Skip to main content

I was about to upload my music to TuneCore who would then distribute it to iTunes, Spotify, etc. and noticed that they said to make sure my music was in 16 bit format. It was my understanding that 16 bit is just for burning CDs. You have to dither/add the noise to bring 24 bit recordings down to 16 bit because CDs can't handle 24 bit, but it was my understanding also that if I'm uploading my music to online streaming services like Spotify or iTunes where people are purchasing DIGITAL copies of my music, shouldn't it stay in 24 bit?

Very curious to see what people think here. Thanks!


RemyRAD Wed, 02/22/2012 - 22:24

Ya, that's what we're saying. You're 24-bit is your master and archive. You commercially release in the most widely acceptable format which is 16 bit 44.1 kHz. So select the dither that makes your music sound best at 16 bit. Dither is basically electronically calculated noise that is calculated differently for the different types of dither sound you want. There will be no loss of quality really, honestly, it's true. Besides, there are still a lot of people that don't have players compatible at 24-bit. 24-bit is not higher in resolution in the way in which you might think. People will argue this with me especially when fine arts, classical music is being talked about. So is this an opera that you do? A symphony? How about rock 'n roll? OK baby, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. Add rock 'n roll sounds perfectly great at 16 bit. Provided your engineering is good to begin with. And that's the reason for working in 24-bit but not necessarily releasing in 24-bit. I mean back in the day, people thought cassettes sounded OK. I ALWAYS HATED THEM! It wasn't OK to me. But that's what you had to release things in, because folks didn't have 30 IPS 1/2 track stereo, 10 inch reel to reel recorders to play my fabulous sounding mixes on at home or in the car or anywhere. Since I started recording digitally in 1983, it's really upped the ante and we don't have to worry about crappy sounding playback anymore. Even MP3's sound better than analog cassettes ever did. Opera not so much so. But even then, a CD sounds way better at 16 bit, 44.1 kHz. Everything on those download services is data compressed anyhow to begin with. So it's all basically MP3 like, some formats, slightly better sounding than others but all compressed data nevertheless. Which means a wad of data has been eliminated they think you can hear. But we all hear that. So quality has already been automatically yanked out. It doesn't matter if it starts off better. It still all ends up as succotash. And at least sucks in some way or another in the end.

I always liked working in 30 IPS over 15 IPS back in the analog days. Unfortunately, it wasn't always practical to do that. So then, we worked at 15 IPS. And if you did release anything to a client on a reel to reel tape, it didn't matter if it started at 30 IPS or 15 IPS, you delivered at 7.5 IPS which was still incredibly good sounding over any cassette at 1.78 IPS.

There you go, everything that didn't make sense for you.
Mx. Remy Ann David

rbf738 Thu, 02/23/2012 - 06:50

Thanks very much for the clarity RemyRAD I really appreciate it. At the very least it got me to shake off that fear of feeling like 16 bit sounds horrible or even noticeably different. I know deep down that it doesn't sound different to MOST people, but it's still nice to hear someone else remind me of it.

I've been selling my music on BandCamp in 24 bit as is... it never occurred to me to dither digital music down. I guess I've got some ditherin to do.

RemyRAD Fri, 02/24/2012 - 12:09

I just received an update regarding iTunes. Apparently I'm wrong. They now want you to upload your music in your highest quality format that you happen to be utilizing. If it's 24-bit at 192 kHz, you can upload it to iTunes that way. They have also introduced their own Mastering plan they have implemented. They feel that with the proliferation of broadband high-speed Internet service, the need for highly compressed files and file formats is no longer needed. So, there you go. But that's not necessarily true for everybody. Most crappy little MP3 players are still restricted to 44.1 kHz, 16 bit.

