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Author Topic: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"  (Read 6502 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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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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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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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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Masterer

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2007, 03:59:15 am »

24 bit is for pussies. Just master the friggin' thing.


....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".

watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.
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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2007, 08:57:28 am »

MT Groove wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 00:43

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.


You can also see evidence of this on an analyzer, if you're doubting your ears (a cliff-like low-pass @~ 18khz).

This is easily a bigger problem these days than working from 44/16 files.

Bob Boyd

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2007, 09:20:07 am »

Masterer wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 02:59

....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".

watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.

that's awesome  Very Happy
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Bob Boyd
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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2007, 11:43:44 am »

Bob Boyd wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 08:20

Masterer wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 02:59

....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".

watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.

that's awesome  Very Happy


Then you may get 32-bit files with a request to make it even louder !

The engineers around here, esp our regular clients have gotten a lot hipper about what they bring to mastering: 24-bit files, not squashed, on a HDD, DVD-R, or upload to our server. Which we certainly prefer to audio CD-R.

Yesterday we had to tell a client not to bring the 128k files... yikes!

JT
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Noah Mintz

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2007, 02:17:12 pm »

Masterer wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 03:59

24 bit is for pussies. Just master the friggin' thing.


....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".

watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.


Awesome. That's exactly what I did. I hate thinking about this stuff. The more I learn, the less I want to know.
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Mark Wilder

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2007, 05:33:31 pm »

I had to laugh at the title of this thread.  Many moons ago, a co-worker was quoted as saying:

"24 bits, 16 bits, Kibble and bits...What does it matter."

Sony Alumni still laugh at this one.

mgw
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Mark Wilder

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2007, 11:47:33 pm »

Masterer wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 03:59

24 bit is for pussies. Just master the friggin' thing.


....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".

watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.



LMFAO!!!
This would definitely work.
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Patrik T

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2007, 07:01:46 pm »

Bob Boyd wrote on Mon, 05 November 2007 22:06

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


Sometimes I want to start a topic entitled:

"When did digital become better and why?"

I think the conclusions would kind of walk in a reversed direction. After the ordinary 15 pages of hot discussion. Or maybe not.


Best Regards
Patrik
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chrisj

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2007, 07:41:44 pm »

Masterer wrote on Wed, 07 November 2007 03:59


....and when he calls to tell you how great it sounds tell him you could have gotten it a little louder if it was 24 bit 'cause of the "increased dynamic range".
watch how fast you get the 24 bit files.


Loud laughing here too...

You're GOOD Very Happy

chrisj

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2007, 07:44:05 pm »

Wait, there's a catch.

Watch them open the mp3s in a wave editor, convert to 24 bit, duly save the results, and look at you expectantly...  Laughing

Bob Olhsson

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2007, 10:58:54 am »

If a "name" producer only has an audio CD, I'd be more worried about whether the guy had paid the studio where it was mixed.

Greg Reierson

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2007, 11:15:39 am »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sat, 10 November 2007 09:58

If a "name" producer only has an audio CD, I'd be more worried about whether the guy had paid the studio where it was mixed.


The modern day equivalent of "there was a problem at the studio and we only have this cassette..."

GR
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Tannoy

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2007, 02:11:36 pm »

Hi there,

there's one argument (in my opinion) against the use of a 16-bit input for mastering:

Since additional processing of the material will happen and this likely through some 24-bit devices,
additional dithering has to be done in any case. The mix you've got surely is already dithered.
Dithering always changes the sound of the material, more in a psychoacoustically than in a obviously
audible way. Some are talking about a slight veil that is added to the original sound, some about
an audible difference in the hi-mid to upper frequency range.
Anyhow, the thing is that double dithering (and this will happen in your case) will change the sound
even more since the dithering noise is added two times. It's not a must happen thing - but it can
lead to unwanted results. Some will recognize it, some won't.
But I think, your customer (in a bad case) maybe will complain about a sound that differs from other
masters he got - because of the fact, that he maybe has delivered 24-bit files to the mastering houses
the times before and now the whole thing sounds different somehow. Maybe this helps for negotiations
about the 24-bit files and yes, I think there's a huge difference in the sound of 16 and 24-bit, 24-bit has much more deepness and resolution.

