Perceived gain level

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Wagster, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. Wagster

    Wagster Member

    May 14, 2008
    Westminster, MD
    Can someone explain to me what perceived gain level is?
  2. Corey Y

    Corey Y Member

    Sep 23, 2009
    Poland,, OH
    Without knowing what context you heard the term in that you're trying to decipher, it's the way you hear the "loudness" of an audio signal vs. the peak dB. An audio source might be peaking at -.2dB on a meter, but the majority of the sound you're hearing might be somewhere down around say -5dB. That's why compression is used, since those peaking signals are probably just tiny spikes that are barely audible because of frequency and/or duration, but they're taking up "space". The signal is compressed to allow the volume of the "body" of the signal to be increased, without those spikes exceeding the maximum allowed (so the signal doesn't clip).

    There's also the psychoacoustic angle of perceived volume. Certain frequencies are perceived louder and quieter to the human/ear brain than others and that changes depending on volume level as well. That's a large component in the motivation for the whole "loudness wars" and the "loudness" button on some stereos, for increasing bass and treble response when turning down the volume. For more info on that you can look up Fletcher-Munson curves. Useful knowledge to have if you're mixing.

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