Do you constantly hear people talking about sample rate in music? But don’t you know what it really is?? Well, my friend, you have come to the right place.
Fundamentally, sample rate is the result of digitizing audio. While analog sound waves are continuous, digital music is made up of many small data points read one after another.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The audio sample rate is literally the number of “samples” taken per second. This is measured in Hertz (Hz).
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Now the going rate is CD or FLAC, which is lossless audio file. This clock at 44.1 kHz. In practice, this means that for every second of music, 44,100 samples are taken from a continuous analog signal to create a digital file.
The higher this number, the better the audio quality – up to a point, but we’ll get to that soon. This graph is a good visualization tool to know how it works:
All of this should have shed some light on the sample rate in audio, but now we have another question …
What is the impact of sample rate on music?
We’ve covered the issue of precision before (i.e. the higher the sample rate, the higher the quality), but it’s not that simple. Sampling rate is directly related to frequency, which is the highest sound that can be accurately reproduced.
Let’s look at the common figure of 44.1 kHz that we discussed earlier.
This allows you to play sounds up to 22 kHz. The reason why it is this frequency and not 44.1 kHz is due to the Nyquist – Shannon theorem. These brainboxes had this to say about it:
“If a system uniformly samples an analog signal at a frequency that exceeds the highest frequency of the signal by at least a factor of two, the original analog signal can be perfectly recovered from the discrete values produced by sampling.”
If you want to know more, you can go read it here. The easiest way to remember this is that the audio sample rate should be double that of the highest frequency to be reproduced.
Here is a photo, because why not?
Do you remember earlier when I said that sample rate impacts quality, but only up to a point? Now is the time to fix this problem.
The limits of human hearing range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The truth is, however, that the majority of people hear nowhere near these effects. The average upper limit for adults is between 15 kHz and 17 kHz.
It means that CDs and many FLAC files play music with frequencies beyond what humans can hear.
Of course, this is a controversial subject. If you browse the forums, you’ll find plenty of people arguing for 48kHz (which I think makes sense), 96kHz, and even 192kHz sample rates.
I’m not going to get into this too much (a big part of my take with music is if it makes you happy, then that’s fine – who am I to judge?), But science backs it up. importance of high sample rates auditors are insecure at best and nonexistent at worst.
I will say this though: I am talking about this from the perspective of a music consumer. For recording, high sample rates canyou can find out more here being a useful tool, mainly because of a whole host of technical details.
Sample rate can be thought of as the audio version of frames per second. It is the number of “clips” extracted from an analog sound wave to make a digital file.
In addition, the sample rate also controls the highest frequency that can be accurately reproduced by a digital file.
Here we go, people! An analysis of what the sampling rate is, just for you.
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Published March 3, 2021 – 10:40 UTC