Dither on 24 bit cards?

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Dither on 24 bit cards?

Dan Mills
Hi All,
I know its largely pointless (thermal noise and the charge on an electron...),
but I notice (from reading the code) that even when running with an otherwise
24 bit (if you beleve the marketing) card, the dither is still applied at the
16 bit depth?

Is there a good reason for this?

Regards, Dan (Who is busily copying the ALSA backend for a project of his
own)....



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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Jack O'Quin-2
Dan Mills <[hidden email]> writes:

> I know its largely pointless (thermal noise and the charge on an
> electron...), but I notice (from reading the code) that even when
> running with an otherwise 24 bit (if you beleve the marketing) card,
> the dither is still applied at the 16 bit depth?

The default is no dither at all.  That should work perfectly for
24-bit cards.  :-)

I think one would normally only request dither with a 16-bit card or
when wishing to hear how truncation to 16 bits is going to sound.
--
  joq


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Dan Mills
On Sunday 23 October 2005 00:58, Jack O'Quin wrote:

> Dan Mills <[hidden email]> writes:
> > I know its largely pointless (thermal noise and the charge on an
> > electron...), but I notice (from reading the code) that even when
> > running with an otherwise 24 bit (if you beleve the marketing) card,
> > the dither is still applied at the 16 bit depth?
>
> The default is no dither at all.  That should work perfectly for
> 24-bit cards.  :-)
>
> I think one would normally only request dither with a 16-bit card or
> when wishing to hear how truncation to 16 bits is going to sound.

True, I just hadn't seen any documentation mentioning that turning on the
dither forced any card into an effective 16 bit mode.

Thought I had a bug there for a minute!

Regards, Dan.  


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

oliver oli
Dan Mills wrote:

> On Sunday 23 October 2005 00:58, Jack O'Quin wrote:
>
>>Dan Mills <[hidden email]> writes:
>>
>>>I know its largely pointless (thermal noise and the charge on an
>>>electron...), but I notice (from reading the code) that even when
>>>running with an otherwise 24 bit (if you beleve the marketing) card,
>>>the dither is still applied at the 16 bit depth?
>>
>>The default is no dither at all.  That should work perfectly for
>>24-bit cards.  :-)
>>
>>I think one would normally only request dither with a 16-bit card or
>>when wishing to hear how truncation to 16 bits is going to sound.
>
>
> True, I just hadn't seen any documentation mentioning that turning on the
> dither forced any card into an effective 16 bit mode.
>
> Thought I had a bug there for a minute!

I think it's still a usability bug. jack shouldn't unecessarily degrade
the audio, instead it should ignore the dither option when it outputs
24bit (and print out a warning). IMHO.

oli


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Jack O'Quin-2

>> On Sunday 23 October 2005 00:58, Jack O'Quin wrote:
>>>I think one would normally only request dither with a 16-bit card or
>>>when wishing to hear how truncation to 16 bits is going to sound.

> Dan Mills wrote:
>> True, I just hadn't seen any documentation mentioning that turning
>> on the dither forced any card into an effective 16 bit mode. Thought
>> I had a bug there for a minute!

oliver oli <[hidden email]> writes:
> I think it's still a usability bug. jack shouldn't unecessarily
> degrade the audio, instead it should ignore the dither option when it
> outputs 24bit (and print out a warning). IMHO.

This would amount to ignoring a specific user request.  There are
valid reasons for the owner of a 24-bit card to request dithering.
Ignoring that seems perverse.  I could see printing a warning message,
though perhaps only in verbose mode.
--
  joq


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Dan Mills
In reply to this post by oliver oli
On Monday 31 October 2005 14:35, oliver oli wrote:
> Dan Mills wrote:

> >>I think one would normally only request dither with a 16-bit card or
> >>when wishing to hear how truncation to 16 bits is going to sound.
> >
> > True, I just hadn't seen any documentation mentioning that turning on the
> > dither forced any card into an effective 16 bit mode.
> >
> > Thought I had a bug there for a minute!
>
> I think it's still a usability bug. jack shouldn't unecessarily degrade
> the audio, instead it should ignore the dither option when it outputs
> 24bit (and print out a warning). IMHO.
>
> oli
>

Well the default is no dither, but if we explicitly ask for it then jack
should do what we ask.
Not dithering because we are using 24 bit hardware when the user explicitly
asks for dither is just plain wrong IMHO.

