Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 float

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Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 float

Permanent link to this post Posted by TogoTook » Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:45 pm

I am digitizing oral histories from analog cassette tapes and will be saving to .WAV. I have set my record sample rate and format to 96kHz/24-bit --which is the recognized archival standard. I am confused by the choices when I go to export to .WAV. I have the choice of "signed 16-bit PCM" (default) or "32-bit float". What is the difference? If Audacity original captured is 24-bit by saving to 16-bit am I not losing quality? Should I not use 32? My apologize if I am missing something very basic here.
Any advice would be appreciated. I am excited about using and learning this great program.
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:42 pm

Audacity works internally in 32-bit float format, so it is best to set Audacity's Preferences to use 32-bit float format (the default).
With this setting, if you are recording from a device that is configured to record in 24-bit format, then Audacity will zero-pad the audio data (this is a lossless conversion).

When exporting, select the option "File menu > Save Other > Export Audio",
then select "Other uncompressed files" as the file type.
Select "WAV" as the "header" and "Signed 24-bit PCM" as the "Encoding".
Then save the file.

The next time that you export, 24-bit WAV will be the default (Audacity defaults to whatever you used last).
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by TogoTook » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:58 am

Excellent, thank you so much! I never would have found that. I wonder why there are two ways to export to WAV instead of just giving all the bit rate options under the File>Save Other>Export as WAV option.
If someone else ever finds this thread helpful, for clarity, let me add one small thing to your perfect instructions above: When you select WAV as the Header, the Save As field actually changes from "untitled.wav" to "untitled.aiff" for some strange reason. All you have to do is delete the whole Save As field, including the .AIFF, and enter in the name you want the file to be; the saved file will a have the .WAV extension.
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:50 am

TogoTook wrote: I wonder why there are two ways to export to WAV instead of just giving all the bit rate options under the File>Save Other>Export as WAV option.

That's something that I would favour, but we've had a separate option for 16-bit WAV for many years, and there are always complaints if an old feature is removed, even if it was a really bad old feature ;)
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by waxcylinder » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:08 am

steve wrote:
TogoTook wrote: I wonder why there are two ways to export to WAV instead of just giving all the bit rate options under the File>Save Other>Export as WAV option.

That's something that I would favour, but we've had a separate option for 16-bit WAV for many years, and there are always complaints if an old feature is removed, even if it was a really bad old feature ;)

That's something I too would strongly favour.

I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn't improve the WAV export by adding options (we have options for MP3 and other compressed exports) so selectable options for WAV seems an eminently sensible idea, as TogoTook points out currently the options are well hidden - and certainly not "discoverable" (one of our Audacity design watchwords).

Provided we do not remove 16-bit WAV exports (we won't) and we retain it as the default (we will) - then I see no problem with adding WAV export options.

Is this something you could do Steve? Would you need me to write a Proposal?

Provided
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:29 am

waxcylinder wrote:Is this something you could do Steve?

Probably, but it's a matter of competing demands for time.

Writing a proposal is perhaps a bit OTT for such a small, and hopefully uncontentious feature, but worth logging somewhere imo.
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by waxcylinder » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:52 am

steve wrote:
waxcylinder wrote:Writing a proposal is perhaps a bit OTT for such a small, and hopefully uncontentious feature, but worth logging somewhere imo.

The other alternative is a Bugzilla P4 ENH - but folk don't seem to like using Bugzilla for enhancements ...

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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:07 pm

How about a "wish list" page on the wiki, along the lines of the "wording changes" page, for proposed non-contentious enhancements that are too small to warrant their own proposal page?
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Re: Record vs Export Bit Rate Confusion signed 16 vs 32 floa

Permanent link to this post Posted by waxcylinder » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:04 pm

OK so I ended up writing a short Proposal in the Audacity Wiki for this: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Propo ... at_Options

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