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Author Topic: 16 bit still relevant?  (Read 3328 times)

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Offline dgodwin

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16 bit still relevant?
« on: December 08, 2017, 03:02:08 PM »
So in the past couple weeks I put together an inexpensive rig to tape a few times a year, starting with a Guster show in January.  As neither of the last two laptops I've purchased have had a cd drive, and it seems in general that optical media has gone by the way side, is there any reason to release recordings in both 24bit and 16bit on archive.org?

Offline Jhurlbs81

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2017, 03:24:36 PM »
This is an opinion question so I'm sure you will get different answers.  Me personally, I record in 24 bit to get the headroom, but only release 16 bit file sets.  If I was recording more dynamic music I would release in 24 bit, but for amplified PA stuff I personally don't think 24 bit is necessary.  One thing I will add is you can release in 24 bit and still allow derivatives for folks who want to stream mp3.  If I had to guess, I would say 90% of people will stream or download the MP3, the other 10% are probably split between people who still burn to CD and those who grab the 24 bit FLACs.

Offline EmRR

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 03:38:34 PM »
50% more data at 24 bit.   Agree that 24 bit release is probably overkill for most show recordings, given the nature of background noise masking.  It's certainly preferred for the recording side of things, leaving more room to change volume and do processing in a less destructive manner.  16 bit release after post processing is probably just about indistinguishable with rock shows, apples to apples.  24 bit for classical, jazz, or Pink Floyd '69-71 with time machine assistance, sure.   

From the recording studio side of things, I do everything at 88K2/24, but clients rarely ever listen to anything other than my 320kbps mp3 reference(!), which I make from the 88K2/24 master, down-converted to 44K1/16, then to mp3.  Most can't tell THAT difference with the playback equipment they own. 

Offline Moke

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 03:39:50 PM »
A dear friend of mine is a music loving nut, especially live music.  But, his playback system, all flac file playback, is 1644. He doesn't feel a need to upgrade it, and always grabs my 1644 offerings, and not the high-res stuff.
I shrug, and send him 1644 links.
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Offline wforwumbo

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 05:46:22 PM »
Yes there is reason.

16/44.1 is still the de facto standard. It’s a way to guarantee that everyone can hear the show.

24-bit is VERY useful for higher fidelity in general - to my ear the difference between the two is very stark. And releasing at the highest possible sample rate is useful for similar fidelity arguments. Another argument I’ll make for higher sample rates is for production/post: I use digital EQs, and the higher the sample rate they are provided the lower the filter error. For compression, EQ, and analog modeling of any sort plugins work SIGNIFICANTLY better at higher sample rates - the difference is night and day.

I can post two sound clips on Sunday: one with a signal using a filter at 24/96, and another at 16/48, with the same quantity of audio and with the same filter settings, and you can listen to see if there’s a difference for yourself. I’ll allow you to make the final decision for yourself after the fact.
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Offline vanark

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2017, 05:58:09 PM »
I've started moving to only posting my 24 bit recordings. Reason? I don't way to take the computer time to dither and resample. Simple as that. If someone wants 16 bit files, there are plenty of tools out there to do that.
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Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2017, 06:53:42 PM »
For the recordist of live unamplified music, 24 bits does offer headroom in case the drummer smacks the snare especially hard. If taping from a sound board or from mics in front of a stack, the sound system has peak limiting built in so you can push things pretty close to 0dBFS without concern that an unusually loud event will clip.

Offline CorFit Chris

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 01:12:07 AM »
I've started moving to only posting my 24 bit recordings. Reason? I don't way to take the computer time to dither and resample. Simple as that. If someone wants 16 bit files, there are plenty of tools out there to do that.

This for me too.  I think most people simply stream the mo3 version.  I simply save to 24 bit Flaco and upload.  Want something different, learn to convert it.  I sometimes save an mo3 version and upload to my SoundCloud account because everyone is streaming it there.
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Offline aaronji

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2017, 09:37:35 AM »
For playback, as long as the dynamic range of the recording "fits" into 16 bits, which is probably true for virtually all live recordings, there won't be an improvement with 24 bit.  Extra bits of noise.  Since most people are recording in 24 bit, though, I can see the convenience factor of just releasing in that format.  As for frequency, as long as you hit the Nyquist frequency, there is nothing to be gained from higher rates.  You can always upsample for post.

Offline EmRR

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2017, 10:22:45 AM »
Sample rate decisions should be made after listening to the quality of the converter being used.  Some sound noticeably better at specific rates, others do not.

Offline wforwumbo

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2017, 11:15:32 AM »
For playback, as long as the dynamic range of the recording "fits" into 16 bits, which is probably true for virtually all live recordings, there won't be an improvement with 24 bit.  Extra bits of noise.  Since most people are recording in 24 bit, though, I can see the convenience factor of just releasing in that format.  As for frequency, as long as you hit the Nyquist frequency, there is nothing to be gained from higher rates.  You can always upsample for post.

