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What bit depth should I set my DAC to?

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#1
Pardon the noob question

In windows 10, I have the option between 16 to 32bit on my Topping D30 DAC.

Should I set it to 32 bit 44khz, 24/44 or 16/44?

I've learned that I should set the bit depth to maximum my hardware is capable of and set the hz to 44khz because I only listen to redbook materials at the moment.

Appreciate your inputs --- should I set it to 24bit or max it out at 32bit? I only usually use streaming like spotify, apple music and deezer (non bit perfect) as well as foober 2k which I have WASAPI on but it also has the option to select between the 3 bit depths - 16, 24, and 32

Thanks in advance.
 
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daftcombo

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#2
Pardon the noob question

In windows 10, I have the option between 16 to 32bit on my Topping D30 DAC.

Should I set it to 32 bit 44khz, 24/44 or 16/44?

I've learned that I should set the bit depth to maximum my hardware is capable of and set the hz to 44khz because I only listen to redbook materials at the moment.

Appreciate your inputs --- should I set it to 24bit or max it out at 32bit? I only usually use streaming like spotify, apple music and deezer (non bit perfect) as well as foober 2k which I have WASAPI on but it also has the option to select between the 3 bit depths - 16, 24, and 32

Thanks in advance.
I think it does'nt matter.
My Topping D10 is set to 32bit.
 
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#4
thanks all. I do hear some slight & very subtle differences when i switch between all 3
- 16bit is the clearest but is very flat sounding ,tends to sound more open and airy but with less depth. tends to sound lifeless at very low volumes compared to 24 & 32bit. (possibly because it is losing bits when I lower the volume digitally)
- 32bit has more depth but less aliased sounding / less "sharpness" yet retains dynamics ,more punch even when i lower the volume
-24bit is midway between both

anyway, these are just my "noob" observations. i don't know how it really fares technically
 

Veri

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#5
Note that 24-bit and 32-bit should result in the same thing once your DAC processes it, only internal calculations on your software could potentially be slightly better in 32-bit floating point. I don't believe there's potential for adding any aliasing... you are changing bit depth :p

Just set to 24-bit and forget, if that is what you subjectively prefer. For USB I always have set it to 32 when available and have heard none of the things you mention. YMMV :)
 
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#7
Note that 24-bit and 32-bit should result in the same thing once your DAC processes it, only internal calculations on your software could potentially be slightly better in 32-bit floating point. I don't believe there's potential for adding any aliasing... you are changing bit depth :p

Just set to 24-bit and forget, if that is what you subjectively prefer. For USB I always have set it to 32 when available and have heard none of the things you mention. YMMV :)
I agree. its just my loose audio terminology. thanks!
 

bravomail

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#8
Pardon the noob question

In windows 10, I have the option between 16 to 32bit on my Topping D30 DAC.

Should I set it to 32 bit 44khz, 24/44 or 16/44?

I've learned that I should set the bit depth to maximum my hardware is capable of and set the hz to 44khz because I only listen to redbook materials at the moment.

Appreciate your inputs --- should I set it to 24bit or max it out at 32bit? I only usually use streaming like spotify, apple music and deezer (non bit perfect) as well as foober 2k which I have WASAPI on but it also has the option to select between the 3 bit depths - 16, 24, and 32

Thanks in advance.

Good question and interesting findings. I was not sure whether to suggest 24 or 32 cause in my mind they are the same. But if Windows sound stack plays any role, and in your case, since you set it in Windows mixer, it does, then use 32 bit for less truncation errors. My suggestion is to use a player like Foobar2000 (free), and set it to use WASAPI output with 32 bits in exclusive mode. There is no frequency setting as WASAPI will use whatever the frequency of recording is (hence exclusive mode).
 
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#9
Good question and interesting findings. I was not sure whether to suggest 24 or 32 cause in my mind they are the same. But if Windows sound stack plays any role, and in your case, since you set it in Windows mixer, it does, then use 32 bit for less truncation errors. My suggestion is to use a player like Foobar2000 (free), and set it to use WASAPI output with 32 bits in exclusive mode. There is no frequency setting as WASAPI will use whatever the frequency of recording is (hence exclusive mode).
Thank you!
 

Patrick1958

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#10
By default windows applies dither when in soundmanager 16 bit is chosen. To avoid unnecessary dither set to 24 bit and be done. Dither only makes sense when downsampling. Most cd recordings are 16 bit, dither was already applied when the studio recording (most probably 24 bit - 88.2, 96, 174.4, 192 kHz) was resampled to cd 16 bit. No need to add an extra layer of dither when playing in any software player.
 

Julf

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#11
I do hear some slight & very subtle differences
Just a bit of cultural guidance - this is Audio Science Review. Subjective, unverified personal perceptions are considered pretty much useless.
 

