How Can I See dB On Vertical Scale?

I really need to see a dB view on my vertical scale - like just about every other audio editor on the planet allows you to do. I know I can switch the track to “Waveform (dB)” to change the scale. But then the waveform seems to become very strange looking, with super quiet passages having large waveforms?

What is Audacity doing to the view? And why can’t I just see a standard bilateral scale (typically showing an infinity symbol in the center and 0 dB at the extremes at the top and bottom) against the same waveform that shows in standard “Waveform” mode?

I’ve read explanations of things like “dB is not a standard measure of loudness or SPL,” and that’s why, etc. But Adobe Audition and Wavepad (the only other two editors I use) both manage to display dB along the the vertical scale just fine. If Audacity won’t do this natively, is there maybe a plugin that will?


I asked the exact same question. There’s really no good reason other than that’s the way it has always been, it’s quite tricky to change it, and no-one yet has stepped forward to do so.

I’ve logged your interest in this feature on the Feature Request page of the Audacity wiki: Missing features - Audacity Support

I’ve moved this topic to the “Adding Features” section of the forum.
(this type of feature cannot be accomplished with a plug-in.)

Thanks Steve!

Is there a way to use the Waveform (dB) scale, but NOT have the actual waveform be displayed in the same way (linear) as in the Waveform scale mode?

I really need to see a dB view on my vertical scale

Why? If you are used to working with dB you should have a “feel” for the dB levels (as long as you know 1.0 is 100% or 0dB).

And if I need to know the exact levels find it more useful to “analyze” the file. i.e. The Amplify effect will indirectly give you the peak (the inverse of it’s default amplification value) or the [u]ACX plug-in[/u] can give you peak & RMS levels.

It’s just foreign to me to have the waveform suddenly get all weird looking (yeah, I know, technical terms :stuck_out_tongue:). Things look the way I expect in the default view (not the Waveform (dB) one).

I take it from your reply the answer is no though, correct?

Your correct. No. Changing the home screens is rough.

Cool Edit does it in dB, too. They distort the display so the actual waves are in percent (volts), but the measurement is in dB.

Note half-way up is -6dB which is proper. Right around -25dB, the waves are so small as to be useless. But you would never know that in Audacity unless you carried a calculator with you (or watched the bouncing sound meter).

And if my vote isn’t in there to change it, it ought.


get all weird looking

That’s what happens when you try to combine how your ears work with how your eyes work. Note if you picked 60dB for the bouncing light sound meter range, Waveform (dB) will be 60dB, too. That’s what the sound actually looks like. What it’s not is handy or useful, since only the loudest 30dB of a show counts. The only reason you would ever need to go down quieter than that is noise. And “noise” technically isn’t “show.”

One of the technical specifications for audiobooks is the peak limit of -3dB. That is an actual show measurement and it’s nearly invisible on the Waveform (dB) view.

Is it too late for the next Audacity?


Yes. At this stage in the release cycle, it’s bug fixes (at the Release Manager’s discretion) and translation updates only.

We were scheduled for the release candidate by now, but that has been delayed due to a problem with FFmpeg support in the Mac version (which is the first 64-bit version for macOS). As soon as that is fixed the release candidate will come out.