Hi Glen,
Try thinking 0dB = maximum loudness. Therfore all softer sounds are negative. The dB scale is actually comparative, that is to say; something is so many dBs different from something else.
So, sound at -3dB is half as loud in comparison with the maximum (in this case, the limit of recording without clipping the waveform), sound at -6 dB is one quarter the loudness and so on.
In some elctrical audio circuits, from memory, 0dB is usually 1V at an impedance of 600 ohms, so dB figures in that circuit would always be relative to the 1V @ 600 ohms. Positive dB values then would be above 1V, as you would imagine.

Kind Regards
----- Original Message -----
From: Glen Hein
To: audacity-users@lists.sourceforge.net
Sent: 18 November 2008 01:48
Subject: [Audacity-users] newbie question

Hello All,

I'm new to audio engineering and recording. Can someone explain why the volume meter ranges from large negative numbers for no sound to zero for a loud sound? I have a math and science background, so don't be afraid to be technical, or point me towards some technical documentation ;-)

Glen Hein

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