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16 bit vs 24 bit, any samples that work?
AndyH-ha
post Nov 3 2006, 03:19
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There are real differences between 16 bit and 24 bit files, just as there are real differences between uncompressed and mp3. As with the differences between wav and mp3, 16 bit vs 24 bit is often difficult to identify by listening.

Test signals are one thing, but has anyone found any 24 bit music recording that can be successfully identified via ABX testing against a properly resample to 16 bit version of same?
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MLXXX
post Mar 3 2008, 07:27
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AndyH, perhaps you might be kind enough to answer my two questions below.

Being a newcomer to this site, I’ve only now read some of the other threads on the 24 vs 16 bit debate. I’ve also now read some of the material on the complex subject of dithering.

Before submitting any sample of 24-bit audio that contains a section that can be demonstrably distinguished from 16 bits (testing with ABX software), I’d just like to check on the ground rules for such an exercise.

Question 1:
Given that it can be demonstrated (using low level test tones) that artefacts in a 24-bit to 16-bit conversion are more evident if dithering is not used, and given that dithering is widely in use and recommended, is the use of some form of dithering compulsory for this exercise? If it is not compulsory, then I might seek to identify a sample where artefacts were in evidence.

Question 2:
If the answer to question 1 is that dithering is compulsory, or at least acceptable, and given that dithering introduces an amount of noise, does this exercise exclude from consideration simpler forms of dithering that introduce much more noise than is necessary? More specifically, are any of the dither methods available with readily available software such as Audacity or foobar acceptable for this exercise? If acceptable dithering method(s) can be indicated, I would seek to identify a sample where the noise of the dithering is detectable when comparing a derived 16-bit version with a 24-bit original.

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What is the theoretical signal to noise level available for 16-bit format of a conventional audio compact disc?

It is often suggested that 16-bits provide around 96.3 dB of signal to noise ratio, based on there being 2^16 instantaneous levels that can be represented with 16 bits. However, it’s an extremely complicated question. The S/N ratio can be argued to be infinite (if a series of zeroes is used between tracks of the CD), or extremely high (if a series of zeroes is sent interspersed with an occasional positive bit, or occasional negative bit [which could apply is using high frequency dithering to make a low frequency low level tone audible]).

Substituting a slightly different (and much simpler!) question, for sine waves with no direct current offset and which are at a frequency not far below half the sampling rate, the maximum [peak] amplitude that can be represented either side of zero is half of 2^16 , and the minimum [peak] amplitude that can be represented either side of zero is 1. Half of 2^16 is 32768. Voltage ratios can be expressed in decibels using the expression 20 x log (voltage ratio). That gives us the figure 90.3 dB as the ratio between the peak level of the loudest sine wave and the softest [highly imperfect] representation of that sine wave without dither. The low level wave doesn’t really have a shape to make the description ‘peak’ meaningful, being some variety of rounded square wave. And the filtering needed might alter the peak value of the low level ‘sine wave’ somewhat.

Recording at 24-bits and keeping the noise below that which applies for the 16-bit format

Without attempting to pin down a definitive answer to the S/N ratio question, I have found in practice that the required signal to noise ratio of recording equipment needed to compete with that available in the 16-bit format is quite high. What I have found is that is stretches my equipment to the limit. A Behringer analogue mixer struggles to provide a signal that has noise much less than 90dB down when set up so as not to clip in loud sections of a recording that approach 0 dB. A Creative Audigy 4 soundcard with external hub struggles to provide better than about 94 dB with some audio drivers. By locating the Audigy 4 card in the pc in a PCI slot away from interference, and by using an ASIO ALL driver (instead of the normal a creative driver), and by setting the electronic fader in the creative recording mixer to less than 100%, I was able to get over 100 dB available for use for 24-bit recording.

Then there is a question of room noise where the recording is made. A close microphone technique is needed.

When all of this is done, I find that a dithered 16-bit version of a 24-bit recording can be audibly noisier at a realistic (though rather high) listening level, during quieter passages of a recording.

However, a lot may depend of the type of dither used. I would prefer not to submit any sound recording extract until I have a better understanding of what forms of dither are considered acceptable.

