviously, the explanation is needed to reason for introduction of dynamic range of some parameter in opposition to other (non-dynamic) ranges of that magnitude. Why not to just tell "range of currents, frequencies"? - as it is much more definite. --Javalenok 14:38, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about other disciplines, but in music 'dynamic range' (the difference between the loudest and quitest note an instrument can produce) is used primarily to distinguish it from 'tonal range' (the difference between an instrument's highest and lowest pitched note). 'Range' on its own always means tonal range. In music, it should be noted that the term 'dynamics' simply means relative volume (I guess, shortened from 'dynamic markings'), so in this instance it is definitely not a pleonasm.
In other disciplines it may be that its use is derived from this usage in music. It may also be used to avoid similar confusion over what is meant by range (e.g. audio engineers may also use range to refer to distance, e.g. "What's the range of those speakers?").
Also, in other contexts it could be that 'dynamic range' (a range whose upper and/or lower bounds may change) is used to distinguish from 'fixed range', where the range has a fixed upper and lower bound.
Just a few thoughts - I'm no expert! --HappyDog 15:36, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh no. Not this again... — Omegatron 15:41, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
*grin* - Yeah I only spotted our previous discussion after I'd posted. I'd forgotten all about it... Sorry for repeating myself :) --HappyDog 11:25, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
HappyDog: e.g. audio engineers may also use range to refer to distance, e.g. "What's the range of those speakers?"
That is funny. In Russian, 'a dynamic' is an electrodynamical loudspeaker. So, the question about the range of dynamics may have a real sense here :))))))))
HappyDog: In music, it should be noted that the term 'dynamics' simply means relative volume.
The 'relative volume' is a bit vague here. OK, it turns out that in English the 'dynamic range' = 'loudness range', because occasionally 'dynamics' = 'loudness', despite 'dynamic' = 'fast'. I have already realized that most English words carry a great number of unrelated notions, which often have controversial meanings. The ambiguity is inevitable here. Looking deeper into the Greek roots, the 'dynamic' means 'powerful'. From the physics we know that P=F*v; that is, power depends on speed and force; i.e., dynamic = fast or strong. Anyway, the 'power range' does not seem pleonastic. I guess, the roots are Greek rather than musical here and we are mislead by the notion widely used among system engineers and scientists. This technocommunity associates the word 'dynamics' with 'change' (D. Kaplan, "Understanding Nonlinear Dynamics", p2): We are interested in how the state changes in time: the dynamics of the system.
Finally, these guys [1] have put the 'dynamic range' into pleonasms list. --Javalenok 02:12, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
By 'relative volume' I was referring to the fact that musical markings do not indicate an absolute volume, and are open to interpretation by the players. See dynamics (music) for more info. --HappyDog 18:08, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Who cares?? "Dynamic range" is the term used everywhere, regardless of whether it's actually a pleonasm. Wikipedia's purpose is to document things the way they actually are; not the way they "should be". The War Against Pleonasm is a pretty minority viewpoint and Wikipedia is not a soapbox.
We're not going to go around converting all the dates to decimal time or the articles to Cut Spelling, either, even if some people think those are better. — Omegatron 19:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Badass, arrogant grabbers certainly don't!! Many Wiki articles do explain the origin of terms. Сomprehendig material assists to memorization. Furthermore, a better organization of information is an 'additional bonus' for mental performance. Therefore, intelligent people do care when two actual things are conflicting in reality. As a matter of fact, a number of articles include the 'criticism' section. Nevertheless, does anybody here pursue for it? Anyway, I want to believe that Wikipedia's purpose is to bring order into our heads rather than to conserve the current state of affairs and irregularities.--Javalenok 21:38, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Promo link?[edit]

I have removed the following link from this article:


It is intentionally unlinked as I believe the inserter is intending to promote his/her product. The contents of the PDF lead into a promotion of a product. I am listing it here for others to review, however, because it does contain other information that might be useful. I leave it to others to determine whether it should be included. --AbsolutDan (talk) 16:39, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Factor of 2?[edit]

I have removed the text that read: Was the previous line an error? Dynamic Range (dB) = SNR (dB) = 20*Log10 (RMS Full-scale/RMS Noise) Dynamic range formula 20*Log10(1000) = 60. While power doubles every 3dB, dynamic range doubles every 6dB.

