Mix 16 and 24 bit tracks?

I am recording my tracks on a Korg D1600 Digital multitrack recorder. I then move them to the the PC and use NTrack for edit/effects/mixdown. I can record either 16 or 24 bit on my Korg. I assumei can I import my 24 bit recorded tracks, edit them, and mixdown to 24 bit mode?.. but I have only done 16 bit to date.
Question: If I record some tracks in 16 bit mode, and others in 24 bit mode, can I put both types of tracks into one song and mix down to 24 bit? (for drums I do 16-bit mode due to limit on simultaneous recording)

Yes, you can.

Just be sure that both have the same sample rate.

W.

Yup… what Wihan said.


teej

Thanks for the replies folks!

I am now trying to understand why I would want to upgrade to the 24 mixdown version of NTrack
What is the advantage of mixing down to 24 bit mode, when CD quality is 16 bit anyways?

Well, many excellent thread exist here about the subject. You may want to use the search function to dig 'em out. The biggest reason I prefer 24 bits for recording is the higher dynamic range. When I record live stuff, I don’t have to sweat the levels as much. The extra bits over 16 give you enough headroom to have a good signal to nosie ratio while keeping levels reasonable to avoid clipping. Digital distortion caused by clipping the D/A’s is NASTY sounding. Another good reason is the 24 bit samples will give your softwares more information to work with when processing the audio with plugin effects and such.

Search the forum for “Bit depth” and “Dither” and maybe even “Sample rate”. Some of these guys have written some very good info on these subjects.

TG

Burbs, if you’re up for some experimentation, you might try recording the tracks of a basic song in 16 bits and then again in 24 bits and see if you can hear the difference.

I did this a couple years ago and couldn’t hear the difference. I was using a Delta 66. I’m going to try it again one of these days because I have some better gear now and maybe things have changed.

Thanks again for the input. I think that I am not asking my question correctly…
I read a bunch of the previous threads, and gained a lot of knowledge about the benefits of higher resolution for processing accuracy. Clearly I want to record and edit in 24 bit mode.
But I am just not sure if I can import and operate N-Track for 24 bit files without the upgrade.
I understand that I need the upgrade if I intend to mixdown to a 24 bit output file. But I will only mixdown to 16 bit for the CD burning wav files.
Do I need the 24 bit upgrade to import and edit files on NTrack?

Ya gotta remember that you’re in the digital world now, burbs. And digital music is based on math. Run a plugin, and that plugin performs mathmatical equations on your precious vocal or instrument track. When it’s done, it rounds off.

Everytime you round off, you have an error. Run 2 plugs ins, and you have twice the error. Run 20 and… well, you get the idea.

The amount of error for each calculation is determined by the bit depth. With 16-bit, ya gotta round off a lot.

Yes, a professionally created music CD is 16-bit. But the original files, the plugins, the mastering… all of that was done at a higher bit depth in order to minimize the errors.

Most folks see a big improvement in their music after moving up to 24-bit. Not all, but most. I did.


teej

EDIT:
We were posting at the same time. I see now that since N works at 32-bit depth, you’re thinking you can do what you need to do with the 16-bit version.

I don’t think you can or want to… 2 reasons:

1) I believe the 16-bit version of N will import and let you mix a 24-bit track. If i’m wrong, someone correct me. But you’re going to want to render your final mix to 24-bit or higher in prep for the mastering phase.

2) Flavio is a class act and provides a great product for little money. He deserves our support. The upgrade is only $20 or so.


teej

burbs, 8th notes that he could not hear a difference in tracks recorded at 16, then again at 24 bits. Neither will you, or me, or anybody else. But once you have a dozen different plug-ins cranking on those tracks, the difference will be obvious in clarity and detail. teej explains why quite well (above). I just wanted to chip in in favor of 24 bit. I don’t always use it, but I am very careful how many effects I apply to 16 bit files.