This post has been edited by MLXXX: Mar 3 2008, 16:09
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Posts in this topic
- AndyH-ha   16 bit vs 24 bit   Nov 3 2006, 03:19
- - Mike Giacomelli   I'd imagine ABX would be possible if you found...   Nov 3 2006, 03:25
- - pdq   I recall a test here some years back to try to see...   Nov 3 2006, 05:33
- - Aetmos   If the clip is properly dithered, this doesn't...   Nov 3 2006, 06:22
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (Aetmos @ Nov 2 2006, 21:22) If the...   Nov 3 2006, 07:31
|- - Aetmos   QUOTE Welcome to HA. I see this is your first post...   Nov 3 2006, 16:17
- - AndyH-ha   I agree that a good sample, if it exist in music, ...   Nov 3 2006, 09:36
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Nov 3 2006, 00:36)...   Nov 3 2006, 16:25
- - Axon   I suppose it's quite easy to construct a track...   Nov 3 2006, 17:48
- - Axon   Also, how contrived can the listening environment ...   Nov 3 2006, 18:03
- - AndyH-ha   The question isn't whether or not it is possib...   Nov 3 2006, 20:18
- - Axon   Well.. how much dynamic range can you coax out of ...   Nov 3 2006, 20:38
- - AndyH-ha   I'm sorry, that went over my head. What is the...   Nov 3 2006, 21:21
- - outscape   haha nothing.. see 24 bits is purist technology. i...   Nov 3 2006, 22:23
- - greynol   I'd wager that in order to distinguish the dif...   Nov 3 2006, 22:41
- - Axon   OSHA's recommendations for 120db is that it sh...   Nov 4 2006, 01:11
- - AndyH-ha   But are you talking about real music or, effective...   Nov 4 2006, 01:56
- - Axon   My point is that you don't need a "test s...   Nov 4 2006, 02:21
- - AndyH-ha   OK, you need more than the dynamic range of 16 bit...   Nov 4 2006, 04:09
- - Iain   I think the best volume for the test would be ...   Nov 12 2006, 17:14
- - AndyH-ha   Without cryogenic cooling the intrinsic noise of e...   Nov 12 2006, 19:23
- - SebastianG   I think it's a good idea to mention the import...   Nov 13 2006, 13:30
- - AndyH-ha   QUOTE I think it's a good idea to mention the ...   Nov 14 2006, 03:43
|- - SebastianG   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Nov 14 2006, 03:43...   Nov 15 2006, 14:16
- - SirChristof   If you have decent equipment and a quiet environme...   Feb 15 2007, 09:40
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (SirChristof @ Feb 15 2007, 09:40) ...   Feb 15 2007, 22:15
- - AndyH-ha   Yes, it is easy to create test tones that demonstr...   Feb 15 2007, 11:52
- - SirChristof   The vast majority of all music most of us have acc...   Feb 15 2007, 20:17
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (SirChristof @ Feb 15 2007, 14:17) ...   Feb 16 2007, 06:07
- - SometimesWarrior   These articles on ff123's website may be of in...   Feb 15 2007, 21:41
- - greynol   QUOTE (SirChristof @ Feb 15 2007, 00:40) ...   Feb 15 2007, 21:48
- - SirChristof   Greynol, What I meant to imply by "at low le...   Feb 15 2007, 22:02
- - AndyH-ha   As far as I can see, the ff123 page does not provi...   Feb 16 2007, 08:17
|- - Kees de Visser   At least one of the engineers I've asked seems...   Feb 16 2007, 11:01
- - muaddib   IMO it is better to keep samples much shorter: 10-...   Feb 16 2007, 11:54
- - 2Bdecided   There are a few 24/96 and 24/44.1 files here: http...   Feb 16 2007, 12:07
- - AndyH-ha   Setting aside for the moment whether this donated ...   Feb 16 2007, 12:22
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 16 2007, 12:22...   Feb 16 2007, 15:10
|- - Kees de Visser   An ABX test to compare 16 and 24 bit dithered audi...   Feb 19 2007, 23:00
- - AndyH-ha   I believe the resampling is more important than th...   Feb 20 2007, 00:30
- - MLXXX   Hi everyone. A year has passed since the previous...   Feb 25 2008, 16:52
- - AndyH-ha   "sounding better" is a subjective evalua...   Feb 26 2008, 00:52
- - MLXXX   I am new to ABXing but I think that for playing 24...   Feb 26 2008, 15:25
- - .halverhahn   Even it is comparing apples with oranges: Do you ...   Feb 26 2008, 17:28
- - digital   Wow: Nov 2nd 2006 to Feb 27th, 2008… and still wai...   Feb 27 2008, 10:37
- - knutinh   Since DVD-A can now be ripped, having 24/96 stereo...   Feb 27 2008, 10:43
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (knutinh @ Feb 27 2008, 10:43) Caut...   Feb 27 2008, 11:51
|- - bubbleguuum   QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 27 2008, 11:5...   Feb 27 2008, 20:32
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (volvme+ @ Feb 28 2008, 04:27)...   Feb 28 2008, 10:11
- - GeSomeone   I remember remarks (don't know where) that ind...   Feb 27 2008, 12:10
- - knutinh   I think that the difference between 12 bits and 16...   Feb 27 2008, 15:00
