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Old 22nd September 2011
Gear Head

Originally Posted by imdookieatmaster View Post
So then what is the purpose of an RMS, if we can just look at the peak level and get it away from -0 db.
Peak levels don't tell you how loud your track is. They tell you how close your audio is to distortion due to clipping. Your hearing cannot detect most transient peaks; they happen too fast. Your brain and ears measure loudness by the average level of the track; the RMS.

In digital audio, you adjust peaks to avoid clipping, and thus distortion; you adjust RMS to change loudness. In general.

That's why VU meters were generally sufficient to adjust analog audio. Fast audio transient peaks shoot right through a VU meter without the meter showing them, but it gives an OK indication of average loudness. However, digital is 100% unforgiving of peaks over 0dbFS, unlike analog media which is very forgiving of high levels. So peak meters became necessary on digital equipment, because the human ear (or a VU meter) cannot always hear a peak that will distort digital audio.