Dynamic range means the difference between the weakest (lowest) and stongest (highest) points of a signal.
In audio, dynamic range refers to the difference between the quietest and loudest parts of the signal. It is usually expressed in decibels (dB) and specifically refers to the range between the noise floor and the peak clipping level.
In video and still imagery, dynamic range refers to the difference between the darkest and brightest parts of the signal or image. This is more commonly referred to as the contrast ratio.
The term dynamic range can apply to various situations including:
- Equipment specification, i.e. the maximum dynamic range a piece of equipment is able to handle before distortion occurs.
- A specification for a format, e.g. the maximum dynamic range supported by a particular digital format.
- A value of a particular signal, e.g. an audio recording with a dynamic range of xdB.