You can do great work at 16, but you can do better with 24. :cool:

'til next time;
Tony W

Trust me… I would pay a yearly fee to use this software… I am a big fan of this product and would love to support Flavio on this upgrade. I have sold many versions for him through my evangelization :)

I think that the 16 bit version just means you can mix down to 16… but you can edit and do effects etc on 24 bit… but then mix down to 16… And the 24 bit version just means that you can mixdown to 24 bit… for some other applicaiton other than CD’s…

I am just trying to understand if the 24-bit version is targeted for some other commercial application (TV/Radio/Games?).

Other posts/threads said that if you mix down to 24 bit, then the .wav will not play on standard CD drives.

Track, mix, mixdown at 24, then convert to 16 for cd standard, gives better sound than 16 all the way…

From the n-Track faq:

"A: You need the 24 bit registration only if you have a 24 bit soundcard. The 24 bit version works with both 16 and 24 bit soundcards but with a 16 bit soundcard there is not advantage in running the 24 bit version of n-Track instead of the 16 bit version."

Meaning you can take advantage of your soundcard’s 24 bit abilities when recording your tracks.

'til next time;
Tony W

Gotcha… glad to hear you’re doing what you can to support Flavio.

Yes, the final rendering needs to be 16-bit (for burning to CD). It’s the intermediate renderings that make 24-bit worthwhile.

I tend to render all instruments to one WAV and all vocals to another. Then do the final mix in a new song. After that’s done, i render again to a single WAV for mastering.

Those errors add up.


teej

I am getting there…

I do not track on the PC… I track on a portable Korg D1600 unit… and copy to CD’s for transfer to the PC… I can do 16 or 24… from here on out, I will do 24…

So… the 24 bit processing is also benficial on the mixdown… since that is doing a lot of the processing as well. I think that is the point I was missing. Then I would use a separate piece of software to translate to 16 bit before burning to CD. I use Nero to burn my CD. What is the SW external to NTrack that one would use to reduce to 16bit.

I usually use N to convert. When you render, click the More Options button and select 16-bit.

Other people may use other methods. R8Brain and dBPowerAmp are two freebies that lots of folks use. But those are more for changing sampling frequency.


teej

It's the intermediate renderings that make 24-bit worthwhile.

Better still to render to 32-bit for any intermediate mixes. That way, if there's any "clipping" at all, it's OK -- you can turn it down later with no loss of fidelity. This seems counter-intuitive, but it's because 32-bit is floating point, not fixed point. You also get less rounding off, meaning less quantization errors, meaning higher fidelity.

n-Track (regardless of which version) works in 32-bit float format internally. At the very last moment, it converts it to the format you've chosen for a mixdown.

No need to use a separate piece of software to convert the final mix to 16-bit for burning to CD (using 1 bit dithering). n-Track does a decent job. However, very picky people prefer the dithering algorithms of other software.

We generally want to separate our work into two stages: mixing and mastering. Mixing involves individual tracks (levels, effects, etc.), and you're focusing on how the tracks blend together to make a good mix, without worrying too much about the overall tone and volume of the mix. When done, we mixdown to 32-bit file and import that into software for mastering (and many of us use n-Track for mastering too).

Mastering is where we use effects on the whole mix to control the dynamics and set the overall loudness, and do things like adding "warmth" like tape saturation, as well as enhance the mood an image using reverb. The final step of mastering is preparing the song for distrubution media, which generally means converting to 16 bits while dithering. n-Track has a fine dither mechanism, though many folks prefer the noise-shaping dithering algorithms of other software.

Another thing we do in the mastering process is to make all the cuts on a single CD fit well together in terms of tone and volume. I usually open a new n-Track song file for this purpose, and import all my song mixes into that song for mastering. That way I can easily make adjustments and compare songs with each other using the MUTE button. Some effects will be on the master channel, if I want to apply the same to all songs (like tape saturation warmth). Most effects, like compression, will be on individual tracks (songs) to adjust each song to fit. Then I use "SOLO" and offline mixdown to finish each song.

HTH ;)

For an intro to mastering, see my article Mastering 101.