Old 03-07-2020, 06:26 PM   #1
Jimmy James
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Default Dither question

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.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jimmy James View Post
... it was recorded in 24, reduced to 16 for mixing, then back to 24, for you to master. And dither was never used.
Dither noise should have been added before truncating to 16 bits. Because the files have been truncated without dither, the quality has been reduced ever so slightly. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to hear the truncation distortion that has been added.

When the recording was brought from 16 to 24 bits, no damage has been done. Dither noise must only be added before reducing the word length.

HOW TO PROCEED:

There is no way to remove the slight damage that has been done to the recording. Adding dither after truncation is useless and only increases the noise floor.

Just don't worry about it. There is no way to repair the damage, and the damage is most likely inaudible anyway. Treat the recording as if it had been processed properly all the time.

After mastering at 24 bits, you only need to add dither noise if you want to reduce the word length. For an audio CD, you must add 16-bit dither noise and then truncate to 16 bits.

MP3, AAC and OGG can be created directly from the 24 bit master without adding dither.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Heart Doctor View Post
Dither noise should have been added before truncating to 16 bits. Because the files have been truncated without dither, the quality has been reduced ever so slightly. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to hear the truncation distortion that has been added.

When the recording was brought from 16 to 24 bits, no damage has been done. Dither noise must only be added before reducing the word length.

HOW TO PROCEED:

There is no way to remove the slight damage that has been done to the recording. Adding dither after truncation is useless and only increases the noise floor.

Just don't worry about it. There is no way to repair the damage, and the damage is most likely inaudible anyway. Treat the recording as if it had been processed properly all the time.

After mastering at 24 bits, you only need to add dither noise if you want to reduce the word length. For an audio CD, you must add 16-bit dither noise and then truncate to 16 bits.

MP3, AAC and OGG can be created directly from the 24 bit master without adding dither.
Thanks so much bro. Thats what I needed to hear. I have to remember to tell myself that I can't change what others have done. And all I can do, is do my best with what I have to work with.

I will proceed as if it was all done proper. Thank you!
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Old 03-07-2020, 11:09 PM   #4
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reduced to 16 for mixing, then back to 24
That does not seem to make any sense. All processing should be done with FP and only finally reducing the resolution as needed.
-Michael
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:48 AM   #5
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This plugin might be able to help guide you on your end:
https://www.stillwellaudio.com/plugins/bitter/

You can't "mix in 24-bit" really these days. Any modern DAW will increase the bit-depth to 32-bit floating point or in REAPER's case, 64-bit floating point (if you set it that way) as soon as any audio processing occurs. People often mistake the "recording bit-depth" setting for the bit-depth of the mix engine. Two different things.

So, if you plan to do any digital processing (even a tiny gain change), you'll need/want to dither at the VERY end of your processing chain, sample rate included.

It sounds like whoever mixed it already made a "bit" of a mess on their end, and there is no way to tell if and how much sonic damage that did without hearing it, but you can still do best practices on your end.

Also:
https://audiosex.pro/threads/wtf-is-...worrall.52196/
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Last edited by MRMJP; 03-08-2020 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 03-08-2020, 08:02 AM   #6
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The mix should have been left at 16 for the masterer to do what they do, which is often running it in analog to their rig, so the dither issue is moot. Ask if that's the case. No real harm done making it 24, since it just adds zeros, but there's no reason to do it for a mastering person.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
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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Old 03-10-2020, 02:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
That does not seem to make any sense. All processing should be done with FP and only finally reducing the resolution as needed.
-Michael
explain please, help me understand. He is using a pro tools 8 years old. i don't know the engineer he used. But he told me he recorded in 32 ( I might have said 24 before). Then he converted it to 16 and mixed it (using no dither). Then he converted it to 24bit and gave it to me (using no dither).

edit: just talked to him. He said the original recording was done in 32 or 28, he can't recall.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRMJP View Post
This plugin might be able to help guide you on your end:
https://www.stillwellaudio.com/plugins/bitter/

You can't "mix in 24-bit" really these days. Any modern DAW will increase the bit-depth to 32-bit floating point or in REAPER's case, 64-bit floating point (if you set it that way) as soon as any audio processing occurs. People often mistake the "recording bit-depth" setting for the bit-depth of the mix engine. Two different things.

So, if you plan to do any digital processing (even a tiny gain change), you'll need/want to dither at the VERY end of your processing chain, sample rate included.

It sounds like whoever mixed it already made a "bit" of a mess on their end, and there is no way to tell if and how much sonic damage that did without hearing it, but you can still do best practices on your end.

Also:
https://audiosex.pro/threads/wtf-is-...worrall.52196/
I understand that, and thank you. Thats why I was puzzled on what to do. I have never been in this situation before. I was not sure if I could add dither, and if it would help at this point.
I have listened to what not using dither sounds like, and I can hear it in these tracks.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:04 PM   #10
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If it was me, I'd talk to them and request a new render of the mix in 32bit FP before doing anything else. And check it with Bitter before proceeding.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:23 PM   #11
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If it was me, I'd talk to them and request a new render of the mix in 32bit FP before doing anything else. And check it with Bitter before proceeding.
hold up, so you think a 32bit floating point could clean it up? He says he has to do real time renders? Don't ask me, he says it is because his pro tools is so old. He is very frustrated with this project and doesn't want to do much.
I am trying to go above and beyond because I am just like that. He will fight me on this, but if it will for sure help it sound better, i might be able to talk him into it.
Before I started this master, a voice in the back of my head said "Don't do IT! Turn away now! Run and don't look back". then my ego (probably from my junk) said "Dude, you have great ears and a good feel. You can make anything sound good".

Guess which one I wish I listened to? tldr; always trust your gut and listen to the voice in your head....
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:32 PM   #12
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EDIT: I doubled checked and I am sure. The tracks he gave me are 96k and 24 bit wave.

Is there a better bit depth I can set Reaper to that will sound better? Is there info I can give you guys using the bitter tool that will help? This thing is a hot mess and my stress is over the cliff!

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Old 03-10-2020, 06:06 PM   #13
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Can you guy listen to this file for me? This is the raw track that I was givin for mastering.

link moved to other thread for folks to listen
Do you guys hear distortion in this?

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Old 03-10-2020, 11:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy James View Post
EDIT: I doubled checked and I am sure. The tracks he gave me are 96k and 24 bit wave.
Is there a better bit depth I can set Reaper to that will sound better?
The Dithering needs to be imposed just before converting to the lowest bit count in the chain. After that the damage is done and no way to repair.
That is why you never should go to 16 before the final rendering to CD quality (if ever). And for any previous step FP is the best choice as it prevents clipping.
-Michael
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
The Dithering needs to be imposed just before converting to the lowest bit count in the chain. After that the damage is done and no way to repair.
That is why you never should go to 16 before the final rendering to CD quality (if ever). And for any previous step FP is the best choice as it prevents clipping.
-Michael
Thats what I thought. But I was hoping you had a super secret that could help. He cant render 32 fp. Should I have him render 16 bit instead of 24bit traks?
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