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Old 27th November 2002
Here for the gear

Originally posted by dynamike
can someone better explain what dither actually does, and why i should use it??? cuz i don't use it now.
Hey dynamike,

The finer points of how dithering works can get VERY technical,
To keep it short and sweet I'll explain dithering in the most basic terms . . .

In the real world of recording digital audio, it becomes crucial to
run your mixed song through dithering of some kind if you want to
burn a cd of your mix OR record your mix on any 16 bit media, like
a DAT tape or cd-r for example.

You should NOT apply dithering if you plan on having the music
professionally mastered (the mastering engineer will do this).

You should NOT apply dithering if you are mixing to analog tape.

You should NOT apply dithering if your original audio was recorded
at 16 bits rather than 24.

But if you want to burn a cd-r of the mix for listening tests, or a
one-off for the customer etc. then it's very important to dither
your mix from 24 bits down to 16 bits. Otherwise you are losing
alot of your sound quality.

The reason dithering becomes crucial is because most digital
audio these days is being recorded at 24 bits. CD's are 16 bits.
If you don't dither from 24 bits down to 16 bits, then the top 8 bits,
will be chopped off and lost when you bounce to disk
or burn the cd. This causes a big loss in sound quality. You lose
detail, depth, dimension, sound stage shrinkage, etc.

If you put a dithering plugin on the master fader, and dial it in for
16 bits, then bounce to disk at 16 bits in order to burn a cd, then
your sound quality will be almost entirely preserved when
when compared to the original 24 bit source.

Dithering applies a very subtle (usually not noticable) layer of noise
at the 1st and 2nd bits. For reasons that are beyond me to explain,
This tiny layer of noise combined with math algorithims, essentially
causes the audio of your original 24 bit source to be
crammed onto a 16 bit cd, preserving almost all the audio quality.

Bob Katz has written some great info which explains this in detail
on his mastering website

In a nutshell, dithering is easy to do, and it's crucial if you're burning
a cd from a 24 bit source.
It's as simple as a plugin.

I did my best . . .

Clear as mud?