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Topic: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

  1. #1

    24 bit vs 16bit Output

    I have an RME HDSP 9632 in a dedicated machine running Gigastudio 3.
    On the hardware page in Giga it states that the card is in 24bit depth 44khz.
    I have another machine running Cubase SX with a MOTU 2408mk II and the two machines connected digitally (they are in fact locked) via ADAT lightpipe.
    When I transfer from Giga to Cubase digitally, (Cubase is at 16bit 44khz), why is there no dithering process required. Is it doing on the fly? I can hear the difference in quality on the two machines, Giga sounding much more present and real (hence the 24bit resolution).

  2. #2

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    Giga 2's output is 16 bits, so there's no reason to dither.

    But why are you running Cubase at 16 bits? It doesn't cost anything besides hard disk space (which is cheap) to run it at 24.

  3. #3

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    Nick's right. Particularly if you are applying FX on top of your rendered Giga tracks you should have Cubase setup as 24bit or 32bit float. This will give you more headroom to work with and more physical bits for the plugins to apply to your audio.

    At the end, dither your final 2 track mix to 16bit.
    - SCA - Sound Studios -

  4. #4

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    Although Gigastudio 2.x only plays 16 bit samples, it's mixer output is 24 bit, let's be very clear about that. That means that if you use volume and/or expression to attentuate a 16 bit sample, you are reducing its volume in 24 bits, so you're not throwing away information like you would in a 16 bit sampler.


  5. #5

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    I am a little confused. I mentioned that I am using Giga 3.0. In two of these posts you guys refer to 2.xx Am I missing something here?

    For technical reasons right now I have to remain at 16/44khz in Cubase. I just want to understand what is happening digitally when I transfer from Giga
    (outputting at 24 bit?) to Cubase at 16 bit.

  6. #6

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    I think you might be hearing the difference between monitoring 24-bit output on the giga machine vrs 16-bit truncated output on your other one. But don't overlook the possibility that what you're hearing is a difference in converter quality on the 2 machines. You might want to send the 16-bit audio back to your giga machine for a sanity check.

    But to more directly answer your question, yes you should dither the 16-bit truncated audio if you want it to sound better. Just make sure that's the very last processing step. I usually have the CD burning software do it. Giga can do it but would be the wrong place if you do any further mixing or processing. And GS3's dithering options are still as stone-age as GS2's.

    In your setup, since your DAW's running 16-bit, you might want to get a dithering plugin (UV22 would be way cool) and use it in the monitoring chain. This would make what you monitor as pleasing as the dithered CD you burn. I maintain 24-bit resolution in my DAW and let the CD burning software do the truncation too. You'd be better off solving your technical problem and operating your DAW with 24-bit tracks. It would improve the sound quality of your mixes. The only downside being that your 24-bit monitor would probably sound better than the improved 16-bit dithered CD mix.


  7. #7

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    Ah, thanks for straightening me out, Peter. I didn't realize that its mixer ran at 24-bit resolution. Giga's output should be dithered then.

    Slinky, I can't imagine any technical reasons other than disk space for running Cubase at 16 bits - even if the files already been dithered once from 24 bits. I don't know whether Cubase can mix bit resolutions within one song, but if not it'll just convert them by adding eight 0s. The difference is going to be subtle, but I like to do anything I can to improve the sound quality, especially if it's no more bother.

  8. #8

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    My issue with having 24 and 16 bit files mixed is this :

    I am in the middle of an animation series and have a large library of cues
    that are being re-used from episode to episode in Cubase at 16/44khz. There are too many to consider remixing them. When I finish a half hour show , I output to a stereo 16/48khz file (that is the requirement for the studio mixing the shows). I know all the sample rates have to be the same when I create the half hour file. I am assuming the bit rates would have to be the same as well.

  9. #9

    Re: 24 bit vs 16bit Output

    Ah. If you're importing those cues into one reel-length Cubase session, then that makes sense.

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