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16bit vs 24bit, Rubbish or Truth?
Bourne
post Mar 27 2007, 04:02
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This post has been edited by Bourne: Apr 2 2008, 19:26
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DigitalMan
post Mar 27 2007, 04:20
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Hmm, very long article. Seems to be a collection of audio information; some of the usual "vinyl is better" BS. Some garbage about limits of 96dB dynamic range for 16 bit.

I skimmed it, probably missed a lot, but seems a bit dated (2001).

Was there something in particular you were considering?

This post has been edited by DigitalMan: Mar 27 2007, 04:22


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Bourne
post Mar 27 2007, 04:25
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the very topic of the link...
he is claiming that we can't differentiate 44kHz vs. 48kHz vs. 96kHz... but one COULD know the superior difference of audio at 24bit and not 16bit, but to me is all rubbish

This post has been edited by Bourne: Mar 27 2007, 04:29
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greynol
post Mar 27 2007, 09:56
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This has been covered to death on this forum already. Do we really need to start a new thread on the subject?

Take the discussion here:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=40134


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2Bdecided
post Mar 27 2007, 10:00
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It's a load of pseudo science. The guy has a hobbyists interest, has heard some audiophile bull, but has no understanding of the theory.

Of course circa 1990 8-bit audio sounded awful. It was sampled at goodness know what rate, typically with no dithering, no anti-alias filters on record, and no anti-image filters on playback.

However, Correctly generated 44.1kHz sampled 8-bit audio (e.g. from foobar set to convert to 8-bits) has the one and only problem that's created by having too low a resolution: noise. No distortion, no loss of fine detail, no grittiness or grainy character - just background noise, plain and simple. Human listeners can hear through a surprising amount of noise.

_any_ correctly sampled digital audio has the same issues - a bandwidth limit and a noise limit. 16-bit audio has noise at -96dB FS RMS.

I'm sure you're aware of the extensive threads in the FAQ that cover this subject in horrendous detail.

Of course, given the limitations and issues with field recording, the lower noise floor of 24-bit digital audio is genuinely useful. You can set your levels conservatively, and easily avoid clipping while keeping everything way above the digital noise floor. With very good microphones and pre-amps, and a need to record without compression or processing or even a perfect idea of the levels which will hit the microphone, and wishing to avoiding clipping, 16-bits could be considered an issue.

Cheers,
David.

EDIT: Reading down, this person doesn't understand dither. He's bought the bogus argument that is "masks" distortion, rather than eliminating it. No wonder he's so confused.

EDIT2: Oh dear, he thinks Nyquist is something to do with the limits of human hearing. He thinks noise shaped dither is useful because the noise may be later filtered out.

EDIT3: And it's rather out of date. I think most of us are now managing to run IE and MS Office without it preventing us using our PCs successfully for audio!

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Mar 27 2007, 10:09
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Bourne
post Mar 27 2007, 23:31
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@greynol

I'm not starting a topic on that subject.
Just wanted to verify that page.
Other people just replied nicely to the question, but you, why do you come into this with a kick in the bum? No one asked your opinion...
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Woodinville
post Mar 28 2007, 20:45
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QUOTE (Bourne @ Mar 27 2007, 15:31) *
@greynol

I'm not starting a topic on that subject.
Just wanted to verify that page.
Other people just replied nicely to the question, but you, why do you come into this with a kick in the bum? No one asked your opinion...


The page appears to be a source of infinite wrongness. Starting with the "imagine 4 levels" if not sooner.


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chelgrian
post Mar 28 2007, 21:23
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QUOTE (Bourne @ Mar 27 2007, 23:31) *
I'm not starting a topic on that subject.
Just wanted to verify that page.
Other people just replied nicely to the question, but you, why do you come into this with a kick in the bum? No one asked your opinion...


Yes you did, you asked for comment on if the page was correct implicitly asking for the opinion of the people reading it on the piece. The page is Worse Than Wrong, it appears to someone not skilled in the art to be authoritative but in fact totally incorrect.
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benski
post Mar 28 2007, 22:08
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It appears the site (and the article) are oriented towards recording. More specifically "should I use a 16bit DAT or a 24bit DAT" (or HD recorder, etc.). In this context, he's mostly right. If you're recording at 16bit, and need to EQ an area of the track to make something more audible, you're going to get a lot of distortion awfully quickly.

He doesn't confuse Nyquist with human hearing range, he simply mentions the two in the same sentence. Although there's certainly some errors, the rest of the information is "accurate enough" for the subject matter of recording and the points he makes are valid.

