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Re: Digital Distortion

Subject: Re: Digital Distortion
From: Walter Knapp <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 14:28:37 -0400
Clifford Caruthers wrote:
> I disagree here.  While recording practice does specify a standard
> level, mistakes happen -- extra dynamic range allows for a greater
> margin of error when out in the field at 4am, in the dark...  Also,
> what about recording something like a thunderstorm, or a passing train
> (not nature I know).  There are definitely times when that extra
> dynamic range is a great asset.

My Portadisc, a 16 bit system, has a dynamic range of 96dB. This covers
thunderstorms, passing trucks (sadly) and the rest well. I do not sense
any limitation caused by it's dynamic range abilities. I have quite a
surplus of dynamic range to work with. Even after setting a appropriate
pad for digital.

I'm almost always recording in the dark of night. Why I like the bug
light yellow readout light on the Portadisc. Before I used it I would
have to turn on my headlamp to read the meter. Which is a beacon for
insects to zero in on me.

> So for me it's not about the ability of the ear to discriminate, but
> the tendency of the brain to make mistakes....

The brain is quite deliberate in it's sound processing. We may call it
mistakes, but it's actually taking into account our attitudes, wishes,
and past experience about the sound. So, if we just think 24 bit is
better, our brain will process sound to reinforce this attitude.

As far as making errors in setting gain, that's a matter of experience.
I've been running recorders for over 50 years now. For me it's all
pretty much on autopilot, I have to deliberately think about it to set
it wrong. I did go through a transition as I reprogrammed the
"autopilot" to account for digital. I do not believe that 24 bit will
substitute for experience.

I do think quite a few still set their levels too high and need to
reprogram themselves to digital.



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