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Author Topic: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"  (Read 6431 times)

Noah Mintz

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24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« on: November 05, 2007, 01:46:30 pm »

Received an audio cd master today from a very seasoned producer. (he has worked with some of the most well known artists in the world)

I called him up to ask if there were 24bit files, since I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz. His response was "what does it matter?"

Not wanting to get into a numbers discussion I said I was fine mastering from what ever I was given.

He wanted me to use the 16bit CD mix master so that's what I worked from. I don't know if this was his preference, or what, and I didn't want to ask.

What do you think?



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chrisj

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 02:03:06 pm »

Process it in something real like 32 bit float, and dither it when you reduce it back down to 16 bit again Smile

What else can you do?

Noah Mintz

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 02:05:29 pm »

chrisj wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 14:03

Process it in something real like 32 bit float, and dither it when you reduce it back down to 16 bit again Smile

What else can you do?


I just spit it out to analog, processing doesn't apply.

16 bit is no less real than 32
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Noah Mintz Mastering at Lacquer Channel http://www.lacquerchannel.com

bblackwood

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 02:29:09 pm »

I remind my clients (and myself) that lots of great records were cut off 16/44.1 DATs, often recorded with the stock ADC. Would 24 bits sound better? Possibly. Is it a train wreck? Not even close.
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Brad Blackwood
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Ed Littman

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 02:32:22 pm »

Noah Mintz wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 13:46

I called him up to ask if there were 24bit files, since I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz. His response was "what does it matter?"

What do you think?





It does matter doesn't it? 24/48 sounds better especially with no dither/truncation or SRC. No numbers have to be discussed, as long as your not opening a can of worms for what ever reason...(you've got to feel that one out). I'm sure you made it sound good through the analog chain, but your client needs to know if your source was at it's original resolution he would get a better product. That may answer his question without stirring to much up.

Ed
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Andy Krehm

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2007, 02:36:51 pm »

Noah Mintz wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 13:46

Received an audio cd master today from a very seasoned producer. (he has worked with some of the most well known artists in the world)

I called him up to ask if there were 24bit files, since I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz. His response was "what does it matter?"

Not wanting to get into a numbers discussion I said I was fine mastering from what ever I was given.

He wanted me to use the 16bit CD mix master so that's what I worked from. I don't know if this was his preference, or what, and I didn't want to ask.

What do you think?





Most seasoned mixers are aware that mastering engineers prefer to process at the bit and SR of the mix and SRC and dither afterwards.

In fact, I can't recall ever having this issue with a knowledgeable engineer.

However, no matter who it is, I will go out of my way to try and get the proper mix bounces but of course am always as diplomatic as possible during the inquiry (but in this case, would be wondering why the guy is so ignorant!).

Maybe you've never worked for the guy before and don't want to insult him, which at the intitial stage of what is hopefully a long term relationship is understandable.

Maybe he has inadvertently lost the files and doesn't want to admit it.

Are the 24/48bit bounces on the HD? If so, you could tell him you would prefer to work from them.

Bob Boyd

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2007, 04:06:52 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 13:29

I remind my clients (and myself) that lots of great records were cut off 16/44.1 DATs, often recorded with the stock ADC. Would 24 bits sound better? Possibly. Is it a train wreck? Not even close.

I'd have to agree.  I remastered a bunch of songs for a "Best Of" compilation by a popular rock act last year.  Some of the material came in at 96/24 off of 1/2" but most of it came in at 44/16.  

Not remembering that the early stuff was from "the DAT years", I asked the label about it and they said that DATs were all they had.  

Bit depth does matter but I'll take a well done 16 bit DAT over hi res 24 bit hash any day.
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Noah Mintz

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2007, 05:17:53 pm »

Bob Boyd wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 16:06

 

Bit depth does matter but I'll take a well done 16 bit DAT over hi res 24 bit hash any day.


agreed but we have to assume that the files i was given today were good in their 24 bit format as well since I could tell from the PT record files that they were 24bit.

i should be more specific with my questions:

1. are 24bit source files really better than 16 bit in most cases? (or are they almost the same?)

If so, how? Again, forget about the numbers. Has anyone compared the two with their ears? Normally I get either 24bit or 16bit. I don't get the choice. If I do get the choice I go straight to 24 bit...no brainer. But has anyone had the choice and chosen the 16bit over the 24bit? When we think about it and think of the math we want to choose 24 bit but if we listen, I wonder what the difference is? The only comparison I have is my mastered files and the CD I make. Sometimes I like the CD better....

2. Do you question a producer/mixer of an extremely high profile? (think big here)

Who am I to question this guy on this matter? I'm grateful I've gotten the job at all. If he gives me the 16bit audio disc to work with and tells me to use it (remember I did question why he didn't give me the 24bit) do I try to explain to him why 24bit is better? I assume he knows, he's not that old and his experience is among the best and biggest in the business. He did record it at 24bit.

Even if I did question him, how can I back it up? I don't know if 24bit mixes sound better than 16. I question if I'm too caught up in the numbers?

Noah
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Andy Krehm

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2007, 05:59:36 pm »

Noah Mintz wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 17:17

Bob Boyd wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 16:06

 

Bit depth does matter but I'll take a well done 16 bit DAT over hi res 24 bit hash any day.


agreed but we have to assume that the files i was given today were good in their 24 bit format as well since I could tell from the PT record files that they were 24bit.

i should be more specific with my questions:

1. are 24bit source files really better than 16 bit in most cases? (or are they almost the same?)

