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Offline caitjim

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24 bit v 16 bit
« on: December 30, 2018, 02:28:03 PM »
Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere but a lot of download sites are showing shows recorded in both 16 and 24 bit options. I've even seen some late 1960s audience recordings transferred to 24 bit and the sound is still woeful. You can't put in what isn't there in the first place quality wise. Anyway, back to today. Will I really miss much quality wise if I record in 16 bit as opposed to 24 bit as I'm going to compress it to MP3 anyhow.
Thank for your answers.

Offline dyneq

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2018, 02:48:22 PM »
The only way to know for sure is for you to do your own ABX test.

I can't tell the difference, and I believe that most people can't either. Here's a good blog post on the subject:

https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Offline Ronmac

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2018, 03:05:52 PM »
Higher bit rate does not guarantee better recordings. It does allow for more dynamic range, although that will only be meaningful if the dynamic range is considered during the recording process.

Recording music that has a very limited dynamic range (most club and festival PAs) can not be made better by resampling at a higher bit rate.

Offline ilduclo

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2018, 03:13:12 PM »
recording wise, you can record at lower volume and avoid any chance of brickwalling when using 24 bit. After recording, the 24 bit can be amplified to the optimal level without adding hiss. My personal method is to record at 44.1x24, saving these to an archival file, then on a copied set of files, do all the adjustments and editing before converting them to 44.1x16. You can do the same from 44.1x24 to mp3 pretty easily. If you want the best sounding mp3's, I would recommend recording at 24 bit and stepping it down to mp3 after editing. As an additional method, flac encoding is a good way to save file size and not lose any sound quality, either at 24 bit or at 16.

Offline EmRR

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2018, 03:15:03 PM »
24 bit allows more effective changes after the fact: raising levels, equalizing, etc.  A 16 recording with very low level will suffer compared to the same in 24 bit, since the 'floor' is so much closer to the signal.  Most workstations are working at 32bit floating point for level changes, as example, it's 'penalty free' because dynamic range is so high.  16 bit, not so much, you are baking in a smaller range.   

It makes much less difference once you've made changes to a recording so it's ready for presentation, at that point it can make sense to reduce to 16 bit.    If you've got a really detailed listening system you may hear a clear difference between 16 and 24 at that point. 
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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2018, 05:32:18 PM »
Higher bit rate does not guarantee better recordings. It does allow for more dynamic range, although that will only be meaningful if the dynamic range is considered during the recording process.

Recording music that has a very limited dynamic range (most club and festival PAs) can not be made better by resampling at a higher bit rate.

So true, a sh#t recording will always be sh#t recording but a better recording there is more dynamic range to play with and running conservative levels will not impact quality.

Offline ThePiedPiper

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2018, 06:39:28 PM »
Higher bit rate does not guarantee better recordings. It does allow for more dynamic range, although that will only be meaningful if the dynamic range is considered during the recording process.

Recording music that has a very limited dynamic range (most club and festival PAs) can not be made better by resampling at a higher bit rate.

So true, a sh#t recording will always be sh#t recording but a better recording there is more dynamic range to play with and running conservative levels will not impact quality.

I'm in the same school of thought as Daspy. Personally, I am a "paranoid" taper so I run 24/96 at lower levels to avoid clipping and other related issues. My thought is this: as cheap as memory (SD & MicroSD cards) are these days, it only makes since to get as much info and dynamics as possible. It's only my way of doing things, not saying it's the best way, but I am pleased with the results.
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Offline caitjim

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2018, 05:56:36 AM »
Thanks all. So 24 bit will give me more leeway for processing if I understand it correctly. Once processed I can compress to MP3, Flac etc.

Offline willndmb

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2018, 10:44:26 AM »
Thanks all. So 24 bit will give me more leeway for processing if I understand it correctly. Once processed I can compress to MP3, Flac etc.
yes
I would say do 24. The only extra step so to speak would be if you wanted to make/share 16
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Offline DSatz

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2018, 10:54:53 AM »
caitjim, yes. But the "conservative" doesn't mean "anything goes" (its opposite!). You still want your maximum peak levels to be as high as possible without quite touching 0 dB.

