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Topic: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

  1. #1

    Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    Hi all, I have a small project that the client wants delivered in MP3 format.

    All of my files have been 24 bit wav during the mixing process. I was wondering though, is it best to master (and dither) to 16 bit, and THEN encode the 16 bit file to MP3?

    Or leave it as 24 bit and let the MP3 encoding also convert it? (I know it ends up as 16 bit)

    If I dither to 16 bit first, does the MP3 encoding apply dithering again?

    Thanks, Scott.

  2. #2

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    Hey there,

    I think both ways are okay in this case, as the mp3 encoding degrades your audio quality and dynamics to an extent that it doesn\'t really matter.

    Client wanting the final production in mp3 format? That\'s weird. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Who wants a finished product in an encoded form?

    Good luck,


  3. #3

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    i have been doing all of my mixing and mastering
    at 48/24 , then converting directly to mp3 with pretty decent results. one thing you can do is if you have a spectral analyzer, is to convert the wav to mp3 and compare the mp3 to the original.
    notice the difference and use this info to create
    a EQ template for the original wav. EQ with this THEN create your mp3. finally avoid going below 128kb for your mp3 really sounds crappy - use the highest settings available . depending on you encoder( i have sound forge) you should have options to that will allow you render slower for better quailty.
    hope all of this helps

  4. #4

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?


    I\'m far from knowing DSP stuff or so but I have read some basic house.. The steps are when going downwards like 24 to 16 - always apply dither noise. Depending on software, there are usually lots of curve options. Se the manual.

    I would guess mp3 encoders do not dither at all, while converting down. Or, since dither is rocket science the mp3 encoders are probably quite bad in this area.

    I would not think of anything else than

    1. Convert 24 to 16 bit in a good editor/hardware

    2. mp3 encode the 16 bit file.


  5. #5

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    also: just to clarify i meant decent as far as streaming goes. many people that work with mp3 at one point after spending hrs, days, weeks trying to get the mp3s to sound as good as the orginal source will eventually accept that fact there is obvious loss. the term CD quality is complete BS.if your client is using this for anything other then streaming by all means suggest something eles.
    btw a few monthes ago EM ( electronic musician)
    had a article on mp3 tips- thats where i got the EQ tip from.

  6. #6

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    I find a noticeable difference by dithering to 16 bit and _then_ converting to mp3. Prior to this method I had to always encode to 192 for decent quality, but now I can get away with 160 just about.

  7. #7

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    I can hear quite significant issues varying from one encoding software to another. To my ears and to many other users the lame codec is the best, and some all in all packages do not deliver good quality. Once in a while I happen to find a mp3 that is 128kbps encoded but sounds like a higher bitrate. Perhaps the EQ trick is the way to go here.

    But as Maarten and mike suggested, I would not give a mp3 out, if it is not used directly as such (means streaming on the web, in games, ...) Also keep in mind, there are some special licensing issues for decoders/encoders with mp3s if not used for private or demoing purposes afaik.


  8. #8

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. It sounds like the way to go is to dither first but Maarten has a good point in that being MP3, it is probably hard to spot the difference anyway.

    Client wanting the final production in mp3 format? That\'s weird. Who wants a finished product in an encoded form?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Yeah the delivery is for a web application. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Regards, Scott.

  9. #9

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    If your software will convert from 24 bit to mp3, do it that way because it reduce the possibility of rounding off from data conversion error that will accure from more conversions.
    As far as the statement that some 128 mp3\'s sound better than others, some programs have better algorithms than others.
    Soundfourge isn\'t considered as good as wavelab from users feedback.
    Try to get a program that converts with a high internal bitrate like 64 bit if possible.

    Correct me if Im wrong ,but I understand that ther is a point to were if your go to a high enough number on your mp3 quality your file size and audio quality will be equal to 16 bit 44.1 wave file.
    So in thery it doesnt have to sound any worse than CD standard if you dont mind the larger file size.

  10. #10

    Re: Mp3 - 24 bit or 16?

    Your sound editor will still (quietly) perform a bit conversion prior to encoding to MP3, you don\'t really cut out a conversion stage by using it. In my experience the quality of the dithering algorithm and the encoder used have the most direct effect on quality. Personally I use Soundforge to convert bit depth/dither but as was mentioned above I\'ve heard Wavelab and even Cool Edit 2 have better algorithms.
    For actual encoding you can\'t do better than LAME, it really does sound much better than any other encoder I\'ve ever tried, it\'s particularly good at VBR mp3\'s. LAME itself is a simple EXE or DLL, freeware, so it\'s a good idea to get hold of a front-end like Audiograbber or RazerLame.

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