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Hi-Fi Audio: Unveiling the Hidden dBs

Authored on: Oct 21, 2009 by João Risques

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Audio processing is essential to electronic applications such as mobile phones, MP3 players, set-top boxes, and a host of other products where size and power consumption are critical design criteria. Additionally, high-end products, such as digital TV and smart phones, need to set themselves apart from competing products by adding value with high quality HiFi (High Fidelity) audio capabilities. While looking at Hi-Fi Audio, high "dynamic range" is the most popular measurement used to assess whether an audio system is "clean" (providing high-quality audio experience), so it is arguably the most important audio specification. But by only focusing on a given audio system's dynamic range, two effects are ignored: (1) most mainstream audio system's dynamic range reaches levels on par or even exceeding the 100 dB's that the human ear can perceive, making it difficult to discern which system delivers the best quality; and (2) other equally important factors that determine the overall audio quality are overlooked, such as linearity, channel separation, phase linearity, and so on.

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