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The Gentle Art of Dithering

There is still disagreement over the ways in which sound quality might benefit from higher sampling rates or wider bit depths in a digital path. The authors show that if a digital pathway includes any unintended or undithered quantizations, then several types of errors will be created whose nature will change with increased sampling rate and word size. Although dither methods for ameliorating quantization error have been well understood in the literature for some time, these insights are not always applied in practice. It is rare for an audio performance to be captured, produced, and played back with a flawless chain. The paper includes a tutorial overview of digital sampling and quantization with additive, subtractive, and noise-shaped dither. The discussions also include more advanced topics, such as cascaded quantizers, fixed and floating-point arithmetic, and time-domain aspects of quantization errors. Guidelines and recommendations are presented, including for the design of listening tests.


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