16- vs 24-bit .wav for production purposes

Questions about producing? Ask them here.
Good day,

I do most mixing within LMMS, but I also use Audacity to do a few things such as adding a second of silence at the beginning.

I always export my tracks as .wav files. However I noticed today that I've been exporting 16-bit .wav all along in audacity while LMMS or 24 bit files.

The question is that is there any noticeable difference between the two for the average home producer?

I can't hear the difference, but I wonder if people can and if they think it matters.
beEcue wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:51 pm
Good day,

I do most mixing within LMMS, but I also use Audacity to do a few things such as adding a second of silence at the beginning.

I always export my tracks as .wav files. However I noticed today that I've been exporting 16-bit .wav all along in audacity while LMMS exports 32 (or 24?) bit files.

The question is that is there any noticeable difference between the two for the average home producer?

I can't hear the difference, but I wonder if people can and if they think it matters.
I couldnt tell too, as a self taught myself and using average headphones. But from what I know, 16 bit can handle less dynamic range than the bigger values eg 24 bit or 32 bit float. Which means, a louder song is more compatible to 24/32 than 16 bit. And the hi end frequencies might sound better if combined with higher samplerates, sadly there seems to be no settings for LMMS to change the rate other than 41k something

Some people and lay persons would never notice, let alone thinking if its important, except audiophiles. Heck, even my classmates download music illegally on Youtube to mp3 sites on an mp3 128 kbps format (mp3 is "always" 16 bit) and when they blast the songs on class event parties & competitions/performance (before covid) no one gives a sh*t on the sound quality.

Therefore it doesnt matter much - they dont care if its a WAV or crappy compressed mp3 as long as the sound, the singing parts, instruments, percussion etc etc are still distinguishable. (But, the higher quality, the better. I'm only implying they dont really care about the tiniest details like when the high end freq gets capped due to compression or it's very little bit softer because it used 16 bit instead of 24)

On an unrelated note: but they (my mates) get "off" when it's high quality + very big file size, larger bandwidth needed for data to stream if you provide the master file for download or playing on lossless/uncompressed audio stream. If youre from a developed country where Internet is stable, shouldnt be a problem.

When a fellow producer is listening to my songs, I must provide hq copies since they are knowledgeable about this and some care about smol details
vortexsupernova wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:12 am
I couldnt tell too, as a self taught myself and using average headphones. But from what I know, 16 bit can handle less dynamic range than the bigger values eg 24 bit or 32 bit float. Which means, a louder song is more compatible to 24/32 than 16 bit. And the hi end frequencies might sound better if combined with higher samplerates, sadly there seems to be no settings for LMMS to change the rate other than 41k something

Some people and lay persons would never notice, let alone thinking if its important, except audiophiles. Heck, even my classmates download music illegally on Youtube to mp3 sites on an mp3 128 kbps format (mp3 is "always" 16 bit) and when they blast the songs on class event parties & competitions/performance (before covid) no one gives a sh*t on the sound quality.

Therefore it doesnt matter much - they dont care if its a WAV or crappy compressed mp3 as long as the sound, the singing parts, instruments, percussion etc etc are still distinguishable. (But, the higher quality, the better. I'm only implying they dont really care about the tiniest details like when the high end freq gets capped due to compression or it's very little bit softer because it used 16 bit instead of 24)

On an unrelated note: but they (my mates) get "off" when it's high quality + very big file size, larger bandwidth needed for data to stream if you provide the master file for download or playing on lossless/uncompressed audio stream. If youre from a developed country where Internet is stable, shouldnt be a problem.

When a fellow producer is listening to my songs, I must provide hq copies since they are knowledgeable about this and some care about smol details
If it's mainly an issue of dynamic range, then it doesn't matter much if I export the final product at 16 bits because all my tracks are dynamic range compressed anyway (I don't want to be part of the loudness wars, but it's not really a choice in 2020). Because after reading your response, I came to the realisation that 16-bit WAV 44100 Hz is identical to the CD standard (at least I think so, correct me if wrong), and I know that CD quality has a dynamic range of 96 dB. When it comes to electronic music, 96 dB is all you need; people rarely listen to music at a level above 100 dB at home and although clubs go up to 110 dB, you can't hear anywhere close to 14 dB anyway.

I suppose it probably only matters when you are working with stems for production purposes. In which case LMMS has been exporting 24-bit all along.

Regarding sample rate, you do have the option to export from 44.1 kHz all the way up to 192 kHz in the export menu. I've been using 44.1 kHz (I set a relatively steep roll-off for audio frequencies above 18 kHz, so I think this is adequate), but I wonder if distortion is a problem at 44.1.