Master Mi

Sampling rate and sound quality

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I guess most composers and remixers have a distinct imagination of how different bit rates of a soundtrack (or other kind of audio programs) influence the sound quality in a remarkable way.
Let 's say... a data flow of the same soundtrack within a bit rate of less than 128 kbit/s may sound a little bit dull and poor, with a bit rate of 192 kbit/s the same soundtrack may sound pretty fine - and with a bit rate 320 kbit/s you won't get a perceivably much better sound quality anymore compared to the 192 kbit/s version.

That's the one thing with the bit rates.


But what is going on with the sound quality if you change the sampling rate in your music project (as well as in the exported audio data of your soundtrack)?

If you don't know what a sampling rate is, make sure to have a look at the definition before.
>>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_(signal_processing)

I'm still not really sure what I should think about this topic.
Until now, I mostly thought that the sampling rate won't influence the sound quality that much and it is just good for getting more precision at processing audio data - since an increased sample rate "sets more points at regular intervals" for measuring the audio signal.

But on the other hand it would make sense that a higher density of signal measuring points may also capture the pretty spiky - or let's say narrow/tight and fast-paced - signal peaks of the higher frequency signals much better - and so, you should also be able to get a clearer version of the signal.

And since I played a VSTi-based guitar track in my DAW at a sampling rate of 44,1 kHz (my former standard for my music projects) and - as a comparison - with 192 kHz, I'd say that the 192 kHz sampling rate version sounds richer, especially in the upper frequency range, and kinda crystal-like - almost a bit piercing.

There are dudes out there who say that a higher sampling rate might end up in a worse sound quality caused by a non-linear response of soundcards/audio interfaces to higher frequencies that might result in perceivable ultrasonic frequency distortions.

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

But on the other side...
With a higher sampling rate in connection with a good audio interface and a worthy studio equipment you might get much closer to the original source signals and true intentions of the developers behind your VSTi samples within a crystal clear sound.

...

I'm really not sure what to think about this topic.

So, I just wanted to ask you guys from the OC Remix community what you think or know about this subject area and which sampling rate you preferably use at your music projects.

Edited by Master Mi

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I do a lot of recording and work with a lot of people who record live, acoustic instruments. I can't really speak for synthesizers, or sampled instruments. For the most part, most of the people I work with are in consensus on this area. Basically, going above 48k for uncompressed audio doesn't carry enough benefits to do it for every project. Generally, since people recording for these projects use 48k, the end project file also ends up being in 48k.

I have been asked to record above 48khz (the standard I deal with) twice. Once was at 96, once was at...192? That one was a pain because 192khz wav takes up so much space and transferring that monster took hours. The consensus with people I work with is that 48 is ideal for most purposes, 96 is great for blending remote sessions, and above that doesn't make enough of a difference to justify the increased resource requirements (hard drive space and processor power).

One minute of 48k wav is about 15mb. One minute of 192k wav is about 45mb (3 times the size). If I'm recording a multitracked brass section of 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, and a tuba (like I do for some clients), for a track that is 4 minutes long, I'm going to be playing about 2 to 2 and a half minutes for each track. This is 26 to 34 minutes of audio. At 48k wav, this is 390 to 510 mb of audio on the hard drive, and in RAM. For 192k, this is 1170 to 1530 mb of audio on the hard drive, and in RAM. That is much more resource heavy. The difference in sound quality isn't big enough to justify that.

If I were doing this for How to Save the World in 20 Minutes or Less (24 minute recording), you can do the math to find out how obnoxiously large that can get. I recorded that in 48k (and requested other performers to do the same) and the end result is definitely to my liking.

So that is my take on it. Although higher sample rates are appropriate for some instances, I don't ever really use them because 48-96 is appropriate for almost everything I'm involved in.

 

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Yeah, the fact that the 192 khz sampling rate version of a wave audio file will use up more than 4 times as much hard disk space than the standard 44,1 kHz sampling rate of the WAVE audio file with nearly the same audio content, makes it rather unattractive...

... plus the fact, that you have to make a completely new mixing (due to crucial changes at the whole frequencies) and change lots of your self-made VSTi presets as well... if you want to change the sampling rate of your existing tracks/remixes.

But on the other side it really seems to be a different sound.
At a sampling rate of about 96 or 192 kHz it will add up to 2 additional kHz at the higher frequency spectrum - which is quite a lot.
So, for electric guitar sounds or acoustic piano VSTis (just tested them) you 'll get a much sharper, crispier, crystal-like tone - and the reverb effects are just a phenomenon of its own kind... like if you are playing your sound creations in a bigger ice cave where you can even hear your own breath echoing in the whole cave.

Maybe I'll create a sound comparison of a short file with three different sampling rates (44,1, 96 and 192 kHz) within the next days/weeks and upload it on a public Japanese steaming platform which seems to provide highest audio/WAVE and video quality - as well on Youtube (just to get some kind of certainty how much of this hi-res sound quality would even remain on popular western streaming platforms).

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