Check out the Apple website to find out more.
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Sat, 03/24/2012 - 14:57

I neither Purchase anything nor post anything to iTunes and I'm not a Mac person so, it's something I don't need to waste my time investigating. I keep fairly busy an am continuously already devoting a lot of time to So not that I'm trying to be a party pooper, diehard mind you. Of course those are all lame excuses I know. And since I don't deal with iTunes I'm not sure if they are manipulating the audio like the other music posting download services are doing? Maybe they're just leaving it clean, intact, pristine? But when they say they are offering Mastering tools, people are just going to start screwing up their own pristine masters. But at least you might have the option not to? 24-bit 192 kHz is great for all of the audiophiles to enjoy. For many of us folks, Drop Box in other online Internet-based storage sites that are not being hawked as " music sites " aren't screwing with anybody's data. So the files there that you upload are the files there that you download. But that's not exactly a "Reked store" where people are paying to download stuff. And so I think also in that way, everyone of the for sale music sites is adding some kind of processing à la the old days of competitive rock 'n roll loudness wars processing gobbledygook? So when Little Joey compares his download of Britney Spears to his friend Little Danny, he'll say " wow, that sounds better than mine ". We all know that Little Joey & Little Danny are expert audio aficionados at 13 years of age. And there's your competitive profit-making mindset. They're only using a bad emulation, plug-in of old-fashioned FM processing. I can make things sound really good with T-Racks or I can make it sound really bad and really loud depending upon how much aggressive and inappropriate tweaking I may deem necessary to compete with my nearest download music service provider. So it could be a mixed blessing? You can make any 24-bit, 192 kHz pristine audio file sound just as bad as you feel necessary to do.

It's all good. It's all fun.
Mx. Remy Ann David

LittleJohn Mon, 03/26/2012 - 04:33

Interesting. I do distribute music to all the usual suspects. As i listen to the 30 second previews it is quite obvious each has their own process for conversion and they definitely dont sound the same. At first i thought it might be an artifact of the streaming technologies so i actually bought $0.99 downoads of my own stuff from different stores to compare. Nope, they are different. I suspect there is no actual person listening to them , suspect each submitted file gets a canned ITB volume normalizer and converted to about a 128kbps mp3 (or AIF in the case of itunes )
Maybe if you are famous you have enough pull to get something better but i certainly don't. (am at the mercy of the aggregators and the "ingestion" prcesses)
Regarding sumbission of 24 bit mastered files, i am actually wondering how one would come to be in possession of that anyway <?> What you get back from the mastering house is Cd spec. I suppose some mastering houses might save an interim file and let you have it if you requested it. Dunno.
naturally the work one would submit to a mastering house is likely to be 24 bit, but i would not think it appropriate to upload that file to a download store. (my $0.02)

Maggie Chan Mon, 09/04/2023 - 01:07

Yes, it is standard practice to upload music to digital distribution platforms like iTunes and Spotify in 16-bit audio rather than 24-bit. Here's why:

1. Compatibility: Most consumer playback devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, are designed to handle 16-bit audio. While 24-bit audio can offer higher resolution and potentially better sound quality, it's not always compatible with all devices and may require more processing power.

2. File Size: 24-bit audio files are larger in size compared to 16-bit files because they contain more data. Uploading 24-bit files could result in longer download times for users and increased storage requirements on streaming platforms, which can impact both user experience and costs.

3. Listening Environment: In most real-world listening environments, the difference in audio quality between 16-bit and 24-bit audio is not easily perceivable, especially when using typical consumer-grade headphones or speakers. The benefits of 24-bit audio are often more noticeable in a controlled studio environment with high-end equipment.

4. Bit Depth Reduction: Even when music is recorded and produced in 24-bit, it is often converted to 16-bit for distribution, as this is the standard for CD audio and most digital platforms. Converting from 24-bit to 16-bit can be done with minimal loss of quality, as long as it's done correctly.

5. Bandwidth and Streaming: For streaming services like Spotify, minimizing file sizes is crucial to ensure smooth streaming experiences for users, regardless of their internet connection speed. Using 16-bit audio helps achieve this goal.

That said, some audiophile and high-resolution audio platforms do support 24-bit audio for users who have the equipment and desire to enjoy the increased dynamic range and audio fidelity it can offer. However, for mainstream distribution and compatibility, 16-bit audio remains the standard. Btw, if you want to convert songs from Spotify or Apple Music, you could also use some third-party music converters such as DumpMedia Spotify Music Converter, TunesFun Spotify Music Converter, or TunesSolo Spotify Music Converter.