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About Dithering

Using 24-bit resolution and above during the production process helps enhance the dynamic qualities of your project, while reducing the possibility of audible noise levels. It also increases the signal-to-noise ratio, which is the level of the noise with no signal applied expressed in dB below a maximum level. As you saw earlier in this book, this ratio (in theory) is around 146 dB in a 24-bit recording and 194 dB in a 32-bit recording. Such a ratio suggests that when you record a sound using 32-bit resolution, your noise floor is at –194 dB, which is inaudible and negligible by any standards. Of course, in practice, you rarely get such impressive signal-to-noise ratios due to many noise-generating elements before and after the sound card’s converters, but the ratios are consistently more impressive when using higher bit rates. Unfortunately, when you mix down to transfer to a 16-bit DAT recorder, or want to record it on a CD for compact disc players, you need to bring this precision down to 16-bit.

There are two methods used to accomplish this: truncating and dithering. Truncating simply cuts the lower part of the digital word that exceeds the 16-bit word length. Here’s an example—if you have a sample that would be stored in 24-bit, it looks like this:


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