HD samplerate wars
As the public is slowly being educated about the options for downloading music files i HD (High Definition), many mis-understandings, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and downright bit-war snoberies are beginning to surface.
Bigger, faster, higher and more-expensive is “always right” … right? Well, not always. The truth is that there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that call for various choices to work at various samplerates. Let me offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb to highlight some of the reasons why “bigger, faster, more” just might not always be the best choice.
My name is David Miles Huber (www.davidmileshuber.com) … I’m a 3X Grammy-nominated producer/artist in the electronic music genre. I play “a mean computer”, that’s my instrument of choice … and I’ve been doing it for decades. As such, I’ve been sampling hardware instruments, soft-synths, real instruments and adding recorded tracks to my projects for over 20 years. These self-made and commercially-available sounds have been carefully hand-forged into loops that make up my craft … mostly in an era when the 24/96 (or gawd forbid the 24/192) discussion wasn’t even around.
The next part of the discussion revolves around whether to up-sample the current sounds into a “hi-res” (most likely 24/96) project and then record the new material at the higher rates. This is all well and good, except that one of my main live production tools is Ableton Live, running on a laptop. Performing live at 24/96 would most likely introduce added hardship on the hard drive, CPU processing and added signal processing. Thus the performance aspect would probably remain at 24/44. As my European Assistant pointed out to me … these actions of moving back and forth between rates are going to slip me up at some point in time. He said … “It’s about the music, not the science”.
In the end, I had to totally agree with him. When the audio is carefully recorded and crafted using carefully chosen mic techniques, killer converters that sound great, working your butt off using proper recording and production practices … The sound will follow. I’ve know from experience that carefully-crafted 24/44 can easily beat out 24/96 that is less than steller. Add to this, the needs of the production process (with regards to processing power and ease-of-use), and it comes down to these things:
1. Does technology get in the way of the music?
2. How does it sound?
3. Does your chosen bitrate make sense for your production system and style?
If you’re recording live instruments and using your DAW as a tape recorder, then mixing this recording into a final product … fine … recording at a high rate will most often be the best answer. However, if you’re dealing with large number of tracks, live performance constraints, plug-in constraints, electronic production styles and tools … and the answer just might not be so simple. In the end, I would ask you to respect the way in which the artist makes his or her music … judge them on their sound alone and not on the science of the tools that have captured their sound. Quality sound is quality sound … and good music will stand on its own merit, in the end.