Electronic – Do we always take the corner frequency of a filter at exactly -3dB

cutoff frequencyfiltergain

I'm doing some work on filters, but all the references I can find use a 'perfect' gain characteristic, with the trace starting at 0dB. Is the measurement for corner/cutoff frequency always taken at exactly -3dB? What if the maximum gain isn’t 0dB?

For example, see the below figure, where the maximum gain is -3dB. Surely taking the corner frequency at -3dB in this case would not be useful- instead would we take it at -6dB, which is -3dB from the actual maximum gain?

Thanks for your help.

Gain plot where the greatest value of gain = ~-3dB

Best Answer

It's not 3dB absolute, it's 3dB down from the peak, or some sort of nominal attenuation. So in your case, where the passband is -3dB, 3dB down is at -6dB.

Note that some filters (e.g. Chebychev) have significant passband ripple; if this exceeds 3dB then the "3dB down" figure loses meaning. In that case, or just if it's what matters to the system designer, a different definition of bandwidth may be chosen.