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  • Rexinator
    Posts: 43
    Joined: May 30th, 2009, 10:56
    Dithering quagmire
    Hey folks. I realize this topic has been covered numerous times, but, unfortunately, I'm still not clear about how to manage dithering options. Logic is my DAW, and I know there are dithering and other noise-shaping options provided with the Output track bounce process. But I have several mastering plugins (Ozone 4, Waves L3) that offer dithering/noise-shaping options. In addition, there is a dithering function in Waveburner. It's been a confusing time trying to figure out the best dithering strategy. I understand that dithering should only be done once, although I'm unclear what the burned CD would sound like if dithering was accidentally applied twice (which would be easy enough to do with the above redundancy). My basic plan is to Master in Logic (using either Logic's mastering plugins, Ozone or Waves L3), and then pull the files into Waveburner simply to organize the CD. I understand that if I've applied dither/noise-shaping in Logic during mastering, this should be turned off Waveburner during the Bounce/Burn process (right?). The other thing that I like to do when creating a final mix for each song in Logic is to burn the song onto a CD so that I can give it the 'driving test' (see how it sounds in my car). I'm doing this with the mastering plugins in place, and I turn off any dithering or noise-shaping in those mastering plugins that have this function (opting for Logic's dithering during the Bounce/Burn). But here's my question (finally): I've noted that, in Logic's Bounce window, when you select for a PCM file (in the Destination section), there is a dithering menu available in the PCM settings. Similarly, when you check the box for CD burning (CDDA destination), there is a similar dithering menu. And these appear to be tied to together, i.e., if you select a dithering option for one of these 'destinations', it applies to both the PCM file and the CDDA. There appears to be no way bounce a non-dithered PCM file (to be saved in the Bounces folder) and simultaneously burn the file onto a CD with dithering. Is this correct?? (that's my main question, in addition to any comments on my other statements above). If so, does the dithering occur during the bounce or during the CD burn? It seems that, if I want to bounce a project without dithering (e.g., to keep it at 24-bits and undithered for possible later mastering), this needs to be done as a dedicated bounce without involving a CD burn (which would require dithering). I hope this makes sense. Any other comments about optimizing dithering/noise-shaping would be appreciated. For example, does anyone have a sense for whether the dithering/N-S algorithms in Ozone 4 or Waves L3 are superior to Logic's, and which of Logic's options (POW-r 1, 2 and 3) is best suited for rock, orchestral etc.? Or are they all pretty similar? After putting so much effort into recording and mixing, my lack of knowledge about optimal dithering and how much impact this can have is quite unsettling.
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  • GaryHiebner
    Posts: 1434
    Joined: May 6th, 2007, 12:54
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Hi Rexinator, To your first question, if you are dithering in Logic, then yes when you move across to Wavburner turn off the dithering options here. I do the same. I master in Logic and use the Apogee dithering option. I then bring my tracks into Waveburner when I use the CD Track marker tools. To your second question, Logic applies the dithering during the bouncing process. So if you are creating a PCM file, and a CD, the dithering will be done whilst creating the PCM file, and then the CD will be burnt after. If you wish to have an un-dithered file, then bounce this down separately. Have you had a look at the following tutorial: [url]http://www.macprovideo.com/tutorial/protools10401[/url] It is a Protools tutorial, but the tutorial gives excellent explanations to mastering in general. Phil covers many of the mastering plugins and the dithering process. I may give you an incorrect answer to the question regarding the differing dithering options of Logic, Ozone 4, Waves L3. A good diplomatic answer would be they are all very good. I opt for the Apogee UV22HR. I think as your ears get fine-tuned to the mastering process, your choices of dithering options may change. I know in iZotope the selectable dithering options do give different results. Some introduce more noise, and give a more 'analog-effect' to the sound. And some more digital sounding. Also another good point of reference for mastering is Bob Katz's [b]Mastering Audio[/b] book. Have you taken a look at this? Excuse the pun, but Bob is the [i]master[/i] at mastering.
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  • Rexinator
    Posts: 43
    Joined: May 30th, 2009, 10:56
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Gary, Thanks for the thorough and speedy responses. I promise I won't keep pestering you, but I was wondering if you know what the consequence would be from accidentally dithering twice, i.e., what that would sound like. Another little question I have is why, for some of my Logic projects, the Apogee dithering option is grayed out (not available). I import loops into some projects, so I was wondering if this might be a reason. BTW, I am a devoted fan of MPV. I've purchased dozens of your tutorials and studied them carefully, in addition to keeping up with all of the Hub articles since you guys initated that service. It's made a huge difference for me in pursuing my passion for home recording. I have not seen the tutorial you recommended (probably passed on that because it was Pro Tools oriented), but I will definitely check this out. Thanks again!
    Reply
  • Rexinator
    Posts: 43
    Joined: May 30th, 2009, 10:56
    Re: Re: Dithering quagmire
    Sorry, I accidentally submitted the same message twice, so I edited out the second version.
    Reply
  • GaryHiebner
    Posts: 1434
    Joined: May 6th, 2007, 12:54
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Dithering twice will degrade the audio resolution and introduce unwanted artifacts into your audio (as the dithering is adding low-level noise into the audio file). The Apogee Dithering option is grayed out if the incorrect audio resolution is selected. make sure 16bit, not 24-bit is selected. Yes, the Protools Mastering tutorial is very good. I would of also not watched it as I am a Logic and Ableton user. But a friend recommended it (who was also only a Logic user). Even though it is a Protools tutorial, the mastering advice can be applied in other DAWs as well.
    Reply
  • Rexinator
    Posts: 43
    Joined: May 30th, 2009, 10:56
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Thanks again, Gary. I didn't think it was possible to burn a CD at 24 bits, but I must have done that. You are correct that I had the PCM setting at 24 bits, as I mistakenly assumed the PCM file would be bounced at that resolution and then the dithering would occur during the CD burning step (along with bit reduction). I was simply trying to retain the 24-bit depth for the bounce, until you clarified that this should be done separately and not when burning to CD. Strangely, the 'test' CDs that I've been burning (presumably at 24 bits) sound reasonably good in my car.
    Reply
  • GaryHiebner
    Posts: 1434
    Joined: May 6th, 2007, 12:54
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Very strange that the 24-bit track. on your CD was working. Unless your car CD-player can play 24-bit tracks?
    Reply
  • Rexinator
    Posts: 43
    Joined: May 30th, 2009, 10:56
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    Yes, that is strange. But I definitely have the PCM Resolutiuon setting on the bounce screen set at 24 bits when I burn my test CDs (for checking mixes). These also play on an old blaster in my music room, as well as on two different computers, including my Mac and an older Dell. I have a Switch Sound File Converter on my Dell computer that indicates the file format is .cda (which means it's probably only seeing the small .cda coding). I don't know enough about CD file formats to even begin to try and explain this, but I'm guessing that Logic somehow overides the incorrect resolution setting (of 24 bits) when burning. It's kind of moot anyway, since I now understand that I should be selecting 16 bits. It seems like you don't sleep much, like me.
    Reply
  • GaryHiebner
    Posts: 1434
    Joined: May 6th, 2007, 12:54
    Re: Dithering quagmire
    I think you're right. Logic must convert the audio file to 16-bit when you choose to bounce the audio out as a CD. Luckily its the daytime for me now in South Africa, but I don't sleep much either.
    Reply
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