Your approach smacks of 'the computer knows best, trust the computer', which
is just plain wrong! If I ask for 16 bit dithering, then thats what I asked
for and I DON'T want the damn system second guessing me!

Regards, Dan.


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

oliver oli
Dan Mills wrote:

>>I think it's still a usability bug. jack shouldn't unecessarily degrade
>>the audio, instead it should ignore the dither option when it outputs
>>24bit (and print out a warning). IMHO.
>>
>>oli
>>
>
>
> Well the default is no dither, but if we explicitly ask for it then jack
> should do what we ask.
> Not dithering because we are using 24 bit hardware when the user explicitly
> asks for dither is just plain wrong IMHO.
>
> Your approach smacks of 'the computer knows best, trust the computer', which
> is just plain wrong! If I ask for 16 bit dithering, then thats what I asked
> for and I DON'T want the damn system second guessing me!

you are right, the computer should do what you've asked for. but the
manual doesn't tell me that -z means 16 bit dithering. i expect that it
does 24 bit dithering when jackd runs in 24 bit mode.

if you think 16 bit dithering in 16 bit mode is a great feature, than
the manual should mention the fact that jack always dithers to 16 bit
and dithering in 24 bit mode is useless.

keep in mind that most musicians have no clue how dithering works and
could assume that dithering in 24 bit mode improves audio quality, too.



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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Jack O'Quin-2
oliver oli <[hidden email]> writes:

> you are right, the computer should do what you've asked for. but the
> manual doesn't tell me that -z means 16 bit dithering. i expect that
> it does 24 bit dithering when jackd runs in 24 bit mode.
>
> if you think 16 bit dithering in 16 bit mode is a great feature, than
> the manual should mention the fact that jack always dithers to 16 bit
> and dithering in 24 bit mode is useless.

Suggestions for manual updates cheerfully accepted.
--
  joq


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

LGTrader
On 10/31/05, Jack O'Quin <[hidden email]> wrote:

> oliver oli <[hidden email]> writes:
>
> > you are right, the computer should do what you've asked for. but the
> > manual doesn't tell me that -z means 16 bit dithering. i expect that
> > it does 24 bit dithering when jackd runs in 24 bit mode.
> >
> > if you think 16 bit dithering in 16 bit mode is a great feature, than
> > the manual should mention the fact that jack always dithers to 16 bit
> > and dithering in 24 bit mode is useless.
>
> Suggestions for manual updates cheerfully accepted.
> --
>   joq
Hi Jack,

   Well, at a minimum it would be nice to know *what* is dithered. If
I'm running 24-bit everywhere, it is only the output to the sound
card? Is it every path, inputs and outputs?

   I have assumed it's just the output to the card but I hate assuming.

   Even if it is the card it seem impossible for me to use since many
of my output paths go to other computers, not speakers, and I don't
want those paths dithered. I.e. - on the HDSP 9652 the 3 ADAT paths go
to different machines/outboard equipment while the spdif output goes
to a D/A. I might want the spdif dithered but the ADAT outputs
untouched. See why it's confusing? I don't use it, or cannot use it,
for those sorts of reasons.

   On the other hand I can see why some would like this feature. It
jsut doesn't seem to work for me.

man jackd
<snip>
-z --dither
              Dithering mode (default: none)
<snip>
Cheers,
Mark


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Paul Davis
>    Well, at a minimum it would be nice to know *what* is dithered. If
> I'm running 24-bit everywhere, it is only the output to the sound
> card? Is it every path, inputs and outputs?

dithering is applied internally by the backend during conversion to the
h/w native format (from floating point).

>    Even if it is the card it seem impossible for me to use since many
> of my output paths go to other computers, not speakers, and I don't
> want those paths dithered. I.e. - on the HDSP 9652 the 3 ADAT paths go
> to different machines/outboard equipment while the spdif output goes
> to a D/A. I might want the spdif dithered but the ADAT outputs
> untouched. See why it's confusing? I don't use it, or cannot use it,
> for those sorts of reasons.

you can't run the hdsp9652 in anything other than a single h/w format:
24 bits packed into the most significant 24 of a 32 bit chunk. so you
would never, ever, ever dither with this hardware. you might (maybe read
that as "should") dither during export within ardour, but that doesn't
touch the h/w.

