Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Stromkraft
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:46 am

batman144144 wrote:
fishmonkey wrote:your rationale of recording at 16 bit because the original source is already 16 bit does not hold water. the signal is being converted into the analogue realm, and then back to digital again. if the source uses all 16 bits then you will lose some fidelity unless you somehow manage to achieve a perfect 1:1 level match during the DAC -> ADC process. in addition you will have distortion introduced by the circuitry during the DAC -> ADC stages.
What if the signal content is just the spoken word? Is 24bit not overkill?
Do you respect the integrity of your spoken word recording or not? Yes, you can make do with 16bits and maintain your respect of your source material, but then you need to apply a 90s approach to recording, which is totally acceptable, but you still need to adjust your methods.

If you don't like how Live natively uses 32bits, you can download freeware Audacity and do your 16bit recordings there.

And talking about whether Live actually uses 32bit or not, you can use Bitter from Stillwell Audio to find out how much bits are actually used where in your signal chain. I've learned a lot from analyzing my projects with that.
Last edited by Stromkraft on Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:29 am

Stromkraft wrote:Do you respect the integrity of your spoken word recording or not?
Are you suggesting that recording at 16bit does not "respect the integrity" of the source, even a signal as non-demanding as speech?
I [know] you don't like how Live natively uses 32bits
No, I don't think that's quite what I said. I was merely trying to understand Live's behavior.
you can download freeware Audacity and do your 16bit recordings there.
Audacity also converts everything to 32bit.
And talking about whether Live actually uses 32bit or not, you can use Bitter from Stillwell Audio to find out how much bits are actually used where in your signal chain. I've learned a lot from analyzing my projects with that.
Thanks, I plan to look into that.
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batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 12:45 pm

Stromkraft wrote:And talking about whether Live actually uses 32bit or not, you can use Bitter from Stillwell Audio to find out how much bits are actually used where in your signal chain.
Stromkraft, this is a pretty darn slick plugin. Thanks!
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ObtuseMoose
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by ObtuseMoose » Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:36 pm

batman144144 wrote:
batman144144 wrote:If all I'm doing is recording and then exporting -- no processing, no mixing, no folding down, no non-neutral operations whatsoever on a single, simple stereo track -- why does Live say, "Converting bit depth with Dithering"?
Live behaves as though any signal you feed it is automatically transposed into 32bit depth, no matter how much additional editing you do or don't do. It makes absolutely no difference what bit depth you specify in Preferences because Live is just going to turn it into 32. Even if the very first thing you do after recording is export your waveform, Live has to dither down to a lesser bit depth. At least, this is how it seems based on the program's behavior.
I think that's exactly correct and proper.

Live's entire reason for existing is to combine and alter multiple streams of audio data. It's not (primarily) an audio recorder, it's an application for mixing and altering audio that oh-by-the-way can also record audio from an interface.

Altering audio data with 32 bit floating point math has certain advantages over doing it with 16 or 24 bit integer math. Converting integer data to floating point takes time, so it's perfectly reasonable for Live to immediately convert all audio to its native 32 bit floating point format as soon as that audio enters the Live system on the assumption that you are going to be altering it in some way.

Recording and immediately exporting a single track of audio without mixing it with other audio or making any alterations whatsoever is a pretty unusual edge case as far as Live is concerned. Supporting that would require logic and processing paths that would almost never be used. It's just not a situation Live is intended to handle.

--
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batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:17 pm

ObtuseMoose wrote:I think that's exactly correct and proper.
Yes, and that's fine. The issue was I didn't know that and so the program behaved in ways I didn't expect. That's all.

Yes, Live is very sophisticated and has far more capabilities than I ever plan to use. It was also free and handles the tasks I use it for just fine.
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Stromkraft
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:42 pm

batman144144 wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:Do you respect the integrity of your spoken word recording or not?
Are you suggesting that recording at 16bit does not "respect the integrity" of the source, even a signal as non-demanding as speech?
I [know] you don't like how Live natively uses 32bits
No, I don't think that's quite what I said. I was merely trying to understand Live's behavior.
That was supposed to be an "If" so that was not a claim about anything you said.
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Stromkraft
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:43 pm

batman144144 wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:And talking about whether Live actually uses 32bit or not, you can use Bitter from Stillwell Audio to find out how much bits are actually used where in your signal chain.
Stromkraft, this is a pretty darn slick plugin. Thanks!
Yeah, It's great for understanding your signal chain. Glad you liked it.
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Stromkraft
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:50 pm

batman144144 wrote:
Stromkraft wrote: you can download freeware Audacity and do your 16bit recordings there.
Audacity also converts everything to 32bit.
I wasn't aware of this. I'm sure there is software out there that doesn't, but I'm not sure which ones.
Have you checked out OcenAudio (free) or Fission (Commercial)?
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Stromkraft
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:55 pm

batman144144 wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:Do you respect the integrity of your spoken word recording or not?
Are you suggesting that recording at 16bit does not "respect the integrity" of the source, even a signal as non-demanding as speech?
Why would Speech be non-demanding? It's certainly a more varied dynamic source than what I record usually. If anything speech has been a greater source of problems than any other recording I've done, which includes 7+ musicians on stage.
I already laid out the two approaches I see, so nothing more to say I'm afraid. I wouldn't use 16bits myself. You can use what you want, but I see no upsides with your approach, except if you have a 16bit card only.
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jlgrimes
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by jlgrimes » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:19 pm

