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Harmonic distortion

When any signal is passed through an electronic circuit, the signal may be changed in many ways. In video, the image may become blurred, noisy or contain shadows. In audio, odd harmonics (third, fifth, etc.) produce harsh and unpleasant sounding audio.
Distorted Waveforms Square Sine

Harmonic distortion adds overtones that are whole number multiples of a sound wave's frequencies. Nonlinearities that give rise to amplitude distortion in audio systems are most often measured in terms of the harmonics (overtones) added to a pure sinewave fed to the system. Harmonic distortion may be expressed in terms of the relative strength of individual components, in decibels, or the root mean square of all harmonic components: Total harmonic distortion (THD), as a percentage. The level at which harmonic distortion becomes audible depends on the exact nature of the distortion. Different types of distortion (like crossover distortion) are more audible than others (like soft clipping) even if the THD measurements are identical. Harmonic distortion in radio frequency applications is rarely expressed as THD.

Key Terms

definition
frequencies
harmonic distortion
nonlinearities
overtones
sound wave
terms
thd
usage
whole number multiples

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Synonymns

Harmonic distortion
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