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Author Topic: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES  (Read 2777 times)

bloodstone

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16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« on: June 15, 2004, 10:30:16 am »

Can you please quantify/qualify how much of a difference it makes in final master to provide a mastering engineer with a 24 bit data file vs. a CD-R containing 16 bit .cda files?   Ultimately, mixing to outboard CD-R vs. mixing to PC/Mac/Masterlink.  Thanks.
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cymatics

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2004, 11:01:03 am »

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 15:30

Can you please quantify/qualify how much of a difference it makes in final master to provide a mastering engineer with a 24 bit data file vs. a CD-R containing 16 bit .cda files?


The difference is exactly 16711680 quantization points.

Check out this article for a much better explanation.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/neil.martin83/24bit.doc


- jon

bloodstone

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2004, 12:35:28 pm »

cymatics wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 16:01

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 15:30

Can you please quantify/qualify how much of a difference it makes in final master to provide a mastering engineer with a 24 bit data file vs. a CD-R containing 16 bit .cda files?


The difference is exactly 16711680 quantization points.

Check out this article for a much better explanation.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/neil.martin83/24bit.doc


- jon


If I've got a decent set of ears, will I hear the difference, and is it worth abandoning my outboard CDRW?  Thanks.
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cymatics

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2004, 01:48:59 pm »

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 17:35

If I've got a decent set of ears, will I hear the difference, and is it worth abandoning my outboard CDRW?  Thanks.



As far as wether or not you will hear the difference...? the short annoying answer is that it depends entirely upon your ears, your room, the type of music you work with etc etc ad nauseum.

IMO, it is best to deliver the highest resolution files possible to the ME.  Even if you can't hear the difference, it may make a big difference to a skilled and seasoned ME.  Remember, the lowest level (amplitude) information is where the differences will be most apparent.  If you are working with music that has a reasonably varying dynamic range (ie anything other than highly compressed and overly limited rock), I would suggest that you go with a 24 bit mixdown format.

If you have access to a 24 bit mixdown device, try some a/b experiments and see if you can pick out the differences.  Try something sparse with audible reverb decay, or a quiet acoustic instrument.  Let us know what you think?


- jon

OTR-jkl

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2004, 02:40:38 pm »

Yes, you will hear the difference.

Quote:

Try something sparse with audible reverb decay, or a quiet acoustic instrument.

Yep. The trick to hearing the difference is to listen "behind" the music. The extra bits add a sense of depth and transparency to the mix.
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J Lowes ยท OTR Mastering
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lucey

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2004, 02:49:16 pm »

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 11:35



If I've got a decent set of ears, will I hear the difference, and is it worth abandoning my outboard CDRW?  Thanks.



Generally it's a good move to go 24 bits, especially good if the mastering is digital.

For those of us who master analog from digi files, it's less of an issue.  Then again, the better it sounds up front the better it should sound in the end.




Of course there are many examples of beautiful sounding records from 16 bit mixes ... and shitty 24 bit mixes.  Converters are of course important ... the Masterlink is a good stand alone solution and are sometimes $500.





Like any upgrade decision, the chain as a whole, including the engineer's skill, must be considered.  Always fix the weak link.  So it helps if we know the weak link.

Thinking it over as a whole process - if you're ready for 24 bit mixes, you'll know it.

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Brian Lucey
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bloodstone

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2004, 03:36:27 pm »

lucey wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 19:49

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 11:35



If I've got a decent set of ears, will I hear the difference, and is it worth abandoning my outboard CDRW?  Thanks.



Generally it's a good move to go 24 bits, especially good if the mastering is digital.

For those of us who master analog from digi files, it's less of an issue.  Then again, the better it sounds up front the better it should sound in the end.




Of course there are many examples of beautiful sounding records from 16 bit mixes ... and shitty 24 bit mixes.  Converters are of course important ... the Masterlink is a good stand alone solution and are sometimes $500.





Like any upgrade decision, the chain as a whole, including the engineer's skill, must be considered.  Always fix the weak link.  So it helps if we know the weak link.

Thinking it over as a whole process - if you're ready for 24 bit mixes, you'll know it.




The main reason I ask this is I've noticed that during comparative tests when I mixed simultaneously to DAT & CD-R through analog ins, There is a marked improvement when I listened back to the CD-R version (mainly what I hear is a more "expanded" top end and better clarity).  So my thought was that if I took the next step to 24 bit stereo masters, I'd see an even further positive upgrade in my finished product.  Thanks for the input.  

While I'm at it, does anyone have anything pro/con to say about the E-Mu 1212M sound card?
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bblackwood

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2004, 04:19:13 pm »

On a basic level, 24 bit would be preferred in this case as it will be a data file, less susceptible to audible errors than the 16 bit audio disc.

