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Topic: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording (Read 448 times) previous topic - next topic
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A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Hello everyone,

So, professionally, I'm a video editor who's slowly getting into the professional side of things with audio, so please excuse me if the question is a tad too elementary.

I was wondering if anyone can explain to me why when opening a track with an 8 Bit Mono Channel, while monitoring it, there's a considerable amount of noise coming through the headphones. Meanwhile, if I switch it over to 16 Bit, it sounds pretty natural.

I took a wild guess and thought it might be something that's somehow similar to how color profiles behave, but thought I'd ask in a forum where I can get an educated answer. I like to learn the technical side of things.



Re: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Reply #2
You might think of it somewhat like banding of a gradient in video, trying to quantize a smooth curve into limited bit depth. Like banding, dithering can be used to make the quantization noise less noticeable. Increasing the bit depth lowers the noise floor.

Re: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Reply #3
I was wondering if anyone can explain to me why when opening a track with an 8 Bit Mono Channel, while monitoring it, there's a considerable amount of noise coming through the headphones. Meanwhile, if I switch it over to 16 Bit, it sounds pretty natural.

8 bit audio is limited to 2^8 = 256 levels, whereas in 16 bit there are 65536 value.  When you convert to 8 bit, each value is truncated such that it fits in 8 bits.  The value in the 9th bit is used to round up or down to the nearest 8 bit value.  That round randomly increases or decreases the volume of each sample.  That random increase or decrease is noise, which you hear when you listen to the sample. 

Re: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Reply #4
The only place I've seen 8-bit audio used is with telephone systems.    All soundcards and audio interfaces are at least 16-bits.  


Re: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Reply #5
Wow! I'm glad I asked!

Thank you guys so much!

Re: A Noob's Question regarding Audio Recording

Reply #6
The only place I've seen 8-bit audio used is with telephone systems.    All soundcards and audio interfaces are at least 16-bits.  
Some old computers/consoles had 8-bit audio.

 
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