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Dynamic range question, Dynamic range of hearing vs. equipment
thesurfingalien
post Jun 8 2011, 01:16
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Hi All,

I am having problems understanding the concept of dynamic range, and more specific how the dynamic range of human hearing relates to the dynamic range as specified for audio equipment.

What I have read on the Net is that the dynamic range of human hearing is, on average, 135 dB (the pain limit / threshold?).

I also understand that the dynamic range of a CD (16 bit) is limited to 96 dB, and for HD (24 bit) recordings 144 dB. This dynamic range is calculated by the bit-depth.

For playback of music (I use 44.1/16 flac only) I use a E-MU 1820 that has a dynamic range of about 115 dB (or so). I am not sure what my amp can do...

However, when I play music I hardly pass 80 dB (or so) listening volume, so the 96 dB CD data (if the recording makes full use of the range that is) gets "compressed", while the relative dynamic range remains.

After the long intro my question in essence is:

Does the human hearing have a similar "resolution" that is comparable to the resolution defined by the bit-depth in (digital) audio? Or am I just comparing apples and pears?

Regards,
Peter

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pdq
post Jun 17 2011, 13:21
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Very nice first post. Thanks. beer.gif
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jun 17 2011, 14:02
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jun 17 2011, 08:21) *
Very nice first post. Thanks. beer.gif


First serious omission - a real world discussion of noise levels in the place where the recording is made. For example my live recording kit actually has close to 100 dB dynamic range under ideal conditions. I don't think I've ever made a live recording with better than about 67 dB dyanmc range. The balance of the noise is usually due to HVAC and humans being in the room.

Second serious omission - discusison of what kind of dynamic range we can actually perceive.

As JJ has said from time to time, the ear has about 30 dB instantaneous dynamic range that slides up and down. The sliding is is subject to a number of timing and memory conditions.

I think most people have been around some loud sound that caused a temporary threshold shift that was readily perceptible. IOW, they went to a loud concert or were in a noisy industrial environment and noticed that they were having a hard time hearing soft sounds for hours or even days later. That reperesnts a memory effect that vastly reduces the effective dynamic range of the human ear.
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dc2bluelight
post Jun 18 2011, 00:53
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jun 17 2011, 08:02) *
First serious omission - a real world discussion of noise levels in the place where the recording is made. For example my live recording kit actually has close to 100 dB dynamic range under ideal conditions. I don't think I've ever made a live recording with better than about 67 dB dyanmc range. The balance of the noise is usually due to HVAC and humans being in the room.

Let me apologize for my "serious omission". What you say is certainly true of live recording, but recording studios are built to NC-15 and below, including HVAC, and NC-10 and NC-5 is not unachievable. Keep in mind, you won't be able to correlate an unweighted dynamic range measurement with a room noise measurement based on NC curves, though. If you take into account positioning a mic close to a source (inverse square law), you can indeed record a dynamic range in excess of 100dB, even in an NC-20 room. No, it's not typical, but it's done quite often.
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jun 17 2011, 08:02) *
Second serious omission - discusison of what kind of dynamic range we can actually perceive.

As JJ has said from time to time, the ear has about 30 dB instantaneous dynamic range that slides up and down. The sliding is is subject to a number of timing and memory conditions.

I think most people have been around some loud sound that caused a temporary threshold shift that was readily perceptible. IOW, they went to a loud concert or were in a noisy industrial environment and noticed that they were having a hard time hearing soft sounds for hours or even days later. That reperesnts a memory effect that vastly reduces the effective dynamic range of the human ear.


Again, if I've made another "serious omission", I apologize. As to the "discusison" (sic), however, the instantaneous dynamic range you refer to has a time element. If the music in question has a volume envelope that makes level transitions slower than the sliding dynamic range window you describe, it is possible to perceive a dynamic range to the limits of an individual's hearing.

I thought I was agreeing with you re: 16 bit being more than adequate. My point on it being a little light for capture is, as I'm sure you're very aware, live situations often present unexpected levels. Would you rather "waste" a few bits, store some more data and capture the entire event without issue, or go ahead and clip the A/D every so often? HDD storage is cheap, 24 bit A/D, even if they have a noise floor of a 20 bit A/D, are affordable to everyone. Why not use them, then once you're finished in post, release in a well-mastered, controlled, real, unclipped, perfectly adequate 16 bit format?

I thought the Stagetec thing was a cool idea, and unique in the market. If not, I guess I've had my head under a rock, which is completely possible. But I don't see anyone else doing the multiple (cheap??) A/D trick in a product at any price. And if it doesn't address nonlinear distortion (I assume you refer to the distortion products caused by linear quantization), ok, but we're discussing dynamic range here, right?

