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Thread: digital and analogue audio

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Default digital and analogue audio


    As all audio meters nowadays seem to be digital (and 0db is the peak) can anybody tell me what level 0db digital is on an analogue vu scale??

    Is there some sort of standard between analogue and digital audio scales?


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    South africa

    Default digital and analogue audio

    The answer is simple and complicated. I will try to explain without getting technical.

    0db = 0db whether it be Digital or analogue. It is a RELATIVE reading depending on voltages in use.

    Peak readings will visually reflect differently due to the fact that digital meters respond quicker than VU meters ( there are special VU meters that respond very quickly in real PRO gear.) If you play a continuous sinewave tone through both and both have the same voltage spec they will both show the same reading. The issue comes between the various levels of gear spec. Your semi-pro gear is referenced to a -10db spec, Pro gear is referenced to a +4db spec and Broadcast is at times referenced to a +8db spec. It is a lot more technical than that, but I think that should suffice for this response.

    If you are not mixing bits of gear from each area then you will get a common "0db" throughout all your gear. Each sector has a different "voltage" spec that equals "0db" VU meters tend to show an "average" reading whereas Digital meters tend to show a "PPM" or Peak Program Meter" reading.

    Onboard soundcards are usually -10db spec
    Up spec cards are usually +4db spec

    It is a very confusing issue when you see "0" on your mixer and your software meter is either showing a very low value or sitting at the top of the red.

    Here is a software tone generator that might help in setting up your level structure

    The same can be seen when manufacturers or retailers rate their consumer audio goods
    100watts RMS
    100watts Nominal
    100watts PMPO - (Peak Music Power Output)
    or just
    100watts output

    Every one of the above tells a different story about the product.
    The RMS reading should be the one you can trust but there are different ways of acheiving RMS ratings, but that is a story all of it's own.

    Hope all that blurb helped.


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