Is dithering a must?

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RobC
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Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 25 Apr 2019

Some say, do it, so the lowest levels don't get distorted.
Others say there's no need for it, cause tops engineers can detect that distortion with special devices.

...and what's the point in case of the loudness war participants. There's barely such a thing like low level audio in those materials.

Recorded (analog) music has its own noise; so does even purely electro if it goes onto vinyl for example (cause there's vinyl noise anyway).

Maybe you do electro, but in a dynamic way - still, all made with synthesis, so it will be clean. Won't the noise add more dirt than attempting to bring out what the listener won't hear anyway?

I've heard so many different professional opinions on this matter, that now I'm unsure.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 25 Apr 2019

dithering on 16 bit is a safety net. it's very hard to hear differences between dithered material and without dithering but I personally won't take the risk and will always add dithering to 16 bit files. noise is harmless.
Marco Raaphorst

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Loque
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Post 25 Apr 2019

I would lie if i say i ever heard a difference. There is probably a theoretically negative impact to the sound without it. And i guess you know, that yous should dither only once.
:reason: 10, Win10 64Bit.

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nooomy
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Post 25 Apr 2019

RobC wrote:
25 Apr 2019
Some say, do it, so the lowest levels don't get distorted.
Others say there's no need for it, cause tops engineers can detect that distortion with special devices.

...and what's the point in case of the loudness war participants. There's barely such a thing like low level audio in those materials.

Recorded (analog) music has its own noise; so does even purely electro if it goes onto vinyl for example (cause there's vinyl noise anyway).

Maybe you do electro, but in a dynamic way - still, all made with synthesis, so it will be clean. Won't the noise add more dirt than attempting to bring out what the listener won't hear anyway?

I've heard so many different professional opinions on this matter, that now I'm unsure.
It is a must if you are going to upload the music as mp3 or any other compressed format, like spotify, soundcloud, itunes.

Dithering is used to randomize quantization error, and makes your music sound more correct when you convert it to a lossy compression format Like mp3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dither

RobC
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Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 28 Apr 2019

Thank you all, for the info! While I had the feeling that only the final export should be dithered, I still did wonder that in case it could save a little something that gets lost when rendering a synthesizer sound, then what if even smaller parts of a song would need it, but from the looks of it, not necessary for high quality audio.

In case of lossy formats, I wonder if it saves the stereo damage that happens, especially with mp3. Or at least I once checked a youtube vinyl rip's 'side channel', and instead of a clean sound (you normally hear), it was a total mess. But that may be just the encoding work.

All in all, I guess the masters can optionally stay clean; or be dithered, while what gets encoded, can benefit from dithering, thus it should be applied for that.

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moneykube
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Post 28 Apr 2019

interesting info... I have never used it yet lol :puf_wink:

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Ahornberg
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Post 28 Apr 2019


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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 28 Apr 2019

but then again: break the rules :)
Marco Raaphorst

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RobC
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Post 30 Apr 2019

I didn't use it before either, thinking it's just for some 8 Bit oddness, but I see there's more and more to it.

Read the article ~ never thought about how the distortion can build up - and considering how much I will re-sample during sound design, I'll definitely have to consider using it.

I'm not a by-the-book type of person, but I don't rebel against it either, just look for the most efficient possibilities. I need to be careful though where I dither, cause some odd effects, such as what I called 'inverted clipping' where anything below a set threshold gets distorted - there the dither noise will needlessly color the sound, achieving the opposite of what I want (or at least I think so ~ need to test that). So in some rare cases, the quantized "sterile" sound might be preferred.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 30 Apr 2019

good test is use a sine wave, set volume low and export it to 16 bits. without dithering it doesn't sound good. dithering can totally change that.
Marco Raaphorst

Music & soundware https://melodiefabriek.com.
Check out my new ReFill Rockmen: https://melodiefabriek.com/blog/rockmen ... available/

RobC
Posts: 1046
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 30 Apr 2019

I understand that, and I'm pretty sure I will use dithering whenever I'm completely certain that I won't be using any low level clipping effect, cause that would amplify the dither noise otherwise.

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