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Author Topic: What sample rate are you using?  (Read 6706 times)

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Offline aaronji

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #60 on: June 14, 2018, 04:49:36 PM »
aaronji, howdy.

Howdy yourself, DSatz!  Thank you for the detailed response!

Since actual distortion in modern a/d converters is so low, I tend to shift the discussion away from the concept of "precision" in conversion (which would be a more appropriate concept if a signal were utterly noiseless, such as a computationally generated test signal) to dynamic range, which is much more pertinent to live, recorded audio.

To be honest, I have viewed bit depth solely in terms of dynamic range, based on a lot of articles I have read.  I guess I am one of those folks that just assumed decent conversion.  I always figured that 24-bit would give an extra cushion if I left way too much headroom (as has happened by accident or circumstance a few times), and I will still use it when recording, but the likelihood that the noise floor of anything I record even approaches 16 bits is virtually nil...

Offline sparko

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #61 on: June 25, 2018, 05:43:30 AM »
Since I never heard a difference between 96 and 48, I now record mostly in 24/48, my recording app sometimes switches itself to 32/48, producing larger files. (no difference to hear as well) I keep forgetting to check the setting before I hit record.
I work with Audition and I do all post process in 16/44.1; EQ'ing, cutting, flac conversion and sharing
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Offline capnhook

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #62 on: June 25, 2018, 08:56:09 AM »
Since I never heard a difference between 96 and 48, I now record mostly in 24/48, my recording app sometimes switches itself to 32/48, producing larger files. (no difference to hear as well) I keep forgetting to check the setting before I hit record.
I work with Audition and I do all post process in 16/44.1; EQ'ing, cutting, flac conversion and sharing

You really should be post-processing those 24 bit files, THEN dithering to 16 bits when you finish.

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Offline sparko

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2018, 10:36:46 AM »
tbh I never heard a difference in the mixing, neither 24/96, 24/48 or 16/44.1, on any of my speakers, devices, headphones whatsoever.
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Offline beenjammin

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #64 on: June 25, 2018, 11:08:07 AM »

(Notes: If the extra, unneeded converter bits beyond the incoming signal's noise floor aren't random, then they're adding distortion to the recording, and any such converter should be removed from service immediately. And please keep in mind that the noise floor of a converter is whatever its ACTUAL value is, with the number of bits setting a theoretical limit that is never reached in practice; no physically realizable 24-bit converter has an
* Edited later to add an asterisk above, and an important qualifying remark as a footnote: 24-bit recording "doesn't hurt anything" ONLY if you set your recording levels appropriately. At the risk of seeming to be unkind, let me say this as clearly as I can: If you're one of those people who completely misunderstand the concept of headroom, who actually AIM to achieve peak levels of -12 dB or even lower (instead of aiming to get your peak levels as close as possible to 0 dB without actually hitting it), then the use of 24-bit recording is hurting you by "enabling" your basic failure to understand the concept of recording levels, and your "24-bit" recordings are quite possibly noisier than they would be if you learned how digital recording actually works, and used 16-bit recording appropriately.

DSatz, another great post! I have a question that I hope is not off topic. (I'm a nature recordist and diehard AUD tape/acoustic music listener and so hide out here in hopes of learning something from this great forum).

What about those of use who don't aim at -12dB (or lower) but who don't really have a choice given the source material?

I regularly record nature sounds which are frequently at such low levels. Save for some wind gusts or a jet engine, the usable recording I have to work with hovers down there. I opt not to attain "unnatural" levels when working in post, but I do routinely add as much as +10 dB so that the recording is audible at appropriate levels.

Should I experiment with 16bit?

Offline morst

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #65 on: June 25, 2018, 06:36:12 PM »
What about those of use who don't aim at -12dB (or lower) but who don't really have a choice given the source material?

I regularly record nature sounds which are frequently at such low levels. Save for some wind gusts or a jet engine, the usable recording I have to work with hovers down there. I opt not to attain "unnatural" levels when working in post, but I do routinely add as much as +10 dB so that the recording is audible at appropriate levels.

