Old 01-24-2020, 02:20 PM   #1
Larry Kriz
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Default 32 vs 64 bit float

Anyone here ever used 64 bit float for their WAV files and if so, why? Does this have any meaning as far as a final stereo master is concerned?

It would seem, that 64 bit float would get us a cleaner sounding WAV file no? Or are we just deluding ourselves when we say that?
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:51 PM   #2
Stella645
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Recording would not be audibly any different.

64bit can theoretically retain accuracy better through long chains of process.
Though I'm not even sure that's true...as the processing of Reaper is 64 point anyhow so maybe it just save any upsampling in to the audio engine.

In actual real world use I'd bet the only appreciable difference is likely to be that your hard drive fills up quicker.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:59 PM   #3
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The premise of the DAW using 64 bit fp internal data paths is that the original 24 bit resolution of the source is always preserved no matter how low one sets a fader anywhere on the mixing board.

Now, 24 bit fixed is a ton of dynamic range. It's not only bulletproof as a final consumer format, it makes recording raw tracks very forgiving. You could have a max peak at -36db (which would look like a flat line on the screen unless you zoomed the waveforms) and it would still have 18 bits resolution. (Still higher res than a 16 bit CD.)

Sometimes we want to preserve the signal all the way down into the decimal dust and not have to mind the fixed boundaries. Maybe not so much because we heard something funny with 24 bit fixed. More keeping the internal floating point signal unaltered so we don't have to fuss over critiquing it for quality preserved. Which may be within out perception bias. And more to prevent weird edge cases that can come up than anything else.

32 bit floating point is the first choice for that.
Technically a compromise vs the direct 64 bit fp internal signal. A much more reasonable file size though and so much absolute overkill it's hard to argue about anything. You could argue that 24 bit fixed holds such a complete dynamic range that there's no reason to even preserve the floating point. If some sonic element was buried over 100db down from the peaks... ain't no one ever hearing that without hearing damage from said peaks anyway!

But if you maybe had some low levels - or peaks that went over zero (which is allowed by floating point math) - the floating point format would preserve it fully. If there were over zero peaks, the data would be preserved and you could turn it down later and still have the natural peaks there.

So, 32 bit floating point is over the top data preservation free from fixed boundaries that clip. After that we pretty much conclude that 64 bit floating point would just be a waste of file space.
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Old 01-25-2020, 06:52 AM   #4
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Interesting. I actually understood most of that lol. Thanks for taking the time to explain it in layman's terms.

I seem to be doing a lot more acoustic style recordings (smooth jazz and folk) and am always wondering if I'm doing right by the material at 24/48. I think so. Usually my battles have more to do with things outside my influence so any attempt to improve the sound often draws attention to the warts.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:59 AM   #5
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Yes, I used 64-bit float to export audio that I knew was clipping. But then I thought that I should null test against 32-bit float, as the 64-bit float file was huge. For all practical purposes, the 64-bit and 32-bit float nulled, so I really see no use for 64-bit float wavs; just a waste of space (just as serr already mentioned).
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