It wasn't an error 20*Log10(full scale/noise) is the valid if you are talking about full scale amplitudes and noise amplitudes. If you are talking about noise powers and full scale powers then the correct formula is 10*Log10(full scale/noise). The two give the same results for dynamic range of course because the power is proportional to the amplitude squared. So the line didn't contradict itself so long as it meant a factor of 1000 in light intensity, which one can only assume that it did. (No body really ever talks about light amplitudes) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:00, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Decibel maths and reference[edit]

Does this:

The dynamic range is defined as the difference between the minimum and maximum amplitude a given device can record. For example, if the ceiling of a device is 10 dB and the noise floor is 3 dB then the dynamic range is 4.85 dB, since 10 dB−3 dB = 4.85 dB (recall that care must be taken when adding numbers in the decibel scale).

Make sense to anyone? A ceiling of 10dB? Surely 10dBu or similar would make more sense as an example (and be more accurate). Likewise with noise floor.

Also, 10dB-3dB (assuming we are talking about referenced dB values here) would surely give a dynamic range of 7dB? Correct me if I'm wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:53, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Some math[edit]

This hurt my brain, but here is the reasoning:


Iain (talk) 09:07, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Still not getting it[edit]

Except that the decibel expresses the ratio between two values. In the above example, the two dBV values are converted to voltages. Here I'll take the dB difference between the two (the dynamic range)

Using the analogy of a fader on a mixing desk: if it's at 10dB and you turn it down to 3dB, surely the difference is 7dB...?

The article is wrong[edit]

Under "Audio" the voltage values are subtracted where the ratio should be used. dB subtraction would also be correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:12, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Questionable numbers[edit]

I see these two bits of text:

  • The dynamic range of music in a concert hall doesn't exceed 80 dB and human perception of speech requires only about 40 dB of dynamic range.[
  • Early 78 rpm phonograph discs had a dynamic range of up to 40 dB,[5] soon reduced to 30 dB and worse due to wear from repeated play.

This implies that after a few plays, a 78rpm record would not be perceptible human speech, which just doesn't make any sense... Luminifer (talk) 20:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

It doesn't imply any such thing. Even if the typical DR of speech is 40 dB, that doesn't imply that 40 dB DR is required for a signal to be recognizably speech-like. In fact, ham radio operators used extreme speech compressors to get their speech into less than 20 dB DR for better communication on a limited power budget. Dicklyon (talk) 02:25, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Right, I agree with that; it's the "perception of speech only requires about 40db of dynamic range" that seems to conflict.. Luminifer (talk) 03:30, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
In its given form, the statement is too questionable, more wrong than right. It has to be rewritten and explained or deleted. Imho as an engineer. Wispanow (talk) 14:55, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Wispanow, it's better to fix it per the cited source than to just remove sourced information. I've put it back. Dicklyon (talk) 15:01, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Dicklyon, it was tagged long enough. Fix it or delete it. Its too questionable. Wispanow (talk) 15:14, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
I fixed it. Dicklyon (talk) 15:19, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Link:[2] states: but on loud peaks a given instrument may momentarily exceed 120 dB SPL. And thats only one instrument! So the statement is wrong. Wispanow (talk) 15:25, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
You'll want to chat with Eargle about the conflict between speech and 78 rpm dynamics. He specifically says "...speech is normally perceived over an even narrower range of about 40 dB." Narrower than 80 dB found in concert hall music. Binksternet (talk) 16:03, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
The Yamaha link saying most concerts use less than 70 dB DR and some go as high as 90 dB is not really inconsistent with the 80 dB estimate, just a slightly differing calculation/opinion. It could be reported, too. Dicklyon (talk) 19:08, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Not everything written is absolutely true. This is a lot more complex than just presenting two figures. See link given by me, stating different figures. Wispanow (talk) 16:29, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Whatever you do with this article, don't remove referenced material. Instead, add further explanatory text stating another view or another expert fact that is in conflict. Binksternet (talk) 16:57, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Again, don't remove referenced material. Deal with it instead. Binksternet (talk) 17:12, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Again, Think instead of reverting. Accept the citation is refuted above. Wispanow (talk) 17:23, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
The 120 dB SPL peak is perfectly consistent with 80 dB DR if the minimum is around 40 dB SPL. It's hard to imagine a concert hall being any quieter than that. And anyway, our job is not to judge whether reliably sourced factoids are correct, but to report them. If there's more info, other POVs, by all means add those, too. Dicklyon (talk) 19:06, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
W, I've restored the sourced material again, after thinking about it. Can you explain here what you find dubious about it? There are multiple sourced dynamic range estimates that you removed; maybe you can provide alternative estimates alongside them, instead of removing them. Your logic about instruments exceeding 120 dB SPL suggests that maybe you need to step back and understand the concept before doing more editing though. Dicklyon (talk) 19:15, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
You are guessing: "if the minimum is around 40 dB SPL" Source or deleted. Wispanow (talk) 20:24, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
The text in the article is sourced already. I'm just trying to explain to you how confused your so-called refutation is. Dicklyon (talk) 02:47, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Section: Questionable numbers[edit]

