More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

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More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Fredo » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:50 am

In the past, we had many discussions about bit depth and we had the luck that knowledgable people Like Nika Aldrich and Bob Katz came here to explain what digital recording was all about. They tackled all of the myths that are floating around about bit depth. Steinberg had a hard time explaining that 32bit floating Point was as good, if not better- than the 48bit fixed Point that PT used back then.

Even today, there is much ignorance and a lot of people think that "resolution" in audio means the same thing as "resolution" in video. Just yesterday I had a long discussionwith video people who insisted that the audio department worked in 24bit, because they would not take *any* compromise in terms of audio quality.

Anyway, I just came across this article; hope it is of some help.

http://www.sonicscoop.com/2013/08/29/wh ... soonf.dpbs

UPDATE: Article about higher sample rates: http://www.trustmeimascientist.com/2013 ... n-it-isnt/


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Re: More Bits is not "better".

Post by Robin Walsh » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:40 pm

Thanks Fredo! Great read.
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Re: More Bits is not "better".

Post by Oswald Schwander » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:39 pm

Thanks a lot. Very good article.

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Re: More Bits is not "better".

Post by ChrisPolus » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:50 pm

I just wanted to chime in and say that the same goes for kHz! More kHz, in most cases, is not at all better. But I've seen you already wrote everything about that, too :) So I won't write more here. If you wonder about kHz, sampling frequency and "HD Audio",go here and read this:
http://www.trustmeimascientist.com/2013 ... n-it-isnt/

Xiph.org made two EXCELLENT videos on this topic. Highly recommended if you want to watch a video and not reading so much. They really go deep.

http://xiph.org/video/

Thanks Fredo. I think we just need to keep repeating it for people to believe. It's like the old war in CPUs that more GHz is better. Today, this law doesn't work anymore as there are more cores and better parallel programming. Or that more Megapixels in a camera are better (while the chip size stays the same and the pixels get smaller and smaller, producing a lot more noise, making the image worse). Thanks for that article and reminder.
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Re: More Bits is not "better".

Post by ju » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:50 pm

Hi All.

Well, for once Fredo, I don't completely agree. :mrgreen:
I just read that interesting thing about bits...
It is kind of true, yes... But only because it mainly talks about music applications, where in fact, with absolutely no dynamic in the final mix, there is little difference between 32float and 24 bits. (even 16, indeed)

But it does' change the fact that most daws audio engines run now at 32float, no matter what you do.
Even if you ask it to express the result at 24 bits, it does' change the fact that all calculations remain at the same, native daw audio engine resolution.
So why would we want to work at anything but the non-modifiable daw precision as long as the main mix is not finished ?
Why loose the precision as long as we have some more things to do ? (with off-line processes for instance, or bounce... every time we write a new file before reaching the end of the mix.)
At the end, right, we end up with a 24 bits mantisse and a 8 bit exponent.
Exponent which is now useless, as we don't have any more calculations to do...
So we can now safely drop them and express the last result of our calculations in 24bits. (final mix, in a word...)
This is then really coherent with the fact that we use 24bits for recording on the field, and 24bits for deliverables.
But 32bits is the way to go to keep the precision up during all editing and mixing work in my opinion...
Not to say that it's elegantly adapted with 64 bits accumulators and 64bits OS, Hosts and SDK architectures...

So at the end of the day, I do think that for all those reasons, it's way more logical to work everything in 32float and deliver the result at the very end in 24bits.
(or shoot at 4k, and deliver a dip at 2k, which is enough good when coloring and vfx are done.)
Just my 2 cents (and a post-production only view, that right ;-)

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Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Fredo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:48 am


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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Oliver.Lucas » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:18 pm

Haven't read it tbh, but he probably misses sound design (most people do).
When you pitch shift stuff (down) frequencies that were inaudible suddenly appear in the conceivable parts of the audio spectrum when you record stuff at higher sample rates.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by ChrisPolus » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:32 pm

Oliver, yes it does mention this. And this is a valid usage of higher sample rates. But of course you need the gear. Not only do you need the recording hardware set to 192kHz, but also a mic that actually is able to record those frequencies. There are a couple of those, Sanken (http://www.sanken-mic.com/en/product/pr ... /3.1000400) for example up to 100kHz. The latest Godzilla movie used a lot of this (http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/ ... f-godzilla).