With recording, there is a huge difference between dealing with 16bit sources and 24bit sources. The HA groupthink skepticism of 24bit audio is related to playback of properly mastered and dithered music. Don't compare apples and oranges.
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2Bdecided
post Mar 29 2007, 11:48
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Hang on a second benski,

There's no argument about the possible benefits of 24-bits for recording.

However, it takes one sentence to say that.

This link points to a whole page where almost every justification and technical "fact" is wrong, but presented as if the author understood the subject perfectly.

I don't think the net need more pages of misinformation, and certainly not ones that look so informative!

Cheers,
David.
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Filburt
post Mar 29 2007, 20:51
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Hmm, I just skimmed the first part, but the argument seems to be similar to the argument for the need for more bit depth in image recording. In that realm, though, it's actually a real problem both because of the nature of that domain as well as the fact that they're still working at only 8 to 12 bits per channel for the most part.

The distribution of values is much more felicitous in audio than it is in imaging, though, so I think this is less of an issue. Additionally, the bit depth is already at a higher level than available in my 12 bit camera sad.gif. In imaging, where it's a lot easier to actually perceive the distribution of values, 16 bits per channel technology is doing quite well.

This seems like typical hi-fi fare to me, though. Give plausible arguments with information that seems technically accurate and then draw pure conjecture from it through affective language and appeals to existing biases in the reader. It'd be nice if there were more in the way of critical analysis and inquiry in the hi-fi hobbyist community, but I've gotten the impression that there just isn't an interest, let alone a place for it in much of the hobby.

This post has been edited by Filburt: Mar 29 2007, 20:52
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AndyH-ha
post Mar 29 2007, 21:02
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Who, believing in the gods, and their work in the world, wants to be distracted from such exciting mystery by facts and reason?
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Pandabear
post Mar 30 2007, 03:12
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Bourne - everyone's ears develop at their own pace. Applied practice of reliable listening tests with controlled data, one audio sample against another, is needed to begin to pick up fine differences such as bit depth nuances.

Dan Heend is a digital recording pioneer who's article is still relevant today. It's hard to find good teachers in this field these days but Dan is apparently one of them. I'm interested to hear what he has to say on the topic of jitter.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2007, 05:00) *
It's a load of pseudo science. The guy has a hobbyists interest, has heard some audiophile bull, but has no understanding of the theory.

Of course circa 1990 8-bit audio sounded awful. It was sampled at goodness know what rate, typically with no dithering, no anti-alias filters on record, and no anti-image filters on playback.

However, Correctly generated 44.1kHz sampled 8-bit audio (e.g. from foobar set to convert to 8-bits) has the one and only problem that's created by having too low a resolution: noise. No distortion, no loss of fine detail, no grittiness or grainy character - just background noise, plain and simple. Human listeners can hear through a surprising amount of noise.

_any_ correctly sampled digital audio has the same issues - a bandwidth limit and a noise limit. 16-bit audio has noise at -96dB FS RMS.

I'm sure you're aware of the extensive threads in the FAQ that cover this subject in horrendous detail.

Of course, given the limitations and issues with field recording, the lower noise floor of 24-bit digital audio is genuinely useful. You can set your levels conservatively, and easily avoid clipping while keeping everything way above the digital noise floor. With very good microphones and pre-amps, and a need to record without compression or processing or even a perfect idea of the levels which will hit the microphone, and wishing to avoiding clipping, 16-bits could be considered an issue.

Cheers,
David.

EDIT: Reading down, this person doesn't understand dither. He's bought the bogus argument that is "masks" distortion, rather than eliminating it. No wonder he's so confused.

EDIT2: Oh dear, he thinks Nyquist is something to do with the limits of human hearing. He thinks noise shaped dither is useful because the noise may be later filtered out.

EDIT3: And it's rather out of date. I think most of us are now managing to run IE and MS Office without it preventing us using our PCs successfully for audio!


No one understands what you've written here.
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AndyH-ha
post Mar 30 2007, 05:49
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I suspect most of us who visit here are capable of offering out own opinions when we want to; we have no need of a spokesman. I also suspect that most of us, as usual, can understand David fairly well, even when not always as versed in the more technical aspects of the topic. Of course, I can only really speak for myself. My hypothesis is simply based on many observations over an extended time.
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pdq
post Mar 30 2007, 15:45
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QUOTE (Pandabear @ Mar 29 2007, 22:12) *
No one understands what you've written here.


