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Is it possible to find the amount of noise or SNR of a signal from its time series output? For example; let x = randn(100,1) and y = awgn(signal,-5,'measured'); be two signals. Here signal is an unknown source signal of length 10,000 data points.

In Matlab this is what I did: snr(x) = 0.5177 and snr(y) = -34.3797 dB Shouldn't I get -5 dB as SNR?

I am unable to understand what these values convey as they are a ratio: How is 0.5177 coming? Since I am generating y with an SNR of -5 dB, so snr(y) should be -5 dB. Please help in clarifying if these answers are right and how to make sense of it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Try reading the MATLAB docs: mathworks.com/help/signal/ref/snr.html. Then you’ll understand if you want $-5$ dB to be the answer then you should do snr(y, noise) $\endgroup$ – Engineer Mar 31 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! What is the correct way to call y? Can I say y is a noise corrupted signal at SNR = -5 dB? $\endgroup$ – Sm1 Apr 1 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I'm assuming that y = signal + noise $\endgroup$ – Engineer Apr 1 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but about x signal which is not added with any other signal. How do I find out its noise or SNR level? $\endgroup$ – Sm1 Apr 1 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ I thought x is the noise-less signal...you're saying that x has noise added to it too? $\endgroup$ – Engineer Apr 1 at 0:05
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I just don't think you're thinking this through all the way, and using the toolbox in MATLAB before you understand the basics. SNR is signal-to-noise ratio and is defined as $\text{SNR}=\frac{\text{Signal Power}}{\text{Noise Power}}$. When you call snr(signal, noise) in MATLAB, all it is doing is calculating the signal power, mean(abs(signal).^2), and the noise power, mean(abs(noise).^2), taking the ratio of them and returning the result in decibels (dB).

In the comments you are asking about how to calculate the SNR of x (the noiseless signal)...well its dividing by zero because the noise power in a noiseless signal is zero. You'd be doing $\frac{\text{Signal Power}}{0}=\infty$, you can go ahead and try using the snr function by doing snr(signal, zeros(size(signal))) but I'm willing to bet it either returns Inf or gives an error.

Note: Read the MATLAB docs on snr(signal) and you'll realize it is probably not returning what you expect. Docs are here: https://uk.mathworks.com/help/signal/ref/snr.html

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