A POINT OF VIEW: Keeping machines happy

Paul McGowan writes .....

When upsampling programs add bits to digital audio our machines are happier, but there’s no new information to hear, no increase in dynamics to be had.

It’s tempting to think otherwise.

When you read that an analog tape or vinyl album has been recorded with 24 bits rather than 16, you’re happier. More is better. Right? Not necessarily. Analog mediums haven’t more than perhaps 70dB of dynamics available and 16 bits is more than sufficient to capture it all. So, adding more bits helps not. At least in one sense. In another, that’s not true.

The reason is simple. We’re not increasing or getting more information when we add bits, we’re making our machines happier.

Our own DirectStream DAC is a good example. Regardless of the original number of bits, word lengths in our DAC are increased so the machine has more to process with, thus preserving all the available information.

And when machines are happy, we are as well. Things sound better.

The original Digital Lens of twenty-two years ago added bits too, from 16 to 20, but not because there was more dynamic range or information to add. There wasn’t. Instead, we added those bits to access the better sounding processing algorithms in DACs.

In other words, the added bits keeps the machines that reproduce our music happier. No new information was added. No more dynamics were made available.

They sounded better, which is all that matters.

Now you know why.