I'm in the painful process of figuring out a nice eq and then discovering that it makes things too loud causing overdrive, so I need to convert my old +xdb to 0db and my old 0db to -ydb. This is not a straightforward conversion at all however due to the nature of decibels. So it begs the question:

Why does digital sound EQ use decibels instead of an amplitude multiplier?

You'd think a single floating point multiplier is way computationally cheaper to implement as well as easier to reason about.

  • It uses dB because that's what sound engineers think in. They are not required to know the maths or the engineering behind it.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 21, 2021 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


Audio engineering uses decibels, because they are closer to how the human hearing perceives loudness: a double energy level is not twice as loud. A linear scale would require either a very large fader or be fiddly to tune towards the lower end.

If you're tuning your EQ by the numbers, you're doing it wrong. Use your ears! ;-)


If a small change in EQ is causing clipping, then the mix is way too hot. Reduce the overall gain by 6dB (at least) then apply your EQ changes.

  • You're totally right, it's just that I don't see the option of doing that in the system audio settings (I'm using an eq for my whole os to make up for my headphones' shortcomings)
    – AnnoyinC
    Feb 22, 2021 at 16:35

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