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Thread: Dithering - When should I do it?

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    Dithering - When should I do it?

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    So, I finished my track (I'm using FL Studio) and I'm going to export it as a 32 bit wave file and then open the exported wave into a new project so I can normalize the track and save as 16bit wav and mp3.

    Should I do it differently?

    Should I dither when exporting the first time (even if its 32 bit)?

    Should i dither when exporting to 16 bit, after normalizing?

    Does dithering makes a difference in WAVE or just in MP3?

    Thank yall!

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    In general dithering is used to prevent quantisation distortion.

    The common method says it should always be used when exporting a track from a higher bit depth into a lower bit depth.

    Wav files are the best.

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    The dithering must be applied ONE time only. It's done once the complete production is finished when switching from 24 to 16 bits for standard quality distibution.
    24 bits fix or 32 bits float must be your audio format during the complete production process. So, no dithering required.
    Multiple dithering just leads to increase the noise for no benefits.
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    Thank you!

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    Dithering does a certain amount of unintelligent modifications on the information density as part of reducing it in the bit depth reduction process in order to try to maintain the level of perceived information density. Doing a bit depth reduction without dithering does not apply these unintelligent modifications on the information density in order to try to maintain the level of perceived information density. Stepping down in information density to 16-bit is one approach, avoiding the step down by re-recording the information directly as 16-bit is another approach, personally I think that is the best route - to work with the audio with as high sample rate and bit depth as possible as long as possible, then during mastering convert that signal from digital to analog, apply your mastering on the analog signal, then print that straight to 16-bit digital. Because what this does is that the information density is preserved out to the analog processing which feeds a good signal to the hardware, then in the hardware domain you can ensure you have the right voltages for maximum perceived information density and then capture that information density at 16-bit precision without having to worry about how exactly the perceived information density is reduced when dithering down to 16-bit. This approach may or may not work with your particular system, it depends on the quality of your audio interface.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-22-2016 at 12:25 AM.

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    Can you provide some reference for the "perceived information density" concept ? I'm an absolute beginner on this subject.
    Last edited by laurend; 09-22-2016 at 12:54 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by laurend View Post
    Can you provide some reference for the "perceived information density" concept ? I'm an absolute beginner on this subject.
    Unfortunately this is cutting edge stuff, it goes a bit deeper than what is in the public domain.

    But technically you can understand perceived information density visually in a simplified way. Imagine that the frequency stream of each sound source in a mix is represented by an average frequency locked into a state (the time dimension is reduced from the equation) and that this average frequency state you can plot as a fixed set of pixels and range of colors on each pixel within the total amount of available pixels within the canvas. Imagine that inside of this canvas you place additional sound sources that either fill out the available pixels or that start to override/overlap/share pixels within the canvas. Furthermore imagine that each sound source in the mix has room in the canvas without compromise when no other sound sources are in the canvas but that each pixel is limited in the colors it can express. The perceived information density is at its root the combination of the total amount of pixels available within a canvas, combined with the total amount of colors that can be expressed by each pixel combined with how efficiently the pixels are used to express the combinations of the sound sources within the canvas. When you reduce the bit depth it is like reducing the total amount of pixels available within the canvas and the amount of colors they can express, the dithering is kind of an approach of trying to maintain the efficiency of now using the less amount of pixels and colors available most efficiently. The perceived information density is hence also now how efficient this pixel re-distribution and pixel color translation is in order to input the information to the brain of the listener so that as much of the information about the original sound sources as possible within the mix are being perceived.