I'm not sure why in a discussion of dynamic range, the idea that 16 bits is "overkill" because of environmental noise in recording and reproduction is so pertinent. You know, when you listen to music in a car at 65mph, the available dynamic range is less than 18dB, and in a truck, more like 10. So when we know we're recording for the car, should we use a 3 or 4 bit converter because the other 12 bits are overkill? We already have 16 bits in common use, for better or worse. It's not going to change to anything else quickly for the main stream consumer. And the direction it's going is more bits at a higher rate, as wasteful and ineffective as that is. We can't reproduce 16 bits, true. But why not record with more bit depth so we can work with some elbow room in post? Seems the recording industry from music to location film sound thinks it's a good idea.

Ok, I hear ammunition being loaded... I'm ducking back into the fox hole and putting my helmet on...





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Notat
post Jun 19 2011, 01:21
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QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Jun 17 2011, 17:53) *
But why not record with more bit depth so we can work with some elbow room in post? Seems the recording industry from music to location film sound thinks it's a good idea.

This is the thinking among mainstream audio engineers. No one uses 16-bit ADCs for professional recording. Arnold is being argumentative. He does that.

To my knowledge, the Stagetec converter is a novel idea. Like many such good ideas, one can only discount it as obvious once one has been introduced and understands it.
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Posts in this topic
- thesurfingalien   Dynamic range question   Jun 8 2011, 01:16
- - Canar   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 7 2011, 17:1...   Jun 8 2011, 01:44
- - pdq   ...and with proper dither the dynamic range of 16 ...   Jun 8 2011, 01:51
- - Woodinville   In most any modern room, the lower limit of maskin...   Jun 8 2011, 02:28
- - knutinh   Given that background noise can have all kinds of ...   Jun 8 2011, 09:20
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jun 8 2011, 01:20) Given...   Jun 8 2011, 09:30
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 8 2011, 10:30) Y...   Jun 8 2011, 10:15
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jun 8 2011, 05:15) QUOTE...   Jun 8 2011, 19:15
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jun 8 2011, 11:15) The ...   Jun 8 2011, 19:38
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 8 2011, 14:38) Q...   Jun 8 2011, 20:58
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jun 8 2011, 12:58) QUOT...   Jun 9 2011, 02:02
|- - MichaelW   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 9 2011, 13:02) A...   Jun 9 2011, 04:42
|- - WernerO   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jun 9 2011, 04:42) when...   Jun 9 2011, 10:12
|- - thesurfingalien   QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jun 9 2011, 00:42) QUOT...   Jun 9 2011, 13:02
- - DonP   For listening to high dynamic range material (say,...   Jun 8 2011, 10:50
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 8 2011, 11:50) For list...   Jun 8 2011, 11:19
- - thesurfingalien   @All: Thanks so far for your replies, but it...   Jun 8 2011, 12:29
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 8 2011, 13:2...   Jun 8 2011, 13:37
|- - drewfx   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 8 2011, 06:2...   Jun 8 2011, 17:05
- - [JAZ]   Like others have said, the key is knowing that tal...   Jun 8 2011, 19:04
|- - DonP   QUOTE ([JAZ] @ Jun 8 2011, 13:04)...   Jun 9 2011, 00:17
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE The second question is if there is any relat...   Jun 8 2011, 19:37
- - Northpack   I guess room noise usually has the least amount of...   Jun 8 2011, 20:15
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Northpack @ Jun 8 2011, 21:15) I g...   Jun 8 2011, 20:49
- - greynol   Let's not forget dBu and dBV.   Jun 9 2011, 00:32
- - drewfx   And to further clarify the use of "dB" v...   Jun 9 2011, 02:17
- - knutinh   I seem to remember that people who record ambient ...   Jun 10 2011, 10:31
|- - Kees de Visser   Absolutely ! Last year I've spent quite so...   Jun 10 2011, 22:18
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jun 10 2011, 05:31) I se...   Jun 16 2011, 13:05
- - thesurfingalien   @All, Although all info was useful and interestin...   Jun 11 2011, 10:59
|- - lvqcl   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 11 2011, 13...   Jun 11 2011, 11:11
||- - thesurfingalien   QUOTE (lvqcl @ Jun 11 2011, 07:11) QUOTE ...   Jun 11 2011, 14:11
||- - lvqcl   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 11 2011, 17...   Jun 11 2011, 14:19
||- - thesurfingalien   QUOTE (lvqcl @ Jun 11 2011, 10:19) QUOTE ...   Jun 11 2011, 15:37
||- - lvqcl   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 11 2011, 18...   Jun 11 2011, 18:34