If somebody has the time, such a section could be written. Too many believers and very few scientists in the audio section! It should explain:

  1. Measuring distance
  2. Environmental noise
  3. Type of instruments
  4. Use of Peak-limiters and dynamic-limiters to reduce the dynamic range.

Wispanow (talk) 17:46, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

It's not clear what kind of section you have in mind, or what you're complaining about. If you have good sourced info, just use it. Dicklyon (talk) 19:06, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Nothing is clear to you. I already answered all your questions. You are even unable for the simplest calculations. Wispanow (talk) 19:36, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Wispanow, your personal affirmation that something is true, and something else is false, is insufficient for this article. Have you read WP:RS and WP:CITE for guidance on how to cite reliable sources, and what those might be? John Eargle is an expert source. Only another established expert can be used to refute him, and this refutation must be written out on the main page so that both views are present. The simplistic deletion of Eargle does not work.
Bruce Fries is not quite as scholarly a source as Eargle, but he is an established writer and observer of the audio business, and of audio specifications and performance. He serves well enough as a reference in this article. Putting the 'dubious' tag on him is wrong; and even more wrong is changing his 96dB number to 98 with no source, and his 120dB to 122 with no source. With no sources, you have no argument. Binksternet (talk) 20:03, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
You are not able to read. You are even unable for the simplest calculations. See formula above. Wispanow (talk) 20:06, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Actually, Binksternet is an experienced wikipedia editor, who appears to be reasonably literate and numerate, and has a professional proficiency related to the subject matter; same goes for me. But that's not what's at issue here. Please calm down, and if you have suggestions about improving the article, make them here, preferably in plain language rather than the cryptic list you provided above, and in preference to just removing parts that you feel are dubious when they're back by reliable sources. The best way to proceed is to discuss based on sources you have that can provide either corrections are alternative points of view. The all-caps "shouting" is also not an effective way to collaborate; use your words. Dicklyon (talk) 02:58, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
. in response to above...
1. ham radio operators used extreme speech compressors to get their speech into less than 20 dB DR
2. human perception of speech requires only about 40 dB of dynamic range
. Doesn't this imply that ham radio would be imperceptible human speech? This is clearly not true, so the second statement is at the very least misleadingly phrased. Does anyone know what it wants to say? Luminifer (talk) 04:53, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
The article has since been edited to read "human speech is normally perceived over a range of about 40 dB." This version no longer says "requires ... 40 dB" and is much closer to the exact wording that John Eargle used in his tome Handbook of Recording Engineering. Binksternet (talk) 05:14, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I have to be honest, I don't even know what that means. "is perceive over a range of 40db"? What does that mean? Is that a dynamic range? It's still confusing how it relates to the other numbers. Call me an idiot if you have to, but this really should be clear. Luminifer (talk) 05:41, 14 June 2009 (UTC)


(this is my first time contributing, so be easy on me, but feel free to correct me)

I was wondering, since the defintion says "ratio between the smallest and largest possible values of a changeable quantity", doesn't that mean dyn. range is almost always infinite? For analogue quantities noise can be seen as a lower boundary, but theroetically many variables aren't limited upwards.

