Attenuation vs Distortion
Attenuation and distortion are two different unwanted effects on signals. Systems are designed to minimize the effect of these two phenomena. In communication, if not properly addressed, attenuation and distortion have the capability to make a data transfer unsuccessful.
Attenuation can be known as the power loss of a signal travelling through any media. It is a natural phenomenon and occurred due to the wave characteristics such as refraction, reflection and diffraction. For instance, sound waves containing our voice cannot be heard at long distances due to attenuation.
Naturally, attenuation happens exponentially with the travelled distance. Hence, usually measured in decibels per unit length, which is a logarithmic unit. Amplifiers are used to remove the effect of attenuation and repeaters are used to transmit the reconstructed signals.
Distortion is known as the alternation of the original signal. This may happen due to the properties of the medium. There are many types of distortion such as amplitude distortion, harmonic distortion, and phase distortion. For electromagnetic waves polarization distortions also occurs. When the distortion occurs, shape of the waveform is changed.
For example, amplitude distortion happens if all the parts of the signals are not equally amplified. This happens in wireless transmissions because the medium get changed by the time. The receivers should be able to identify these distortions.
What is the difference between attenuation and distortion?
1. Although scaled down in amplitude, shape of waveform does not change in attenuation unlike in distortion.
2. Removal of the effects of attenuation is easier than a removing the effects distortion.
3. If the attenuation happens in different amounts for the different parts of the signal, it is a distortion.