Best regards,

Tannoy.
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Andy Krehm

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2007, 05:16:29 pm »

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

....I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz....

I'm still surprised that nobody thinks that the conversion by the mixing studio from 48k to 44.1k isn't also an issue.

What if they used the fastest SRC in PTs in order to give the producer an audio disc?

The best PT's SRC is pretty good but usually not as good as some of the dedicated software SRCs. Add that to the bit reduction and double dithering and I think you'd have a noticible difference.

Noah Mintz

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2007, 07:45:01 pm »

Andy Krehm wrote on Sat, 10 November 2007 17:16

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

....I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz....

I'm still surprised that nobody thinks that the conversion by the mixing studio from 48k to 44.1k isn't also an issue.

What if they used the fastest SRC in PTs in order to give the producer an audio disc?

The best PT's SRC is pretty good but usually not as good as some of the dedicated software SRCs. Add that to the bit reduction and double dithering and I think you'd have a noticible difference.



I think the fact that there were no 16bit or 24bit stereo mixed files was an indication that the album might have been mixed analog directly to a stand alone cd burner. Again, this is only a guess.

I'll repeat that the producer seemed not worried at all that I was working with the 16bit audio cd and didn't have 24bit or 16bit files and seemed very unconcerned about them.

In the end, i think it sounded quite good so I'm not worried about it in the least. They sounded better than most 24bit 96khz files that I get on a daily basis.

My philopsphy; Don't get caught up in the numbers or the letters.  Everything you do to it changes it. Don't look at the frequencies, feel them (Ya I know how that sounds). Don't worry too much about the order of your equipment or which cables you use. Don't think too much. Just make it sound good no matter what you get.


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Andy Krehm

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2007, 08:55:37 pm »

Noah Mintz wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 19:45

Andy Krehm wrote on Sat, 10 November 2007 17:16

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

....I noticed from the HD that the original PT record files were 24bit 48khz....

I'm still surprised that nobody thinks that the conversion by the mixing studio from 48k to 44.1k isn't also an issue.

What if they used the fastest SRC in PTs in order to give the producer an audio disc?

The best PT's SRC is pretty good but usually not as good as some of the dedicated software SRCs. Add that to the bit reduction and double dithering and I think you'd have a noticible difference.



I think the fact that there were no 16bit or 24bit stereo mixed files was an indication that the album might have been mixed analog directly to a stand alone cd burner. Again, this is only a guess.

I'll repeat that the producer seemed not worried at all that I was working with the 16bit audio cd and didn't have 24bit or 16bit files and seemed very unconcerned about them.

In the end, i think it sounded quite good so I'm not worried about it in the least. They sounded better than most 24bit 96khz files that I get on a daily basis.

My philopsphy; Don't get caught up in the numbers or the letters.  Everything you do to it changes it. Don't look at the frequencies, feel them (Ya I know how that sounds). Don't worry too much about the order of your equipment or which cables you use. Don't think too much. Just make it sound good no matter what you get.




but if you can gracefully get the stereo mixes at the bit and sample rate they were mixed at, you should b/c they will sound better in the end.

Obviously in this case you did the right thing but your post makes it sound like one should passively accept anything that comes in the door without questions...go with the flow.

I have found that almost all artists, engineers and producers that weren't aware of these things are always appreciate that I have taken the time to try and get the best version of the audio they have produced before mastering.

bblackwood

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Re: 24bit, 16 bit... "what does it matter?"
« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2007, 07:20:56 am »

Andy Krehm wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 19:55

Noah Mintz wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 19:45

I think the fact that there were no 16bit or 24bit stereo mixed files was an indication that the album might have been mixed analog directly to a stand alone cd burner. Again, this is only a guess.

but if you can gracefully get the stereo mixes at the bit and sample rate they were mixed at, you should b/c they will sound better in the end.

What? The only time the sampling rate of the final mix needs to be the same is if it's done ITB with zero analog buss processing or summing. If his assumption that it was mixed on an analog console is correct, then there is zero reason the final sampling frequency should be the same as the tracking rate...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters
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