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muscma02 says

Hey everyone I write a blog about the stock music industry, and the overall goal is to help new musicians. I really want to to get some feedback from Audio Jungle authors about 16 bit vs 24 bit. The overall idea of the post is the discussion about 16 bit vs 24 bit, and I would love to get solid opinions other then my own. I’d like to discuss these things in the post:

Is 16 bit going to die off? Is 24 bit the new buzz like HD on TV? Do buyers need 24 bit? Is it worth it to format your music in 24 bit? Who needs 24 bit music?

Basically questions like that. If you want me to directly quote you in my blog can you put your reply in question marks like this. “I don’t think 16 bit will bla bla”. What I want to do is put your quote in, and then your screen name (which would be a link to your profile on Audio Jungle). So if you want your real name in there too make sure to put that in the post like this. ex)

“I think 16 bit will bla bla” Michael Musco.

That way I will know it’s ok to quote you in my blog, and I will write it up like Michael Musco, MuscoSound (link) feels “16 bit will bla bla”. If you just want to respond and discuss 16 bit and 24 bit in this thread that’s awesome too. I will not quote anyone without the quotation marks. I don’t want to plug the name of my blog, but if anyone that has a quote and would like to read it, feel free to shoot me an email.

I am hoping the article will be entertaining, and informative. At the same time hopefully the links back to your profiles might help with a little free marketing. Thanks so much in advance!

ps. If anyone is reading this and is a buyer I would really appreciate your input

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TheRedGiant says

Well, for starters 24-bit is not new at all. If it ever had a “new buzz” phase, it was, if I recall correctly, back in 2004-ish when you began to see “affordable” 24 bit interfaces. And it might have had its fair share of “OMG this is the latest so I have to get it” market for a while. But then it calmed down and it became just another option.

I don’t think the change from 16-bit to 24-bit is as important as HD in video. HD video really is immensely superior to the older standard resolutions, and anyone can notice the huge visual difference immediately.

With 24-bit I think it depends on what you’re doing. I’ve never thought to myself “God I wish I could record this in 24-bit, it’d be so much better!” when I’m recording, say, some heavy metal stuff.

On the other hand there have been times when I have genuinely wished for 24-bit resolution recording and/or playback. Examples would be, while making an ambient piece, or while trying to capture/play the complete decay of a cymbal hit, down to the lowest amplitude of its release. Or foley recording.

For those kinds of things you really notice the difference. That is, you really notice the limits of 16 bits.

Sometimes the extra resolution can even be annoying. There’s been times while recording interviews outdoors when I’ve switched camera mics from 24 down to 16 bit, because the extra resolution just captures a lot of unwanted background noise.

Hope that made sense. Basically I think it’s not a fashion or a buzz (too old for that anyway). You either need it or you don’t, based on what you’re trying to achieve. It depends on your use case.

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Allegro120 says

I can only say that I noticed lower quality perfectly as my tracks to convert 24 to 16 bit, it’s frustrating. Let alone to pass them to Mp3.

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bodorobodo says

Just as a concept – digital recording is taking samples from the actual sound. It’s the same with the photography. Imagine a curve which starts in point A and goes to point B. While in reality that curve contains an infinity of points, it can only be described with a fixed number of points when translated in digital. You can never have enough pixels to perfectly describe the curve, but the more you have, the more you are getting close to the real thing. It’s the same with music. The more information you can use, the more realistic output you can achieve. This is why 24 bits it’s better than 16 bits. This is why 48khz it’s better than 44khz.

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Pianojungle says

I think that the right word to describe 24 bit is that it is more accurate than 16 bit, but therefore not better. The bit-depth has, contrary to what many think, nothing to do with the resolution in function of the time. In other words a 24 bit recording can be much more dynamic than 16 bit but doesn’t capture the frequency of the sound waves better.

24 bit comes in very handy when you are recording at a lower volume so you loose less of the dynamics. But when you start compressing and limiting and stuff you loose the wide range of dynamics anyway.

So is 24 really better? Maybe, maybe not. It’s subjective. But in my honest opinion, if even de big guys at record labels keep exporting 16 bit why should we do different. Besides, most technology today (ipods, hifi,...) doesn’t even support 24 bit.