This isn’t really how discretization of audio signals (or any signal, for that matter) works.

Increasing bit depth isn’t adding more bits below a certain threshold. Rather, it’s subdividing the range between 0.0 and 1.0 into more “bins” if that makes sense. So you can more accurately without error represent numbers in the time domain. Audio converters also don’t do this linearly anymore - they use an encoding process called delta-sigma encoding, whose details are outlined here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-sigma_modulation I won’t go through all the nuts and bolts of how it works, but its practical application and effect to audio lies in being able to more accurately represent data logarithmically, which is of use given we hear pressure (and thus dynamic range) on a logarithmic scale.

A second benefit of delta-sigma lies in post production. Basically, plugins can operate at a higher degree of precision, yielding fewer errors when they perform their calculations. So filter calculations are more accurate here.

Likewise, increasing sample rate isn’t the same as recording and playing back natively at the higher resolution. Assuming a perfect up/downsample ratio of, say, 2:1 (so, going from 96k to 48k or 48k to 96k), if you downsample you’re just throwing out every other sample, which is still an accurate representation of what occurred, distortion-free. Upsampling from 48k to 96k means adding samples in between where two exist - you’re adding information that wasn’t there before. Regardless of the process used to do this, the end result of adding in a sample will induce some error - and thus distortion - to the signal. The degree of this distortion is up for debate, and it can be arguably minimized or even below the threshold of perception. But in The end you are still trying to add info that wasn’t previously there. The argument gets compounded if you’re upsampling to a non-perfect ratio (44.1 to 96, for example) as the two signals share samples less frequently.

Sample rate decisions should be made after listening to the quality of the converter being used.  Some sound noticeably better at specific rates, others do not.

This is particularly clever, and a methodology I actually agree with. The differences in the sound of gear as a function of sample rate are partially a result of what I’ve mentioned above (I.e. how accurately the original signal is actively being rendered), and partially a function of jitter - or, how accurate the master clock controlling the converter is. Effectively, increased jitter = larger deviations from when a signal is “supposed” to be captured = larger error of when, on playback, the DAC is expecting a new batch of info and not getting it within its own specs = (arguably, as far as perception) distortion. The lower the jitter, the better the signal will sound. Most clocks on audio gear samplers are optimized to run at one specific sample rate with the lowest jitter; it is preferable to use this sample rate for playback.
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Offline u2_fly_2

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2017, 11:17:29 AM »
24-Bit if available.
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Offline rippleish20

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 12:50:55 PM »
I only post 24 bit
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Offline achalsey

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2017, 12:51:13 PM »
If anything, 24 bit isn't particularly relevant.

(a tangent and I'm feeling a little nihilistic...)

The vast majority of people listening have no idea about bit rate, or sample rate, or compression rates, or types of compression, or file types.  None of this matters.  No one has the equipment to truly accurately compare different samples.  No one is really carefully, critically listening (in a quiet room with great acoustics on an amazing system) to anything that gets posted.  They're streaming; on phones; on shitty ear buds; in the car; walking around; in public; doing something else.... No one is having a listening party.

We're mostly recording sub-par PAs cranked to 11 in terrible box-y rooms FULL of people from far further than our mics are meant to be from the source.

That's not to necessarily take away from trying to get as high quality product as possible, but all things considered in the grand scheme the extra storage data is really just not worth it as an end product.  The internet isn't quick enough; there aren't TB SD cards; most phones don't even have removable storage; most services don't have unlimited data plans for streaming.  I mostly mention phones since they've taken over the 'portable music storage' scene.  I can't imagine most people have computers hooked up to a personal home stereo system.

Do what you like, listen to whatever sounds best to you, but just remember we live in a bubble.  No one cares about 24 bit stuff.  Ask 10 random people what the difference in visual quality is between Blu-Ray and DVD.  Ask if they know if they're even two different things.  Follow up with what audio rate their TV plays.  Audiophiles are such a small niche.  If you're recording for just the audiophiles: go for it.  Put out 24/96 only.

Offline bvaz

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Re: 16 bit still relevant?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2017, 04:40:46 PM »
I actually encounter people each year that still burn CDs.  I started burning CDs for the car this year again (but I can always just do that for myself and not post a 16 bit version).

I still go by the concept that media is cheap and so many devices have micro SD card slots now that I don't assume everyone is streaming mp3s, although most are.

there is no wrong answer, but it just seems easy to offer both options for me.  I want to keep the 24 bit for myself as my archive and I think more people grab a 16 bit vs a 24 bit (torrent trends seem to indicate that) so I just offer both and let people decide for themselves.

 

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