24 Bit & Beyond

Taking Advantage of High Resolution Digital Audio


With the advent of high resolution digital audio, you now have options of delivering your product for mastering in a variety of formats. Digital Editing Services can accomodate the following:

24 bit DAT - Tascam DA-45HR format, 44.1k or 48kHz.

24 bit & larger audio files, 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k or 192kHz .
Please call ahead to verify that the file format you want to deliver is compatible. As of this writing, we can accept most standard, and many non-standard, file formats including
Ensoniq Paris
QuickTime 3.0
QDesign Music
QDesign Music Pro

You can send your files on Data CD-R (Yellow Book Standard) or DVD-R, or if you are attending the session you can bring them on a Macintosh formatted hard drive.

If you are mixing or bouncing to disk on a Digital Audio Workstation, you should choose the output to be one of the above file formats, 24 bit, no dither. This will prevent the truncation errors described in our "Tips & Tricks" section. Do not sample rate convert - bounce at the same sample rate as the trackaing session. In ProTools this would be the "Convert After Bounce" selection.

Many people are now mixing to 2 tracks of a 24 bit MDM (Modular Digital Multitrack) such as the Tascam DA-78HR and some of the later ADAT models, or the Tascam DA-98HR which can also record 4 tracks at 96k or 2 tracks at 192kHz. If you mixed to such a format you will have to provide a machine for the mastering session, and the machine must be outfitted with either AES digital outputs on standard XLR connectors or optical digital outputs in standard TOSLINK format. If you do not have a machine that you can bring to the mastering session, we can help find a rental machine, but please give at least a week's notice if this will be required.

If you are mixing through a digital console to the digital inputs of a 24 bit recorder or workstation, make sure the mixer's digital outputs are set to 24 bit, no dither.

Caveat: know your system! If your digital mixer or workstation is working at a bit rate higher than 24, then dither does have to be applied if 24 bit audio files are to be written. Be sure you are applying 24 bit dither

If you are mixing through a digital console to the digital inputs of a workstation, make sure your digital interface and sound card are 24 bit capable - otherwise it will create truncation errors on input. If your sound card or interface is only 16 bit, you have to set your mixer's output to 16 bit dithered. The samed applies if you are mixing to the digital inputs of a 16 bit DAT or an Audio CD recorder - the mixer's outputs should be set for 16 bit dither.

Even if you mix to a workstation, we still do not recommend altering the files at all prior to mastering. That includes editing, fading, changing gain, normallizing, eq'ing, compressing - anything that would alter the signal. The Sonic Solutions SSHD as featured at D.E.S. is audibly the most accurate workstation in the industry. It can perform these and other functions so much better and with much greater detail than any other system, and at 48 bit resolution. To get the full benefit of Sonic Solutions mastering, just use the workstation you're mixing to as a recorder, not an editor or processor. Record each song as a separate 24 bit stereo file in one of the above listed file formats, record so peaks reach at least -3dBfs, transfer the files to CD-R or DVD-R using Toast or a similar program, and leave the rest to mastering.

If you are working with a high density system, you can track and mix at a sampling rate of 88.2kHz or 96kHz, with a resolution of 24 bit or greater. Or if you are using an analog console you can mix to such machines as the Tascam DV-RA1000, Alesis Materlink or Tascam DA-98HR at 88.2k or 96kHz. Even though the sample rate will have to be converted during mastering to 44.1k for the CD master, this gives you the option of archiving your mastered material at 88.2 or 96k, 24 bit for future high-resolution formats such as DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD). Even if the material isn't to be archived in high resolution format, it may have an edge sonically over 44.1k since it allows the mastering processors to run at 88.2k or 96kHz. The jury is still out on this point.

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