Dithering When Mixing and Using Plugins

Bob Katz Leave a Comment

Hi again Bob,

I am thinking about the dithering and was wondering what about mixing and dithering?  Nobody is talking about it, but we are using all this plugins in mixing with not a single dithering. What is your recommendation about dithering when mixing and using the plugins?

Lets say I am mixing and my session is 24bit 48khz if I use the compressor on my Master bus I should use dithering when exporting/bouncing the mix right? And how should I use the dither, to 24 bit or to 32 bit output?

If I use the eq on my bass I should apply dither after EQ on the bass track etc….

Another confusing thing is if I have 24 bit 48khz  file and I apply lets say SRC plugin with 32 bit float output resolution the file gets bigger and is not 24 bit file anymore but 32bit file.  This is all very confusing.



Plugins and wordlength are almost all taken care of by the architecture of the DAW. The signal from the object is going to be in 32-bit format no matter what format the object is. So if you have a 24 bit object and you change gain—presto, that’s 32 bit in the dsp, and this gets passed from plugin to plugin at 32 bit float with no need to dither until you reach the outside world or the need to store it in 24 bit format. So if you are storing the output in the plugin chain for later processing, ideally, store that in 32 bit float. If your DAW prevents you from doing that due to weaknesses in it’s design, then dither to 24 before storing at 24. This could be accomplished, if the DAW does not provide dithering while capturing, by you inserting a dithering plugin last in the chain, set to 24 bits.

Floating point does not require dither because it can express from the smallest to the largest quantity. So if you can save the output of your chain at 32-bit float, then there is no need to dither (yet). When the wordlength is further reduced, you should dither. You can go direct from 32 to 16 in some cases or intermediately through 24 (dithered). Do not dither to 16 until after all the processing has been performed, In other words, sample rate convert first. I hope this is starting to make more sense.

Best wishes,


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