If you’re a musician or music lover, Have you ever wondered or been curious about 44100 vs 48000 Hz sampling rates? Why do some people use one over the other? Wondering if one is better than the other?
44100Hz and 48000Hz refer to the “sampling rate” of a song, which is how many times per second the sound wave is sampled (the record player needle goes up and down) as it records. The more samples per second, the higher quality music you receive.
The reason why you would want a higher sampling rate?
If you have a good ear for music and can recognize that there’s a difference between 44,100 Hz vs 48,000 Hz. It has been said that for every doubling in sampling frequency there is an increase in perceived fidelity by about 6dBs. Meaning from 16kHz to 22.05kHz this equates to an approximate 0 to -10dB loss in quality.
In order for this to be noticeable, you’d have to use a very high-end sound card and speakers or headphones that can reproduce frequencies in the upper spectrum of human hearing (20kHz+). This is due mostly in part to the physical limitation of our ears which cannot detect frequencies above 20kHz.
44100 Hz –
If your song or instrumental samples of an old record player or anything that plays at this sampling rate.
That’s about it. I hope that explains things a bit more clearly for people who are curious about the sampling rates of songs, particularly mp3s.
48000 Hz –
If your ear isn’t as sensitive as some other people’s ears are. 48 kHz sampling rate is generally considered adequate even for low-end sound cards and onboard audio chipsets found in most computers today. Although if you do have a nice stereo system with some decent sized speakers, it wouldn’t hurt to encode at 96 kHz instead since there’s no real difference between them anyway unless you are using an extremely high-end sound card.
If you are encoding music for the iPod / MP3 players, there is a good chance that they support only mp3’s encoded with 48000 Hz. For example Apple iPod, Sony Walkman, iRiver H10 etc.
Pros of Higher Sampling Rates
If you have a good ear for music and can recognize that there is a difference between 44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz, you might want to encode at this higher rate. An increase in sampling frequency also comes with an increase in perceived fidelity by an approximate 6dBs per doubling. Again, this may not be noticeable on most stereos due to the physical limitations of our ears which cannot detect frequencies above 20kHz.
Cons of Higher Sampling Rates
It takes approximately 6 times more space to store files encoded at 96 kHz than it would normally take to encode them at 48 kHz (approximately four times longer encoding time). This means encoding a song at 96 kHz will make your hard drive or flash drive wear out much faster. Unless your hard drive is made to only be used for music, it’s not worth encoding at higher rates since you need more room for all of your other files.
More Frequent Channels
This refers to the number of audio channels that are available when encoding a song. One channel generally means mono whereas two channels would mean stereo sound. A common mistake that people make is thinking that because the file has “2” in front of it, they have an actual true stereo sound which isn’t always the case.
If someone says their file was encoded at 48000 Hz with 2 channels, this means there were two samples taken per cycle (one sample for each channel). The more frequent the sampling rate, the higher the quality sound you receive.
Price to Pay for Higher Quality
If you have a good ear for music and can recognize that there’s a difference between 44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz, it may be worth encoding at this higher rate which will take approximately 6 times more space to store files encoded at 96 kHz than it would normally take to encode them at 48 kHz.
However, unless your hard drive is made specifically to only be used for audio files, it’s not going to hurt anything encoding at lower rates since you need more room for all of your other files as well.
Is 44100 Hz enough?
44100 Hz is enough because digital music (PCM) uses 16-bit samples and these have two possibilities:
- Each sample value is given a number from 0 to 65,535
- Each sample value is mapped to the nearest integer of 32-bit, which is from -32,768 to 32,767.
Is it better to record at 44.1 or 48?
It is better to record at 44.100 Hz because files are smaller and it takes less time to transfer on the internet.
What are some common music file types?
There are many different kinds of music file types, but the two most common ones are MP3s and WAVs.
Is 48000 a good sample rate?
48000 Hz is a google sample rate of music file types, here are some common ones:
A guitar string vibrates so many times per second (for example 60 times per second or 60Hz) and produces sound waves in the air which our ears pick up and translate to the frequency of the sound. It is a physical law that as frequencies get higher, their wavelengths shorten. So a string vibrating at 1000 Hz (1kHz) is twice the length of one vibrating at 500 Hz (Half its wavelength), effectively producing inaudible frequencies in half the amount of time.
Music is a beautiful art, people put so much effort into their lyrics and instruments they play for us to enjoy, not for you to play around with technical issues. If you think that your headphones or speakers can’t handle a higher sampling rate, you might want to use a lower one.
There is no right or wrong answer here, only what sounds better to you and that’s going to take some time and effort on your part to find out. I hope the information provides enough insight for you to make an informed decision about high vs low sampling rates.
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