On the contrary, I suspect that most of the regulars here at HA understand David quite well because these are topics that have been discussed frequently and at much greater depth than David's summary. If you are unable to understand it then that is what you should say. And if you are unable to understand it then I suggest that you stick around because I am sure that these topics will come up again.
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Synthetic Soul
post Mar 30 2007, 16:43
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QUOTE (Pandabear @ Mar 30 2007, 02:12) *
No one understands what you've written here.
Please do not speak for the group. If you do not comprehend something ask for assistance. Enough said on this.


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ccryder
post Jul 5 2008, 07:31
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2007, 04:00) *
It's a load of pseudo science. The guy has a hobbyists interest, has heard some audiophile bull, but has no understanding of the theory.

Of course circa 1990 8-bit audio sounded awful. It was sampled at goodness know what rate, typically with no dithering, no anti-alias filters on record, and no anti-image filters on playback.

However, Correctly generated 44.1kHz sampled 8-bit audio (e.g. from foobar set to convert to 8-bits) has the one and only problem that's created by having too low a resolution: noise. No distortion, no loss of fine detail, no grittiness or grainy character - just background noise, plain and simple. Human listeners can hear through a surprising amount of noise.

etc. etc. etc. no need to quote any more bogusness.

<yawn>

It is very rare that I post anything on this topic these days, as I have no need whatsoever to prove to anyone what I know about audio music recording/engineering/production. The many professional musicians and engineers I've worked with through the years know I stand on terra firma.

However, I thought I'd crawl out from under my audio engineering rock for a moment to respond to this nonsensical seemingly personal attack, dated as it may be, given that internet search engines seem to have a way of capturing things into eternity and making them seemingly relevant in the present.

About the 24-bit Field Recording FAQ:
While specifically dated 2001 and candidly notated as such for the purposes of managing the readers' expectations of topicality, the words I wrote in the [now formerly] hosted document you refer to were indeed correct, lucid, well considered statements and have been proven valuable and valid to countless field recordists. Your's and a couple of other scarely qualified comments here notwithstanding, I have received through the years more positive comments from novices and professional audio engineers alike than I could ever have responded to. To imply that I don't know what I'm talking about is to imply that guys like Ken Pohlmann, Bob Katz, and so many others I've read and personally spoken to don't know what they're talking about.

Having applied all of the concepts stated in my document in depth and detail throughout my PROFESSIONAL, non-hobbyist audio engineering/recording career, I find it hard to accept criticism from an audio plugin developer who doesn't understand that the difference between *any* live sound and *any* recording thereof can be quantified in some manner by the use of either words "distortion" or "noise." Further for anyone to say that 8-bit audio suffers from only noise and not distortion is a most ridiculous statement that really doesn't even deserve the lengths I've gone through to address it up to this point. Needless to say, I prefer to devote my time to debating topics like this with audio professionals with proven knowledge, reading comprehension, and experience, so I have nothing further to say on that, since it would seem obvious who is lacking a clue.

In the 7+ years I paid to host my FAQ, I never once had the need to update or modify the fundamental principles and explanations upon which it was based. Not once as a result of any qualified comment or suggestion from other audio engineers in the field have I felt the need to change the date and update the underlying fundamentals. Given my well established penchant for accuracy and completeness, you can bet if anything needed to be clarified or corrected further, and it was brought to my attention in the past 7+ years, I would have made such corrections.

The document was neither created nor hosted for any purposes of personal ego--but rather philanthropically by me as a gift to all aspiring recordists and audio pros, giving back in the same tradition in which I was privileged to have gotten a start from kind audio pros like Jay Serafin back in '94.

Sure, there were some things in it related to the limitations of computers suitable for laptop recording at the time, and the limitations of available non-laptop-based recording devices.... things that many might have hoped I would have kept up to date. Through the years my initial intentions of keeping those types of items up to date were impeded by my lack of time and my desire to allocate my time not looking back, but rather forward to many musical, audio engineering, and computer projects. Rather than take the document down, I made a conscious decision to continue to host it as is, figuring that most would still find the majority of it quite valuable and useful... and I've continued to receive mail to that effect.

My partner and I record, mix, and master live music for legendary bands and musicians who recognize the talent we have for producing a high quality product doesn't come from casual hobbyist noviceness or blowhard "audiophile bull," as you put it.

David, judging from your persistence in beating a topic to death and bashing me in the process, perhaps the obvious chip on your shoulder is weighing on your arms preventing you from typing a valid point. You just keep writing your plugins, and leave the audio engineering to the pros.... because you certainly can't possibly have any more room in your mouth for another foot.