I think the articles go specifically not towards "recording" but "listening". Listening to or paying more for an apparently superior sound quality music song is useless. There's this Pono Player movement from Neil Young for example that claims superior sound quality only because of "high resolution" audio. And for that purpose, I think we agree, high resolution is bogus. See and go to minute 6:11. Mind boggling. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/10 ... escription

Also, some sound fx outlets do advertise their cool 192kHz QUALITY samples. But when you look at the recording in a spectral view, it all tops off at 16-18kHz. Telling you they didn't record it with the correct mic ;)
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Oliver.Lucas » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:56 am

Plus I have seen sample libraries at 96k where there are inaudible very high gain tones that can damage your gear. Worth thinking about this.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by bigtexasthriller » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:39 pm

If you do choose to record at higher resolution, a pretty well-known engineer once told me that recording at 88.2 is better than 96 because it's divisible by 2 when you reduce to 44.1....

An interesting thought at least.....

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by ChrisPolus » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:56 pm

bigtexasthriller wrote:If you do choose to record at higher resolution, a pretty well-known engineer once told me that recording at 88.2 is better than 96 because it's divisible by 2 when you reduce to 44.1....
An interesting thought at least.....
Haven't thought about that until now but from what I read up and learned about this matter I'd say it doesn't matter. And as most of us probably work in 48kHz, 96kHz would be the way to go if you want divisible by 2.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by neilwilkes » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:08 pm

bigtexasthriller wrote:If you do choose to record at higher resolution, a pretty well-known engineer once told me that recording at 88.2 is better than 96 because it's divisible by 2 when you reduce to 44.1....

An interesting thought at least.....
Also outdated these days.
Most if not all of the really good SRC use the greatest Common Denominator mode, and only calculate in whole numbers by first upsampling and then going down.
I cannot remember the exact maths, but it works well in integer values.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Keyplayer » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:03 pm

So, is the bottom line here that you can just stick to 44.1 & 48K 24bit at the initial tracking stage?
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by augustineL » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:10 pm

There was a study recently though that showed people were aware of far higher frequencies than previously thought - I cant find it now. I was suprised myself - though I am in general agreement with you.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by neilwilkes » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:33 am

24-bit is better than 16-bits & no amount of straw man arguments from the quoted sonicscoop.com website will change this (8-bit digital effects are still better than cassette tapes, forsooth!)
Trouble is I have written this reply well over a dozen times & each time it has been deleted because it ended up, well - wandering a little from the initial path which would appear to be impossible to completely avoid. I've gone in and out of loudness wars (which are still well on, despite what we want to believe to the contrary) but at the end of the day it all boils down to that 24-bits are better than 16-bits and by a not insignificant amount either.
16-bit dither is an extremely low 12dB SPL. All but inaudible.
Moving to 24-bit. 24-bit dither would be at an inaudible -36dB SPL. The DAC noise at -17dB SPL is well below the threshold of hearing. The difficult part always seeming to need lots of explanation is how a 24-bit system really being 48dB better than a 16-bit system because a 24-bit recording would have to be lowered in level by 48dB in order to reduce it to the SNR of 16-bit, as this takes so many necessary but lengthy detours.

But the numbers do not lie - and I am not talking about magical marketing bits here but real, achievable ones.
24-bit is 48dB better than 16-bit so the video department are perfectly correct to insist on this, especially when they also must now comply with loudness specifications.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by diode303 » Fri May 19, 2017 4:37 am

ChrisPolus wrote:Oliver, yes it does mention this. And this is a valid usage of higher sample rates. But of course you need the gear. Not only do you need the recording hardware set to 192kHz, but also a mic that actually is able to record those frequencies.
From my understanding (I'm a sound designer) it's not so much about capturing content above the upper threshold of human hearing as it is about having additional samples to play with when manipulating content. If you halve the playback fequency of a 48KHz sample, you're effectively resampling to 24KHz. Content with higher sample rates tends to be more robust in these kinds of scenarios.

