What Bit Depths Are Supported By Inter-App Audio?
For the past couple months I’ve been wondering about what bit rates Inter-App Audio supports.
Obviously nobody answered my question prior to the launch of iOS7. Since its launch, I’ve emailed several iOS music app developers asking this very question. Not one has replied with an answer. Strange? Maybe.
Its a question I think needs to be answered. Today I’ve started asking that question more aggressively by posting it on all of my social media pages and now here. Additionally I’ve sent more emails asking more developers, and some of the same ones I asked already.
We all know that Audiobus, and AudioCopy are always 16bits no matter what your output (iDAW) app is capable of or set to.
It’s not a problem, especially for those like me who create electronic music. However, it’s still a legitimate question.
It may really be a big deal to other people, and or even a deal breaker for some new folks who insist upon the highest bit rates and depths available.
Now, I am no technical wizard. I do not proclaim to fully understand every implication of what bit rates mean to everybody.
I do want to at least know what I am getting with IAA.
I use Auria for the majority of my music productions. It defaults at 32bits audio processing. It can be set to 64bits audio processing. I can’t really imagine any need for 64bits myself. Perhaps you can? It really seems overkill at 64, and holy cow, it must put a huge burden on CPUs not too mention larger project files. All of that aside, I just want to know. What bit depth does IAA support? 16, 24, 32, or what? For some reason nobody has chosen to answer this question. I know I am not the only person interested in the answer. So if you know the answer, please comment on this post. If you also want to know the answer, please leave a comment as well.
It should be a fairly simple thing to answer. Right? So who knows?
WELL! I just got the answer. Inter-App Audio works at 32 Bit floating point. Thank you Rim Buntinas of WaveMachine Labs!
So there you have it. Unless I completely misunderstand the answer, it appears then if you use IAA to stream audio up-to 32bits, the host (if capable) app maintains the very same bit depth. No more being pegged at 16bits.
If that even matters?
Now keep in mind its all really just aesthetics. No human ear on earth can hear bit depth. In order for one to even try they’d have to find the (inaudible) noise floor from an absolutely silent part of the track, crank it up to levels that if music were playing, it would shatter your ear drums and destroy your speakers, just to try and hear what would sound like tape hiss. It’s there, but at frequencies beyond human capabilities. Its a myth that anybody can hear it. It’s not a debate, there’s no golden ear, the science is proven, and the facts are the facts. The human ear and brain simply cannot process such extreme sonic realms, no matter how trained, or how good the equipment is.
It’s not even the point.
That said, 32 bit floating point is still good, or even technically better, but as a person using it, its doesn’t really matter if you know all the technical details. Its nice to know though. What it does mean to you is that there is more room for additional processing of audio without clipping. In other words you can be more relaxed with leveling and whatnot. You get a greater dynamic range to work with. That’s a good thing. It has nothing to do with what you playback and hear.
The most noticeable difference is 32bit will create about %50 larger project files.
More than anything its about what your computer is doing with the audio code, and not so much what you are hearing.
Want to know more about 32 bit floating point audio? Check out this Wikipedia entry or google “32 bit floating point audio explained”. You’ll find all sorts of information on the subject. Most of it is stuff you don’t really need to know. It won’t change how you hear anything. I’m kinda nerdy like that though so its something I’ve been researching.
For the record, I still have a huge amount to learn with the technology aspect to combine with my comfortable understanding of human hearing.
I hope you found my questions, information and answers of some use. I’d still love to hear and learn from your answers what this all means to you and iOS music in your world.