So my suggestion is that it should say "smallest and largest occurring values...". Xanadooo (talk) 23:08, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Dynamic range clarifications[edit]

i've added material to clarify the difference between the input and output dynamic range of measurement, recording or reproduction systems, and made the examples of audio and (especially) visual dynamic range measurement more concrete and at that same time less speciously precise. it's very important, for example in color reproduction technologies, to keep straight where reproduction is clipped or reduced, as input and output problems have different solutions (manipulating contrast in the input file, or choosing a different output device). the material on "night" scenes in video or film was just incoherent, and i've distinguished between *symbolizing* a visual effect and merely reproducing it within a smaller gamut (lower luminance contrast ratio). Macevoy (talk) 18:04, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I took out your changes because when I looked at them all together, the first thing I saw was that you defined dynamic range in audio in terms of high and low frequency, an utterly incorrect definition. I will have to look again at your contributions for light to see if there was anything worth saving. Binksternet (talk) 18:15, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Dynamic and Range[edit]

The term "dynamic range" does not seem to be a good literal description. It's one of those professional terms that kind of have grown to mean a certain thing. Loudness range, or volume range, over a certain time range and/or space range, would be more precise. It seems this is implied.

Taking the term literally, I would take it to mean that a range (of levels) changes (over time or space). This would not necessarily be sound, it could be any measure. The range of volume levels of sounds (over a relatively short time period) on a city street changes over the course of the day and is thus dynamic range. Similarly, the range of darkest and lightest light levels of a city street scene (simultaneous, but differentiated in space) changes over the course of a day. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:04, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

In vision research the term "dynamic range" is used to mean the total range of brightness levels that a person can see over time, including the time it takes the eye to adapt to varying lighting conditions. Achieving a high degree of dark adaptation can take an hour. The word "contrast" is reserved for simultaneous or near-simultaneous events. Zyxwv99 (talk)

Dynamic range in music[edit]

The current article states that "Popular music typically has a dynamic range of 6 to 10 dB, with some forms of music having as little as 1 dB or as much as 15 dB.", and cites a book by Bob Katz (Katz, Robert (2002). "9". Mastering Audio. Amsterdam: Boston. pp. 109. ISBN 0240805453) as the source of those numbers. The problem I have with that statement that by itself it does not convey any information at all, other than that popular music got a smaller number using some unspecified metric. I am aware that the method by which one can arrive at these numbers is probably explained further in the book by Katz (to which I have no access right now), but as I see it such a statement must make sense in itself, and hence the definition of DR used here should be stated as well. If there is a common definition among music producers for the definition of DR in music, I think this definition can very well be put in this article. --Kohlrabi (talk) 21:18, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't have a copy of the book either but Bob tends to use Crest factor when he talks about limited dynamic range in music. I will see if I can make some improvements. --Kvng (talk) 14:12, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

I think it's better to simply remove this part. I have a copy of the book, and Bob Katz doesn't provide the particular algorithm that was used to measure these values. He doesn't even specify whether DR in this case is crest factor based or EBU3342LRA based. As such, this info is worthless. (talk) 23:44, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

I have a copy of the book now. I will have a look when I get a chance. I agree that just throwing numbers around without explaining where they come from or what they mean is not useful. ~KvnG 13:12, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
It is no longer in the article and I can't find these numbers in the third edition of Mastering Audio. The glossary of the third edition indicates dynamic range is the same as loudness range (LRA) but elsewhere in the text it is used to mean various things as our writeup indicates one should expect. ~KvnG 20:54, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Audio definition[edit]

There is no citation for the statement:

Audio engineers often use dynamic range to describe the ratio of the amplitude of the loudest possible undistorted sine wave to the root mean square (rms) noise amplitude, say of a microphone or loudspeaker.

This definition appears to have grown organically: [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].

