iZotope Pro Audio Essentials: What is Sample Rate?

In this video, we’ll give you a quick overview on what we mean by sample rate, sometimes written “Fs.”

The basic concept you’ll need to understand is the relationship between sample rate and the frequency content of an audio recording. Before we dive into the description of sample rate, let’s listen to a few recordings made at different sample rates.

Pay special attention to the changes in high frequency content of each. As the sample rate decreases, the high frequency information is less.

First, a recording made at 44,100 samples per second, or 44.1kHz, the standard rate used for delivering music to consumers.

[mix]

Next is the same recording made at one half that rate, or 22.050kHz.

[mix, 22.050kHz]

Last is the same recording made at 11.025kHz.

[mix, 11.025kHz]

So here’s some background information on what’s happening.

In order to accurately record and reproduce a frequency, you need to be able to sample it at least twice every cycle.

A 1,000Hz signal takes one one-thousandth of a second to complete a cycle, so to make a recording of it, we’d need to sample it at twice that speed.

If we want to make recordings that include all frequencies up to the limit of human hearing, which is generally accepted to be 20,000Hz, we need to use a sample rate of at least 40,000Hz.

Now, for technical reasons, we usually use a sample rate that’s slightly higher than that. Most music applications use 44,100Hz.

You DAW offers a number of different sample rates, which can be used for a variety of reasons. 48kHz is commonly used when producing audio for video, because of the relationship between audio samples and the frame rate of the video.

Some music producers favor sample rates that are higher than 44,100 or 48kHz, because of superior fidelity, or advantages relating to sound design and signal processing quality.

No matter what sample rate you choose, it’s possible to convert your audio to a different sample rate using a sample rate conversion tool, albeit with some small change in audio quality.

Ultimately, the choice of sample rate comes down to what works in your individual music production workflow.

iZotope

iZotope

iZotope develops award-winning audio software and plug-ins for mixing, mastering, restoration, and more. Learn more at iZotope.com.
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