Advantages of 64-bit DAW over 32-bit float Digital audio workstation

The dots in the end signifying that the number is repeating infinitely; thus when this number occurs in your DAW calculation it is approximated or rounded off.

Why 64-bit float DAW is an advantage compared to using 32-bit float system?

Based on the analogy presented on the previous section, it is simply because “processing” and “calculation” of binary numbers in 64-bit float format results to less rounding error which would translate a much “realistic” audio that is closer to its analog sound.

For example, let’s go back to the decimal number system since most of you are not familiar with binary arithmetic; supposing the DAW would add 1/3 + 1/3; in decimal number system computation (supposing you are using 3-digit resolution):

0.333 + 0.333 = 0.666

But if you are using a high resolution in the computation, the results would be “closer” to the exact number, for example:

0.333333333333333333333333333 + 0.333333333333333333333333333 = 0.66666666666666666666666666

If your DAW is still using 32-bit float, then it cannot represent all numbers in its calculation as accurate as using 64-bit float computation. Using 64-bits minimizes these rounding errors to a minimum in such a way it would not be obvious to the ear or the resolution of your audio interface converters.

Why this is very important?

1.) If you are processing audio internally during the mix, it is crucial your DAW would perform a very accurate calculation because an inaccurate arithmetic can have an effect on the audio quality.

2.) Aside from many advantages in digital music production; summing in digital (as compared to rendering a mix in analog) has always been considered inferior to professional mixing engineers because of this limitation. Summing digital audio in 64-bit float increases the accuracy of the mix that would stand out which would now be comparable to the mix done using analog.

So if you asked? With all the advantages of 64-bit DAW, what are the disadvantages?

1.) Since your CPU and computer will now be dealing with long series of bits during the calculation; it demands more CPU and memory power than using 32-bit float.

2.) Even using 64-bits, remember that it still cannot exactly represent certain numbers in the results. There would still be rounding errors but at a minimum compared when using 32-bit float DAW.

Finally, Reaper DAW is using 64-bit in its internal engine and these are one of the reasons (aside from low licensing cost) I use this DAW in my projects.

Content last updated on July 13, 2012

  • Emerson Maningo

    Yes, its more critical because the analog which is basically the actual sound to be recorded would be sampled to digital. Once sampled, it is not anymore the actual sound but just a representation of it.

  • Brenny C Jeirah

    thanks for this new idea! but I think its more vital in case of analog to digital processing, rite?