Change in the dB vertical scale of the tracks

I use Audacity 2.3.2 in Ubuntu Studio 18.04.2 (64 bit Linux).

I wonder when Audacity will have a logarithmic vertical scale (dB) to show the audio tracks.

I think it had been asked before, lot of times.

It is the same to the audio level meters, (linear scale today, only, to both things).

In the real audio world both scales are logarithmic.

Just an idea!!!

Blessings and Greetings from Chile, South America!!!


Menu drop-down on the left > Waveform dB.

You can also choose Spectrogram.

What it doesn’t have is blue waves in percent but labeled in dB. This is a capture from Cool Edit.

Note it still only shows you the loudest 25dB of the show, but the numbers match the bouncing sound meter. So no more converting from 70% to -3dB to see the audiobook maximum volume. It’s printed right on the screen.


There is not a logarithmic vertical scale in the tracks and/or level meters in Audacity, today.

I have a picture about but I don’t know how to upload here.

In a text window, scroll down and click Attachments > Add files. That should open a window to your machine. There’s a limited number of different picture file formats, so stick to the main ones: GIF, JPEG, PNG. Also it’s good to limit the pixel count to 650 sideways and 500 top to bottom.

Db volume is 20Log (v1/v2). That’s a ratio between two audio volumes. 60dB is 1000 times the voltage. Log 1000 is 3, times 20 is 60dB.

What did you want to do and why?

Audacity is an audio production manager, not a WAV editor. We get into trouble every time a scientist tries to do critical work in Audacity. If there’s a choice between strict scientific accuracy and having it sound good, we sound good. It can drive the scientists nuts.


If you (or anyone else) submits a patch (correctly coded C++ without bugs), then there’s a very good chance that it will be accepted, at least as an option, and possibly as the default.
Patches may be submitted on GitHub: Pull requests · audacity/audacity · GitHub

I’m not a programmer, sorry!!! I’m just a music teacher and audio technician, sorry!

I just wonder why Audacity uses that linear scale, which is not used in the real audio world (I don’t know any audio recording machine, digital or analog, with any other than the logarithmic scale).

Why logarithmic scale? Simple: This is the way our hearing system works, period! It is not something like a personal election of someone. It is what it is!

The audio wave shown in the Audacity tracks should be looked most near to our ears are accustomed. That’s all, I’m saying.

I’m talking about we are more sensitive to the changes between 0 and -6 dB than a change between -15 and -21 dB. Even the obvious fact that in both cases are 6 dB of difference, it represents very different level changes to our hearing system (logarithmic scale!).

BTW: I used a very limited audio recording/editing software in the time when we used MS-Windows 3.1 and that software had the logarithmic scale to show the audio waves. So… It is not something new at all!

It is not something new at all!

No, but what’s new is calling it a logarithmic scale. That makes me think of the odd scales on a slide rule. Remember slide rules?

Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 13.39.40.png
So you really want a dB scale like I posted in the first response. The one from Cool Edit.

Grand idea. That’s a popular request. Thanks for the note.



That kind of scale, like the old (but still useful) Cool Edit Pro, is what I’m asking for!

And… Yes! Of course I remember those so beautiful slide rules! (I still have one).

And, at last, the kind of scale used by Cool Edit Pro and a lot of audio software, is a logarithmic scale (the spacing between the scale marks is reducing according to a base 10 logarithms equation).

That goes way back to the origins of when Audacity was first created.

Personally, I’d prefer a dB scale, which would be consistent with the dB scale of the meters, and most of Audacity’s effects (such as “Amplify” and “Normalize”).

However, the linear scale of +/- 1 is not arbitrary. For 32-bit float PCM audio, the linear scale values correspond with the actual numeric values of the samples, and for 16 / 24-bit integer formats, the integer values are scaled to a range of +/- 1.0, so regardless of the format, the +/- 1 linear scale corresponds to actual numeric values of the audio samples.

So percent waves and dB labels could be an option like the other two displays.


But… Gentlemen, remember that we are talking about AUDIO, and how it is shown in the screen to the user.

Event the fact a linear scale is extremely exact to a mathematician brain, sound and music are… A very different world!!!

To me, the scale isn’t that important…

If I want to set a particular peak level, or just check the peak level, I run the Amplify effect. Or, I can check the peak or RMS levels with ACX Check and/or I can check “loudness” with dpMeter (3rd party plug-in*). All of these “analysis” methods are more precise that trying to visually measure the height of a wave or watching a constantly-changing meter.


  • I don’t know if dpMeter runs on Linux.

I too would like to see a dB scale, as in the CoolEdit example, as that is what I am used to. A selectable option?

I think that would be the best solution.

I’ve moved this topic to the “adding features” section, so that interest in this feature will be logged.

Don’t what the means of measuring interest is. Don’t see like a thumbs up or something like that. So +1 for me on this. It was one of the first things I looked for and couldn’t find.

Exactly what you’ve done - just comment on the thread. When this thread has gone quiet for a while, one of the moderators will transfer the information to the “Feature Request” page of the wiki, with a tally of how many people “voted” for it. This gives the developer’s an idea of what new features are most in demand.


Adding my name to the list of those seeking this feature.

If you change the Waveform to be Waveform dB view than you get a logarithmic scale in the Vertical Scale.

In 2.4.1 right click in the Vertical Scale yo get its context menu and select dB


This feature request if for dB labelling of the vertical ruler with linear scaling of the waveform. Virtually all other audio editors and DAWs do this. One could say that it is the industry standard, and that Audacity is unique in not following this convention.

Linear scaling with dB labelling allows the “actual shape” of waveforms to be seen (a sine wave looks like a sine wave, and a triangle wave looks like triangles), and the the peak level to be read in dB.

Audacity’s non-standard labelling / scaling also applies to the “Mixer Board”.

The vertical track scale, and mixer slider scale typically go down to “-inf” like this: