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Saturday, November 11, 2017

How recording at high sample rates can end up making your music sound worse




Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are goind to add an extra part on our article about Bit Depth an sample rate:
can actually record at higher sample rates damage your final result? Let's find out.

As we have already seen, the sample rate is, put simply, how fast samples are taken.
For sample you can imagine the single photos that put one after the other create a movie; in our case we are talking about audio snapshots.
The cd standard is 16 bit and 44.100hz, although there are also formats today that allows higher standards (but they are not very popular), so for long time the rule of thumb has been "record at 44.100, 24 bit, and then scale down to 16 bit".

With the technology improving and the adc (analog to digital converters, the part of the audio interface that takes the analog signal and turns it into digital signal) getting better and better today many studios record at 48khz, 96khs and so on.
But why do they do it considering that then you will have to scale it down to 44.100hz? Simple, for the same reason you do record at 24bit (or why you take photos in raw with your reflex before editing them): to have as much information as possible, to mix it and then to scale down the final result.

Should you use higher sample rates than 44.100hz or 48.100hz?
It depends on your adc, which means it depends on your audio interface.
The quality of your converters depends on the quality of your audio interface, and if you have an audio interface that costs 100$, even if it allows recording at 96khz chances are that it will introduce a high frequency content (due to the cheap hardware) between a sample and the other, known as ultrasonic content, that on some reproduction device can make the music sound worse (even if you scale it down to 44.100hz). Therefore: on your pc sounds ok, then you play it on another hi fi, and it sounds bad, introducing weird artifacts you didn't notice before.

Other things to consider when mixing at 96khz or more:

1) the file size is CONSIDERABLY bigger, so make sure you have a lot of disk space.

2) some plugin doesn't work at higher sample rates.

As for everything, the trial and error method is fundamental to find out the right setting for our hardware, but the rule of thumb is that the cheaper the audio interface is, the worse it will handle higher sample rates, so in that case if you stick to 44.100hz it will probably sound even better, eventually.

Obviously if you have a top level interface, you will have a certain security that it will work perfectly also at the highest resolutions.

I hope this was helpful!


Sources:

https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html#toc_1ch

http://productionadvice.co.uk/high-sample-rates-make-your-music-sound-worse/

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-it-worth-recording-higher-sample-rate

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/should-i-record-at-the-high-sample-rates/

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/7-things-about-sample-rate/



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