You can say that a "conservative" level-setting strategy has worked well if your highest peak levels at the live event were -6 dB, maybe even -8 or -10 depending on your particular equipment. But if the peaks are down around (say) -12 or -15, the original recording will almost certainly contain unnecessary extra noise.

That's because each analog stage of your recorder's circuitry has its own noise floor. If your signal is low enough to expose the noise floor of ANY stage in your recording equipment, some unnecessary noise will be added to your recorded signal. Then when you normalize the levels later on, that noise will be amplified along with the desired signal.

--best regards

« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 11:12:49 AM by DSatz »
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Offline caitjim

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2018, 11:08:59 AM »
Thank you all. I now understand and will stick with recording at 24 bit for the added flexibility in the editing stage. Ta.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2018, 11:41:32 AM »
Helps to consider the recording, processing and delivery steps as completely separate aspects with different requirements, each following the other.  In other words, it's not about processing.

Recording- All else equal, if the live signal dynamics fit within 16 bits, the recording will not suffer from being made at 16 bits, nor will it be improved by recording at 24 bits.  However, it is often easier for the recordist to make the recording at 24 bits, since doing so is likely to increase the allowable dynamic range to somewhere between 17 to 20 bits or so (depends on the performance of the specific recording gear used), making the setting of recording level easier with increased safety-margin.  Personal conclusion- makes sense to default to recording 24 bits, retaining decent level setting for the reasons indicated above.

Processing- Best practice to do your processing in an editor which uses a sufficiently larger "calculation space" than the recording itself. 32 bit floating-point mathematics provides this for both 16 bit and 24 bit recordings.  If the recording fits in 16 bits, providing the same data to the editor in a 24 bit file rather than a 16 bit file file won't make it work better or do its calculations more precisely.  However, doing the calculations in a calculation space which provides increased precision over that of the original data can do so. Personal conclusion- makes sense to edit in 32 bit floating point regardless of input and output bit depth.

Delivery- All else equal, if it fits..  I think you get it.   Note that this is what folks other than the recordist actually get their hands on, and as such, justifiably or otherwise, what they are likely to be most opinionated about.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2018, 11:48:44 AM »
That's because each analog stage of your recorder's circuitry has its own noise floor. If your signal is low enough to expose the noise floor of ANY stage in your recording equipment, some unnecessary noise will be added to your recorded signal. Then when you normalize the levels later on, that noise will be amplified along with the desired signal.

This also serves as an argument for providing the majority of the needed gain early in the recording chain, as gain stages later in the chain amplify the noise of those preceding them.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2018, 12:01:10 PM »
^ Best to get levels optimized at the earliest stages of either realm.
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Offline ilduclo

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2018, 02:01:07 PM »
caitjim, yes. But the "conservative" doesn't mean "anything goes" (its opposite!). You still want your maximum peak levels to be as high as possible without quite touching 0 dB.

You can say that a "conservative" level-setting strategy has worked well if your highest peak levels at the live event were -6 dB, maybe even -8 or -10 depending on your particular equipment. But if the peaks are down around (say) -12 or -15, the original recording will almost certainly contain unnecessary extra noise.

That's because each analog stage of your recorder's circuitry has its own noise floor. If your signal is low enough to expose the noise floor of ANY stage in your recording equipment, some unnecessary noise will be added to your recorded signal. Then when you normalize the levels later on, that noise will be amplified along with the desired signal.

--best regards

I tend to disagree. If you're up at the near -6 range, it is much easier to brickwall. One of my tricks to get optimum levels is ask the musicians, in the soundcheck, to play briefly at the loudest they will be playing that set. If you set to below that, you'll be good as gold. If you don't, and it's a band that starts quiet then builds to a loud crescendo, you're going to go over pretty easy. I amp up from -12 all the time, and it's not noticeable to me....(ymmv).

Offline EmRR

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2018, 02:21:33 PM »
Digital gain is free, sometimes a lower gain setting in a recording path is quieter than a higher one.  I'd be more worried about maxing signal levels if I were transferring out of a recorder in the analog domain. 

24 versus 16 is a real world difference of 25-30dB dynamic range, depending on the converter.  Recording at -20dBFS in 24 is still more dynamic range than 0dBFS in 16.....and ya can't successfully record at 0dBFS, hardly at -6dBFS in unknown situations.   Bring -20 up to -1 with digital gain in post, still more dynamic range than the 16 capture. 