--p



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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

LGTrader
On 10/31/05, Paul Davis <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >    Well, at a minimum it would be nice to know *what* is dithered. If
> > I'm running 24-bit everywhere, it is only the output to the sound
> > card? Is it every path, inputs and outputs?
>
> dithering is applied internally by the backend during conversion to the
> h/w native format (from floating point).

Ah, so even this would be valuable information to capture in the man page.

Dithering, in general, is available on many platforms using 24-bit
audio. (Pro Tools, etc.) It's possible to dither down a 24-bit stream
to a 16-bit stream and then play it real time using Waves plugins for
instance.

Is sounds as if what Jack is making available is a choice (I like
choice) that says what a user with a 16-bit card should get when he's
working in 24-bit land. Does he want the top 16-bits, or does he want
the top 16-bits dithered. Is this correct as per the Jack
implementation?

>
> >    Even if it is the card it seem impossible for me to use since many
> > of my output paths go to other computers, not speakers, and I don't
> > want those paths dithered. I.e. - on the HDSP 9652 the 3 ADAT paths go
> > to different machines/outboard equipment while the spdif output goes
> > to a D/A. I might want the spdif dithered but the ADAT outputs
> > untouched. See why it's confusing? I don't use it, or cannot use it,
> > for those sorts of reasons.
>
> you can't run the hdsp9652 in anything other than a single h/w format:
> 24 bits packed into the most significant 24 of a 32 bit chunk. so you
> would never, ever, ever dither with this hardware. you might (maybe read
> that as "should") dither during export within ardour, but that doesn't
> touch the h/w.
>

Right. I haven't received any feedback (that I can remember) as of yet
on the bug reports I filed on dither in Ardour. Any work on that
front? Maybe it's fixed?

Thanks,
Mark


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Paul Davis
> > dithering is applied internally by the backend during conversion to the
> > h/w native format (from floating point).
>
> Ah, so even this would be valuable information to capture in the man page.
>
> Dithering, in general, is available on many platforms using 24-bit
> audio. (Pro Tools, etc.) It's possible to dither down a 24-bit stream
> to a 16-bit stream and then play it real time using Waves plugins for
> instance.

given that all audio streams inside a JACK graph are 32 bit floating
point audio, that is sort of impossible unless you do it as a plugin
internal option (i.e. the plugin gets float, converts to 16 bit
optionally with dither, runs its algorithm, and converts back to float).
it is incredibly hard for me to see any point in such a processing
step :)

> Is sounds as if what Jack is making available is a choice (I like
> choice) that says what a user with a 16-bit card should get when he's
> working in 24-bit land. Does he want the top 16-bits, or does he want
> the top 16-bits dithered. Is this correct as per the Jack
> implementation?

correct.

> Right. I haven't received any feedback (that I can remember) as of yet
> on the bug reports I filed on dither in Ardour. Any work on that
> front? Maybe it's fixed?

not sure. i know that sampo did some work with steve harris on the
shaped noise dithering implementation. do you have a mantis bug ID ?

--p




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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

LGTrader
On 10/31/05, Paul Davis <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > > dithering is applied internally by the backend during conversion to the
> > > h/w native format (from floating point).
> >
> > Ah, so even this would be valuable information to capture in the man page.
> >
> > Dithering, in general, is available on many platforms using 24-bit
> > audio. (Pro Tools, etc.) It's possible to dither down a 24-bit stream
> > to a 16-bit stream and then play it real time using Waves plugins for
> > instance.
>
> given that all audio streams inside a JACK graph are 32 bit floating
> point audio, that is sort of impossible unless you do it as a plugin
> internal option (i.e. the plugin gets float, converts to 16 bit
> optionally with dither, runs its algorithm, and converts back to float).
> it is incredibly hard for me to see any point in such a processing
> step :)

So you can listen to it in realtime, as opposed to bouncing it and
listening to a different file.

Basically you work in 24-bit all day long but your final bounce is
16-bit for a CD. You want to know it sounds OK so you add dithering
and listen. If it's OK then you bounce.

>
> > Is sounds as if what Jack is making available is a choice (I like
> > choice) that says what a user with a 16-bit card should get when he's
> > working in 24-bit land. Does he want the top 16-bits, or does he want
> > the top 16-bits dithered. Is this correct as per the Jack
> > implementation?
>
> correct.
>
> > Right. I haven't received any feedback (that I can remember) as of yet
> > on the bug reports I filed on dither in Ardour. Any work on that
> > front? Maybe it's fixed?
>
> not sure. i know that sampo did some work with steve harris on the
> shaped noise dithering implementation. do you have a mantis bug ID ?
>
> --p

#711 - reported 13 months ago. No responses as of yet.