Here's a definition from a reliable source: [8]. I'm inclined to strip this down to something less specific but verifiable. ~KvnG 15:48, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

  • the most reliable definition I found is:
the dynamic range of a device is "the difference in level between the highest possible undistorted peak and the lowest level that the signal can take on without being buried in the noise" or "the level difference between clipping and the noise floor".[1]
Which I is totally compatible with the definition in the article
  • I would also add that as the noise floor is measured as an RMS level, also the maximum level is measured as the RMS of the loudest 1kHz sine wave that can pass undistorted (or inaudibly distorted).[2]
Lorenzo InterPlay (talk) 16:27, 30 June 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ballou Glen M., Handbook for Sound Engineers, 3rd edition, Focal Press 2002, pp. 1107-1108
  2. ^ Ballou Glen M., Handbook for Sound Engineers, 3rd edition, Focal Press 2002, p. 1108
Be careful here. From my experience, the definitions you propose are more in line with Signal-to-noise ratio than Dynamic range. The low end of a dynamic range measurement can be below the noise floor so long as usable signal exists there (e.g. due to Dither). ~Kvng (talk) 17:37, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Sorry Kvng but I'm not "proposing" a definition, I'm quoting one of the "bibles" of audio engineering, so I think I'm being careful ;)
you can find the difference between SNR and Dynamic Range in the same page you linked;
with respect to dither you're partially right: only for digital systems the perceived Dynamic Range can be extended by proper dithering
Lorenzo InterPlay (talk) 18:26, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

  • I'd propose to replace the first part of the "Audio" sub-section (from the title "Audio" to "...well below the rms noise amplitude (noise floor)." included) with:

Audio engineering[edit]

in Audio Engineering "Dynamic Range" is used with two very different meanings not to be confused:

1) when talking about audio devices (microphones, amplifiers, recorders, digital converters, ...) it is defined as "the level difference between clipping and the noise floor". It is "what can happen when a signal passes through a device",[1] in other words the range of dynamics that a particular device can handle;

e.g.: a DAC (Digital/Analog converter) has a Dynamic range (DR) of 115dB RMS unweighted (118dBA)[2]

2) while when talking about sounds or audio signals (music, speech, sound effects, ...) the term Dynamic Range is used to refer to the difference between the loudest and softest passages as they are actually played or recorded (and perceived);

e.g.: The dynamic range of music as normally perceived in a concert hall doesn't exceed 80 dB, and human speech is normally perceived over a range of about 40 dB.[3]

In this respect the human ear could be considered a "device" that has a dynamic range from the softest audible signal to the so called "threshold of pain"; but since at different frequencies the ear has a very different response to loud and soft sounds (e.g.: at 1kHz it goes from 0 to 120dBSPL while at 100Hz it goes from 20 to 130dBSPL[4]) and since both the low and hi-end of the scale are very subjective, "Area of Audibility" is a better description than "Dynamic Range" for this phenomenon.

In Digital Audio the perceived dynamic range can be extended, with respect to the theoretical one, with noise-shaped dither, taking advantage of the frequency response of the human ear.[5] For this reason the dynamic range can differ from the ratio of the maximum to minimum amplitude a given digital device can record and playback.

This looks like you're on the right track. I don't like the bullets and one-sentence paragraphs but I could do some copy editing once the new material is in the article. ~Kvng (talk) 23:56, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
what about that? Lorenzo InterPlay (talk) 17:18, 9 July 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ballou Glen M., Handbook for Sound Engineers, 3rd edition, Focal Press 2002, pp. 1108
  2. ^ RME Fireface UFX manual, p. 105
  3. ^ Eargle, John (2005). Handbook of Recording Engineering. Springer. p. 4. ISBN 0-387-28470-2. 
  4. ^ Alton Everest, F., Pohlmann, K. C., Master Handbook of Acoustics, 5th Edition, McGraw Hill 2009, p. 48
  5. ^ Katz, B., Mastering Audio, Focal Press 2002, p. 51 and dithering with ozone p.10

Dynamic range of photography[edit]

I have removed the statement, "The dynamic range of sensors used in digital photography is many times less than that of the human eye and generally not as wide as that of chemical photographic media." I have replaced this with cited statements indicating digital and analog photography both have dynamic range comparable to the human eye.

I did find support for the new contribution, "Consumer-grade image file formats sometimes restrict dynamic range." I moved this to a new location and added a citation. ~Kvng (talk) 14:30, 14 July 2016 (UTC)

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