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Re: 16 bit 48 all we need?

Nice question, I've been thinking about sample rates lately (bit depth less so - the headroom thing just makes 24 bits the hands down winner).

Last week I compared 44.1 to 96 khz sampling rates with my Apogee Duet running through Ableton Live. I use this setup to loop and process my guitar running into my guitar amp.

For the comparison I put the Duet in a true bypass loop (an utterly essential bit of kit for all tone-questioning gear comparisons) so I could take the Duet/laptop right out of the signal chain instantaneously. In other words, I was really comparing 44.1 vs 96, 44.1 vs bypass and 96 vs bypass. I also used headphones to compare 44.1 and 96 without the amp. Everything was set up to be as close to unity gain as possible.

With clean tones (just the boost side of a Zvex Box of Rock buffering the signal) there was a little difference between the two sample rates, but not a lot. There was a little less detail in the higher frequencies but it was quite subtle. There was a noticeable difference comparing 44.1 to bypassed - bypassed sounded better, but again it was subtle. Any difference between 96 and bypass was miniscule.

With a fuzz pedal before the Duet the difference was much more noticeable. The high end was less detailed, less lively and just generally sounded worse. Comparing each rate to the bypassed signal confirmed this impression. The difference may not enough to be noticeable in a mix but very noticeable if you're looking for it.

That's probably the main issue: if you're looking for it. In film or TV if you go through it frame by frame you'll see lots of production errors, moments when you see the stunt persons' faces, etc. but if you just sit back and watch you'll miss most of that and just enjoy the narrative. Similarly, if you go looking for differences and flaws in audio fidelity in music technology you'll find them but if you just sit back and listen then they'll pass you by. But, then again, it is obsessing over minor details (or rather many, many minor details, together) that leads to beautifully recorded music... This mic, that eq band, the other sample rate, etc. might not make that much difference on their own but if you neglect such minor details altogether then you'll end up with a turgid mess of a recording.

On the basis of my own quite rudimentary tests I definitely prefer 96khz. My 2006 Macbook struggles with the increased sample rate so I'll stick to lower ones for now but when I upgrade I'll go all 96. I very much doubt that 192khz would make a noticeable difference for my rather low end purposes.

The difference between the 96khz Apogee AD/DA conversion and the direct, bypassed signal was really incredibly minor. Happily, I think this goes to show that these days low end doesn't necessarily mean lofi - far from it.


--On 06 March 2012 19:21 +0100 mark francombe <markfrancombe@gmail.com> wrote:

I snagged this URL from Geir Jennsens (biosphere) Fb page... if its
true its pretty interesting, any audiophiles wanna confirm or deny?
Maybe it's common knowledge?


I'm pretty lo fi, have bad equipment. and never really been able to
hear "good quality" I have always put high fidelity down to " good
mixing" rather than high specs... so I enjoyed what I read here...


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