Same goes for bit depth when you're making radical alterations to dynamics.

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Sonic_Dropper » Fri May 26, 2017 7:28 pm

Diode303,
That is exactly how I look at it. 96k gives me more slices to work with when I'm doing heavy time domain processing of any material.

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by MattiasNYC » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:59 pm

Fredo wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:50 am
In the past, we had many discussions about bit depth and we had the luck that knowledgable people Like Nika Aldrich and Bob Katz came here to explain what digital recording was all about. They tackled all of the myths that are floating around about bit depth. Steinberg had a hard time explaining that 32bit floating Point was as good, if not better- than the 48bit fixed Point that PT used back then.

Even today, there is much ignorance and a lot of people think that "resolution" in audio means the same thing as "resolution" in video.
You should forward this post to Steinberg. I think they missed it. We now get glorious precision and accuracy and transparency via the new 64-bit floating point mix engine.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Fredo » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:06 pm

You are totaly missing the point.

Any critical process is executed within double precision (64bit). That was so within the old engine, and is still so in the new.
Plugins handling critical processes also upsample to double precision.
Old VST2 standard was 32bit in- and out.
VST 3 is 64bit in- and out.

Making the engine full double precision eliminates the need for upsampling and truncating before and after each insert slot and from each channel to bus/bus/output. So since the plugins are (or can be) 64bit nowadays, there is no reason at all for "converting" before and after the inster slots.

So what happens is that by having a 64 bit engine from start to end, a lot of unnessesairy processing is removed from the audio engine.
Does this make a difference in sound quality: Nope. Only under exotic laboratory conditions you would be able to expose the "gain in quality".
It does simplify the piping/processing and programming throughout the audio engine?
But indeed, the majority of people still thinks that "more is better", so even for that reason alone, the change is justified.

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by MattiasNYC » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:15 pm

On the list of things that should have been fixed or improved way earlier I'm not going to find 64-bit processing.

In case it wasn't clear: I don't mind a 64-bit engine, but don't spend time and money moving towards a 64-bit engine while releasing such buggy software as Nuendo 8.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Fredo » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:56 pm

So you think that Steinberg development is a bunch of boyscouts that jump on anything that supposily is urgent at the current time?

There are two developers who are constantly working on the audio engine to keep it up to date, to keep it on par with all un-announced changes in OS's, to avoid spagetti-code, and to improve the functionality of the Audio engine. So the 64 bit audio engine is the result of work that has been planned and executed years and months before any of the issues you are talking about came to surface. That is their work, nothing else. And they shouldn't be ashamed to commit their improvements/developments to the latest release, just because it could give some people the weird idea that they have spend their time on something less important than the important things du jour.

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Romantique Tp » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:26 am

Here's what the creator of Wavelab had to say on the subject, from an unrelated discussion: viewtopic.php?f=244&t=125236#p686179

The CPU performance boost that VST3 plugins can get from full 64 bit processing is likely the main reason why the Steinberg engineers chose to work on this. This is something that will benefit pretty much every Cubendo user to some extent. Like Fredo said (and everyone ignored) it's not just about the minuscule improvement in transparency, which is what this thread was originally about.

The description on the Cubase 9.5 page is just the marketing team doing its job. They simply say that it's more transparent, but they're intentionally vague about how much difference it makes. That's the easiest way to sell the feature to people who may not know much about audio, and make them try it.