    This is over simplified since music is not single state, but it gives you an idea of roughly what we are discussing. Information density is essentially the total amount of pixels available combined with the total amount of colors each pixel can express. In terms of audio it is essentially how precise the audio is expressed in its combination of frequency and amplitude, e.g., 346 Hz vs 346.382947893284789327483274983274892378374932 Hz @ 3.4 volts vs 3.3948029840298349029384932 volts. The information density is infinite, but in practice is limited within the density of the listener/engineer. Density is kind of a filter sitting on top of the absolute true information, so it means that as the information density increases more of the 100% true information about the source is shining through the filter. Therefore when the perceived information density increases, you perceive a more and more true representation of the information sent by the audio. This is why the concept of perceived information density is so important during recording, you want to both ensure as little of the information of each sound source is being filtered out and that the filtering when combined to apply on multiple sound sources sharing the same information space is as low as possible, so that as much of the original sound sources when combined, are being perceived by the listener. So for instance if you have frequency build ups on specific frequencies caused by the recording room, each sound source you add to the recording will now add to the loss of perceived information density by further amplifying those frequencies, altering the original frequencies of the sound sources. For this reason it becomes absolutely key that the recording room(s) are "great" when you record. But it is a bit more complex than that, please note I said "great" not great, because great is relative. The sound source is actually not the instrument, but the being playing the instrument. So a room can also "morph" the sound of an instrument closer to the frequencies intended/expressed by the sound source/session player, since it "adds" information to the sound produced by the instrument. So there is a frequency catalysis/crystallization process going on between the sound source, the instrument and the room. This is in turn what determines the level of information density potential, realized/actualized/limited/filtered by the gear that then tries to capture, store and reproduce that information.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-22-2016 at 02:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkRed View Post
    Unfortunately this is cutting edge stuff, it goes a bit deeper than what is in the public domain.

    But technically you can understand perceived information density visually in a simplified way. Imagine that the frequency stream of each sound source in a mix is represented by an average frequency locked into a state (the time dimension is reduced from the equation) and that this average frequency state you can plot as a fixed set of pixels and range of colors on each pixel within the total amount of available pixels within the canvas. Imagine that inside of this canvas you place additional sound sources that either fill out the available pixels or that start to override/overlap/share pixels within the canvas. Furthermore imagine that each sound source in the mix has room in the canvas without compromise when no other sound sources are in the canvas but that each pixel is limited in the colors it can express. The perceived information density is at its root the combination of the total amount of pixels available within a canvas, combined with the total amount of colors that can be expressed by each pixel combined with how efficiently the pixels are used to express the combinations of the sound sources within the canvas. When you reduce the bit depth it is like reducing the total amount of pixels available within the canvas, the dithering is kind of an approach of trying to maintain the efficiency of now using the less amount of pixels and colors available most efficiently. The perceived information density is hence also now how efficient this pixel re-distribution and pixel color translation is in order to input the information to the brain of the listener so that as much of the information about the original sound sources as possible within the mix are being perceived.

    This is over simplified since music is not single state, but it gives you an idea of roughly what we are discussing. Information density is essentially the total amount of pixels available combined with the total amount of colors each pixel can express. In terms of audio it is essentially how precise the audio is expressed in its combination of frequency and amplitude, e.g., 346 Hz vs 346.382947893284789327483274983274892378374932 Hz @ 3.4 volts vs 3.3948029840298349029384932 volts. The information density is infinite, but in practice is limited within the density of the listener/engineer. Density is kind of a filter sitting on top of the absolute true information, so it means that as the information density increases more of the 100% true information about the source is shining through the filter.
    Regarding perceived information density..

    Since the the audio is ultimately mixed with human ears, there must be a difference between everyone's ears too. Nobody would have the exact same perception of hearing?

    does perfect hearing perception exist?

    What I mean is how can we measure how good your ears perceive the sound as it's based on opinions too?

    Some people find they prefer a certain sound or frequency whilst others don't.

    And there also must be a limit on what our brains perceive as well, to the point where our brains fill in the missing bits automatically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KRiSR View Post
    Regarding perceived information density..

    Since the the audio is ultimately mixed with human ears, there must be a difference between everyone's ears too. Nobody would have the exact same perception of hearing?

    does perfect hearing perception exist?

    What I mean is how can we measure how good your ears perceive the sound as it's based on opinions too?

    Some people find they prefer a certain sound or frequency whilst others don't.

    And there also must be a limit on what our brains perceive as well, to the point where our brains fill in the missing bits automatically.
    Yep, I think so too. What is definitely the case in my view is that the inner being's vibration at the point of the listening moment will have a specific "distance" to the vibration being received by the music and that the "distance" will hence determine how emotionally overwhelming it is to receive the vibration. In other words, I do think music at least to some degree can tune the inner vibration of a being when the music is being received and that this tuning is totally unique in the combination of song-listener-moment.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-22-2016 at 03:32 AM.

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    I understand almost nothing of your cutting age stuff. But, this one
    Quote Originally Posted by DarkRed View Post
    So there is a frequency catalysis/crystallization process going on between the sound source, the instrument and the room.
    sounds like poetry.
    Maybe Mr Shannon can help ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_theory
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