From what you are describing above, it's hard to tell whether or not you are playing the files back through the same DAC. If you are not, then the differences you are hearing are most surely the differences in the different DACs, not the differences in wordlengths...
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Brad Blackwood
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bloodstone

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2004, 08:07:05 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 21:19

On a basic level, 24 bit would be preferred in this case as it will be a data file, less susceptible to audible errors than the 16 bit audio disc.

From what you are describing above, it's hard to tell whether or not you are playing the files back through the same DAC. If you are not, then the differences you are hearing are most surely the differences in the different DACs, not the differences in wordlengths...


I've matched levels when printing to DAT & CD-R.  Then I A/B the playback of the two mixes (DAT & CD-R) using the A/B switches on my mixer.  The DAT sounds dull & lifeless in comparison.  Then I take the SPDIF out of the DAT to the CD-R SPDIF in and add that as a second track on the CD-R.  Then I finalize the CD-R and listen on car stereo, CDRW, boom box, Walkman, home stereo, etc.  In all scenarios the "DAT version" sounds noticeably inferior.

My main reason for exploring this is I've noticed I really like what I'm hearing coming out of the Mix A output of my Soundcraft Ghost, but have noticed that's not what's getting printed to DAT or CD-R or what I hear when I monitor the DAT or CD-R, (although the mix I print to CD-R is by far a "more true" representation of the Ghost Mix A output).

My CDRW has 24 bit converters, but I think my DAT has 16 bit (Tascam DA 20).  That probably explains some or most of the difference?  Not to mention the DA 20 is a piece of obsolescent crap.

My thinking is that mixing to a 24 bit data file through good or great A/D might get me even closer to documenting the Mix A output of the Ghost.  Is that delusional/far-fetched?

Thanks again for your opinions/knowledge.
 
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Eliott James

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2004, 09:11:37 pm »

It sounds to me like your source files are digital, am I right? Well, even it's an analog source, into the Ghost, then into your DAT, then out S/PDIF to the CD burner.

The DA20 does not have good converters, IMO. If you're coming out S/PDIF into the CD Burner, the burner may have 24 bit converters but it has to reduce it to 16 bit for the CD. Who knows what quality the converters in the CD burner are? Ideally the level is the same from the DA20 to the CD burner since it is via S/PDIF, but you cannot assume that. You may be hearing increased level on the CD and thinking that it sounds better. In a perfect world the DAT should be represented on the CD when transfering digitally, but that certainly does not always happen.

What you need is a good 24 bit ADC out of the Ghost, that can do a proper job of converting to 16 bit into your CD burner via S/PDIF. Then you'll hear the advantage of 24 bit! Forget the DAT.
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bloodstone

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2004, 09:05:55 am »

EJ wrote on Wed, 16 June 2004 02:11

It sounds to me like your source files are digital, am I right? Well, even it's an analog source, into the Ghost, then into your DAT, then out S/PDIF to the CD burner.

The DA20 does not have good converters, IMO. If you're coming out S/PDIF into the CD Burner, the burner may have 24 bit converters but it has to reduce it to 16 bit for the CD. Who knows what quality the converters in the CD burner are? Ideally the level is the same from the DA20 to the CD burner since it is via S/PDIF, but you cannot assume that. You may be hearing increased level on the CD and thinking that it sounds better. In a perfect world the DAT should be represented on the CD when transfering digitally, but that certainly does not always happen.

What you need is a good 24 bit ADC out of the Ghost, that can do a proper job of converting to 16 bit into your CD burner via S/PDIF. Then you'll hear the advantage of 24 bit! Forget the DAT.


I'va already explored running the Ghost's outs into an Apogee Rosetta 48 or a Lucid 9624, then into the SPDIF ins of my CDRW.  I was thoroughly unimpressed, and felt the analog ins of either my DAT or CDRW produced superior results.

My multitrack source is comng out of a Tascam MX2424 with stock converters.  Thanks.  
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bblackwood

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Re: 16 BIT VS. 24 BIT MIXES
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2004, 09:37:30 am »

bloodstone wrote on Tue, 15 June 2004 19:07

I've matched levels when printing to DAT & CD-R.  Then I A/B the playback of the two mixes (DAT & CD-R) using the A/B switches on my mixer.  The DAT sounds dull & lifeless in comparison.  Then I take the SPDIF out of the DAT to the CD-R SPDIF in and add that as a second track on the CD-R.  Then I finalize the CD-R and listen on car stereo, CDRW, boom box, Walkman, home stereo, etc.  In all scenarios the "DAT version" sounds noticeably inferior.

What you're hearing is the difference between the ADCs in your DAT machine vs. that of the CD player as both the DAT machine and the CD player are delivering 16 bit wordlengths in your setup.

A 24 bit recorder might make a difference in your mixes, maybe not. What you can easily see based on your setup is that the ADC makes a dramatic difference in how things sound...
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Brad Blackwood
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