When it comes to capturing and reproducing dynamic range, audio has visual beat by a wide margin.
The human ear is capable of about 140dB of dynamic range—the same as a 32-bit digital audio capture. That modern recording and playback technology is capable of matching that of the human ear is remarkable. It wasn’t that long ago that tape and vinyl’s limitations of approximately half that range were as good as it got.
Photography, on the other hand, hasn’t kept up as well. The human eye is capable of discerning about 24 stops of dynamic range (a stop is a doubling of light). The best films could capture about 12 stops while modern digital cameras can approach 15 stops—both a far cry from the eye’s capabilities.
And, dynamic range is not all we hear nor see. There are resolution and timing differences too and again, our audio systems are pretty well matched to our native hearing abilities while cameras fall far short. Some of the best cameras today can achieve a resolution equivalent to about 50 megapixels while our eyes can resolve nearly ten times that.
The point of all this is in admiration of how close we’ve come to matching at least one set of senses.
I’ve never been fooled into believing an image is real, but I cannot say the same thing when it comes to sound.
© 2023 PS Audio, Inc.