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ADC Dynamic range and microphones

Category: Hardware
Currently, many companies create ADC with an enormeous dynamic range (120 db or more). However, the practical dynamic range of a microphone can be 94db (SPL). This means -26 in digital full scale (dbfs) of a DAW (Cubase, Pro Tools and so on) . Also, according some papers, a dymamic range of 96db ( CD quality ) is enough to record music, if you mix and process the audio tracks with a resolution of 24 or 32bits before the final format (16 bits CD).
Is there  a real advantage in using a new audio interface (ADC 120db or more) instead an old interface ( ADC 105db) when I record with condenser microphones? ( For example: recording classical music).

[edited by: GenevaCooper at 5:54 PM (GMT -4) on 20 Apr 2023]
  • There are some microphones capable of more than 105 dB dynamic range (these are almost 130 dB DNR), but the extra dynamic range is mostly for headroom. For example, when you set your gain levels, it's very difficult to know exactly what setting corresponds to the loudest sound. It's much easier to set the gain 10 dB below what you expect it to be and not have to worry about clipping. Similarly, when you add multiple sources in a mix, in phase signals will add to higher levels that any single source on it's own. The peace of mind of knowing that you're both well above the noise floor and well below clipping makes better converters worthwhile in some situations. Once the levels are well known, and you have full control over compression and limiting, you can move to a 16-bit format with very little loss.