In this article, we are going to see how 96kHz and 48 kHz sample rate values stack up against each other.
Audio professionals have to think of the sample rate size when recording audio so the sound can be comprehensible and also guarantee that the audio is depicted accurately. The sample rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and refers to the number of audio samples recorded per second. The most common audio sample rate for audio-for-video work is 48kHz or 96 kHz.
When it comes to recording audio, higher sample rates usually provide better results. For this reason, a 96kHz sample rate would offer better sound quality than a 48kHz size. This is why a sample rate of 48kHz is considered a preferred minimum for audio production while 96 kHz is the go-to for hi-res audio production.
Let’s learn a bit more:
What is 96khz?
A 96kHz/ 96,000 hertz is a sample rate used for recording high-fidelity music or speech. It’s ideal for recording audiophile music such as classical and jazz sound design projects.
The benefit of using a 96kHz sample rate is that the audio files experience low audio latency. This means that you can record acoustic music without worrying about it sounding distorted.
Gaming audio can also be recorded at 96 kHz. This sample rate level helps produce a great sounding downward pitch effect for gaming audio for a more realistic experience. The only caveat is you need a faster CPU to record at this higher sample rate.
What is 48khz?
48kHz is a bit lower in comparison to 96 kHz, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not useful. It’s commonly used for recording movie audio tracks since speech utterances require a lower sample rate.
It makes it easier to get every detail of the speech so the listener can easily follow the conversation.
In terms of music recordings, 48kHz may not be the best sample rate for bringing out the best music tunes. However, it can be used to record pop music that has more emphasis on vocals.
When to use 96khz?
A general rule of thumb when recording is that the higher the sample rate value, the better the sound quality will be.
For this reason, use a 96kHz sample rate when you want to record a more accurate sound with minimal audio latency. This also means that 192kHz is better than 96kHz. Check out our article on 96kHz vs 192kHz to learn more.
Also, it’s recommended that you use anti-aliasing filters to reduce the chances of misidentification of a signal when recording analog sources like speech or music.
However, just be warned that when recording at 96 kHz, your recordings may take up too much space and put a strain on the CPU.
When to use 48khz?
You can use a 48kHz sample rate if audio latency isn’t a big issue for your recordings. Also, it’s a decent choice if you don’t have the budget to upgrade your CPU. The audio will still sound good and the recordings won’t take up too much space.
YouTube’s preferred audio source is 48kHz so that gives you a solid reason to use this sample rate. It makes it easier to share your recordings with a wider online market.
What is 16 bit 96khz?
Computers store information in binary values, that is, 1s and 0s. These are called bits. When the audio signal is sampled, it has to be stored in bits.
The bit depth determines the maximum values of information that can be stored. 16-bit digital audio can only store up to 65, 536 levels of information.
So while a 96kHz sample rate is impressive, recording in 96khz/16 bit is not a gold standard for recording fidelity audio since there isn’t much space for storing information.
In terms of dynamic range, a 16-bit depth can only give a maximum range of 96 decibels. This is just loud enough for you to hear but not so loud that it damages your eardrums.
What is 24 bit 48khz?
A 24-bit can store more values (up to 16, 777,216 levels of information). Therefore, it’s a more precise form of sampling than 16-bit depth.
For this reason, recording in 48kHz/24 bit is the professional quality for recording movie audio. Plus, this larger bit depth can save recordings that weren’t carefully being monitored.
Not to mention, most people report minimal freeze-ups or driver crashes when using the 48kHz/24-bit combination. The recording system remains fairly stable throughout the recordings due to more space allowance and a less-tasking sample rate on the CPU.
Plus, most people have audio systems that are capable of reading the 48kHz/24-bit quality. Not to mention, when it comes to dynamic range, a 24-bit depth can provide a maximum of 144 decibels.
96khz Sound Quality
Recordings at 96kHz sound more accurate and detailed to the listener. The higher sample rate keeps the audio ‘bright’, and makes it easier to identify noise and other audio equipment problems that may not be so obvious to the human ear.
However, you should note that the quality of the audio can be affected by the audio source and types of speakers used. So not all recordings will sound similar when played on different sound systems despite being recorded at the same sample rate.
48khz Sound Quality
Recording at a 48khz sound rate may result in a bit more latency in your audio in comparison to recording at 96khz. However, you still get enough room to fine-tune your audio, especially when recording high-frequency sounds such as cymbals.
That aside, the 48kHz audio quality is a solid choice for making the speech more comprehensible. The listener can easily comprehend whispers, accents, and even speech muffled by background noise.
Which is Better?
Ultimately, it all depends on the type of content you are recording. If you are recording a video for a movie, then use 48khz for the audio for better speech quality. However, if you are recording hi-res music audio, then 96kHz is your best bet for a more accurate and detailed sound.
To sum up, we can say that a 48khz sample rate is a safe bet for your CPU and lets you have more track count. In contrast, a 96khz audio stresses the CPU and reduces your track count. However, it helps bring out better-quality audio.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.