||- - DonP   QUOTE (lvqcl @ Jun 11 2011, 12:34) QUOTE ...   Jun 11 2011, 19:21
|- - drewfx   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 11 2011, 04...   Jun 11 2011, 17:33
|- - Notat   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 11 2011, 03...   Jun 12 2011, 18:10
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Northpack @ Jun 14 2011, 09:15) An...   Jun 14 2011, 11:01
- - dv1989   1 bit represents 6 dB of amplitude (i.e. a doublin...   Jun 11 2011, 17:37
|- - Brand   I must admit I have the same questions as the OP r...   Jun 12 2011, 22:11
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Brand @ Jun 12 2011, 16:11) I must...   Jun 12 2011, 22:38
|- - lvqcl   QUOTE (Brand @ Jun 13 2011, 01:11) I...   Jun 12 2011, 22:47
|- - Brand   QUOTE (lvqcl @ Jun 12 2011, 23:47) QUOTE ...   Jun 13 2011, 10:25
|- - lvqcl   QUOTE (Brand @ Jun 13 2011, 13:25) Is the...   Jun 13 2011, 10:51
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Brand @ Jun 13 2011, 04:25) QUOTE ...   Jun 13 2011, 12:13
|- - Soap   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 13 2011, 07:13) I'm...   Jun 13 2011, 13:02
|- - Fedot L   QUOTE (Brand @ Jun 13 2011, 09:25) ...I t...   Jun 14 2011, 10:43
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE Given that (for CD) the 16 bit depth is limi...   Jun 13 2011, 21:52
- - Northpack   I think this relation 1bit to 6.02dB is where some...   Jun 14 2011, 08:15
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Northpack @ Jun 14 2011, 09:15) I ...   Jun 14 2011, 09:13
|- - Northpack   QUOTE (knutinh @ Jun 14 2011, 09:13) Prop...   Jun 14 2011, 11:00
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Northpack @ Jun 14 2011, 12:00) QU...   Jun 14 2011, 11:12
- - dc2bluelight   Very interesting discussion. I'd like to add ...   Jun 17 2011, 09:58
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Jun 17 2011, 04:58)...   Jun 17 2011, 14:20
- - pdq   Very nice first post. Thanks.   Jun 17 2011, 13:21
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (pdq @ Jun 17 2011, 08:21) Very nic...   Jun 17 2011, 14:02
|- - dc2bluelight   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jun 17 2011, 08...   Jun 18 2011, 00:53
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Jun 18 2011, 01:53)...   Jun 18 2011, 09:31
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Jun 17 2011, 19:53)...   Jun 18 2011, 18:58
|- - Notat   QUOTE (dc2bluelight @ Jun 17 2011, 17:53)...   Jun 19 2011, 01:21
- - dc2bluelight   Wow. You guys are tough here.   Jun 17 2011, 16:40
- - Woodinville   Just so it's clear, the 30dB number applies fo...   Jun 18 2011, 04:32
- - dc2bluelight   Yes, that clears it up. Critical band masking wou...   Jun 18 2011, 07:17
- - thesurfingalien   @All, I am ashamed to tell that, although the dis...   Jun 18 2011, 21:04
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 18 2011, 22...   Jun 18 2011, 21:40
|- - lvqcl   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 19 2011, 00...   Jun 18 2011, 21:45
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 18 2011, 16...   Jun 19 2011, 11:44
|- - drewfx   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 18 2011, 15...   Jun 19 2011, 18:56
|- - WernerO   QUOTE (thesurfingalien @ Jun 18 2011, 21...   Jun 20 2011, 11:33
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (WernerO @ Jun 20 2011, 12:33) You ...   Jun 20 2011, 20:34
||- - Notat   QUOTE (dhromed @ Jun 20 2011, 13:34) I...   Jun 20 2011, 22:58
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (WernerO @ Jun 20 2011, 03:33) QUOT...   Jun 20 2011, 20:58
- - Wombat   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 18 2011, 04:32) ...   Jun 19 2011, 00:55
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (Wombat @ Jun 18 2011, 16:55) QUOTE...   Jun 20 2011, 02:43
- - Soap   I belive the problem thesurfingalien is having is ...   Jun 19 2011, 20:01
- - DigitalMan   @Soap - agree we've not given thesurfingalien ...   Jun 20 2011, 02:59
- - Soap   What I was going to say (please correct me where w...   Jun 20 2011, 03:45
- - DonP   This will probably add confusion to those already ...   Jun 20 2011, 14:48
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 20 2011, 06:48) This wi...   Jun 20 2011, 21:04
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 20 2011, 15:04) ...   Jun 21 2011, 02:18
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 20 2011, 18:18) QUOTE (...   Jun 21 2011, 03:49
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 20 2011, 21:49) ...   Jun 21 2011, 12:01
|- - Woodinville   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 21 2011, 04:01) QUOTE (...   Jun 21 2011, 22:48
- - dhromed   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 20 2011, 15:48) It turn...   Jun 20 2011, 20:41
- - Wombat   QUOTE (Woodinville @ Jun 20 2011, 02:43) ...   Jun 20 2011, 21:21
- - Woodinville   QUOTE (Wombat @ Jun 20 2011, 13:21) So pl...   Jun 20 2011, 22:02


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