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Advanced Audio Recording

The advantage of 96kHz for audio processing

In recent years 96kHz sampling frequency is announced to be the standard for modern audio recording. It appears to have significant advantages but is it worth the money?

Do we need 96kHz in audio recording?

The advantage of higher sampling frequencies

From the point of view of signal processing, there is no doubt in any way: Measurement systems in the field of data processing and acquisition do perform oversampling at about 100-1000 times of the desired highest frequency to get all information available correctly, since Nyquist's theorem required an ideal anti aliasing filter which does not exist. So the idea, "the higher the sampling frequency the better for quality" absolutely is right.


he advantage of higher sampling frequencies in audio processing

From the point of sound recording it is a bit different, since there are not so many parts of energy in the upper bands so a slight linear distortion from a normal AA- Filter (having it's edge frequency at around 15kHz to provide a good stop band rejection) does not so much harm to the signal ,as most people think. In fact, the errors are mostly smaller than those introduced by our monitors.

96kHz has one big advantage: One can record in 96kHz and more or less down sample to 48kHz and resample to 44,1kHz without the fear of significant quality loss. Changing 48kHz recordings to 44,1 is not nice to do!  So the improvement from 48 to 96 is a strong improvement regarding this particular aspect.

On the other hand when comparing recordings of 44,1 and 96 directly, the difference is only little.

Conclusion and Summary

You need a full 96kHz path with optimized anti aliasing filters at both ends of the recording chain: This refers to ADC and DAC and the whole digital path in between. The analog path has to be optimized that way, that filter edge frequency has to be far outside of the audible band.

© 2002 J.S.