24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded!

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by gregorio, Mar 19, 2009.
  1. Darren G
    The really short version is, are you someone who has stopped enjoying music because you are listening for flaws, limits, listening to gear, or... are you going to enjoy so much amazing music that is clearer, and more dynamic, than anytime in the past (short of a live event)?

    I don't think anyone is arguing we must limit technology. What they are saying is consumer level reproduction is good! very good! At any reasonable listening level it's more than good enough!
  2. WoodyLuvr
    One of the former professional classical percussionists I mentioned in an earlier post always tells me that the very thought of a long drum roll makes his stomach turn and gives him a headache (à la motion sickness). He refuses to listen to any dynamic or loud music and has happily limited his listening to very quiet ambient new age and electronic works with a careful eye on the volume (aka Brian Eno). Surprisingly (to me) he finds custom in the ear headphones to be a safer and more controllable option than closed or open backs and especially speakers.
  3. amirm
    I don't see anything from you n post 4740. Regardless, I addresse that in detail here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/24bit-vs-16bit-the-myth-exploded.415361/page-314#post-13875323


    "Should not" is not the same as "now allowable." And it is for impulsive or impact noise, not music.


    And it is for averaged SPL level, not peak. I don't know what it takes to get the message across that average and peak numbers are not the same.

    Occupational noise measurements also have other characteristics unique to them like exponential drop-off, polar response, etc. See ANSI S1.4-1979.

    Really, this is at the heart of what is wrong with your first post. It confused average levels and intuition regarding noise exposure levels and confuses that for what is actually recorded in music files. It is also blind to psychoacoustics and what a just noticeable noise level is from speakers in real rooms and playback levels in live venues. Continued confusion with these posts regarding noise levels shows that nothing is learned and science is dismissed out of hand.
  4. TheSonicTruth
    What kind of drum roll are we referring to? The kind in the circus right before someone jumps off a high ladder into a net?
    I personally do not find that typical drum roll to be either very loud or all that dynamic.
  5. amirm
    Well played. :) I take that back! Why are you guys here? Worried as to whether there is real resolution increase in 24 bit audio or worried about what damages your hearing? If the latter, what is with the title of this thread and OP?
  6. amirm
    The picture? This is the picture. In words that is, too lazy to draw some. :D

    1. Almost all music recorded in 24 bits.

    2. Conversion to 16 bits (without dither and noise shaping) chops off 8 bits of that. Let's be generous and say that half of that was noise anyway. So that leaves us with 4 bits thrown away. That represents 4*6 = 24 db increase in noise floor.

    3. We are then told to use noise shaping to push that 24 db of extra noise to somewhere else. In 44.1 Khz, there is no place left to properly push that unless you cherish driving your tweeter and amp harder in 20 to 22 Khz. Best to increase the sample rate. But oh wait, we can't do that since you advocate sticking with 44.1.

    But let's say we did use noise shaping. What that translates into is that we took perfectly good 24 bit music file, added 24 bits of noise to it, and then applied a transformation to that noise. Why do we want to do that? Why not just give the original 24 bit file to people who want it?

    You see what the problem with the whole argument is? We had to jump through those hoops to get better performance out of CD which has fixed specification of 16/44.1. With digital distribution, that restriction is gone, gone, gone. There remains no reason to apply that signal processing anymore unless you are trying to distribute on CD.

    This is on top of the fact that it is not up to you and I to apply noise shaping. It is up to the entire content production industry, vast majority of which have no background in signal processing and you will be lucky if you get dither for conversion of 24 to 16 let alone noise shaping. The whole concept of adding "noise" sounds like a bad thing to people without signal processing so it is not surprising that proper conversion is not assured whatsoever from 24 bit files.

    So in summary, conversion to 16 bits from 24 bits is a form of lossy compression. Noise shaping makes it a perceptual technique so no different than lossy codecs. We no longer have a need for such a conversion. Give the bloody 24 bit files and let's be done with it! No one has stipulated a single reason why it is good for me or anyone else to not have the option of getting 24 bits delivered to consumers.

    That is how we get "done" with this conversation, not with hopes and dreams of the world all of a sudden deciding to noise shape dither all 24 biles. And even if they did, it would be a solution looking for a problem.

    Really folks, physical formats that forced these things on us are gone. We have total freedom. Let's offer the consumer the option to download music at originally captured rates. Technology and big companies are no longer a barrier to us doing so. Let's celebrate our newly found freedom! I know I am....

    Edit: fixed typo of "bits" instead of "db." :)
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  7. amirm
    I do enjoy music at all fidelity levels. When in the car I stream lossy audio and when my favorite tracks come, I enjoy them immensely.

    But that is only a part of this hobby. This entire forum exists, including these long threads because people are interested in more than enjoying music. They like to learn about the technology, argue about it, and feel that when they purchase something, it is better than the alternatives. And yes, they all look for flaws when shopping for gear and routinely when they own them. It is what the hobby is. The day you stop that, is the day you become a music lover but not an audiophile.

    That said, it is true that once you become a critical listener, you will be bothered more in system performance flaws. As audiophiles we are already there compared to general public. So that is not anything new either.

    Sure, consumer level reproduction is good, very good. What does that have to do with the OP saying higher resolution is a myth and that classical music can have 12 db of dynamic range? And that this is so as a matter of audio science?

    Let's go back and change the OP to what you say and we will truly be done.
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  8. reginalb
    You keep repeating this without source. And you hammer everyone else for not sourcing their information.

    How is music any different from other types of noise? Do you deny that there is a high rate of hearing loss in musicians? Do you think somehow that music magically doesn't harm your hearing like other sounds, as if the waves are made up of something more pillowy to your eardrums?

    What many of us would (and do) argue against, is the fleecing of consumers by trying to convince them that there is some magic in that extra 8-bits when there isn't, and then charging them more for it.

