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Re: Digital Distortion

Subject: Re: Digital Distortion
From: Rob Danielson <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 02:35:36 -0500
Clifford wrote:
>I must have missed your post regarding this (has this been going on for
>a month?!).   If I'm not mistaken digital rounding is exactly the bad
>thing I was describing could happen, i.e. the quantization of low
>bit-rate information?  This may be a semantic difference, but I don't
>consider that damage -- you're simply mapping what little bit
>information you have to a 16bit depth, making the low resolution more
>apparent.  Is there something else going on here that I'm missing?
>Incidentally, doesn't this discussion support a move to  24bit depth?
>I'm very skeptical of the need to go above 48k, but I've noticed
>greatly improved resolution at low volume with 24bit depth.  It I'm not
>mistaken, this also greatly reduces the effect of digital rounding,
>which can happen at any stage of processing...
>On Sunday, June 29, 2003, at 01:59 PM, evertveldhuis wrote:
>  > Clifford,
>>  In that case I say : I disagree.
>>  I have already explained why in the beginning of this month (digital
>>  rounding).
>>  I am not against normalizing, but saying that it is totally harmless
>>  isn't right. I can proof it too!
>>  Regards, Evert
>  >
>  >

Clifford and Evert--
I agree, increasing and using bit depth can improve quality,
especially for sounds that were not loud in the field and
particularly for 16 bit sound files being judged on lower quality
sound cards.  I wasted many hours years ago thinking I was being
prudent trying to maintain saturation levels while lessening hiss,
resonance etc.

Evert, are you talking about the harshness that significant gain
boosting creates? This artifact is especially apparent to me on the
quick transients I assume because it makes them proportionally
steeper. Of course, a good deal of this harshness can be minimized by
equalizing and boosting at the same time. Conversely, equalization is
less predictable if one does not boost gain and allows the bit depth
to remain low. I've also have success with chaining soft compression
after EQ with boosting-- all in one processing step with VST plugs.

I've been working with 24 bit field recordings for only two months,
but it does seem easier to balance the tonalities of these
recordings.  The mics/pres and local acoustics still create plenty of
unnatural peculiarities, but I believe it's easier to identify them,
isolate and attend to them. I've even been re-transferring low level
16 bit field recordings at 24bit depth to get the extra resolution as
I start to process them.  It seems to help as I judge the results at
24 bits, but it will be interesting to see if the quality is still
detectable on the DVD home theatre systems.

Rob D.


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