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16bit vs. 24bit Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 2nd April 2016
  #1
Gear Head
 

16bit vs. 24bit

Hello -

I have a question regarding a 16 year old project I'll be remixing.

The songs were recorded at 16bit 44.1. My plan is to maintain most of the mix with the exception of the drums and bass. There were tons of plugins that helped shape these mixes. So I've recreated the original DAW environment (Cubase 5 VST32) and have started the tedious process of creating stems of everything, and printing the drums and bass with no processing.

I've done a little research about maintaining the same resolution throughout - but haven't been able to figure out what I should do about bit depth.

If the tracks were created at 16bit should I keep them at 16? Or does it make more sense to mix the stems down at 24 to take advantage of the 32 bit float processing of the daw?

Ultimately I'm going to import everything into my modern day set up to remix.

Any guidance in this matter would be very much appreciated :-)

Thank you!
Old 2nd April 2016
  #2
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
the 32bit will help plugins and processing in the box .. hard drive space is plentiful these days .. go for it .. this way any newly recorded tracks will be at the higher rates ..
Old 2nd April 2016
  #3
I think that Cuebase 5 uses 32 bit processing internally regardless of the bit depth of the individual depth of the wave files it is working with.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #4
Gear Head
 

Thank you for the responses! So do I gain anything by exporting 24bit, because the daw and the plugins are running 32bit float? Or will it be negligible because the original wav files are 16bit?
Old 2nd April 2016
  #5
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
depends on your final Delivery Needs ..



Quote:
Originally Posted by landslide studio View Post
Thank you for the responses! So do I gain anything by exporting 24bit, because the daw and the plugins are running 32bit float? Or will it be negligible because the original wav files are 16bit?
Old 2nd April 2016
  #6
Maybe you could do a comparison test yourself with one of the smaller projects and listen for any difference. I personally could never hear any difference with projects recorded at 16 bit vs 24 bit, though I've read debates on dithering down etc.

I now always record at 24 bit...unless I forget & leave it at 16 bit by mistake. I feel it's especially important that I choose 24 bit these days, because I send digital audio among systems with clocking info through the same cable and want the extra headroom.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #7
Lives for gear
I'd keep it at 32-bit float throughout, wherever possible. That way, if you need to do any WAV file editing, you aren't subject to generation loss/amplitude quantization of the bits. Also, when you render your final file, you can master it without generation loss/amplitude quantization of the bits.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by landslide studio View Post
Thank you for the responses! So do I gain anything by exporting 24bit, because the daw and the plugins are running 32bit float? Or will it be negligible because the original wav files are 16bit?
If you apply plug ins, change the amplitude, mix more than one 16 bit source wave with another, you can have extra information that 'could' be generated and trunkated if you export in 24 bit and even more in 16 bit export.

But if what your export is going to be distributed, most will be down sampled so maybe you should down sample to 16 bit and maintain control, unless you are sending it for mastering. In that case let the ME down sample it.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
I have a piece of hardware which only works at 44.1KHz 16bit.
so because I also get sound from it in digital, I'm staying at that rate.

the DAW will usually work at 32bit float internally, and they handle 16 & 24bit at the same time.
it doesn't worry me especially.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #10
Lives for gear
 

32 bit float in Cubase isn't 32 bits actually.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #11
Gear Head
 

You guys are great, thanks so much...
Old 2nd April 2016
  #12
Gear Addict
 
kelldammit's Avatar
You should probably go with 24 bit or 32 float bit depth in the project settings by default. I can't really think of any reason to use 16 bit these days (beyond maybe sample editing for an old hardware device that doesn't support higher bit depths?).

If there's any chance that you'll render individual tracks or channels (to save cpu, let's say), you should definitely use higher bit depth to better preserve the detail.

Think of it this way, there's no such thing as "even math" in digital processing. Adding a db of gain isn't "+1", it's "x1.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" (a logarithmic value/process). So doing pretty much anything to a 16 bit source file will put you into 24/32float land right out of the gate. If your project's resolution is 16 bit, if you commit any changes back to the wave (bounce in place or similar), the quieter signal basically gets lopped off, and either truncation happens or dithering is applied...within the (barely) audible dynamic range.

While perhaps not too noticeable on a track or two, if you do it to say 50 or 60 tracks in a mix, you'll probably notice a cumulative veiled or clouded effect. This is pretty much why 24 bit came along to start with...to push the nasty side-effects of individual track processing down to a level that wouldn't even be present on a dithered final 16 bit cd master.

On single tracks, you may even notice differences with long fade-outs and verb tails. Typically, 16 bit renders sound like the ends of fades or verb tails just suddenly drop off before they're supposed to.

Given the state of cpu's these days, there's a good probability that you never have to render individual tracks or fx or whatnot, but even still, better safe than sorry
Old 2nd April 2016
  #13
Gear Head
 

That seems like the most logical explanation. 24 bit it is! Thank you!
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