To dither or not to dither - that is the question!



Hi guys,

I know the subject of dithering has been covered lately but I don't think this was already covered! Must dithering always be the last thing in a mastering chain?
I do a lot of in house "mastering" at my studio using a finalizer, dat and daw. I'd a-d, compress and limit the mix slightly with the finalizer just to get hot levels to tape, and later load the dat into my daw for further treatments (Eq and heavier limiting). Now, my dat is 16 Bit, this would mean I have two possibilites: dither the output of the finalizer down to 16 Bit, or let the dat do truncating...what is a better solution having in mind that there will be further treatments to the audio?????

Thanks and best,


Ronny Morris

Popular technique is to dither as the last step. I agree with this on two track masters, however I'll dither distorted guitar tracks or bass sometimes to add a smoother sound to them. Even running them through an extra D/A A/D at times. For example direct guitar using distortion patches from a J-Station, RP2000 or POD, or di'd bass, when they don't sound natural. IMHO, dither does have a place, other than the last step on a two track mix.

joe lambert

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2001
321 West 44th Street Suite 1001

If your going to a 16bit format you should dither the output of the finalizer (or any other higher bit rate box) to 16bit.
You may want to try reversing your setup. If your using the computer to process the audio, do that first, take that out (at 24bit) to the finalizer to further process then dither the end result and print it to dat or whatever format you want. This will allow you to stay at 24 bit to the end preserving the quality of your hard work. After all it is called finalizer.

Let me know if this works for you.

Joe Lambert


I can tell you about a test me and a studio-guy did. We used PT Tdm and bounced down four different masters. Then he wrote the names on a paper and then i putted them in a order that he couldn't see. In other words, a blind-test.
He listened to the different tracks and "guessed" what version of mix it was, putted the dithered miexers together! It was a small test but..
Equipment: Genelec 1031, Jade-S, Denon pro-cd.