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Dither, Monitoring and Mastering

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 19:47
by Perfect Record
I always leave dither off while mixing and mastering. But often when I hear the 16 bit file or the CD, I realize that I might have mastered slightly differently had I been hearing the effect of the dither.

Does anyone monitor their mastering work with dither on?

Re: Dither, Monitoring and Mastering

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 18:26
by mpdonahue
This is a tough question because of the changing delivery landscape.
In the days when CD was the delivery medium, I always monitored the 16 bit output of the system because that was what the client would hear. Nowadays, delivery masters are typically 5 or 6 different sets of files- from Full HD 96/192/DSD all the way down to MP3 and MFiT. This requires a different mindset for mastering and often the different versions get subtly different mastering done to them. MFiT requires a special master with adjusted levels and less limiting to game the AAC encoder and Sound Check to sound its best. The high res stuff can typically be a bit more dynamic and the CD gets a little push from the limiter. The other thing is that the final step (Dither, Limiting, EQ...etc)from the Hi Res master to the lower red delivery format is specific to the delivery format. Each one gets a subtle tweak to optimize for the format.
All the best,

Re: Dither, Monitoring and Mastering

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 18:34
by Perfect Record
I agree with what you're saying, but I've noticed that when I make things sound right dithered to 16 bit that hi rez ends up sounding right too. But the opposite scenario doesn't always work out the way I planned.

One other complication though is that I rarely use the native dithers in Pyramix these days.

Re: Dither, Monitoring and Mastering

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 12:50
by tas
Hi Mark,

I was wondering what your workflow for MfIT through Pyramix is. Do you encode via Pmx or do you drop files to the apple tools?

Re: Dither, Monitoring and Mastering

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 18:18
by fl
Another thing to consider is which point in the processing chain dither is applied. In Pyramix 9, there are four possibilities, all at different points in the process: 1. in a VST plugin on the Master Bus, which you can audition before committing; 2. the Pyramix Mixer Bus Dither, which comes after the plugins which you also can monitor before committing; 3. the SR/Wordlength conversion option in the Mixdown window, which comes after the Mixer (and therefore can only be auditioned after the fact); 4. the Version 9 Loudness/True Peak Limiting process applied after any SRC/Wordlength adjustment in the Mixdown process, just before the file gets written, therefore also auditable only after the fact. I'm guessing these last two use flat spectrum dither, rather than truncation or rounding, but in that case won't the noise be cumulative if you've applied dither at one or more of the preceding points?

Oh, and there's a fifth - whatever happens when you Publish files to different word lengths and sample rates, which avoids possibilities 3 and 4 above, but still makes me wonder about cumulative build-up.