Zek

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#12
Just a bit of cultural guidance - this is Audio Science Review. Subjective, unverified personal perceptions are considered pretty much useless.
Why, because you think that everything people can hear must and can be measured?
 

digitalfrost

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#14
thanks all. I do hear some slight & very subtle differences when i switch between all 3
- 16bit is the clearest but is very flat sounding ,tends to sound more open and airy but with less depth. tends to sound lifeless at very low volumes compared to 24 & 32bit. (possibly because it is losing bits when I lower the volume digitally)
- 32bit has more depth but less aliased sounding / less "sharpness" yet retains dynamics ,more punch even when i lower the volume
-24bit is midway between both

anyway, these are just my "noob" observations. i don't know how it really fares technically
I call bullshit. Set your DAC to 32bit and use an audio player where you can set the output format or artificially truncate the bits. I bet you cannot ABX this most of the time. Between 16bit and 24bit, I know some samples exist where people were able to find differences, but 24bit to 32bit? Either somebody made a mistake or you're imagining things.
 

Julf

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#15
Why, because you think that everything people can hear must and can be measured?
What does the word "science" imply to you?
 

g29

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#16
Put digital volume at maximum and regulate it with amp volume.
FWIW, If he is using JRMC and their WDM, he can use JRMC's internal 64-bit volume control and lose no bits while completely eliminating the analog preamp and extra interconnects from the signal path.
 

Julf

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#17
FWIW, If he is using JRMC and their WDM, he can use JRMC's internal 64-bit volume control and lose no bits while completely eliminating the analog preamp and extra interconnects from the signal path.
It doesn't matter how many bits the volume control is - if you don't use the full signal of the DAC, you are losing (potential) precision - not that it really matters in most cases, but... Let's assume you have a state-of-art DAC capable of 21 effective bits. If you normally attenuate by 30 dB, you are really only using 16 bits (which is of course still more than enough).
 

g29

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#18
It doesn't matter how many bits the volume control is - if you don't use the full signal of the DAC, you are losing (potential) precision - not that it really matters in most cases, but... Let's assume you have a state-of-art DAC capable of 21 effective bits. If you normally attenuate by 30 dB, you are really only using 16 bits (which is of course still more than enough).
That is why you do the volume control in higher precision 64-bit math, then output the result in the DAC's lower "native" format (16-32 bits, read: 64-bits is greater than 16-32 bits).

Here is an interesting slide presentation from ESS. The answer is, it depends on the DAC and analog volume controls.

ESS - Digital vs Analog Volume Controls

"... Conclusion:
– Analog volume controls easily outperform digital, unless the digital control has access to the data path of the DAC (ie is internal to the DAC)

– Exquisitely well designed analog volume controls can still beat even the very best internal digital volume controls if they have a lower noise floor than the DAC itself

• The -135dB of the ESS Sabre DAC would need an exceptionally low noise analog volume control to beat its internal digital one ..."
 
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Julf

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#19
That is why you do the volume control in higher precision 64-bit math, then output the result in the DAC's lower "native" format (16-32 bits, read: 64-bits is greater than 16-32 bits).
I think you miss my point. I wrote "It doesn't matter how many bits the volume control is...", as I was pointing out that even if you do the calculations in 128 bit floating point or whatever, you are still limited by the noise floor of the DAC.

To quote the ESS presentation you linked to (that addresses the processing precision, but not the noise floor issue:

"A Digital volume control with access to the DAC internal data path will behave just like the analog one until it reaches the noise floor of the analog components of the DAC." (emphasis added)
 

g29

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#20
I think you miss my point. I wrote "It doesn't matter how many bits the volume control is...", as I was pointing out that even if you do the calculations in 128 bit floating point or whatever, you are still limited by the noise floor of the DAC.

To quote the ESS presentation you linked to (that addresses the processing precision, but not the noise floor issue:

"A Digital volume control with access to the DAC internal data path will behave just like the analog one until it reaches the noise floor of the analog components of the DAC." (emphasis added)
Modern DACS have 32-bit inputs. 16-bit content can be converted to 64-bit, volume control applied with 64-bit precision math and then fed back into the DAC at 32-bit (without dropping back down to 16 bit).

How many analog preamps have noise floors lower than that of the current generation of DACS ??? Maybe ASR should be testing analog preamps as well ???

"... – Exquisitely well designed analog volume controls can still beat even the very best internal digital volume controls if they have a lower noise floor than the DAC itself
• The -135dB of the ESS Sabre DAC would need an exceptionally low noise analog volume control to beat its internal digital one ..."​

Mark Levinson's previous $15K statement preamp (Model 32) had a S/N of 93 to 109 which falls into tiers 3 and 4 (yellow and orange) of ASR measured DACs (S/N versus SINAD).

"... Signal/noise (ref. 1V, to the nearest dB) measured a low 107.5dB unweighted over a 22Hz-22kHz bandwidth, 93.5dB unweighted from 10Hz to 500kHz, and 109.5dB A-weighted. ..."​
What analog volume controls/preamps have lower S/N (or SINAD) than the top 2 tiers of measured DACs ?

 
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