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What Is Signal to Noise Ratio? | Why SNR Matters in Audio | Movo

November 29, 2022 3 min read

What is Signal-to-Noise Ratio? How to Calculate SNR & Why It’s Important

For new creators getting started with audio recording, there can be a lot of expressions and terms to wrap your head around. Even if you’re a seasoned audio engineer, it can be hard to keep them all straight! If you’re buying a microphone or learning about recording, you may have heard the term “signal-to-noise ratio” or “SNR.”

So what is the signal-to-noise ratio? Let's dig into the nuts and bolts of SNR meaning and see if we can cut through the jargon. 

An audio meter measures the decibel level of an audio signal.

WHAT IS SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO IN AUDIO?

Simply put, SNR is the measurement of the level of the desired signal against the level of background noise. Different microphones have certain levels at which noise becomes audible. This is called a “noise floor.”

And if you’re asking yourself what is a good signal-to-noise ratio, all we have to say is: the higher the number, the better. 

HOW TO CALCULATE SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO:

If you’re wondering how to calculate SNR, simply take the ratio of the two signals and convert it to dB. For example, if the signal strength is 60 times greater than the noise strength, then the SNR would be 60 dB. An SNR of 60 dB means that the level of the desired signal is 60 dB higher than the level of the background noise. 

When determining what is a good signal to noise ratio, you can also calculate signal-to-noise ratio in terms of percentage (%): 

SNR % = 100 x (signal power/noise power)

As you can see from this signal-to-noise ratio formula, if the signal strength is twice that of the noise strength, then the SNR would be 200%.

It's important to note that SNR can be measured in absolute terms or relative terms. Absolute SNR measures the ratio of the desired signal to noise at a specific point in time, while relative SNR compares the levels of the desired signal and noise over a period of time.

WHY IS SNR IMPORTANT?

Signal-to-noise ratio is important because if you're recording audio for any purpose — be it music, podcasting, or voice-over — you want your audience to be able to hear the audio signal with as little noise as possible. That's where having a high SNR is to have a good SNR; by keeping the level of background noise to a minimum, you can ensure that your recording is as clear as possible.

If you're recording audio for any purpose—be it music, podcasting, voice-over—you want your audience to be able to hear the audio signal with as little noise as possible. That's where having a high SNR comes in handy; by keeping the level of background noise to a minimum, you can ensure that your recording is as clear as possible. 

But what if you’re dealing with an SNR that is less than ideal? Don’t worry, all is not lost. 

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO?

There are a few different ways that you can improve your signal-to-noise ratio. One way is to simply use a higher-quality recording device; a better microphone will pick up your voice more clearly while filtering out unwanted background noise. Another way to improve your signal-to-noise ratio is by paying attention to your recording environment and taking steps to reduce external noise (like recording in a quiet room or using acoustic panels to absorb sound). 

You can also use post-processing techniques to reduce noise levels in your recordings. For example, you can use a denoising plug-in in your audio editing software to remove any remaining unwanted background noise. 

While there are ways to deal with noise in the post-production process, the most important thing you can do to improve your signal-to-noise ratio is to invest in a good microphone. Luckily, Movo offers some great options for microphones that won’t break the bank. 

We hope that this has helped to demystify Signal-to-Noise ratio. Happy recording! Don’t forget to keep us updated on the latest content you’re creating.