What is a Decibel (dB) and why it simplifies calculations and graphs

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I’m going to try and explain what a decibel is and why it is used so often. For some reason it seems to confuse a lot of people, especially when used in sound engineering. As it happens the dB is actually really simple once you understand what it is and why it is used.

vu-meter-picture

The first concept you need to get your head around is a dB is nothing more than a ratio, just like saying a 2:1 ratio to mean two apples for every¬†pear, in other words double the amount of apples for every one pear. Instead of linear scaling like this, in the land of dB’s everything is logarithmic. You don’t need to know what that means¬†you just need to know that it’s a ratio. First off a bit of history.

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