Since Live seems to convert everything to 32bit anyway, I'll probably just record at 32bit.
You can do this but it is probably a waste of space.


Even though most sound cards are only 24 bit, None of them are fully capable 24 bit machines. To be so they would need to have dynamic range of 144 db. A typical sound card will have a dynamic range from about 100 db (on a cheaper soundcard) to about 120 db for a top of the line sound card.


So arguably 24 bit is a waste of space already but is used mainly just for headroom reasons.


The 32 bit floating point is more for reducing errors on calculations once the audio is digital because even on a 24 bit integer system, truncation error could creep in and eventually cause audible distortion.


The dithering 32 bit applies going to 24 bit is going to be very small (much smaller than 16 bit). I'd be surprised anyone could possibly hear it. Most folks cant hear 16 bit dither as well.

batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:45 pm

Stromkraft wrote:That was supposed to be an "If" so that was not a claim about anything you said.
No worries.
Have you checked out OcenAudio (free) or Fission (Commercial)?
No, I haven't heard of either of those. I might check those out, however, believe it or not, I like Live.
Why would Speech be non-demanding?
This is what I've always heard. Speech falls within a limited frequency range as compared to music. 16bit is generally considered a high-quality, general-purpose setting, especially if you're not doing a lot of processing and/or mastering. Now, I understand Audacity is far from a pro-level resource or standard, but this breakdown of theirs is consistent with my understanding:
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php? ... pth#x-bits

However, that being said, now that I can see actual bit usage with Bitter, I can see more than 16 is bits being used during dialogue, so I'll be switching to 24. Nonetheless, the reasons given above are why I was using 16 and considered dialogue less demanding.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
Nocturnal crime fighter and audio enthusiast.

batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:00 pm

jlgrimes wrote:
Since Live seems to convert everything to 32bit anyway, I'll probably just record at 32bit.
You can do this but it is probably a waste of space.
Actually, I just learned I can't do that, not really. My Focusrite interface only goes up to 24bit, so Live is going to pad it anyway.

Even though most sound cards are only 24 bit, None of them are fully capable 24 bit machines. To be so they would need to have dynamic range of 144 db.
I'm not using a soundcard, at least, not in the way you're thinking. The only thing my computer does is record the zeros and ones. For playback, the signal is passed via HDMI to an external preamp/processor.
So arguably 24 bit is a waste of space already but is used mainly just for headroom reasons.
Actually, using the Bitter plugin I can see more than 16 bits being used for dialogue, so 24bit is actually a good option.
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fishmonkey
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:04 pm

you are confusing sampling frequency with bit depth.

the frequency range that can be recorded is limited by the sampling frequency, the dynamic range is limited by the bit depth. speech tends to have a limited frequency range, but it can be highly dynamic.
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fishmonkey
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:11 pm

batman144144 wrote:
jlgrimes wrote:
Since Live seems to convert everything to 32bit anyway, I'll probably just record at 32bit.
You can do this but it is probably a waste of space.
Actually, I just learned I can't do that, not really. My Focusrite interface only goes up to 24bit, so Live is going to pad it anyway.
Even though most sound cards are only 24 bit, None of them are fully capable 24 bit machines. To be so they would need to have dynamic range of 144 db.
I'm not using a soundcard, at least, not in the way you're thinking. The only thing my computer does is record the zeros and ones. For playback, the signal is passed via HDMI to an external preamp/processor.
your soundcard is converting the incoming analogue line level signal to a digital one. the dynamic range of the circuitry in your interface is limited, so that it is not able to fully resolve all 24 bits.
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

batman144144
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Re: Record 16bit, Export 16bit - needs dithering??

Post by batman144144 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:20 am

fishmonkey wrote:you are confusing sampling frequency with bit depth.

the frequency range that can be recorded is limited by the sampling frequency, the dynamic range is limited by the bit depth. speech tends to have a limited frequency range, but it can be highly dynamic.
I understand the point you're getting at. I was asked why I was operating from a particular assumption. I then answered that directly and provided a link for further reference. I understand the reasons 24bit is more often-used today.
Nocturnal crime fighter and audio enthusiast.

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