Dynamic range represents the ratio between the loudest signal you can hear and the quietest. Dynamic range is expressed in terms of decibels (dB). Being a ratio, the decibel has no units; everything is relative. Since it is relative, it must be relative to some reference point that has to be defined. Our reference point here is the loudest level you can comfortably bear for one second.
This test helps you benchmark the dynamic range of your sound system.
+ Voice Over
The file first starts with a reference point: a slightly compressed pink noise which tops out at 16-bit full scale (0dbFS). This noise plays for 1 second. Adjust the level of your system so that this noise plays loudly, without being uncomfortably loud.
Right after the noise, a voice is played back at a specified level. Noise references and voiceovers alternate with each other, with the voice being played at decreasing levels.
Play the file until you can't hear the voiceover anymore. The dynamic range of your system is roughly given by the level the voice message was playing at when it was still (barely) audible.
Interestingly, much emphasis is put on 24-bit audio recordings nowadays, with a dynamic range exceeding 140dB. Our example is only 16-bit, with a maximum dynamic range of 96dB, yet that should be plenty. Judge for yourself.
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