96Khz. Why?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Division Monarchy
Posts: 232
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:54 pm

96Khz. Why?

Post by Division Monarchy » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:37 am

Is there really any point to working at 96Khz? I try it, and I think it sounds better, but it just might be more like a placebo effect. It obviously eats up the processor more, and eventually it's heard at a much lower sample rate. So why then do engineers use it? Or 192Khz for that matter? Are there any real advantages? Am I just tricking myself into believing it sounds better when there really is no difference?

H20nly
Posts: 15844
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by H20nly » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:32 am

Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, and Hitachi got together and came up with it as a means to sell more products.

Tarekith
Posts: 17452
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Ableton Forum Administrator
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:40 am

Contentious subject for sure, not a lot of agreement out there on this one. I think 192kHz is totally overdone, there's no need for that at all IMO. 96k I could see in some instances, if you're recording highly dynamic music with world class mics and pres. Classical, Jazz, that sort of thing.

Some people like to use 96kHz as it can push any aliasing out beyond the range of human hearing, but that assumes you're having an issue with aliasing in the first place. Not so much of a concern these days, modern DSP is pretty damn good here. Depends on your tools though I guess.

Every couple of years I sit down and do a lot of listening tests to see if it's finally worth jumping to a higher samplerate for my own music, most recently a couple months ago before I started work on my latest album. To "me" it's not worth it, very rarely do I hear a difference, and when I do it's not always subjectively better, just different. For most electronic music, those differences aren't even audible anyway.

I tend to ascribe to the thoughts of Dan Lavry that says anything above about 60kHz can actually make things sound less accurate, not better. Personally I'd just rather avoid any SRC later down the line if I can, so I still work at 44.1kHz

Like I said though, this is a contentious topic, people have been debating this ad nauseum on places like Gearslutz for years now. I usually tell people it's best to try for themselves and see what they prefer. Just try and compare the two samplerate as blindly as possible, so you're not biasing yourself knowing which is which. Just because you might hear a difference, doesn't mean it's neccesarily better.

Guillermo Barrancos
Posts: 297
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:05 am

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Guillermo Barrancos » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:07 pm

H20nly wrote:Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, and Hitachi got together and came up with it as a means to sell more products.
Isn't that always?

It's the same really with the current 4K TV craze.... totally useless and waste of Money right now.

Angstrom
Posts: 14686
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Angstrom » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:27 pm

well, the issue is not that anyone can hear 96kHz, it's that many devices/plugins/whatever will produce overtones which go far above 22kHz

So something like an overdrive or a waveshaper is a very obvious example - these require a lot of frequency range above 22kHz in which to operate - otherwise you'll get weird reflections (aliasing) coming back down at you, bouncing off the nyquist frequency.

Look at all those harmonics
Hopefully it's easy enough for people to understand how overdrive/ distortion will produce harmonics, but if not then play a 1khz sine wave through one of Abletons Saturator or Overdrive effects and look at a Spectrum - you will see the harmonic generation. When this sort of effect is applied to a broad frequency range signal the artifacts are numerous.

Beyond simple overdrives though - even simple things like EQ can produce 'non-linearities' and in fact the sounds of many coveted compressors and EQs of the past relate to the way they add harmonics to the input. Ableton's EQ8 is very clean in this regard (rather than non-linear drive it has linear drive), but If you are aiming for a clean / accurate outcome then you can see why an engineer might choose to give themselves more frequency headroom just to be sure.

Oversampling
Of course, we have "oversampling" to counter a lot of these issues. Often oversampling is a 4x of the current operating sample rate. Ableton's devices often refer to "hi quality" mode where this is available, in the EQ or Saturator for instance. But still - with rogue harmonics you really benefit from as much oversampling as you can possibly get. One way of doing this is by running your project much higher than the eventual output rate. For example at 96kHz

What to do as a producer? How to be pro!
Do I run at that rate?
Fuck no, I'm not delusional enough to think my production skills or gear merit it.
I play shitty chinese guitars with sausage fingers through VSTs and play them back on earbuds. You'll have 44kHz and like it.

stringtapper
Posts: 6275
Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:21 pm

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by stringtapper » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:03 pm

Tarekith wrote:Just try and compare the two samplerate as blindly as possible, so you're not biasing yourself knowing which is which. Just because you might hear a difference, doesn't mean it's neccesarily better.
And I would add: "Just because you hear a difference doesn't mean there actually is a difference." Thus the "blindly as possible" part of your comment. (EDIT: Or maybe I should say "Just because you hear a difference doesn't mean you hear a difference.") :lol:

The thing that irritates me about this is that I know people who use 24/96 but don't even know why they use it. They use it "because it's the industry standard." Give me a break. :roll:

That said, I do have to use 24/96 in my day job because it is, in fact, the industry standard in audio archiving as prescribed by preservation experts at Harvard, Indiana, and the Library of Congress. :x

We switched from 24/48 to 24/96 just a couple of years ago and having worked with both I really believe that in many cases the differences are NOT worth the downsides you get when trying to edit and process 24/96 files (e.g. longer rendering times, audio app slowdown, etc.).
Unsound Designer

Tarekith
Posts: 17452
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Ableton Forum Administrator
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:45 pm

BTW, since we're talking sample rates and what not, this is an EXCELLENT intro into sampling theory, DSP, etc:

http://jackschaedler.github.io/circles- ... index.html

Good primer for anyone interested in learning more about the fundamentals of this stuff.

Guillermo Barrancos
Posts: 297
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:05 am

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Guillermo Barrancos » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:22 pm

Tarekith wrote:BTW, since we're talking sample rates and what not, this is an EXCELLENT intro into sampling theory, DSP, etc:

http://jackschaedler.github.io/circles- ... index.html

Good primer for anyone interested in learning more about the fundamentals of this stuff.
"Recall for a moment the section on sound and perception. In that section we mentioned that the range of human hearing runs from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Since humans can’t actually hear frequency content above 20,000 Hz, frequencies above this limit are actively removed from most audio and music signals before they are sampled. Given what we now know about the Sampling Theorem, you won’t be surprised to hear that the most common sampling rate for audio and music signals is around 40,000 Hz, or twice the highest audible frequency. 2"

2. The sampling rate is actually 44,100 Hz. This is for purely historical reasons which are largely related to broadcasting.

I think that sums it up really.

Joel W-J
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:17 am

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Joel W-J » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:02 pm

So that you can fill up your hard drive much quicker! :lol:

Angstrom
Posts: 14686
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Angstrom » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:32 pm

Guillermo Barrancos wrote:
Tarekith wrote:BTW, since we're talking sample rates and what not, this is an EXCELLENT intro into sampling theory, DSP, etc:

http://jackschaedler.github.io/circles- ... index.html

Good primer for anyone interested in learning more about the fundamentals of this stuff.
"Recall for a moment the section on sound and perception. In that section we mentioned that the range of human hearing runs from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Since humans can’t actually hear frequency content above 20,000 Hz, frequencies above this limit are actively removed from most audio and music signals before they are sampled. Given what we now know about the Sampling Theorem, you won’t be surprised to hear that the most common sampling rate for audio and music signals is around 40,000 Hz, or twice the highest audible frequency. 2"

2. The sampling rate is actually 44,100 Hz. This is for purely historical reasons which are largely related to broadcasting.

I think that sums it up really.
it doesn't sum it up as far as audio production goes, but it does with regard to reproduction of audio

The issue is that most people don't make that differentiation.
Audio production very often uses sample rates higher than that. If you've ever used a device with oversampling or "hiQuality" mode then you have used higher sample rates than that.

Tarekith
Posts: 17452
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Ableton Forum Administrator
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:42 pm

That's mostly what I was referring to when I said "modern DSP is so damn good". Usually when there might be an issue that affects audio quality, oversampling is employed anyway.

Doing things at 96kHz probably isn't hurting anything (one reason I suppose it's used for archiving, just in case), but at the same time I don't think it really gets you anything either in most situations. The fact that with all of our knowledge about audio processing these days there's still no concensus on the issue just demonstrates (IMVHO) how miniscule these aspects of sound quality we're talking about are.

Or maybe I'm just getting old and don't care anymore :)

Division Monarchy
Posts: 232
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:54 pm

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Division Monarchy » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:22 pm

Thanks guys.
So what I'm gathering is that it's a bit pretentious for the most part, possibly useful if producing music with a lot of nuances and dynamics, and can also be replicated by using psychoacoustic plugins.
Is that it in a nutshell?

Tarekith
Posts: 17452
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Ableton Forum Administrator
Contact:

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:53 pm

More or less :)

H20nly
Posts: 15844
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by H20nly » Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:10 pm

and it eats a shit ton of extra drive space while it slows your roll.

[jur]
Site Admin
Posts: 1945
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:04 pm
Location: Ableton

Re: 96Khz. Why?

Post by [jur] » Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:04 am

For recording, 96Khz sometimes can make a huge difference if you like to torture your audio files.
The most obvious situation is when you want to pitch down a sound; it's like taking a picture with a higher resolution... pixels are smaller and thus you can zoom in deeper while keeping lots of detail.
Ableton Forum Moderator

Post Reply