My most sincere apologies to all for dredging up this old stinky thread, and sincere thanks to those like Pandabear who posted with rationality in my defense.

Onward to better people, places, and things.

-DH
High Fidelity Microsystems
HFM Studios
www.hottunatunes.com

P.S. If anyone wants to host that old and yet somehow relevant doc, lemme know.

P.P.S. David, if you'd like to discuss this further, please keep it to email, so I can ignore your emails you while other kind folk here are likewise spared the drivel.
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pdq
post Jul 5 2008, 15:52
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Let's see, I could believe David Robinson, or I could believe you. No contest, David is right and you are wrong.

In this case I knew the answer even before David confirmed it, but having an expert of David's stature agree with you is a great ego booster.
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saratoga
post Jul 5 2008, 16:07
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I was curious what got Dan Heend so upset after all these years, so I found an achieve of the site:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070103154338/...w.24bitfaq.org/

Reading through the first couple paragraphs, I have to agree with 2Bdecided. While Dan appears to have plenty of experience recording, his understanding of the theory is severely lacking.
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pdq
post Jul 5 2008, 16:22
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"A passage that is 6dB louder than another passage is said to be twice as loud as the other passage."

First obvious mistake - 6dB is four times louder, not two. Sound level goes as the square of pressure.
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saratoga
post Jul 5 2008, 16:31
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jul 5 2008, 11:22) *
"A passage that is 6dB louder than another passage is said to be twice as loud as the other passage."

First obvious mistake - 6dB is four times louder, not two. Sound level goes as the square of pressure.


Rather then antagonistically pile on minor arguments about how one defines loudness (pressure verses perception), maybe we could wait for 2Bdecided respond.
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pdq
post Jul 5 2008, 16:35
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QUOTE (Mike Giacomelli @ Jul 5 2008, 11:31) *
Rather then antagonistically pile on minor arguments about how one defines loudness (pressure verses perception), maybe we could wait for 2Bdecided respond.

Agreed smile.gif
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sld
post Jul 5 2008, 17:56
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So it IS possible for people who get their Theory wrong to still excel in Practice. Very interesting.
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Canar
post Jul 5 2008, 19:11
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QUOTE (ccryder @ Jul 4 2008, 23:31) *
Believe me, I have experience, but because I'm so experienced and understand the field so thoroughly, I'm not going to provide a single rebuttal for a single point 2Bdecided has made. Instead, I'm just going to loudly and vehemently complain that I'm being misrepresented and that 2Bdecided is wrong. I don't need any references, I don't need any science. I'm just right. Because I'm experienced. Science? Who needs science when you have experience?


I believe I have adequately summarized the content of his post.

ccryder: If you wish to be taken seriously, use science, not rhetoric and anecdotes. You look foolish, and if there is any truth to your claims (the 24-bit FAQ appears to liberally sprinkle nonsense on top of some correct theory), you need to address the critique of your claims, not make an appeal to experience or an ad hominem attack on the abilities of another.

This post has been edited by Canar: Jul 5 2008, 19:35


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[JAZ]
post Jul 5 2008, 19:12
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QUOTE (sld @ Jul 5 2008, 18:56) *
So it IS possible for people who get their Theory wrong to still excel in Practice. Very interesting.


That depends... you know... sometimes to excel in something is related to the money put into it. (or in this case, the amount of bits)

There are several small errors around the document, like "4-bit recording would have 16 discrete possible amplitude levels.". a 4bit recording just have 8 amplitude levels, because a signal has a positive and a negative part. This one is done several times.
(And what about "Perhaps many are more familiar with 8-bit audio from real-time internet sources like RealAudio". that was audio compressed at 16kbit/s, not just "8-bit" !)

But one of the things that made me wonder is how 24bits (as opposed to 16bits) actually makes vinyl lovers happier. AFAIR the SNR of a vinyl is lower (i.e. less range) than that of a CD.
Either one doesn't like digital audio (and argues that just analog media can store the signal in enough detail), or accepts the way digital works, and compares what is comparable (i.e SNR)

The problem with the document, from my point of view is: It says something that is acceptable for its use (recording), with some correct information, but also with other that are mistakes, misunderstandings or erroneous concepts.
I am not implying that the latter are more prominent than the former. Just that they are there.

QUOTE (ccryder @ Jul 5 2008, 08:31) *
P.P.S. David, if you'd like to discuss this further, please keep it to email, so I can ignore your emails you while other kind folk here are likewise spared the drivel.


If i'm reading that right... It is *plain* arrogance.

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