Dithering

Hi,

Can anyone tell me if it’s necessary to dither all the tracks independently if I’m exporting a song to a 16bit .wav file that contains only VST’s instruments and plugin effects or can I just dither the final master stereo out instead.

Thanks
Robert

It’s NEVER neccessary to dither anything. And in most cases it doesn’t even create any audible difference.

If you don’t believe me, listen to the experts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIQ9IXSUzuM @ 11:35
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ @ 34:32

I highly recommend watching both of these from the start to the end, even though I gave timestamps where they talk about dither.

Thanks Jarno.
I’ll give these a view.
Robert

Nice videos, good stuff! I’ll watch them in full later as well. Now you’re right, dither is never really necessary, but the opposite is also true: using dither over and over again WILL hurt your signal eventually, until it becomes audible under normal circumstances. So, when using dithering, do it once and only once.

+1
Dithering reminds me of the old ‘Dolby tape’ days.
It works well with some music but not all.

Back-in-the-day after working with ‘Dolby A’ we just decided to turn it off.

Also one of the pics on the back of the ‘Machine Head’ album by Deep Purple
(Smoke on the Water 1972) there is a picture of an engineers’ track sheet
in which it says: ‘Dolby off’
This also helped us to make that decision. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Back to the present;

Because of where I now live I get clients
who want to record a simple solo flute for meditation etc.
Or maybe a solo slack key guitar or ukelele or one person chanting etc.
This IMHO is where dithering can make a difference.

But if I have a typical pop/rock/jazz band in session
dithering seems to make lil or no difference.

To be fair, I’m and old guy so maybe I’m just not hearing it
but clients seem to be happy with the results.

One more thing.

When I record young musician’s, they seldom want a ‘CD’.
Usually they want their work in MP3 format on a thumb drive.
I even had one young group that did all their mixing thru ear buds!

The times they are a changin’ —Dylan

HTH (hope this helps)
{’-’}

Thanks everyone for your input.
I’ll try it just on the master stereo out and not at all and see if there’s a noticable difference.
Was just trying to understand why Steinberg says to apply it to every channel individually in the manual.
Robert

I ran a quick search, this is from the Cubase 4 manual. Nowhere does it say you should apply this to every track, just to the output track.

Dithering
Dithering is a method for controlling the noise produced
by quantization errors in digital recordings. The theory behind
this is that during low level passages, only a few bits
are used to represent the signal, which leads to quantization
errors and hence distortion.
For example, when “truncating bits”, as a result of moving
from 24 to 16 bit resolution, quantization errors are added
to an otherwise immaculate recording. By adding a special
kind of noise at an extremely low level, the effect of
these errors is minimized. The added noise could be perceived
as a very low-level hiss under exacting listening
conditions. However, this is hardly noticeable and much
preferred to the distortion that otherwise occurs.
168
Audio effects
When should I use dithering?
• Consider dithering when you mix down to a lower resolution,
either in real-time (playback) or with the Export Audio
Mixdown function.
A typical example is when you mix down a project to a 16-bit stereo audio
file for audio CD burning.
What is a “lower resolution” then? Well, Cubase uses 32-
bit float resolution internally, which means that all integer
resolutions (16 bit, 24 bit, etc.) are lower. The negative effects
of truncation (no dithering) are most noticeable when
mixing down to 8 bit, 16 bit and 20 bit format; whether to
dither when mixing down to 24 bits is a matter of taste.
Applying dithering

  1. Open the VST Output Channel Settings window by
    clicking the “e” button for the Output channel in the mixer.
    You can also display the Inserts section in the extended mixer pane.
  2. Open the Inserts pop-up menu for slot 7 or 8.
    The two last Insert effect slots (for all channels) are post-fader, which is
    crucial for a dithering plug-in. The reason is that any master gain change
    applied after dithering would bring the signal back to the internal 32 bit
    float domain, rendering the dithering settings useless.
  3. Select the included UV22HR dithering plug-in from
    the pop-up menu.
    The included dithering plug-ins and their parameters are
    described in the separate manual “Plug-in Reference”. If
    you have installed another dithering plug-in that you prefer,
    you can of course select this instead.
  4. Make sure the dithering plug-in is set to dither to the
    correct resolution.
    This would be the resolution of your audio hardware (on playback) or the
    desired resolution for the mixdown file you want to create (as set in the
    Export Audio Mixdown dialog, see the chapter “Export Audio Mixdown”
    on page 413).
  5. Use the other parameters in the control panel to set up
    the dithering to your liking.

Where did you read that? I just had a look through the Plug-in and Operation Manuals and couldn’t find anything that tells me to use dithering on every channel :confused: .

I must have misread its meaning…

Page 193 Cubase 6 Operations Manual. Can’t seem to cut and paste from the PDF but starts buy saying Open the VST Output Channels setting window…

Thanks again

Yes, your VST output channel is the master output, not every track :wink:
It says channels in plural because some people split their output signal up across several busses, but that still means they apply dithering to an output once.