1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Question about laptop and quality...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by RAIN0707, May 25, 2005.

  1. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    OK guys, I know a lot when it comes to recording, but I'm not a bytehead or a tech guy so I'm not sure of the answer to this (I do have my assumptions though) but here it goes:

    Say I am working with some 44/24 audio files in .wav format. Ideally I would like to be able to put these files on my firewire hard drive and connect the drive to my laptop and do some mixing on-the-go while I'm out and about. Just basic stuff like getting things phase aligned and editing crossfades and what not. Using headphones for that. I'll save EQ'ing and stuff for the real DAW and monitors. Anyways...when I do this and I load up Sonar on the laptop it says that my sound card can only do 16 bit quality. Now what I want to know is how bad is this? Am I sacrificing a lot? I know 24 has more headroom and dynamic range but If the tracking was done in 24 and now is being loaded into the laptop at 16 what is happening to the audio here? Is there any way I could arrange and edit some fades and stuff in the laptop and then save it and be able to recall those edits in my DAW in 24 bit or will there be serious loss of quality here? Please tell me as much detail about this as possible. I'm kind of in the dark on this one. Thanks guys.
     
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Nothing is happening to the audio at all. This only has to do with reproduction.
     
  3. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    So David if I understand you correctly I could take my 24 bit files from my desktop DAW and save them to the firewire drive. Open Sonar in my laptop load the files as 16 bit, edit or play around with them however, then save them back to the firewire drive and bring them back to my desktop DAW and load them back at 24 bit without any quality loss or adverse effects to the audio?
     
  4. ebbnglo

    ebbnglo Active Member

    I might be wrong but...wouldn't the last 8 bits (out of 24) be permanently truncated by simply loading them as 16 bit files if that is the highest resolution.
     
  5. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    That was my assumption too ebbnglo. I was just hoping to get some clarification.
     
  6. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    No, this is only for playback. The software uses its own internal wordlength, which is likely 48 bit or higher.
     
  7. DefBringa

    DefBringa Guest

    i dont know what this is like in sonar but in cubase if you load a file with different resolution or bit depth to your project settings, it will ask you to change the settings of the audio to the project settings, which would be 16bit in your situation.

    if you would then save your work with the changed audio material, you could truncate all your files maybe.

    it should be possible to use your 24bit recordings in a 16bit playback situation without losng anything.
    if you just save your sonar project file and then go back to your main DAW to stream the original audio again everything should go fine.

    but you will not have the chance to resave your recorded audio files with edits and crossfades on your laptop in a resolution higher than 16bit.
     
  8. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Alright I understand what David and Defbringa is saying now. So let me ask you guys this. I know CD quality is 16 bit. If you were me what would you do? Am I going to see any kind of significant loss in quality by editing these audio files on the laptop in 16 bit, saving them and then re-opening them on my DAW in 24? Or is this something I shouldn't be fretting too much over? I'm sorry to be redundant and keep asking the same questions. I thank you guys very much for helping me with this. I guess the main questions are simply: Is this a big problem or should this be acceptable and a piece of cake? How will it effect my final mixing, if at all, when I load the files from the laptop to mix everything on my desktop DAW?
     
  9. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    I remember being told that the main difference between 16 and 24 (besides the word length and everything) is headroom. 24 has a lot more when tracking and mixing. But in this case if I dump the audio file down to 16 only for crossfades, time alignments, and non-mixing stuff - wouldn't I regain that headroom when I bump it back up to 24 on my desktop DAW? And will all these bit rate conversions going on degrade the signal?
     
  10. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Your soundcard will not be processing any audio; your CPU, via Sonar, will. Your soundcard's bit depth only affects monitoring. It doesn't touch your audio files. It only reads them and converts them to 16 bit for digital-to-analog conversion so that you can hear them.

    16 bit has a dynamic range of about 96 dB. 24 bit has a dynamic range of about 144 dB. If you actually performed a bit depth conversion from 24 to 16, then yes, that extra info is lost forever. Depending on thy type of music, the perceptual effect of this will generally be minimal.
     
  11. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Thanks David. Great explanation and thanks for the clarification. I am doing mostly hard rock type tunes. I appreciate the info. It will save me a lot of time being able to do some editing on the laptop when im on the go. Is there any way around this without doing a bit depth conversion from 24-16. I can't think of one but I figured I'd ask. If I saved the project though and all those edits wouldn't the project have to be saved to 16 bit and therefor a conversion automatically would take place? Or is this not the case? I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here and I apologize for the redundance. I appreciate your patience, lol
     
  12. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    I really think this says it all:

    If you still need more, let me know.
     
  13. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Right I understand what you are saying. I guess I worded my question wrong. Let me rephrase. I understand that the audio files are saved to the CPU and that the soundcard has nothing to do with this. I know that the soundcard needs to perform a bit-depth conversion so that you can hear what the audio data is. My question is...would the soundcard make the project default to save as 16 bit audio? So when editing is done and those audio files are saved are they still going to be the original bit depth and quality or will they reflect a bit depth conversion? God I feel like such an idiot. David just tell me it's no big deal and not an issue I should fret over I guess and I'll be on my way, haha
     
  14. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The files won't have their bit depths changed just because the soundcard only reproduces at 16 bit. Just do an experiment. Load up one track, do a simple edit, and check the bit depth of the file afterward.
     
  15. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Fair enough. I'll try it. I do understand everything you are saying. I just wasnt sure if it would make me save the project/audio info as 16 bit. Thanks David. I trust your knowledge on this one and I'm going to start using my laptop. I appreciate your time and patience.
     

Share This Page