Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range

What is Dynamic Range?

Dynamic range measures the difference in volume between the softest and loudest portions of a track or album. It is most useful when comparing different releases of the same material.

Since the early 90s, many recordings have been increasingly "louder". Since it's impossible for a CD to turn up your stereo, they increase the volume using techniques like dynamic range compression. For more information on the "Loudness War", see here. Dynamic Range measurements provide insight as to what may have been done to a recording, particularly in cases where there are multiple releases to chose from, like this:

In this case, it's clear that while both are versions of the same Hi-Res material, the CD-quality release has been processed in a way that reduced its Dynamic Range when compared to the Bandcamp version.

It's important to remember that Dynamic Range is just one piece of information. Music with a lot of dynamic range isn't necessarily better than music with less. Orchestral performances will nearly always have a much wider dynamic range than Heavy Metal, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the recordings are any better or worse.

Where can I see Dynamic Range in Roon?

Please note: dynamic range measurements are only displayed for recordings in your local library. DR isn't available for streaming service content. 

Dynamic Range is displayed in a few places:

On the Album Details Screen

In the "Versions" tab when viewing an album

In the track browser when the "Dynamic Range" column is enabled
Click the gear icon, and then toggle the Dynamic range option when viewing your tracks

Dynamic Range will be displayed in a new column in your "Tracks" view

In the "File Info" popup
Right click or long press the track you're interested in, and then click the three dots (•••) menu. You'll find your file info button inside of this menu
The File info menu will display details regarding your track that include dynamic range

How is Dynamic Range computed?

As with Volume Leveling, Roon's dynamic range calculation is done based on R128 standards. In technical terms, Roon's "Dynamic Range" is the same as R128's "Loudness Range".

There are other methods of computing Dynamic range out there - most commonly by measuring the "Crest Factor".

Crest Factor measurements reflect the difference between the average volume and the peak volume--so they are easily swayed by periods of silence or near-silence (which distorts the average), and by short-duration peaks--which may not represent the volume of the loudest parts of the track accurately.

The R128 method used by Roon is more resilient. It begins by computing the statistical distribution of loudness values present at different points in the track, ignoring periods of silence. The computed dynamic range represents the difference between the 10th percentile and the 95th percentile of that distribution. In other words, the "top" of the range is the volume level that 95% of the track sits below, and the "bottom" is the volume level that 10% of the track sits above.

Though both methods portray roughly the same information, Crest Factor values aren't directly comparable to values produced using the R128 method.
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