0db with Digital and Analogue

Odb registers differently with analogue equipment than it does with Digital equipment.

When you send a signal that registers 0db on your analogue desk to an unbalanced digital input, the display on the digital input only registers -26db. (This only applies on uncelebrated digital units like DAT machines where you can adjust inputs levels)

This is because analogue devices have quite a high head room, 0db can be exceeded by at least +18db with out much effect, however with digital 0db is its max. So with early digital units if you wanted to use all those precious little 16bits to 20bits of information you had to drive your analogue desk up to around +6db in order to get close to 0db on a digital input.

However this isn’t so much an issue now with 96kbit as the sampling rate is far higher. We no longer have to drive the signal level as high to prevent loss of dynamics and overall sound quality.