Straight up explaination on 16 bit as opposed to 24 bit

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by eddies880, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Found this thread,thought it may help someone,it helped me. :shock:
  2. greyspook

    greyspook Guest

    Thanks for the link.

    How long will it take for the consumer electronics industry to put 24-bit decoders in every CD player including car audio? That is the real question. The fact that we are dithering down on the burn is sad evidence that the music industry is desperately trying to separate the pros from the hobbyists. They are diverting our attention from quality to data capacity with blue ray and mp3 junk. We have entered an era where audiophiles are left behind. What is in our future?!
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Well think about this for a moment.

    16-bit gives you 96 DB. Which I think is absolutely adequate for all current pop music, which really has no dynamic range to it anyhow. We just want loud, punchy, overprocessed, slammed to the max audio with plenty of compression/limiting/clipping and plenty of that real or fake tube overload distortion to make sure your CD is louder than everybody else's CD, that will later be dummied down to MP3/iPod. For that you need dynamic range, studio condenser microphones, expensive microphone preamps?? Of course not.

    24-bit gives you 144 DB. What I think is much nicer for fine arts/classical music recording where superior microphones, preamplifiers can really shine. That's all about the dynamic range and accuracy versus distortion and rude senseless fun loudness.

    I mean sometimes you really have to be a little more realistic regarding the music content when talking about the application and type of equipment.

    When it comes to popular music, to me, it's all about the excitement, the spontaneity, the groove, the mistakes, the loudness, the distortion, the drugs, the alcohol. I don't care about the noise. I don't care about the distortion. Bring it on. I think the overproduction of rock-and-roll can be self-defeating as it's not fresh anymore.

    Whereas when dealing with fine arts/classical folks, you want the strata various.......
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. bpatram

    bpatram Guest

    Good Read.
  5. greyspook

    greyspook Guest

    That perspective makes sense RemyRAD. My confusion is just that. I make electronic industrial music and I have it in my mind to work with 16-bit from start to finish simply because I know exactly what the final product will sound like at the end. No disappointments. 24-bit for mastering and archival? I guess. But to what end? It just irks me that the industry chose this route first. I would love to put a DVD-audio disc in my car stereo for the morning ride. 5.1 at home. 5.1 in the car. The consumer audio player is walking backwards while the rest of the audio world is running forwards.
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Greyspook, I feel your pain and understand your frustration/anger. But I think you're misplacing this energy in some kind of search for a villian or quick solution for this position we find ourselves in...

    Remy put it best in explaining why this works for modern/pop music. And, I daresay you'll hear much difference anyway if you set up two systems, side by side in a real-world listening test anyway. Get a properly mastered & dithered 16 bit recording, playing it on the best CD player and system you can find, and prepare to A/B it against a 24 bit playback system using the same file.

    Then turn on the heater or AC in your home, open a window or two, ask some friends to go talk in the other room, let your cell phone ring, put the tv on in the background, and assuming you live near a highway or busy area, chances are your everyday listening environment is going to raise your noise floor considerably anyway. A properly engineered 16 CD master can sound fantastic and almost identical to the original higher res master IF everything is done properly. (That's always the goal of today's Mastering Engineers, of course! And good dithering is absolutely critical in today's digital mastering.)

    I find that the ONLY place I can truly appreciate and hear the true dynamic range of my lovely 24/96 acoustic recordings is in my studio. If I'm listening in my car, or a client or neighbor's setup, we end up turning the volume up for the quiet passages and down again once the peaks start. (There are even settings on some DVD home theater systems that actually REDUCE and limit the dynamic range for night-time listening, so as to bring up the dialog and limit the explosions when the rest of the house is trying to sleep. )

    I applaud your desire to listen to 5.1 in the car and everywhere else. (me too!) But unless you're driving a $250K boutique designer automobile with nothing but the best soundproofing and system design, it's not going to matter anyway. The moment you're out on the highway, (or revving the engine), things are going to deteriorate quickly. Forget about opening a window, and unless you've got the most whisper-quiet AC fans in your dashboard, your dynmic range quickly diminishes. You will NOT be able to appreciate a 24bit recording in your car, I promise you. (If you're listening to classical or jazz, you'll probably go nuts turning the volume up and down the whole time, as well.)

    CDs and even MP3s are, sadly, a reality in the audio world we live in, and most people (excluding those who read these forums) don't care. Really, they don't. Perhaps SOMEDAY 24 bit recordings (and players) will be sold to the public in general, but I'm not holding my breath.

    But the other side of the equation is US, where the music is made; you ALWAYS want to record at 24 bits so you'll have the most options on the front side, where DSP detail and dynamic range counts. I view it all as having the true raw materials (The extra bits) to sculpt my clients masterpieces. Once it's been "Fired" in the oven (dithered, mastered, etc.) to 16 bits, its' "Done" and viewable (er, ....listenable) to the world at large.

    They can mess with the MP3's and CD 16 bit copies, but they'll NEVER get to the 24 bit masters, and that's where YOU know the real sonic purity lies.

    Not sure if that makes sense, but it helps me get through the day. :cool:
  7. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    Youre a trip Remy (in a good way),Ive been playing live in bars/clubs for 28yrs now and youre absolutley correct,its a hole lotta fun having the groove/distortion/loudness/sex/drugs/and alcohol happening.
    Ive come to the4 realization that 16bit is more than enough,especially if you take the time to use proper mic placme3nt,and use good pres and mics etc...... and get it right the 1st time.
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