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16 bit or 24 bit (Questions to producers and Audiophiles)


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#1
Gagarin

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Questions to producers and Audiophiles

Most of producers have they project in 24 bits, so it is hard to undertand why would you reduce bit rate.

In the era of CD it made sens, but now the only two reason that looks like valid to me are:
1) to save users space on disk
2) to make audio files compatible with more devises
if those are the too only reason the only execuse to do so would be "difficulty" to notice the difference in sound for the majoryty audience.

This reflexion lead me to this questions:
- do you release your music on 16 bit or 24 bit ?
- do you hear difference between 16bit and 24bit at your home equipement? (please add the sound equipement you used as reference to answer this question)

p.s.
Actually, i am thinking to approach producers and mastering studios with this question, so if you have any other tricky and related to the subject questions - add them here, maybe it will lead to interviews or Q/A sessions with big names of psy downtempo music.


reality is a creation of your mind


#2
Phase47

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I think the reason you don't see many 24bit audio files out in the wild are for the same reason as always - size

 

I work in 24bit and don't go to 16bit until mastering - at the very last step with proper dithering. You can absolutely hear the difference between 16 and 24 bit files if you have good ears (meaning, you have the ability to listen critically) and a good source, good monitors in a good room. I do most of my casual monitoring on Dynaudio monitors through Apogee conversion and I can tell a/b between 16 and 24 bits, but I've been mastering records for 20 years ;) I'm not sure it's a factor in the vast majority of people's music listening, where oftentimes poorly encoded mp3s are the baseline listening experience.

 

Higher fidelity is always better, but it comes at the cost of size. Size means more space on your phone (we aren't there yet) and faster speeds for download (we aren't there yet either.) As size and speeds increase, it's reasonable to believe that audio files will increase in size (and thus fidelity) and the digital distributors and record labels will have another opportunity to sell you those Beatles albums one more time at least.

Ultimae seem to understand that some of their listeners will choose quality over convenience and have begun releasing their catalog in 24 bit versions. I think that's awesome. 


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#3
unknown music

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I do all of my audio processing at 64 bit and save them as 32 bit float. This is the best format to work in due to the higher numerical precision that your calculations will retain. If within your editing process you dither down to 24 or 16 bits all the time... then you are adding cumulative error, quantization noise, and dither noise to your mix and re-processing it at later stages with less precision. However, when storing a final work for distribution and no further changes are intended, dithering to 16 bits should be fine at the very last step (such as for CD). The reason I only upload 24bit files for my distributions is because for online streaming and mp3 conversion that many sites do, it is better to work with 24 bit or 32 bit files. This is because the mp3 algorithm works with 32 bit data regardless and will perform a bunch of more calculations. So if you convert to mp3 from a dithered 16 bit file, you are also introducing extra dithering noise and quantization noise into the filtering algorithms of the mp3 conversion.. due to the truncated data it is not going to be as numerically precise. This is why it's always better to directly convert to mp3 from either 32bit float or 24 bit files. For websites like bandcamp and spotify and soundcloud, etc, I always work with 24 bit so that I get the highest probability of having a good quality mp3 stream due to this reason. I don't know what format people prefer to download but the way I see it, I want to deliver the most exact sonic waveform possible.

 

On a side note, I don't believe in storing audio data at a higher sampling frequency than 44.1khz or 48 khz but I do perform most of my calculations with 512x over sampling to avoid high frequency phase distortion...


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#4
Sephira

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I release music in 16 bit (this is normally what I get back from my mastering engineer).

 

I have never tried A/B'ing 16bit and 24bit tbh, I doubt I would notice the difference (although you never know!).

 

Personally I don't see the point in releasing 24bit, 9 times out of 10 I assume my music is going to be heard on equipment (headphones, speakers) that wouldn't be good enough to tell the difference. 

 

Just my thoughts (c:


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#5
crystalvibe

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what gives you 24 bits wav?

Answer: 144 dB of dynamic range against 96 dB (16 bit). So, the quiter sounds become audible. In 16 bit wav, everything below -96 dB turns into a dithering noise.

The other quiestion is: Does it make any sense to store dynamically overcompressed (with today's fashion to make everything extremely loud  and even distorted via "mastering" maximizers and etc) material in 24bit? I don't think so. But if the initial audio is gently mastered or not processed at all (like AES Dana, according to his interview), so 24 bit can have a sense.

 

To notice the difference you need a good audio interface , good (and quiet!) listening room with good speakers, or proper headphones.



#6
Gagarin

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The other quiestion is: Does it make any sense to store dynamically overcompressed (with today's fashion to make everything extremely loud  and even distorted via "mastering" maximizers and etc) material in 24bit? I don't think so. But if the initial audio is gently 

 

1) so there is no reason to have more low frequencies / bass if playing on loud sound system?

2) if i will down-sample tracks from 24 bits to 16 bits using advice by DJ Zen r8brain software will i loose some important audio information?
i don't hear difference at my home audio equipment, but i don't have subs.


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#7
Phase47

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1) so there is no reason to have more low frequencies / bass if playing on loud sound system?

2) if i will down-sample tracks from 24 bits to 16 bits using advice by DJ Zen r8brain software will i loose some important audio information?
i don't hear difference at my home audio equipment, but i don't have subs.

 

 

Looks like r8brain is for Sample Rate Conversion (SRC) and not bit-depth reduction. When going from 24bit to 16bit, you need a good dither algorithm. The sample rate and bit depth are two separate things entirely. i.e., you'd use SRC when going from 96K to 44.1K, for example, but the bit depth is independent of sample rate.



#8
angelaweiss

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Independent blind A-B tests have showed that about 30% of listeners are albe to distinguish 16bit sound from 24 bit sound, and 0% of listeners were able to hear any difference between 24bit and higher bit depth audio. There you have it.

 

As for 16 vs 24bit, the larger dynamic range is a major benefit, quiet sounds becoming audible and / or much more detailed (due to DAC computation bias towards the high end of amplitude range). Remember, this is not only for render/mixdown and playback but all processes (recording / use of samples, plugin processing, outboard gear, converters) throughout the entire production. Main disadvantages use to include size, but actually less so in regards to file storage, more so related to lower realtime file transfer rates (from your drive to your DAW through USB, FW400, etc.) and realtime file processing (playing back 50 tracks in your DAW at 24 bits were more demanding, so was 24 bit processing in your session).  Which are not real concerns anymore, as long as you have a decent multi-core processor and FW800, USB3 or TB connections and 7.2K rpm or faster HD.


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- ang

 

"the music that envelops you is like sound that envelops the Universe"





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