24 vs 16 bit for the bedroom producer 

Ok so I’ve written this about 50 times over the years, just wrote it again and thought I’d paste it here. If I’ve directed you here by email, apologies for my laziness… 

Question: “my track peaks at -11dB, do I have to turn everything up to make it over -6dBFS? I don’t want to mess up my mix balance accidentally” 

Short answer: this is what 24-bit is for. Export at 24-bit and don’t worry in the slightest. 

Slightly longer answer: 24-bit has a greater dynamic range, ie a lower inherent noise floor (same thing in digital). Rule of thumb is 6dB = 1 bit. 

16-bit dynamic range = 16×6 = 96dB (ie noise floor at -96dBFS)

24-bit dynamic range = 24×6 =144dB (so, noise floor at -144dB) 

This is where the ‘over -6dBFS’ recommendation comes from. To ‘use all the bits’. But it’s not worth worrying about AT ALL. If you’re peaking at -11 then you still have an effective noise floor of -133dB. So, you know… it’s probably alright 😉 

Similarly, if you’re anywhere over -48dBFS then you’re better than 16-bit. 

In summary, read the short answer again 😀

Hope this helps! 


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