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Lmz says

24 bit comes in very handy when you are recording at a lower volume so you loose less of the dynamics. But when you start compressing and limiting and stuff you loose the wide range of dynamics anyway.

Exactly. Higher bit rates are great for recording/tracking to capture dynamic range. If the final mix is going to be squashed to hell though, there won’t be any benefit from exporting the final mix at 24 bit over 16.

In my opinion, while TV’s and cinemas have been increasing there resolution and image quality, the fidelity of most music has been decreasing. Reason for that being the way a lot of people listen to music now, car radios and phone/mp3 players with earbuds. Car radios and earbuds are not the best place to listen to a piece of dynamic music given the amount noise around cars, and that earbuds are just terrible devices to play anything back on. So, mixes are mastered (or re-mastered) to have less and less dynamic range as well as filling up as much of the frequency range as possible. Doing this insures that no matter what device your listener choses, your track will be easily heard and that nothing gets lost in the mix. Now that music is mostly stored digitally, file compression formats (specifically mp3) also play a role and they do have some diminishing effect on resulting of the mix (losing higher frequencies and I think so lower ones as well). Those things combined are killing fidelity in most music genres.

So ‘HD’ audio formats probably won’t catch on until the listening environments/devices of average people changes for the better.

My 2 cents.

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muscma01 says

Those are some really awesome opinions. Thanks for sharing them. I wonder though about as a marketing angle though of it? Do you think 24 bit has a “selling” advantage? I mean it’s hard for me to really be able to answer that because I rarely if ever know where my music ends up, and how it was used in a production. I guess my question is best answered by buyers because I don’t know what software they are using, and if it supports 24bit. Take a hypothetical example) Audio Jungle Announces stunning 24bit Category. In that hypothetical do you think a buyer might look at that and be like oh ya I have to check that out, or do you think it’s not really an issue. I wonder from a marketing angle if 24 bit, could be a buzz word like “in HD”.

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Lmz says

Those are some really awesome opinions. Thanks for sharing them. I wonder though about as a marketing angle though of it? Do you think 24 bit has a “selling” advantage? I mean it’s hard for me to really be able to answer that because I rarely if ever know where my music ends up, and how it was used in a production. I guess my question is best answered by buyers because I don’t know what software they are using, and if it supports 24bit. Take a hypothetical example) Audio Jungle Announces stunning 24bit Category. In that hypothetical do you think a buyer might look at that and be like oh ya I have to check that out, or do you think it’s not really an issue. I wonder from a marketing angle if 24 bit, could be a buzz word like “in HD”.

It absolutely could be used as a selling angle. It would be higher definition so I assume the customer would automatically think that’s ‘better’. Wether it really makes a difference or not depends on what they are buying. I wouldn’t think it would be a major selling point though because the difference would most likely not be immediately perceivable. I do think some would buy into it though, even if it’s only a sort of placebo effect.

However, music is sold based on it’s content and not on fidelity. If two tracks have great content, I don’t see having ‘superior’ audio quality being a deciding factor to licensing the track as long as the competing track is of standard audio quality. It will come down to what the music’s purpose is, and musical content would decide that.

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Noise-n-Music says

As an experienced sound engineer, i would say 48khz/24bit is an optimal resolution. And here are are several reasons: 1. most video codecs encode audio data in 48/24 or 48/16 (Dolby Digital for example). 2. Discrete waves summing issue: Higher resolution is better for mixing, because mixing a lot of tracks in low resolution (44.1/16) causes digital noises. In this case, studio standard 24/96 is the best. 3. Downsampling is always better than upsampling, because of interpolation. Of course, when we are talking about a few tracks and a good sound software, there are no problems with 44.1/16. This resolution completele covers potential of the human perception. But high resolution is always better than low :) By the way, studios i work for ask me to mix all data in 48/24.

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Basspartout says

This resolution completele covers potential of the human perception.
:chuckle: Haha, so far from the truth. 44.1 / 16 bit was not more or less than a compromise made by the industy in the 1980s. Although mots of listeners/consumers (and sound engineers!!) got used to it, it’s ridiculous to say that it covers human perception.
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