    Here is an example:
    Macy Gray - Stripped (I use this since I checked on prices recently and there are a bunch of options where to buy it)
    Vinyl at Acoustic Sounds: $30
    HD Tracks 24/192: $25
    HD Tracks 24/96: $18
    Amazon CD: $14
    7Digital 16/44.1: $12.50
    HD Tracks 16/44.1: $12
    7Digital MP3: $10.50
    iTunes: $9.99
    Amazon MP3: $9.50

    Or included with monthly streaming services.

    Now you, as well as a lot of people with skin in the game, make fantastic claims about the vast differences between these files, while in the real world people aren't going to hear the difference between them. There is profit to be made off of deceiving the public in to believing those HD Tracks versions contain some special sauce in them. Someone, for example, who founded a company that designs home audio systems for poor saps who they are able to con out of their money.

    With training, people could probably hear slight differences, or they could turn the volume up during quiet sections and hear the noise floor. Or they could be saved from fleecing and be happy listening to the music.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  9. JaeYoon
    Well if that is the case, I never was an audiophile to begin with, I want to love the voices of singers I like. I want to love sounds of the instruments that bands play.

    I don't want to love my equipment. I mean I do use DAPs and my IEMs, but I don't want to worship those on a shrine.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  10. amirm
    You could say that is not true - that they used a standard mic, that they provided the specs and others have replicated their work, etc., and that would be an actual refutation. By dodging the critique you clearly imply that it is true, and you're using obfuscation to cover up that fact. I have actually read a lot of AES papers, and they're almost universally really bad research, maybe it's all you're exposed to, and to be honest it's fine if you are. It's way more important that drugs are researched well, for example, than audio gear. But it's typically bad science. Knowing that, and hearing a legitimate critique of the paper you cite that you seem unable to debunk tells me what I need to know.

    Feel free to actually address the claim now. But I am sure you'll instead point me to more biographies and tell me that I haven't read enough science and therefore am way less smart than you. Because you either are so arrogant that you don't care about properly defending your assertions, or they're indefensible.[/QUOTE]
    There is a lot of protests in there but no information to share on this topic. The information you ask for was provided but seemingly not read. Here it is again:


    Microphone information is provided down to model number. And there is no attempt at finding one or two data points. It is an extensive survey, and as much as anyone could ask in determining the collective knowledge. And this is the summary of it:


    I post all of this before. I have seen no one demonstrate that they have read any of this. Nor have they, like you, read it now.

    As you see, there are no logical arguments here. Only data and research. It has nothing to do with me being smart. It have simple read the research and combined this with the work I used to do professionally.

    You are not interested in learning if the first thing you do is say some research is bad. What AES papers have you read anyway? Can we see a list of a few of them?
  11. amirm
    I provided the source. Here is the image of the original post with the link now highlighted in yellow:

  12. TheSonicTruth
    Using my profile pic as an example: When down-converting from 32 or 24bit to 16, is that what happens to the audio? In other words, the left hand waveform represents the 24bit session take, and the right hand represents the final 16bit master?
  13. amirm
    It all reads to intent of research and how data is gathered. And also the application. A gunshot makes the noise it wants to. We don't listen to 10000 gun shots in a row and call it music. Yet that maybe exactly what an employee at a gun range be exposed to.

    Surely we agree that if live performances resembled occupations noise in constructions or factory floor, people would not go pay and sit there to listen to them for one hour or more. :)

    No, but none of that is at play here. What is at play is confusing how noise levels are measured in occupational safety (averaging, weighted, etc.) vs what peaks may occur in real life concerts. You need to disassociate the two numbers. Just because they both use "db SPL" it doesn't mean they are the same. No more than thinking average and peak value of a set of numbers are the same.
  14. reginalb
    Man you're a jerk. Seriously, what is your problem?

    For the actual content, THANK YOU. You finally took something and actually responded accordingly. This is the first post I've read where you actually directly addressed something, and it was actually enlightening. I learned what I already know, peak levels at rock concerts are WAY too loud. I wear hearing protection at rock concerts. I apologize if I missed the information about the mic, but when this direct criticism was levied you absolutely DID NOT present this in response. You literally responded by saying that the paper has 63 citations at the end (meaningless), and then the author's bio (also meaningless).

    I wish they would have chosen a different shape (or at least two that are more discernible in reproduction if they were different) for jazz and classical.

    I started my responses to you asking civil questions, and you immediately sniped at me, and have repeatedly told me what I'm arguing is wrong in instances where I've literally not argued anything at all.

    With regards to bad research, I'm not going to go down the list, but there are a ton of pseudo science papers published in this field, and quite a few in that particular paper. Typically low sample sizes, poor documentation of methodology, and questionable conclusions have been the hallmark of papers I've read in this community.

    Or a recent meta-analysis that used debunked papers to show that people can definitely hear the difference between hi-rezzzzzz and other formats.

    Which is, of course, not what I said you didn't cite. That citation has nothing in it about how "impact" noise as you call it, is different than music in terms of its affects on long term damage to your ears.

    Again, you're missing the point. You've come in and asserted that you won't damage your hearing at sound levels that are equivalent to those, because the sounds are different. But you haven't backed this claim up. Depending on the weapon, a gunshot can be nearly 200dB, do you think that 200dB music, even if it's just a brief peak, wouldn't hurt your ears?

    My ears ring at the end of a concert if I don't wear hearing protection. Just the same as they ring when I shoot a weapon without hearing protection. I've done the latter only once, even with 7 years in the military, because I care about my hearing.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  15. TheSonicTruth
    "My ears ring at the end of a concert
    if I don't wear hearing protection.

    Then something is not being done correctly at that concert if it's that loud. It's not a Nascar race.
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