If wind gusts and jet engine sounds make those portions of the recording unusable, then why even consider them when setting levels? If they'll be thrown away, who cares how much they are clipped? Set the levels for the sounds you want.

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Offline beenjammin

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #66 on: June 25, 2018, 08:41:30 PM »
What about those of use who don't aim at -12dB (or lower) but who don't really have a choice given the source material?

I regularly record nature sounds which are frequently at such low levels. Save for some wind gusts or a jet engine, the usable recording I have to work with hovers down there. I opt not to attain "unnatural" levels when working in post, but I do routinely add as much as +10 dB so that the recording is audible at appropriate levels.

If wind gusts and jet engine sounds make those portions of the recording unusable, then why even consider them when setting levels? If they'll be thrown away, who cares how much they are clipped? Set the levels for the sounds you want.

JUST BE CAUTIOUS WHEN MONITORING THIS STUFF!

Yes, fully agree! I guess I wasn't clear: I have my levels cranked to 11 and am still lower than -12dB. My question is: given DSatz insights about 16 vs 24 bit, perhaps I should be recording at 16bit?

Offline noahbickart

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #67 on: June 25, 2018, 09:26:50 PM »
tbh I never heard a difference in the mixing, neither 24/96, 24/48 or 16/44.1, on any of my speakers, devices, headphones whatsoever.

That may be true, but others might have ears or gear which allow for hearing a difference, and, more importantly, if you ever want to do an post processing, many plugins work better at a higher sample rate.
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Offline morst

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #68 on: June 26, 2018, 01:35:39 AM »
Yes, fully agree! I guess I wasn't clear: I have my levels cranked to 11 and am still lower than -12dB. My question is: given DSatz insights about 16 vs 24 bit, perhaps I should be recording at 16bit?
I'd be more interested in seeing what you can get if you could crank your levels to 23 and see what is there.

What if you got a microphone which was more sensitive, or a preamp with more (clean??!!) gain?
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #69 on: June 26, 2018, 04:54:01 AM »
i usually record at 24/44.1

most of the recorders im using these days have not been fully tested by me for buffer underruns/dropped samples id rather reduce the load by 50+% than chase the holy grail of 96K and up.

older i get the safer i play it (as in life)

24 vs 16 bit is absolutely essential imo esp if youre taping different content where levels will vary dramatically.

with my AD2K i could get crystal clear sound in excess of my mics noise floor peaking at -30 dB and never need a preamp or worry about checking or setting levels. couldnt pull that off with 16bit

Offline beenjammin

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #70 on: June 26, 2018, 11:01:21 AM »
Yes, fully agree! I guess I wasn't clear: I have my levels cranked to 11 and am still lower than -12dB. My question is: given DSatz insights about 16 vs 24 bit, perhaps I should be recording at 16bit?
I'd be more interested in seeing what you can get if you could crank your levels to 23 and see what is there.

What if you got a microphone which was more sensitive, or a preamp with more (clean??!!) gain?

Again I wasn't clear, sorry: by "11" I'm referring to the movie Spinal Tap and mean that all my levels, preamp and line are set to maximum. In light of what DSatz has just said about 24bit vs 16bit above and given  that some places I record are extremely quiet, where levels hover lower than -12dB with everything cranked up, I wonder if 16bit might actually make sense for me.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #71 on: June 26, 2018, 12:14:42 PM »
^ No.  At least that's not the appropriate conclusion to be drawn from what he posted.

By his measurements of the Sony PCM-M10, a 16bit recording which peaks at -2dBfs captures more dynamic range (has a lower noise floor) than the same recording made at 24bit which peaks at -12dBfs and then has 10 dB of gain added afterwards to bring it up to the same -2dB peak level as the 16 bit recording.

If you are unable to apply sufficient gain to get your peak levels higher than -12dB, then switching to 16bit will not help (and is likely to hurt, but to be certain of that would require additional testing and measurement).

