[ardour-dev] How to record 24-bit audio files?

Paul Davis paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
Sun Dec 19 10:32:07 PST 2004

>Is there a way to record 24-bit audiofiles instead of the default
>32-bit ones? I mean something like choosing session bit-depth in
>ProTools.  I'm thinking about easier interchangeability of audiofiles
>between different audio applications in different DAWs. Many computer
>based systems use max.  24-bit resolution, which IMHO is pretty much
>enough in most cases.

I think you are a little confused.

Ardour's native files are ordinary RIFF/WAV IEEE floating point
format, which uses 24 bits to store a mantissa, and the remaining 8
for the exponent and other flags. They have 24 bit precision for
absolute accuracy, but can also contain values way outside the normal
dynamic range of a 24 bit file. This is useful for containing a mix
whose values went outside the 24 bit range.

Ardour does not attempt to "fake" 32 bit resolution. If ProTools has
problems with importing its native files, its because they (like a lot
of other software) don't properly handle this 100% legal WAV
format. Software that does (like anything using the libsndfile
library) can read them with ease.

Meanwhile, you can always *export* audio from Ardour in a number of
different formats, most or all of which will be importable by PT and
other non-standards-compliant software. 

Note that main reason to use 24 bit files has nothing to do with
resolution but disk i/o bandwidth. You get a significant savings by
storing only 3 bytes per sample instead of 4. Ardour might switch to
such a format one day in the future, to accomodate higher track


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