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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Maple Ridge, BC Canada
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    Default Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Hello,

    I am using Build Mix to Current HotTrack at a Rate of 48000 at 24 bits. The options for Res at 24bit are Packed or Upacked. What does this means?

    Also, should I be using dither?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_es335 View Post
    Hello,

    I am using Build Mix to Current HotTrack at a Rate of 48000 at 24 bits. The options for Res at 24bit are Packed or Upacked. What does this means?

    Also, should I be using dither?
    Packed! This has to do with how a 24 bit number is stored in the wav file. I'm not exactly sure what unpacked means here, but packed is what you want and each 24 bit sample will be packed into 3 numbers, each 8-bits in size.

    In the 24-bit mix case, I don't think dither will matter and is good to use unless you are planning on doing a lot of weird EQ'ing of the mix file. It is so low level for 24-bit that it really shouldn't matter either way....both dither signal and quantization distortion are super low. A 16-bit mix is another story.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Grekim,

    Thanks for the reply....much appreciated.

    I have been using packed..."just 'cause it is the first on the list". "Ahyuck!" - spoken in Goofy vernacular.

    I have left dither set to "off" - again, it is the default. "Kinda fig'ured" that Bob knew what he was doing configuring the defaults in such a manner.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_es335 View Post
    Hello,

    I am using Build Mix to Current HotTrack at a Rate of 48000 at 24 bits. The options for Res at 24bit are Packed or Upacked. What does this means?

    Also, should I be using dither?
    The unpacked option was something Bob created to enhance performance within SAW. I don't know how much it helps, but I don't think anyone uses it, and it's not compatible with other programs so far as I know.

    Dither is a thing that's used, typically, for lower bit-rate outputs or conversions. It helps fade-outs not get fizzy as they break-up in the final bit-toggling at the end of the fade. It may have other benefits that I don't recall. Bob, IIRC, has never been a fan of adding noise (his word, I think, from maybe 20+ years ago) to his mixes.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  5. #5

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Labrecque View Post
    The unpacked option was something Bob created to enhance performance within SAW. I don't know how much it helps, but I don't think anyone uses it, and it's not compatible with other programs so far as I know.

    Dither is a thing that's used, typically, for lower bit-rate outputs or conversions. It helps fade-outs not get fizzy as they break-up in the final bit-toggling at the end of the fade. It may have other benefits that I don't recall. Bob, IIRC, has never been a fan of adding noise (his word, I think, from maybe 20+ years ago) to his mixes.

    I have this vague memory of sending someone some tracks I recorded in SAW using 24-bit unpacked. Not sure what DAW they were using, but it didn't like the files one bit. Basically just a wall of digital hash.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    In SAC the dither option was added because there was a A/D D/A chip that would shut down if there was no signal for a period of time and not restart fast enough. Dither was enough to trick the chip into staying on full time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Wink0r,

    Dither was enough to trick the chip into staying on full time.
    ...Thanks, Wink0r for the update. An interesting way to resolve a hardware issue. Was this "fix" in regards to the older ADA-8000's?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Quote Originally Posted by CurtZHP View Post
    I have this vague memory of sending someone some tracks I recorded in SAW using 24-bit unpacked. Not sure what DAW they were using, but it didn't like the files one bit. Basically just a wall of digital hash.
    Yes, that sounds right. The trade-off was, IIRC, a slightly larger file size for slightly improved performance. I guess the inconvenience of not being able to open up SAWStudio MT files in other programs (the other trade-off) has made the unpacked option not worth whatever the performance boost was -- for most folks. That plus the fact that computers can be pretty potent these days, so such performance gains aren't nearly so helpful as in the days of yore.

    It'd be interesting, though, to see some apples-to-apples benchmarks. I don't recall how much of a gain was realized by going unpacked, but I don't think it was a whole lot.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  9. #9

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_es335 View Post
    Wink0r,

    ...Thanks, Wink0r for the update. An interesting way to resolve a hardware issue. Was this "fix" in regards to the older ADA-8000's?
    I believe it was for the second (or so) generation ADA8000s. I never had the issue with my first gen boxes. But then I don't have SAC -- just SAW. Though I'd still expect to notice the gating if it were there.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  10. #10

    Default Re: Packed versus Unpacked and Dither

    I don't recall exactly. I never personally saw the problem. I think it was late ADA-8000s.

    I started with SAC probably in 2006 with V1.6 or so. I bought 5 8000s originally. I got reasonable service out of most of them but when I needed a replacement I got an Art Tube Opto and later a second. They worked fine but require a bit more supervision than the Behringers because of the compression (+they are heavier). I nearly always mix via remote so any changes needed on the pres require a trip to stage.

    I switched to ADA-8200s when they became available from dealer stock (so they would have been early production - spring 2014).

    One of the original 4 8200s I thought had a bad converter chip (two channels gave an overloaded input meter indication in SAC.). I got a replacement and packed the problem child for return but things were popping for me at the time and I did not get it shipped off. I bought one of the X Air 18Rs last year. It works and is very light weight but I miss the features of SAC.

    I bought a UMC 1820 after my fall season to check out. It is looking like it would be OK for a 16 channel lite rig. There are 8 pres on board and optical in/out for a light pipe expander. Since I am shop testing I pulled the ADA that I had the problem with out of the box and hooked it up. It has run 24/7 for at least a week without problem! It looks like I can run the UMC with one 64 sample buffer. (When I first started with SAC I ran at 2X64 and had no complaints.)

    PS: Dell, I found the switch for 44.1/48K sample rate. Unintuitively it is on the Windows sound set-up screen rather than in the driver control panel.

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