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (knutinh @ Feb 28 2008, 00:00) I th...   Feb 27 2008, 16:59
- - volvme+   Sorry for interrupting your conversation, but I do...   Feb 27 2008, 19:27
- - MLXXX   AndyH, perhaps you might be kind enough to answer ...   Mar 3 2008, 07:27
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (MLXXX @ Mar 2 2008, 22:27) Being a...   Mar 3 2008, 10:43
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (cabbagerat @ Mar 3 2008, 19:43) ~ ...   Mar 3 2008, 13:48
|- - Soap   QUOTE (MLXXX @ Mar 3 2008, 07:48) When I ...   Mar 3 2008, 14:11
|- - MLXXX   Thanks, Soap. I should have been more precise. Wh...   Mar 3 2008, 15:06
- - SebastianG   Hi! I'd like to remind you that there...   Mar 3 2008, 11:02
- - AndyH-ha   I know this isn't the only time I raised the t...   Mar 3 2008, 12:03
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (SebastianG @ Mar 3 2008, 02:02) I...   Mar 3 2008, 13:25
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (MLXXX @ Mar 3 2008, 04:48) If I am...   Mar 3 2008, 15:23
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (cabbagerat @ Mar 4 2008, 00:23) Wi...   Mar 3 2008, 15:35
- - cabbagerat   QUOTE (MLXXX @ Mar 3 2008, 06:35) QUOTE (...   Mar 3 2008, 16:17
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (cabbagerat @ Mar 4 2008, 01:17) ~ ...   Mar 4 2008, 16:25
- - AndyH-ha   I generally issue this type of challenge when some...   Mar 4 2008, 19:45
- - MLXXX   I've a added a 24-bit 48KHz original, and 16-b...   Mar 10 2008, 16:00
- - Pio2001   Hello, In september, I did an ABX between a 96 kHz...   Nov 26 2008, 22:25
|- - Canar   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ Nov 26 2008, 13:25) Voxe...   Nov 27 2008, 00:27
||- - Dynamic   QUOTE (Canar @ Nov 27 2008, 00:27) QUOTE ...   Nov 27 2008, 05:27
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ Nov 26 2008, 22:25) I go...   Nov 27 2008, 10:32
- - Pio2001   Thank you for the precisions about dither. This is...   Nov 27 2008, 19:48
- - Canar   I fully recognize that, and want to thank you agai...   Nov 27 2008, 21:18
- - solive   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Nov 2 2006, 18:19)...   Jan 5 2009, 01:28
- - greynol   http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showt...   Jan 5 2009, 01:38
|- - Martin Kantola   Greetings, found your forum recently, so here...   Jan 21 2009, 22:04
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Jan 21 2009, 22:0...   Jan 22 2009, 07:37
- - 2Bdecided   I can't ABX it. I agree it's a perfectly g...   Jan 22 2009, 13:45
- - AndyH-ha   I ‘m going to see if I can borrow a fast connectio...   Jan 22 2009, 22:12
|- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jan 22 2009, 16:12...   Jan 23 2009, 05:01
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Jan 22 2009, 20:0...   Jan 23 2009, 05:58
||- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (Ron Jones @ Jan 22 2009, 23:58) As...   Jan 23 2009, 06:23
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Jan 23 2009, 04:0...   Jan 23 2009, 11:47
|- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 23 2009, 05:47) I ...   Jan 23 2009, 16:11
- - Axon   18/32 - there's a harshness in the left channe...   Jan 23 2009, 07:56
- - 2Bdecided   Found it... http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-muc...   Jan 23 2009, 16:30
|- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 23 2009, 10:30) My...   Jan 23 2009, 18:41
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 23 2009, 10:30) Fo...   Jan 24 2009, 01:01
|- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jan 23 2009, 19:01) Bu...   Jan 24 2009, 03:11
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Jan 23 2009, 21:1...   Jan 25 2009, 00:08
||- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jan 24 2009, 18:08) An...   Jan 25 2009, 00:28
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Jan 24 2009, 12:1...   Jan 27 2009, 10:16
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (MLXXX @ Jan 27 2009, 04:16) The ef...   Jan 27 2009, 18:57
|- - MLXXX   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jan 28 2009, 03:57) Is...   Jan 28 2009, 14:14
- - 2Bdecided   Here you go... http://rapidshare.de/files/4332135...   Jan 23 2009, 17:25
|- - Martin Kantola   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 23 2009, 11:25) He...   Jan 24 2009, 07:13
- - 2Bdecided   Thank you Martin. Putting noise in the last 8 bit...   Jan 24 2009, 21:09
- - 2Bdecided   Remember those stats are only true for the situati...   Jan 25 2009, 17:38
|- - Martin Kantola   Thanks for the info David, I'm completely new ...   Jan 25 2009, 17:59
- - AndyH-ha   This was asked more than once but there was no res...   Jan 29 2009, 11:05
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