Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 5, last updated 6/25/2013
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relatively, can the audio signal fall below the maximum level before it is rounded down to
silence? The figures below show the dynamic range at a bit depth of 3 (Figure 5.11) compared
to the dynamic range at a bit depth of 4 (Figure 5.12). Again, these are non-practical bit depths
chosen for simplicity of illustration. The higher bit depth gives a wider range of sound
amplitudes that can be recorded. The smaller bit depth loses more of the quiet sounds when they
are rounded down to zero or overpowered by the quantization noise. You can see this in the
right hand view of Figure 5.13, where a portion of “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” has been
reduced to four bits per sample.
Figure 5.11 Dynamic range for wave quantized at 3 bits
Figure 5.12 Dynamic range for wave quantized at 4 bits
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