2. SAMPLE RATES MATTER. OR NOT.
The sample rate determines how many “snapshots” of your
audio signal are taken in a second. Sample rate determines
just one thing: the frequency response of the system—in other
words, the highest frequency the system can record. Today’s digital gear is capable of working at 192 kHz sample rates (or even
higher), which provide frequency response up to 96 kHz—
nearly five times the highest frequency the human ear is generally
credited with being able to perceive. There may be situations
where those super-high frequencies are worth capturing. Some
“golden-ear” listeners claim to hear a difference when those
ultra-sonic frequencies are present, but this assumes the music is
being delivered to the listener on a DVD or some other medium that supports sample rates over 44. 1 kHz. Some recording
engineers also feel that certain types of input filters and plug-ins
work better at higher rates. But for most of us operating in less-than-perfect bedroom and basement studios, there are few reasons to use high sample rates. A big drawback is that you have
to get that high rate converted down to 44. 1 kHz to deliver it
on CD, which can potentially impact the audio quality. Another
is that high sample rates dramatically increase the size and computer load for a project. If you have a full-on Pro Tools HD or
HDX system, that’s no big deal. But if you’re running a native
digital audio workstation (DAW), then that extra load can be a
problem. Personally, I record at 44. 1 kHz if the project will end
up on CD or MP3. I rarely work at high sample rates.
Sample rates matter. Or not. Unless you have a compelling reason to use a
higher sample rate, 44. 1 kHz is optimum for most productions.