What is dynamic range?

FAQ #1952 Updated October 13, 2008

Question:

Please kindly correct me if Im wrong, does dynamic range means the widest range that a mic can be able to cover(simplified meaning)?...and does a maximum SPL means (in simplified meaning also) the loudest sound a microphone can handle?

Answer:

1) Does dynamic range means the widest range that a mic can be able to cover? * Yes. It is the sound pressure level (SPL) range of a microphone. On the high SPL end, it assumes an undistorted output signal. On the low SPL end, it assumes an output signal that is greater than the self-noise (hiss) of the microphone's electronics.

2) Does a maximum SPL mean the loudest sound a microphone can handle? * Yes, again assuming an undistorted output signal.

A mic can "handle" SPL outside of its dynamic range, but the output signal will be useless - either distorted or lost in "hiss".

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