July 20, 2013

The Depths Of My Bits And The Rates Of My Samples...

by Chris Randall

Once I got past this dude's beard and the ImageLine logo that they splashed on someone else's video (the original isn't embeddable), I quickly realized that this is the single best explanation of bit depth, sample rate, and dither that anyone has bothered to make.

I've always thought that 48kHz (which puts the Nyquist frequency above 100% of the human race's hearing ability) and 24 bits (which puts the noise floor below that of most any instrument, recording method, and reproduction method) were perfectly acceptable values. This video pretty much says that's fine, although not for the reasons I thought.

Anyhow, if you're a musician that records digital audio, you owe it to yourself to spend a half hour watching this.


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Jul.20.2013 @ 11:56 PM
Chris Randall
A lot of the reason that high-sample-rate dudes crack me up (especially the ones on the ass end, talking about SACD and FLAC and this and that) is this: the Capricorn is the best board Neve ever made.

On paper.

In real life, when you see "Neve room," it's never a fucking Capricorn, is it? People'd rather use some janky old board that had whiskey spilled in it, and all the faders are scratchy from the cigarette ashes they're full of. For "vintage warmth." The Capricorn was Neve's biggest commercial failure, and it almost took the company down.

And that old janky board is what was used to mix that SACD CD.


Jul.21.2013 @ 3:10 AM
Beard knows best.

Jul.21.2013 @ 11:00 AM
he's totally awesome . i saw this a while back - being somewhat more geek-oriented than at least a few posters here, it was nice to see/hear Monty in the flesh. Xiph has pioneered a lot of things, and if you're not a Terry Pratchett fan, you won't get the Vorbis reference, but beyond that is FLAC, Theora/WebM, and XviD. and everything is totally open source. he's a hero in my book, and OggVorbis is actually used a lot in game audio because encoding is license free.

the thing i found the most eye-opening was when he described A/D conversion as not being like the stairstep/chiclet thing that i'd been taught and seen in diagrams countless times. but i'm still not totally sure what he is referring to, being not that much of a math or EE geek.

oh yeah - Gearslutz - where dudes with literally Zero musical ability will wax on and on about their handmade custom mic pre with nickel-wound transformers while the 192KHz sound samples they provide show that they are unable to even play an instrument properly to demonstrate the soul-searing beauty of their open, ballsy, yet transparent sound...

Jul.21.2013 @ 11:44 AM
>In real life, when you see "Neve room," it's never a fucking Capricorn, is it?<

Because they're bankrupt. Those things were expensive. And plastic-y. Like most things, it was probably a lot better than I thought at the time, and perversely, now I kind of think it would be cool to have one.

Jul.21.2013 @ 12:09 PM
you're in luck - seems to be a lot cheaper now...

link [www.ebay.com]

Jul.21.2013 @ 2:06 PM
Great video and, yeah, a different facial-hairstyle would probably flatter this guy's face more.

Are there advantages for using higher sampling rates if you're going to manipulate the recordings?

Like, I've been mangling sounds by pushing them down two or three octaves and figure that recording at 96k will expose some of the detail that I wouldn't normally hear.

Jul.21.2013 @ 2:38 PM
Chris Randall
@metaphysician: Ironically, that is almost certainly the very Capricorn I mixed my 5th album on. With a Mitsubishi 32-track digital deck. State-of-the-art at the time. And he's almost certainly actually the second owner of it, so a bit of a fib in his description. I'm not personally aware of there being more than one Capricorn in Chicago. Unless he had it in his house and didn't take clients, I'd be shocked if it isn't the one from Chicago Trax.

@bassling: Too many variables. My initial response is "no." I mean, if you're dropping something 3 octaves and "manipulating" it, crystal clarity and perfect reproduction are hardly your aims, are they?


Jul.21.2013 @ 4:25 PM
Thanks for the links. I read the article (faster than watching a video), and what he says about intermodulation distortion of ultrasonic frequencies is right on the money. I ran into that the very first time I tried to sample klang-y metallic objects at 96 kHZ. At first I was confounded, thinking I was hearing aliasing that Nyquist couldn't explain, but eventually I realized I was trying to shove ultrasonic frequency content through various devices and software algorithms that didn't deal with ultrasonics well. It's good to see somebody dropping science to indicate I wasn't crazy hearing those distortion components.

Jul.21.2013 @ 11:51 PM
Yeah I got the same distortion problems when dropping the pitches, via slowing the sample rate, on quite a few samples done at 96khz.

2 things helped. Not using my normal field recorder Zoom H4 (duh!), but going with my RME Babyface and some DPA 4061 omnis.

Also, strangely, recording with a large-ish ambience reverb. Like a stairwell or school hall seems to make the dropped sample smoother.

Jul.22.2013 @ 9:30 AM
@rollmottle: I've read that article a couple of times and I 75% agree with you, but I don't understand with why 48 for capture/mix/master instead of 44.1. I've gone back and forth between 44.1 and 48 a couple of times since CR first posted that article (reading it each time), but I landed at 44.1 because a) I think it probably doesn't matter much, and b) assuming it's going to end up at 44.1 for playback, why fuck around with something else?

I'm not trying to argue; I want to understand. I totally accept that there could be a reason for sticking with 48, I just didn't get it from that article.

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