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Dithering Studio Monitors
Old 7th May 2008
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
ColourSurround's Avatar
 

Dithering

You guys know how in Pro Tools there is the POW-R DIther plug-in? Well when would it be wise to use the 20 bit option as the setting? I always reckon to choose the 16 bit when mixing down to 16 bits but will things sound better if I mix down to 16 bits but select the 20 bit option in the POW-R Dither?

I suppose I could just try it out and see for myself but if anyone has any in depth scientific explanation that'd be great.

PiN
Old 7th May 2008
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColourSurround View Post
I suppose I could just try it out and see for myself but if anyone has any in depth scientific explanation that'd be great.
The scientific explanation may not correlate to what is actually audible. Please do try it for yourself, and report back here what you find.

--Ethan
Old 7th May 2008
  #3
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Basket Ethan! tutt heh
Old 7th May 2008
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

heh

Actually, I'm usually the one saying to ignore the anecdotes and subjective opinions, and trust measurements. But with stuff like I really do wish more people would just try it for themselves rather than ask others to listen and judge for them.

--Ethan
Old 7th May 2008
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
heh

Actually, I'm usually the one saying to ignore the anecdotes and subjective opinions, and trust measurements. But with stuff like I really do wish more people would just try it for themselves rather than ask others to listen and judge for them.

--Ethan

Well said Ethan!
Old 8th May 2008
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Dither: A place for empirical data

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
heh

Actually, I'm usually the one saying to ignore the anecdotes and subjective opinions, and trust measurements. But with stuff like I really do wish more people would just try it for themselves rather than ask others to listen and judge for them.

--Ethan
For the OP, try it, complete your project and judge the results.

I don't know your particular DAW, but you *may* simply be reducing the amplitude of the particular type of dither (by choosing the 20 bit option). If so-and that's a big if-you seem to prefer your audio file without the dither you're adding.

Dither is not quite as benign as generally thought: Otherwise, why would there be so many different types of dither? Because, lots of people perceive a different sonic result-a result of empirical evaluation, not measurement. Which distortion is worse-dither colored audio, or audio subtly (extraordinarily, in many cases) colored-or not colored at all- by "ditherless truncation"? It appears that "uncorrelated noise" is perhaps not so uncorrelated. And why are there so many competing and spectacularly different (in the eyes and ears of those who create the noise) types of dither, when dither, wherever it is "mapped," is, by nature, random? It seems to me that "random" is not quite so "random," either.

Why not listen to your truncated file with no dither applied whatsoever, and then judge the result? And if you like the 20 bit option, use that. Use whatever works for you. Maybe you've already dithered your file-what is the sum of your electronic and ambient noise floor levels?

Sure, there are a few pitfalls to avoid-such as long and very low level fades. And how many times you've changed the bit depth of your file. (That's the big one.) And if you've recorded in some sort of artificially quiet room. And if your imagined listener is in some sort of artificially quiet room. And your listener is playing your file at very high SPL levels. And your listener has "money is no object" gear. And your entire recording chain is "money is no object." And your chain is extraordinarily short. But if you've correctly managed levels throughout your project, and you need to crank your usual auditioning gain up by 40 dB or more to even attempt to hear a difference at the end of a fade, well then?

There is a place for empirical data, especially in areas of such differing certainties.

Jerald Egger
Old 8th May 2008
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
ColourSurround's Avatar
 

I actually quite enjoyed reading that last post, it presented some rather comical hypothetical notions, but in the long run you lads are right. The best way to go about it is to try it out and to listen to the results. Thus the verdict. . . I heard virtually no difference between going 16 bit and 20 bit (DAW is Pro Tools LE 7, all tracks were recorded in one bit depth, levels were all carefully measured, though I am still fairly new to this whole thing and likely made mistakes somewhere down the line).

What did make a difference to the sound however was the noise shaping options. POW-R Dither offers 3 of them and I noticed, for this particular piece of music anyhow, that the first option offered the most smooth sounding results whilst the third option sounded like it added a bit more harshness to the bounced track.

Hell, maybe it's my newbie ears playing tricks on me but that's how I heard things (Monitors are KRK V4's, Headphones are AKG K240s). So science be damned, these are my results.

Cheers guys,

PiN
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