Thread: Dither question
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jimmy James View Post
If someone gave you a album to master. And it was in 24bit. he told you it has stayed in 24 bit the entire time. At the end of it all, you find out it was recorded in 24, reduced to 16 for mixing, then back to 24, for you to master. And dither was never used.

What do you do? Should I there it even when rendering to 24bit tracks? Or only when I do the 16 bit renders? I have never been in this situation before.
Adding dither noise before truncating to 16 bit was a thing with older converters. Back when 16 bit systems were made with combining 12 bit + 4 bit converter chips and things got bad below the top 12 bits, adding dither noise sometimes cleaned up low level reverb trails and such.

This only applies to the old 16 bit CD format. Only add dither noise for the reduced to 16 bit version and then only if you hear it make a difference. ie. You first heard a compromise from the reduction to 16 bit and then adding the dither noise lessened that compromise and made it sound closer to the 24 bit original.

The real issue here might be that the 24 bit master is compromised! The CD listeners will likely be none the wiser. I'd mention the mistake and ask if it's possible to get a true 24 bit render of the final mixes.
If that's not possible... In a case like this, I might be inclined to make the final master only 16 bit just like the CD version. (So... perhaps only a CD version!) To avoid having a 16 bit master masquerading as a 24 bit master and leaving the opportunity for someone to call that out.

That's the academic version.

In the real world here, the damage done from these faux pas is probably trivial. These digital formats are robust enough for a number of screw ups without really doing much audible damage. An unfinished mix or amateur mix will have fidelity issues to correct that make stuff like 16 bit reductions a completely moot point.

Ask for a correction if they can understand the request and come up with it.
Otherwise just don't do further damage. Adding dither noise in this day and age with the converter quality in even average gear and the floating point mixing engines in most DAWs is highly questionable.
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