Dynamic range is defined as the difference between the loudest possible peak and the softest sound that can be intelligibly reproduced. In games, dynamic range is used to describe the differences between the loudest sounds and the softest sounds of the game's output. For example, a game that outputs continuously loud or continuously quiet sounds is considered to have little dynamic range. A game that outputs quiet sounds as well as very loud sounds is considered to have a large amount of dynamic range.
Utilizing dynamic range can be very effective in creating immersive environments that affect the player's emotions. For example, movie scenes that use quiet breathing and footsteps immediately followed by a loud shriek can create a sense of fear in the audience. This tactic has been used for many years in horror films. Another use of dynamic range can be to draw the player's attention in a certain direction. In a first person shooter, for example, a loud gunshot from a Surround channel can clue the player in to the location of his enemy. Conversely, a gunshot that is not substantially louder than the rest of the mix will not have the same effect.