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48 kHz vs 44.1 kHz sample rate

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checht:
Recently had a bit of time to think through my recording practices 😀. A few years ago I switched to recording 24/48 rather than 24/96, feeling like the trade offs made sense for me.

Now I’m wondering about 44.1. Mostly, trying to figure out if there’s a significant quality difference from 48 kHz, one that’s large enough to offset any quality reduction from downsampling. I’m unclear on quality difference between the rates, and whether downsampling algorithms degrade sound quality.

Thoughts? What else should I be considering?

DSatz:
Are you asking about down-sampling some existing 48 kHz recordings to 44.1 kHz? There could be reasons to do that, but I wouldn't do it unless it was necessary, e.g. if a bunch of your friends unearthed a trove of CD players, and wanted to throw a 1980s party and listen to your recordings that way.

As far as 44.1 vs. 48 kHz for an original recording is concerned, there shouldn't be enough sonic difference to be detectable by a human listener. If there is, the equipment (or your process of making the judgment) is suspect IMO. Once the sampling rate exceeds 2x the highest frequency being sampled, the only audible differences should be in the side effects of the anti-imaging and anti-aliasing filters. The whole decades-long saga over sampling rates is really about filtering, not sampling. In general there are tradeoffs between the frequency-domain and time-domain behavior of any filter (analog or digital). There are dynamic range and distortion considerations as well.

For digital filters, some important optimization constraints relax if the sampling frequency is raised. But the <10% difference between 44.1 and 48 kHz isn't enough to matter in that way. You'd need to go to (maybe) 60 or 64 kHz before you're totally "in the clear" for real-world program material. Thus we have 96 kHz as a professional standard--plus the usual assortment of people who think that no sampling rate is ever high enough, because they misunderstand sampling theory, i.e. they imagine that it becomes "closer to analog" the higher you raise the rate, which isn't how digital audio works.

All the potential sonic problems of filters become less if their design is less aggressive (fewer "poles"). Few live, acoustic signals have significant energy at 20 kHz or above, and those that do are rarely recorded close-up by consumers using microphones capable of conveying 20+ kHz signal components. So as a generality, there should be less need for aggressive filtering, and correspondingly less "need" for 96 kHz sampling in consumer recording equipment (i.e. to shove the filter problems brute-force up out of the audible range). For better or worse, though, manufacturers tend to design equipment for worst-case scenarios, and unfortunately, this aspect of recording equipment, though readily measurable, isn't usually described in spec sheets or on-line reviews.

--best regards

jerryfreak:
id go by end rate of your project

id take native 44.1 over 48K resampled to 44.1 personally

Sebastian:
I went from 96 kHz to 48 to 44.1 in the last couple of years. 96 kHz just took up too much space and required too much processing time with no audible benefits. And since most of my recording have 16 bit/44.1 kHz as their final format, it made sense to me to also record in that format. And I can avoid resampling this way.

checht:

--- Quote from: Sebastian on September 14, 2020, 04:24:24 AM ---I went from 96 kHz to 48 to 44.1 in the last couple of years. 96 kHz just took up too much space and required too much processing time with no audible benefits. And since most of my recording have 16 bit/44.1 kHz as their final format, it made sense to me to also record in that format. And I can avoid resampling this way.

--- End quote ---

This was my contemplated path prior to starting the thread. Now reconsidering my practice of releasing 16/44.1 versions. DSatz pointed out my logical error; not likely that anyone's making optical discs any more, except of those vintage Duran Duran shows...

Hmmm, maybe 16/48 releases so they're easy to sync with video, which does happen once in a while.

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