Adventures In Audio

SoundBite: Put an end to clipping with the 32-bit float WAV file format

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In this video I intentionally bounce some music at too high a level into a 24-bit WAV file. Distortion! But if I bounce at the same level to a 32-bit float WAV file, the audio is clean. Hear for yourself in this video.

Transcript

Here's some music time traveled all the way from the 1980s...

As you'll notice it peaks at 0 dBFS, which is what we used to do in the 1980s. We know better now but this is good for my example. I'm going to raise the level by 12 dB. You will hear some distortion...

But all is not lost because my digital audio workstation software, and yours, has incredible internal headroom. I can lower the master fader by 12 dB or just a little more and it sounds like this...

Perfectly fine. But what if I bounce it to a WAV file? A 24-bit WAV file doesn't have any headroom above zero dBFS. Let's try...

Now that I've bounced and re-imported the file we can audition it...

Yes, it is distorted and there's no way to fix that. The distortion is baked into the file. But let's do something different. I'll go back to the original, raise the level by 12 dB again, and bounce it. But this time to a 32-bit float file. It is still a WAV file but in 32-bit float format.

I've re-imported the file and it sounds like this...

We're still hearing that distortion but I can do something magical... I'll lower the fader by 12 dB, and it sounds like...

No distortion. This is because the 32-bit float format has similar massive headroom to your DAW so no clipping. I wouldn't say that 32-bit float is the right format for finished work. The world isn't quite ready for that yet. But as an intermediary format or sharing material with your collaborators it's great. Clipping really can be a thing of the past. Thank you for listening.

Tuesday October 4, 2022

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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