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dithering pop quiz Analog Processors (HW)
Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Nut
BoomWomb's Avatar

dithering pop quiz

for people, unlike me, who know what they are doing.

I capture tracks in Garageband, then I send them to Reaper, then through a small list of analogue outboard kit and mixers to a Teac reel-to-reel, then to the SSL Fusion (well not yet but if they ever ship it), then back to Reaper, and THEN:

I share the uncompressed file with friends.

I post the file to Soundcloud.

I don't burn CD's.

DO I want to dither? I thought dithering was adding barely perceptible tape hiss to cover up digital noise? Don't I already have the required hiss using my signal flow above without dithering?

Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
SmoothTone's Avatar

It's a little bit more technical and precise than that.

Digital processing in modern DAWs is done at a wordlength (aka bitdepth) of 32 bits or higher. So wordlength has to be reduced back down to 24bit or 16bit for final delivery.

Reducing wordlength requires truncation (chopping off the extra bits). Truncation creates distortion - it sounds nasty, and can accumulate.

Dither is noise applied at a precise level to prevent truncation distortion. Dither doesn't just mask truncation distortion, it completely eliminates it and results in a nice even noise floor.

The rule of thumb is that you apply dither whenever you reduce wordlength. So it is generally the last thing you apply after any signal processing.

Here is an excellent video.

Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Nut
BoomWomb's Avatar

That is very clear. So I should dither last. Thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear

I record and mix all my music at 24/48 or sometimes 24/16. I rarely use 24/88.2 pr 24/96 because it uses too much drive space and there is so little fidelity improvement its not worth the trouble.

After I'm done mixing and mastering I then Down Sample to CD quality 16/44.1 and apply my dithering at the same time. The audio editor I use for mastering makes this simple and it can be done in a single step.

Whether there is a big difference in fidelity/artifacts/distortion using dither or not is the question. The best I can tell using my ears is the artifacts and distortion are higher after using allot of plugins. If I keep the use of plugins low I could probably get away without using it but given the fact I need to down sample, there's really no reason why I shouldn't use it.
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