Music Production – Understanding Digital Audio, Sampling Rate and Bit Depth

Which are the difference between digital and analog music production? Analog music production uses magnetic particles to store recorded information using electricity as it’s main conduit. Digital music production uses bits within the digital realm to store exactly the same information. But, the digital process still uses electricity in the initial elements of the production chain (also to power the digital devices). This short article will discuss how analog audio is transformed into digital audio such that it could be stored in hard-disk mediums. To raised understand digital audio, we have to go through the signal chain and in addition familiarize ourselves using the terms Sampling Rate and Bit Depth.

Analog to Digital Conversion (and Vice Versa)

The audio signals that people record are analog signals. These vibrations are found by way of a microphone. The mic then turns the vibrations into electric signals, that are then carried down the mic cable in to the pre-amp of the recording interface. Whenever we speak in digital terms, the recording interface usually also offers an A/D conversion element built-in. This component is exactly what transforms the electric signal from your mic and amplified from the pre-amp into digital bits. This transformation is essential because you want to use digital media as its storage media (if we have been speaking in analog terms, then A/D conversion isn’t necessary).

Vice versa, whenever we desire to hear again what we should recorded the digital audio stored in the medium should be converted back to analog sound. The bits travel back again to the A/D converter (or AD/DA converter to become more precise – Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog converter), the converter takes the info and creates a power signal that represents the info that people recorded. This electric signal is then delivered to a speaker monitor that amplifies the signal in order that we hear what we should recorded. However, the product quality isn’t always exactly the same and differences which range from minor to irritatingly audible can occur.

Sampling Rate

Along the way of converting an analog signal to an electronic signal, a sampling rate can be used. A sampling rate may be the rate of which the digital recorder (in cases like this let’s say some type of computer) takes “snapshots” from the audio signal it’s receiving. Similar to how a camera records moving images as multiple images in a single instance of your time, so does a recorder record an audio source as single sounds in a single instance of your time. In recording technology, sampling rate means just how many samples are shot within one second.

Common types of sampling rates are: 44,100 Hz, 48,000 Hz, 96,000 Hz, and 192,000 Hz.

Which means that for any sampling rate of 44,100 Hz (or 44.1 kHz), 44,100 samples are recorded every second. Whenever we playback the recording, the samples happen so fast that people hear a continuing blast of audio though it is actually discreet data at separate time intervals. The bigger the sampling rate, the higher quality sound that people can hear.

Sampling Bit Depth

Digital photographers will undoubtedly be familiar with the word pixels, this is the level of “boxes”, width by length, that represents the colors from the image being shot. A 4 x 4 pixel picture only has 16 boxes of color to represent the image. The audio exact carbon copy of pixels is bit depth and sampling rate. From the reason above, we recognize that sampling rate may be the “length” from the image we have been recording (or the x-axis). Bit depth is which means “width” of what we have been recording (or the y-axis).

This representation in pixels or samples is essential because that’s how digital technology works. These terms usually do not apply within the analog world (even though universal term “resolution” still pertains to both realms). If sampling rate determines the continuity from the audio stream, then bit depth determines the dynamics that may be captured.

Types of bit depths include: 8-bit, 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit (floating point).

24-bit can record significantly better dynamics than 16-bit. The CD standard is 44,1 kHz at 16 bit. 24 bit technology, presently, is only found in the recording and processing stage – not yet within the playback stage (for some at the very least – the DVD Audio standard uses 24-bit resolution audio). Therefore, as musicians we record at 24-bit to raised capture the detail and dynamics from the sound, but we then later have to convert the audio into 16-bit for it to become playable using most devices on the market.

I hope this short article continues to be informational, and may help you get to know the technical side of music production.

For your byte-sized happiness,
Endy

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