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First question so apologies if it's not up to scratch. Feel free to let me know :)

I'm wondering what sample rate you like to record at and what the sample rate generally is of any sound effects that you buy?

I've noticed a few recordists offering wavs at 24bit 192kHz, is there a good reason to record at this high a sample rate? I suppose as it oversamples so highly it avoids aliasing and has very good overall resolution? But is this a drastic improvement from 24bit 96kHz?

Currently I have a Zoom H4n which will only record 24bit 96kHz (and only in a certain mode :/) and use this bit depth and sample rate when recording sound effects. One thing I want to ensure in my work is high quality and clarity so would it be advisable to invest in equipment that can record at a higher sample rate? (And of course has better preamps than the zoom). I want to take myself fulltime so this isn't a case of spending money for the sake of it :)

Be nice to hear your thoughts, cheers!

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7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The real difference isn't really in playback. Where you really hear it is when you do a lot of manipulation with plug-ins. The more information they have (i.e. Samples) they have to work with, the better the job they can do. Uses up more processor as well, but lemons into lemonade, eh?

The big one for myself (and a bunch of other people I'm sure) is with time stretching/compression. You can push a 192k sample much further than you can a 48k or even 96k.

But! I wouldn't immediately rush out and buy a Sound Devices 702 or something because it can do 192. In terms of audible difference of the samples/sounds themselves, I think you'll be hard pressed to hear a difference between even 48 and 192, let alone 96 and 192. At this point, I would spend my money on mics, not a recorder. The H4n's issue is not a matter of preamps, it's that the on-board mics are electret condensers and are naturally noisy. The actual pre-amps for the xlr ins are perfectly decent.

However! That is just my opinion!

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I agree with g.a.harry that you would get much better mileage spending your money on a couple of decent mics and getting the best possible recording. 24/96 is sufficient for any application and don't let anyone convince you otherwise! Look at your signal chain - the mic is the point of entry, so everything else depends on that. Concentrate on the quality of the actual recording and you will realise that bit and sample rates, while still relevant, are less significant. –  Bluesman69 Jun 29 '11 at 12:03
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The termused in photography to explain why some shoot RAW or ultra-sensitive film is "processing latitude," and it's no different for sound. Recording dialogue? 24b/48k is probably fine. Recording something that might someday get massively mangled and you want to avoid artifacts? 24b/96k should be the minimum. –  NoiseJockey Jun 29 '11 at 15:31
    
@Noisejockey It is important to make a distinction between sound recording and audio processing. A good recording at 24/96 can easily be up-sampled to 192 for processing purposes. –  Bluesman69 Jun 29 '11 at 20:58
    
+1 to this post and NoiseJockey's statement. For dialog, 48/24 is just fine. 96/24 is fine for SFX. Any more, and you're taxing your processing and storage a lot more than you need without a big noticeable difference. –  VCProd Jun 30 '11 at 12:13

Depends really what I do... If I work with music related projects my usual is the 44kHz 24bit linear wave files. When it comes to sound design I prefer the highest possible sample and bit rates just as david said, pitching SFX especially to very low sound lot better when you have more ones and zeros in the upper freq range.

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The sample rate varies according to what I plan to do.

If I know that I will want to pitch shift down or lengthen a region I will record at 192 kHz.

If I plan to just do basic EQ and trimming, then I'll work at 96 kHz.

I will only use 48 kHz now if time is short, or if the client specifically requests it.

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Record everything at 192Khz, can definitely notice a difference especially as the other guys have mentioned, when doing detailed editing of the waveform. Record at the highest sample rate possible, you won't ever regret it (unless you're recording on something like a battery powered H4N ;))

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I may be.... haha. Don't worry I learnt the heard way about recording HQ on battery powered units: eats batteries fast and if it dies before you press stop thus completing the file, you lose it all :O Glad I learned that early on though! –  Alan Pring Jul 7 '11 at 0:11

totally agree with GA. Also, pitch shifting is also greatly enhanced with higher sample rates. You can pitch farther w/o dullness, artifacts, and whining. Pitching is one of my most used fx.

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Like Ville Sorsa says, depends on what the use case is a lot of the time. My libraries for the musician market are 24/44, and some distributors even sell my stuff at 16/44. For motion projects I usually work in 24/48. My field recordings are almost always captured at 24/96, just because.

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As for me, I keep to 96/24 as long as I record with my fieldrecorder, a Fostex FR2, and that includes all other recorders I've worked with except the Aaton Cantar (the preamps seems to go that far and then some, but not the settings...), as none of 'em seems to go that far anyway in any other way than pure noise. Though such noise does indeed bring some extra top, static undynamic treble annoys me. Especially when pitched down. In my studio though I have second generation Lynx-converters and decent pre-amps (and some really really crappy ones too for when I want that!), so there 192KHz really makes a difference :-)

...and then we have the storage issue... I always have my kit with me more or less no matter where I'm going and records virtually everything I can get my paws on. Right now my collection of sounds and ambs are big but manageable, with room to grow a few months until I must buy a new harddrive again. At least for now, I simply can't have all the harddrives it would take in my computer to record everything in 192/24 due to noise reasons. Planning on building an audio-server in the next room though where noise doesn't matter anyway :-) /CvanC

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