His point was to not leave excessive headroom by shooting for some arbitrarily lower peak level simply because you've set the recorder to write 24bit files.  Instead, the goal remains peaking as high as practical without going over regardless of the bit depth of the file being written, allowing for sufficient headroom to avoid overs, but no more than really needed.   He was making a point which applies generally, by way of measurements made of the Sony PCM-M10 specifically, regarding a characteristic which is likely to apply to other recorders in the same class commonly used by tapers.

The practical take away-
You don't have the option of using more gain and are stuck with peaking at -12dB regardless of how you set the recorder.  Lacking hard evidence to the contrary it's probably best for you to stick with 24 bits as you are likely to produce a recording with noise floor a couple of dB lower than you would if you were recording 16bits and also peaking at -12dB.   A couple dB lower is better, but it isn't a full 8 bits worth lower (the difference between 24 and 16).  That couple of dB reflects the likely real-world performance increase from 16 to 24 bit modes in small low cost recorders. 

This all translates to 24bit mode on commonplace recorders providing just a couple more dB of usable headroom than 16bit mode.  Not 10dB more or whatever as many would expect, but just a few dB more.  Use it but don't abuse it.

Here's the relevant portion of his post-
Quote
One well-known recorder that I'm almost certain has this characteristic, for example, is the Sony PCM-M10. According to what I saw when I did some testing and measuring about five years ago, a 16-bit recording that reaches -2 on peaks would be considerably quieter than an exactly equivalent 24-bit recording that reaches only -12 but is then boosted 10 dB in post-processing. That's the opposite of the result that I think some people would expect.
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Offline beenjammin

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #72 on: June 26, 2018, 09:36:51 PM »
^ Thanks! T

hat's very helpful and makes a lot of sense. I had read DSatz post and realized how little I know about how digital recording actually works and started to question my entire approach to sampling and bit depth. I'll keep on keeping on, cranking the dial in the quietest of places.

Offline nak700s

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #73 on: June 28, 2018, 04:25:28 PM »
Gutbucket (or others)...

I'm interested in what you would do, with regards to levels, when recording 4 tracks (say, 2 from a soundboard and 2 from microphones...or 2 different pair of microphones).  Would you still "saturate" as much as possible without going over, and lower the levels in post before combining, or would you record a little lower to make post easier?
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: What sample rate are you using?
« Reply #74 on: June 28, 2018, 06:42:38 PM »
Good question.  The previous, but in practical terms the answer becomes "both".

Generally its a good idea to set gain for each pair individually at the start of recording, then re-adjust as appropriate during mixing.

When mixing, I always balance levels and make correction tweaks by ear anyway.  That's a critical part of my post processing, even more so when mixing multiple channels, where I balance each pair separately before balancing the mix of pairs.  So in that sense I'm not overly concerned with the particular level relationship between multiple channels while recording since I'm going to adjust things by ear later.  From that perspective I'm setting gains so as to maximize dynamics for each channel individually while recording.

But..

Once the show gets rolling and I have the recording gains pretty much dialed in where I want them, at that point I don't want to make gain changes to individual channels because doing so would throw off whatever delicate mix balance I reach afterwards, from that particular point on in the performance.  So once I dial in whatever recording gains I feel are appropriate for each channel, I link the gain controls across all recording channels so that I can adjust them all simultaneously.  That way if I need to reduce levels for any one channel I adjust the gain of all of them together using one knob.  I hopefully don't need to do that during any one set, but often do between sets for multiple artist acts, such as at a festival.  Then whenever I do adjust gains during recording, the level change is obvious in post and I can locate and compensate for that for all channels across the board (adjusting them all by the same amount), without throwing off my mix balance.

Since I'm personally recording six or sometimes more channels, all of which are part of a multiple microphone array where each channel has a specific relationship to the others, including a tightly-correlated 3-microphone "center pair", doing this becomes even more important than it does when managing four channels.

It's sort of like the ambisonic case described above, except I don't need to precisely match identical recording gain across all channels.  I only need to keep the relative gain between channels the same throughout the recording.

Keeping the relative gains the same is a practicality of mixing thing.

I'll occasionally check the lowest level channels, typically rearward facing "ambience" channels, to make sure the signal remains above the noise floor of my recording system during the quietest parts.  If it does, no worries.
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