The peak sound levels of music performances are combined with the audibility of noise in sound reproduction circumstances to yield a dynamic-range criterion for noise-free reproduction of music. This criterion is then examined in light of limitations due to microphones, analog-to-digital conversion, digital audio storage, low-bit-rate coders, digital-to-analog conversion, and loudspeakers. A dynamic range of over 120 dB is found to be necessary in the most demanding circumstances, requiring the reproduction of sound levels of up to 129 dB SPL. Present audio systems are shown to be challenged to yield these values.
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