Comments

  1. interesting article- the one thing I would warn on though is that the notion of their being an absoute 144db dynamic range in a 24bit audio file is a bit misleading- we have two principle things to consider in that- the first, is that no one can really take in, without damaging their bodies a sound of that amplitude, and second, there are no microphones or preamp electronics or speaker systems which can give that sort of playback performance. Im most cases we work in a dynamic range window of about 80db and most film and television programs have an effective dynamic range of about 30 db…

    • Thanks Charles, and I am glad you found the article interesting. By no means did I intend to mislead anyone into thinking that we could (or would want to) record or playback anything at 144db; we are already putting our audience at risk with current playback levels. To clarify, my point was that recording and working with audio at a higher bit depth provides the ability to capture and reproduce the quiet sonic details that would potentially be lost due to the raised noise floor of a lower bit depth. I was using bit depth and it’s direct relationship to dynamic range, but more in a general manner (and in a much more theortical manner than a practical one). Though for anyone that wants a much more in-depth look at bit depth, and really digital audio (which was not the intended focus for this article), there are many more technical discussions on the subject, and specifically, I would recommend this recent Monty Montgomery’s article: http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

      • thanks for the link, I had already read that, and found similar problems in the assumptions the article was based, on- it is a fine commentary on end product usefulness, but doesn’t take into account the benefits of high resolution on the input side of the process. I know I can clearly hear the difference in 96k vs 48k audio, even with microphones with limited bandwidth. And I prefer to be able to work with the best raw materials possible if I have a choice in the matter.

        • This is true and I agree with you. The article I mentioned is based upon end user playback, though there is a brief mention of the value of working at a higher bit depth during audio production. With an area such as digital audio, there are going to be perceptual and individual differences of opinion and preferences in the way that we record, process and reproduce audio for our audience (which was not a direction I wanted to go in with my article). I don’t know that one article or viewpoint will suffice everyone in regards to this topic, though I feel he provides some good points to think about (Monty’s article). Really, it is about experimentation on a personal level in regards to what sample rate/bit depth we each want to work in and is appropriate for our specific media application and workflow. I’ve worked at a few different sample rates and bit depths as technology has improved (obviously, you have as well), and I personally do believe that a higher bit depth will provide us the ability to capture audio content that otherwise may be lost or at the least compromised by being too close to (or below) the noise floor. Thanks again for your interest and taking the time to comment. I am definitely interested in hearing more of your thoughts (and practical experiences) regarding digital audio recording, processing, and reproduction. I hope this conversation continues, either here on this post, or in a future article (or feel free to email me directly as well if you would like).

      • actually re-reading the article, I will reverse my comments- I disagree mostly with it, especially the claims of 24 bit audio having no value over 16 bit.

        • With 24 bit vs 16 bit (as I wrote in my last comment), I completely agree with you. I do believe there is value in recording and working at 24 bit (for the clarity and potential reproduction of low amplitude sounds, though not to reproduce audio at 144db… just to be clear once again). I believe he tried to take any subjectivity out of the article and look at it solely in a scientific manner, though in practice, and practical application, I definitely agree with you regarding bit depth and the value of working at a higher bit depth if you are able.

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