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Highest useful bit depth and sample rate for audio files


mgsylvestre
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This must have been asked before, but is there any information available as to what is the highest useful bit depth and sample rate for audio files above which there is no perceptible difference?

 

I assume that there is a limit above which there is no audible difference. Is that limit 24/192? Something above or below that?

 

Are there any research papers or tests results publicly available in that regard?

 

Anybody has any opinion on the subject?

 

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Hi mgsylvestre - This is one of those controversial subjects without an agreed upon answer. If you ask five engineers this question you'll receive ten answers. I've read solid information on all sides of this one and have no idea if anyone is correct.

 

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bit depth and sample rate have only been held back due to storage requirements of exponentially increasing size when you record at higher resolution, and then doubly so when you distribute. My father sells audio, but testing much much higher frequencies than the human threshold. Testing equipment with A/D converters that sample in the gigahertz range, but this has not been implemented for many reasons in the pro audio industry. But since sample rate determines the maximum frequency recordable, with the Nyquist theorem that states that you must sample at a frequency at least double the highest frequency that you want to record/reproduce. 44.1kHz = 20kHz, 88.2 =44 kHz, 192kHz = 85 or so kHz and so on, so if your reproduction gear can produce such high frequencies, the increase in sample rate really can expand the sound if you get into a bit higher than redbook resolution. Then bit depth comes into play, with dynamics, where 16 is obviously not as dynamic as 24 bits, or next at 32 bits.

 

I will say that I think we have arrived at a happy medium with hi-rez files because of two things:

1. Decrease in storage price (massive)

2. Limits in human hearing. I appreciate a bit higher sample rates and the higher frequencies that they contain, as well as the extra "air" in and around them, but I have been just as happy with 44.1/16 at times as well.

 

just my .02.

-j

 

gear here.

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...and a number of other things which cost money (a lot of it in some cases).

 

That is why it seems to me that it would be useful to find info on this and spec equipment accordingly.

 

I do not understand why very high sampling rates can be useful if most people can't hear anything above 20khz or so. Is the sampling rate useful for other reasons?

 

As to bit depth, aren't you going to be limited by the dynamic range your gear is capable of? Is there equipment available which can really take advantage of more than 24 bit?

 

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