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Dither is a low level noise that is added to the program in order to trim a large digital word into a smaller one. Since the word length for an audio CD must be 16 bits, a program with a longer word length like the usual 24-bits used in a DAW must eventually be decreased. Just lobbing off the last 8 bits degrades the audio, so a Dither signal is used to gently accomplish this task. An undithered master will have the K-trail stop abruptly or have a low-level buzzing type of distortion at the end of a fade out. All Dither is not created equally.
There are currently many different algorithms to accomplish this task. Each DAW manufacture has either their own version, or one supplied by a third-party. Sometimes noise shaping, which is a way to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal is used in conjunction with dithering. The bottom line undithered is that each type can have a different effect on not only the music, but song to song on the same genre of music. It's worth it to try whatever selections are available before settling on a choice. Here are some rules for using Dither. Dither is signaled once and only once.
Since Dither is a noise signal, it'll have accumulative effect if applied more than once, plus Dither introduced too early in the signal chain and have a very detrimental effect in any subsequent digital signal processing operations that occur afterward. Dither only at the end of the signal chain. The time to Dither is just before exporting your final master, try different types of Dither. All Dithers sounds slightly different and one may be better for a certain type of music than others. That said, the differences between different flavors of Dither and noise shaping are usually pretty subtle.
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