One thing that some Nuendo users seem to constantly forget is that Steinberg isn't a one man show, they have almost 100 people working on both Cubase and Nuendo and just because they introduced one feature you think you wont need, that doesn't mean that no work is being done on bug fixes and other features and improvements.
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by alexis » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:35 pm

On-topic, because it responds directly to the Steinberg employee/moderator's thread topic. So it's not "hijacking" and won't be deleted, right? :D


Fredo, I've read your words in this thread several times, but I didn't see where you explained why you are apparently contradicting Steinberg's prose regarding the 64-bit engine. Apologies if I'm missing that ... could you address that again please? As I see it, there is a discrepancy between what you write and what Steinberg on its website does:

1) You write in your thread title and the OP of this thread, "more bits is not better", and you also write a few posts up:
2) "Nope, 64-bit doesn't make a difference in sound quality".


But Steinberg writes (https://www.steinberg.net/en/products/c ... se_95.html ):

1) ... the 64-bit engine will "take your sounds to new heights"
2) "Get your mixing down the line — with the new pristine 64-bit floating-point mixing engine you will no longer need to compromise when it comes to quality, precision and realism. The advanced audio engine calculates your summing, mixing and effects processing with double-precision accuracy, performing each task with the utmost level of detail, dynamics and transparency".

Those seemingly contradictory group of statements is what is confusing me. I'm interested in buying Cubase 9.5 (with the brand new 64-bit engine), but as there is the possibility of taking a CPU hit compared to a 32-bit engine, I need to be sure I understand what is actually being sold. (If it helps you to know, I am not an engineer or professional. Though I've been buying Steinberg software and hardware for 10-15 years, I'm just a self/internet-taught home hobbyist. So I understand it's very possible you have explained all this, just in a way too complicated for me to understand, and if so, I apologize for this post).


(BTW, my post of last night saying roughly the same thing seems to have disappeared without a trace, I could have sworn I hit send. I'm sure even a Steinberg moderator wouldn't delete a post without noting so, so I guess it's my error somehow. It was a big long one also, probably unecessarily so, the silver lining of it's have gone missing is I probably communicated the same idea in less words!)

Respectfully,
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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by Fredo » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:04 pm

Alexis,

There are different things at play; first of all the "more bits = better".
Technically, on paper and in laboratory tets, the 64-bit engine will indeed show an improvement in quality.
In real life however, it won't make a difference. Unless you set up some exotic test that does +90dB in volume/processing/lower 90dB/processing/ + 90dB, etc ...
An analogy ...A 32bit calculator has 192 digits after the comma, a 64 calculator has 384 digits after the comma. That doesn't change a single thing for adding and substracting numbers. (which is exatly what a audio engine does, adding and substracting)

It does make a difference for multiplying & deviding numbers .... But that is not part of the engine, we are talking plugins & processes now.
Critical processes already use double precision (64bit)

The "old" engine was 32 bit from start to end. So whenever a process was executed in double precision, the output of the engine needed to be "upgraded" to 64 bit, and after the process being truncated to 32bit again. There might be a tad of precision-loss in that process.
With a 64bit engine, no need for converting from 32 bit to 64 bit anymore. So we go from "might be" a precision-loss to absolutely no precision loss.

Now that most of the third party developers have comitted to VST3, the in- and output of any plugin now is 64 bit.
So going in- and out of the engine doesn't need any converting anymore (same as above)

In short, the additional advantages (say, the side-effects) of the engine-upgrade to 64bit bring more benefits and improvements than the precision that is gained within the engine itself.
It is very difficult to explain something complicated in a non-complicated way, and there is also no point in trying to explain these nuances to the public.

Hope this explains it a bit. (pun intended)


Fredo

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Re: More Bits/Higher sample Rate is not "better"

Post by alexis » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:48 pm

Thank you, Fredo. I'm am checking my plugins to see which are 64-bit (they almost all are VST3).

I asked in another thread, but perhaps it's ok to ask here also ....? I was wondering why there is a toggle to 32-bit engine in Cubase 9.5. Does its presence suggest there are circumstances where the 32-bit engine may be a better choice?

Thank you -
Alexis

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