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Radio Terminology Bibliography

Decibel (DB) Tutorial

This is a relative power unit. At audio frequencies a change of one decibel (abbreviated dB) is just detectable as a change in loudness under ideal conditions.

For a given power ratio the decibel change is calculated as:

dB = 10 log P2/P1

If we used voltage or current ratios instead then our formula becomes:

dB = 20 log V2/V1

Decibel is a logarithmic measurement unit that describes a sound's relative loudness, though it can also be used to describe the relative difference between two power levels. A decibel is one tenth of a Bel. In sound, decibels generally measure a scale from 0 (the threshold of hearing) to 120-140 dB (the threshold of pain). A 3dB difference equates to a doubling of power. A 10dB difference is required to double the subjective volume.

A unit of measurement used to indicate audio power level. Technically, a decibel is a logarithmic ratio of two numbers, which means that there is no such thing as a dB measurement of a single signal. In order to measure a signal in dB, you need to know what level it is referenced to. Commonly used reference levels are indicated by such symbols as dBm, dBV, and dBu.

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