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24 vs 32-bit sound

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by Vilhelm, Aug 22, 2018.
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  1. bigshot
    I never was aware of this issue at all. I just go out and get speakers and then get an amp powerful enough to push them. I plug the sources in and it works. I've never run into problems with it at all. I'm wondering if this is a real world problem, or if it is just more doubling down on stuff the might be important for a recording studio where you need as low of a noise floor as you can get, but really doesn't apply to home audio where noise floors aren't anywhere near audible in normal use.
  2. jagwap
    I think you missed the point of my original statement. Let me re-phrase it: 24 bit DACs are useful in systems because they allow the use of digital volume controls. They can have an additional 20dB or more of dynamic range so the issue I described can be avoided. It was answering the regularly posited statement here that nobody needs more than 16 bit. I didn't state you need more than 16bits of music, just more than 16 bits of dynamic range to allow level adjustment. Put a decent DAC into the Klipschhorn system and the noise drops to 26dB SPL and all is well again.

    This is why analogue volume conrols are disappearing on audio gear, as a digital one is effectively free.
  3. jagwap
    Yes but you come from a position if knowledge. I have dealt with the end user, and they vary in ability is the polite description.

    I once spoke to a customer that tech support couldn't help who said the vocals were fading in and out on his new amp. Not missing or distant like when out of phase. After some discussion he pointed out it only happened on seventies rock. It took quite a while to discover that he had plugged both speakers into "the nearest" teminal, i.e. left. Bohemian Rhapsody stereo ping ponging left him Freddie-less every now and then. Lovely guy, very embarressed.
  4. bigshot
    I'm really trying to understand what you're saying, but the terms you are using like dynamic range and bits apply to both the recording itself and the player. Are we talking about noise introduced by volume pots or by DACs? It seems to me that just about every DAC you can buy oversamples and is capable of 24 bits. Are we talking about a common problem, or is it something that almost never occurs that you are mentioning just for the sake of completeness? I plug my player into my amp and it works. I've never had to think about the volume pot.
  5. jagwap
    I was going to say "one last time" but I have a feeling it won't be.

    In the good old days, before DACs with more than 16bit dynamic range, the volume control could not very successfully be done in the digital domain, as it ran the risk of adding noise to the system. With 24bit DACs (with admittedly only 20bit resolution) it is possible to forego the analogue volume control, as the new noise floor is around 24dB lower.

    I said this as it is continually said on this forum that there is no need for more than 16bits for playback, and I wanted to clarify that while this may be true if the 16bits are played back in their entirety, having more has a practical use. It is perhaps not well understood the difference between the media bit depth and the hardware bit depth.

    So to summerise: to playback 16 bit with a digital volume control you need more than 16 bits, for more reasons than is initially obvious.
  6. bigshot
    Who has a 16 bit DAC? They haven't made them for over 20 years have they? I thought oversampling was designed primarily to help the brick wall filter, not for the volume pot. But I imagine a volume pot would benefit from it too in a pretty insignificant way.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  7. jagwap
    I imagine you do. It is hard to name a phone that has more than 16.5 bits equivalent dynamic range, and what about set-top boxes and streamer streamers?

    But that wasn't my point. I suspect you know that.
  8. bigshot
    I generally hook my phone into my speaker system with line out and I've never gotten any noise. And my set top boxes all have HDMI out, so they are going through my AVR's DAC.

    Can you outline a situation that would lead to audible noise? No, I'm not trying to cause trouble. I'm just trying to see how this applies in the real world. Is this something that only affects headphone outs, not line level connections or passthrough to another DAC?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
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