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Paul Davis
On Mon, 2005-10-31 at 20:24 -0800, Mark Knecht wrote:
> #711 - reported 13 months ago. No responses as of yet.

i am not totally certain, but fairly sure that sampo and steve fixed
this problem within the last couple of months without knowing there was
a mantis report on it. i will check with sampo later today on IRC.

--p




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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Sampo Savolainen
In reply to this post by Dan Mills
Quoting Mark Knecht <[hidden email]>:

> > > Right. I haven't received any feedback (that I can remember) as of
> yet
> > > on the bug reports I filed on dither in Ardour. Any work on that
> > > front? Maybe it's fixed?
> >
> > not sure. i know that sampo did some work with steve harris on the
> > shaped noise dithering implementation. do you have a mantis bug ID ?
> >
> > --p
>
> #711 - reported 13 months ago. No responses as of yet.

There was a problem with the dither algorithm. It's supposed to be fixed. I
marked #711 as resolved in ardours' mantis.

But, please do test! :)

 Sampo


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Jack O'Quin-2
In reply to this post by LGTrader
Mark Knecht <[hidden email]> writes:

> So you can listen to it in realtime, as opposed to bouncing it and
> listening to a different file.
>
> Basically you work in 24-bit all day long but your final bounce is
> 16-bit for a CD. You want to know it sounds OK so you add dithering
> and listen. If it's OK then you bounce.

That is the only good reason for dithering to 16 bits with a 24-bit
card that I've discovered.  Clearly, the default dither option (none)
is the preferred choice for most other purposes.
--
  joq


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

LGTrader
On 11/1/05, Jack O'Quin <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Mark Knecht <[hidden email]> writes:
>
> > So you can listen to it in realtime, as opposed to bouncing it and
> > listening to a different file.
> >
> > Basically you work in 24-bit all day long but your final bounce is
> > 16-bit for a CD. You want to know it sounds OK so you add dithering
> > and listen. If it's OK then you bounce.
>
> That is the only good reason for dithering to 16 bits with a 24-bit
> card that I've discovered.  Clearly, the default dither option (none)
> is the preferred choice for most other purposes.
> --
>   joq
>

OK, so we're in agreement on that much.

What has always been unclear to me (WRT Jack dithering) is what paths
get dithered? If I'm running 24-bit apps and I turn on dithering does
Jack dither all outputs - even those going to 24-bit apps? Only
outputs hooked up to the sound card? What exactly?

Eg. Let's say I have some 16-bit sound card. I'm running Ardour, and
Ardour is using Jack to connect all it's buses and tracks together. I
turn on dithering because I want the best noise levels I can get going
to the sound card. I question whether the paths within Ardour now
dithered? Data between tracks and buses is going through the Jack
graph, correct? I observe that the man page is silent on this.

Granted - none of this matters much to me as I run 24-bit all the time
and never dither until long after I've mastered. That said I am
curious how the technology works real time.

Cheers,
Mark


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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

Paul Davis
> What has always been unclear to me (WRT Jack dithering) is what paths
> get dithered? If I'm running 24-bit apps and I turn on dithering does
> Jack dither all outputs - even those going to 24-bit apps? Only
> outputs hooked up to the sound card? What exactly?

1) as previously stated it is applied only to the h/w outputs. there
   is no way to do it anywhere else without converting back to
   floating point because all audio data in a JACK graph is
   32 bit floating point data.

2) all JACK clients are 24 bit apps using 32 bit floating point    
   representations of sample data.

--p




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Re: Dither on 24 bit cards?

LGTrader
On 11/1/05, Paul Davis <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > What has always been unclear to me (WRT Jack dithering) is what paths
> > get dithered? If I'm running 24-bit apps and I turn on dithering does
> > Jack dither all outputs - even those going to 24-bit apps? Only
> > outputs hooked up to the sound card? What exactly?
>
> 1) as previously stated it is applied only to the h/w outputs. there
>    is no way to do it anywhere else without converting back to
>    floating point because all audio data in a JACK graph is
>    32 bit floating point data.
>
> 2) all JACK clients are 24 bit apps using 32 bit floating point
>    representations of sample data.
>
> --p

Thank you Paul. I think that if a small statement to that effect could
be added to the man page that would be great.

Thanks,
Mark


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