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Author Topic: A Question about Instruments.  (Read 1549 times)

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fuzion_mixer

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A Question about Instruments.
« on: December 09, 2015, 02:31:38 »

What's the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit instruments? I don't see the point of fitting in wasteful bytes just for nothing (or the change is only subtle). Unless there's a handy advantage, 8-bit is what I'll use in the meantime
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Saga Musix

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Re: A Question about Instruments.
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2015, 03:04:42 »

Well, the difference very much depends on the sample. Things like CDs being 16-bit rather than 8-bit should give an indication that the difference does actually matter in the general case. With 8-bit samples you have a much higher noise floor (48dB of headroom) than with 16-bit samples (96dB of headroom), and if the sample has very smooth-sounding parts (like a bass or bass drum) or has very quiet parts (like a fadeout at the end), you will hear a lot of noise. Very noisy samples, on the other hand, like distorted electric guitars, are less likely to suffer from 8-bit quantization.
This quantization noise can be rather painful to listen to if you prefer a clean mix, especially if you're using headphones. So your "or the change is only subtle" very much depends on the listening environment as well. Listening on very cheap headphones or loudspeakers will make the effect less obvious, while listening to a quiet 8-bit sample on good headphones will make you realize that there's a whole lot of noise in it. Listen to the attached examples for example and you should hear that the 8-bit version is very noisy and not as pleasant to listen to as the 16-bit version.

So if you benefit from 16-bit or not very much depends on your source material. Making an 8-bit sample 16-bit also won't improve its quality.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 03:08:09 by Saga Musix »
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fuzion_mixer

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Re: A Question about Instruments.
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2015, 06:14:29 »

Thanks for the info, by the way. I've learnt much.

Another thing. So, I've downloaded some wav samples (doesn't really matter what exactly, let's call it general). The thing is, it's all in 16-bit. When I convert them into 8-bit, it still sounds the same. Does that mean that 8-bit is as capable as 16-bit in sound production, with the exception of crisper and more detailed noise? (I know, 8-bit is not as capable as 16-bit. This is not about numbers, sir)

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Saga Musix

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Re: A Question about Instruments.
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2015, 14:45:57 »

Well, it depends on your definition of "sounds the same". As said, if you listen to it on cheap equipment or in a noisy environment, chances are that you cannot spot the difference.
To give you some anecdotal evidence: When I was still very new to tracking, I had a very crappy pair of speakers, and in general couldn't spot the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit samples, or let's even say 11 KHz and 22 KHz samples in the worst case. So I downsampled lots of samples and converted them to 8-bit resolution. Today I can easily spot the difference.

If you cannot spot the difference between the two samples I attached in my previous post, you should first get some proper speakers/headphones and stop converting samples, because that would mean that you indeed are unable to hear what you're doing.

In general, the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit is definitely audible, and you'll hate yourself in a few years for converting the samples just to save some bytes. We're not in the floppy disk age anymore after all, but not that it would make a difference anyway: even when modules were still spread and stored on floppies, people already used 16-bit samples.
So whether it makes sense to convert the sample to 8-bit should be decided on a sample-by-sample basis.
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penultimatedoomguy

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Re: A Question about Instruments.
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2015, 21:31:46 »

Well, the difference very much depends on the sample. Things like CDs being 16-bit rather than 8-bit should give an indication that the difference does actually matter in the general case. With 8-bit samples you have a much higher noise floor (48dB of headroom) than with 16-bit samples (96dB of headroom), and if the sample has very smooth-sounding parts (like a bass or bass drum) or has very quiet parts (like a fadeout at the end), you will hear a lot of noise. Very noisy samples, on the other hand, like distorted electric guitars, are less likely to suffer from 8-bit quantization.
This quantization noise can be rather painful to listen to if you prefer a clean mix, especially if you're using headphones. So your "or the change is only subtle" very much depends on the listening environment as well. Listening on very cheap headphones or loudspeakers will make the effect less obvious, while listening to a quiet 8-bit sample on good headphones will make you realize that there's a whole lot of noise in it. Listen to the attached examples for example and you should hear that the 8-bit version is very noisy and not as pleasant to listen to as the 16-bit version.

So if you benefit from 16-bit or not very much depends on your source material. Making an 8-bit sample 16-bit also won't improve its quality.

In English, please
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Saga Musix

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Re: A Question about Instruments.
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2015, 00:21:45 »

Please point out which part you didn't understand. (Or just use 16-bit samples.)
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