What are Log Taper Potentiometers?

Audio Taper Potentiometers

Log Taper Potentiometers are are potentiometers that change resistance logarithmically as you turn the wiper of the potentiometer.

This is in contrast to linear potentiometers, which change resistance linearly as the wiper of the potentiometer is turned.

The main and most common use of a log taper potentiometer is for use in audio. Audio taper potentiometers, which are potentiometers used in audio applications, to adjust the level or volume of sound, are all log tapers.

Our ears perceive sound in a logarithmic fashion. If you were to use a linear potentiometer for volume control, increasing and decreasing sound, the volume changes would not turn out right. A linear taper's adjustment grows far too rapidly as the pot is turned up from zero. This means that the volume levels shoot up too high right when you beginning turning it up. Volume control then is very difficult. For linear tapers, the volume control is squeezed into the first 60 degrees or so of rotation, while the rest of the rotation has little effect of audio. Linear tapers are just not built to manage audio. Log tapers, though, are perfect for audio applications. Its characteristics are suitable to the way our ears receive increasing or decreasing sounds. It gradually increases sound as the wiper is turned.

Characteristics Curves

The characteristic curves for linear and audio (log) tapers are shown below:

Potentiometer Resistance Taper Characteristics Curves

You can see the direct relationship that linear tapers have, while you see the parabolic relationship that audio (log) tapers have.

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