16 versus 24 within a 32float scenario; it's about what the 32float does to the bottom bit of the 16, which is 8 higher than the bottom bit of the 24.  It's where the dither and quantization error lives.  That's further buried in the 24, and therefore is also after processing.  If you get into forensic fixes and noise reduction with something like RX7, there's a lot more in a 24 bit capture for the algorithms to work with.  It keeps the artifacts of the medium much further out of the way, regardless of the dynamic range of the intended capture. 
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Offline DSatz

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2018, 08:21:40 PM »
[message text deleted; I had wrongly contradicted another member of the forum, who then politely pointed out my mistake]
« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 09:19:34 AM by DSatz »
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Offline EmRR

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2019, 05:04:00 AM »
I think you're confusing 24 bit with 20 bit, 4 bits is 24.08dB theoretical. 

16 bit theoretical dynamic range 96.33dB
24 bit theoretical dynamic range 144.49dB
48.16dB theoretical difference

The measured input noise of my MOTU 16A AD gives a worst case result in the audible band of -135dBFS at 20kHz, around -143dBFS at 1kHz.  I've looked at it myself, that's not a number from a manual, that number is worse.   It's about 15dB worse in the previous generation MOTU 2408mkIII. 
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Offline DSatz

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2019, 06:42:29 AM »
EmRR, you're right, I was thinking 4 extra bits rather than 8 when I wrote the above. Sorry! Major mistake on my part.

I'll go back and edit my earlier message now to indicate that it was wrong.
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Offline tim in jersey

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2019, 10:32:26 PM »
caitjim, yes. But the "conservative" doesn't mean "anything goes" (its opposite!). You still want your maximum peak levels to be as high as possible without quite touching 0 dB.

You can say that a "conservative" level-setting strategy has worked well if your highest peak levels at the live event were -6 dB, maybe even -8 or -10 depending on your particular equipment. But if the peaks are down around (say) -12 or -15, the original recording will almost certainly contain unnecessary extra noise.

That's because each analog stage of your recorder's circuitry has its own noise floor. If your signal is low enough to expose the noise floor of ANY stage in your recording equipment, some unnecessary noise will be added to your recorded signal. Then when you normalize the levels later on, that noise will be amplified along with the desired signal.

--best regards

I tend to disagree. If you're up at the near -6 range, it is much easier to brickwall. One of my tricks to get optimum levels is ask the musicians, in the soundcheck, to play briefly at the loudest they will be playing that set. If you set to below that, you'll be good as gold. If you don't, and it's a band that starts quiet then builds to a loud crescendo, you're going to go over pretty easy. I amp up from -12 all the time, and it's not noticeable to me....(ymmv).

Agree.

Offline EmRR

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2019, 10:52:17 AM »
EmRR, you're right, I was thinking 4 extra bits rather than 8 when I wrote the above. Sorry! Major mistake on my part.

I'll go back and edit my earlier message now to indicate that it was wrong.

No worries, we all do it sometimes!
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Offline tim in jersey

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2019, 01:41:31 PM »
[message text deleted; I had wrongly contradicted another member of the forum, who then politely pointed out my mistake]

Someone admitting a mistake? And then taking the blame for it? Unheard of.

Cheers to you, DSatz.  :cheers:

Offline John Willett

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2019, 11:50:14 AM »
Will I really miss much quality wise if I record in 16 bit as opposed to 24 bit as I'm going to compress it to MP3 anyhow.

Never record in 16-bit if you can record in 24-bit.

16-bit is fine as a delivery format, but 24-bit is far better for a master recording.

You have a much better headroom with 24-bits - ie: you set 0VU as -18dBFS (or -20dBFS) with 24-bit recording, but only -12dBFS with 16-bit recording. You need a good headroom to avoid any problems with inter-sample peaks that could cause problems, but may nit register on the meters.

You will then have the best available master and the end result, even if MP3 (yuk) will be the final result.

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Re: 24 bit v 16 bit
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2019, 05:21:07 PM »

Never record in 16-bit if you can record in 24-bit.

16-bit is fine as a delivery format, but 24-bit is far better for a master recording.
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