+4 dBu / -10 dBV

+4 dBu / -10 dBV:  These values are typically used to represent ‘Pro’ and ‘Consumer’ audio signal levels - some gear even has a switch to scale the output, or to adjust input gain.  So what do these values mean on a common scale?

First we need to know how to get from dB to volts.  For linear measures like volts, we defined the measure in dB to be 20log10(volts/reference).  To go backwards we’ll need volts = reference10^(dB/20).

You’ll recall from a previous post that the reference for dBV is 1 volt, and the reference for dBu is 0.775 volts.

Let’s convert 4dBu to dBV, via volts:

0.775*10^(4/20) = 1.228V

20*log10(1.228/1) = 1.8dBV

So +4dBu=+1.8dBV, and the difference between +4dBu and -10dBV is really about 12 dB.