If so, how? Again, forget about the numbers. Has anyone compared the two with their ears? Normally I get either 24bit or 16bit. I don't get the choice. If I do get the choice I go straight to 24 bit...no brainer. But has anyone had the choice and chosen the 16bit over the 24bit? When we think about it and think of the math we want to choose 24 bit but if we listen, I wonder what the difference is? The only comparison I have is my mastered files and the CD I make. Sometimes I like the CD better....

2. Do you question a producer/mixer of an extremely high profile? (think big here)

Who am I to question this guy on this matter? I'm grateful I've gotten the job at all. If he gives me the 16bit audio disc to work with and tells me to use it (remember I did question why he didn't give me the 24bit) do I try to explain to him why 24bit is better? I assume he knows, he's not that old and his experience is among the best and biggest in the business. He did record it at 24bit.

Even if I did question him, how can I back it up? I don't know if 24bit mixes sound better than 16. I question if I'm too caught up in the numbers?

Noah


The fact that he converted the 48k files to 44.1k would make a difference if he didn't use a really good SRC. I'm sure you've tested various programs and found that some do a better job than others so you have that experience to back you up.

Secondly, I don't know the numbers but I've done some testing for my own education and mastered the same song with the same settings, but one file 16 bit and the other 24 and definitely liked the one that came from 24 bits better (after dithering to 16b). I did my first test a few years ago and tried it again recently, just to make sure my observations were still valid.

Plus if you are using any digital gear, it will probably be upsampling so wouldn't you be double dithering for no good reason at some point?

I do agree with Bob Boyd that well recorded mixes at 16/44.1 sound better than ones not done so well but using higher bit and sample rates but the issue here is that the mixer is potentially losing  a small percentage of sound by giving you a CD and not leaving bit and SRC to the guys that are supposed to be doing it best, the ME.

I did agree with you in a previous post that it can be tricky to question a guy with credits but it's your job to get the best sound for him!

Just tell him that his files will sound better being processed at 24 bits and that you have a killer SRC program and POW-r dither (or whatever) to do the final dither.

On the other hand, maybe its the type of bandwidth limited distorted material where these issues won't be so noticeable in which case, carry on Laughing !

cerberus

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2007, 09:10:12 pm »

Noah Mintz wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 13:46

Received an audio cd master today from a very seasoned producer. (he has worked with some of the most well known artists in the world)
ask him to put you in direct contact with the mix engineer.

note that once the files are bumped-up to 24 bits, further processing will expand the
signal bit depth internally to more than 24 bits. any process that outputs to 24 bit
format will need to be dithered to 24 bits. some engineers prefer a floating point
environment, which eliminates the need to dither at each processing stage.
Andy Krehm wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 17:59

The fact that he converted the 48k files to 44.1k would make a difference if he didn't use a really good SRC. I'm sure you've tested various programs and found that some do a better job than others so you have that experience to back you up.
true dat.

jeff dinces

dcollins

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2007, 12:43:47 am »

Noah Mintz wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 14:17



If so, how? Again, forget about the numbers. Has anyone compared the two with their ears? Normally I get either 24bit or 16bit. I don't get the choice. If I do get the choice I go straight to 24 bit...no brainer. But has anyone had the choice and chosen the 16bit over the 24bit?



If you have a 24 bit source, and the ability to switch 16 bit d*ther in and out, you can make the test yourself.

You'll probably find that the 16 bit version is virtually un-recognizable as music, and clearly unsuitable for any sort of professional application.


DC

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2007, 01:15:56 am »

dcollins wrote on Tue, 06 November 2007 00:43


You'll probably find that the 16 bit version is virtually un-recognizable as music, and clearly unsuitable for any sort of professional application.


DC


And if you listen to it too long you'll also notice increased hair growth on your palms (not to mention a sudden case of halitosis)

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Andrew Hamilton

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2007, 01:30:25 am »

I received an audio CD recently, and I was so happy not to have mpegs (don't ask) that I didn't press the issue when he said that was "all's I had."   Upon picking up the master, I was told that  they _did_ have a CD-ROM, which might have 24 bit versions of the mixes!  They haven't called back.  Frankly, I think the music would have to have been better to merit a revision of the mastering.  Dr. Dre's The Chronic was SSL to DAT, wasn't it?


_andrew
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Peter Beckmann

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 08:41:42 am »

There is also the possibilty that perhaps someone has done a bit of pre-mastering tweaking to 'help you out' and that is why you've got an audio CD...
Is the CD limited or L2'd to the max? I've had to send back mixes in the past that someone has limited to death thinking they were helping me!

Most producers in my experience
A. Want the best CD possible at the end of mastering
B. Know that the higher resolution they give me the better

Tricky how to play it with a big name you haven't worked with before...

Good luck. Just make it sound good!


PBPB
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Peter Beckmann
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MT Groove

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2007, 01:43:36 am »

I'll settle for 16 Bit 44.1kHz any day.  Lately I've been getting CD-Rs that were copied on a PC using Windows Media or iTunes and you can hear the "mp3" quality in them.  They don't realize that their copies were ripped to mp3 quality then reburned to CD.  
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