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Resolution Below the Least Significant Bit in Digital Systems with Dither

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This paper is motivated by some common misunderstandings about digital systems. It is commonly believed that small signals or signal details are lost if they are smaller than the quantizing step. We expand on previous arguments showing that this is not true when the signal to be quantized contains a wideband noise dither of amplitude approximately the step size. The introduction traces the use of dither from video quantization through its use in audio. Quantization error is studied in some detail and the effort of dither is analyzed theoretically and experimentally. We argue and show by examples of quantized signals that the dither effectively turns signal distortion into low-level wideband noise by linearizing the averaged quantizer staircase function, which is as perceived by the ear.

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