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What is 24 bit/96 kHz and Why We Use it? flag flag

Most of the PREMIER SOUND FACTORY Sound Series products are recorded in 24 bit/96 kHz. This is because as working professional engineers ourselves, we the creators of PREMIER SOUND FACTORY strongly believe in the high quality of 24bit/96kHz samples. The fact is, many of today’s top engineers and producers around the world now choose to record in 96 kHz and many Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) programs and audio interfaces are designed to work with 96 kHz. As the pioneering company of music production software and innovations, we proudly incorporate the highest level of production quality into our products.


The Idea and Reality of 44.1 kHz

16bit 44.1kHz, normal audio CD quality was designed to be adequate as sound data, and if you play it in an ideal system you can really enjoy the beauty of it.The reason why I said ideal system is because with general systems it is surprisingly hard to utilize the full potential of 16bit/44.1kHz sound. When digital audio data travels through an AD converter from the audio interface to the computer by USB or Firewire cable, on through a  PCI or other such slot to  the mother board on its way to be  written to the hard disk, sound degradation occurs for various reasons at various junctures.

For example, by switching to a high quality clock such as a rubidium, the resolution and phase can noticeably change. If you change your firewire cable from 4m to 50cm, you will hear more of the core sound.  In similar manner, changing the audio drive to SSD, adding more memory, and many other little things can affect the sound drastically, and if you try it you will be surprised.

Since It will never sound better than the original source, in fact the “original” sound we heard was already degraded without our having noticed,  our method of sound quality improvement is simply getting as close to the original as possible. Even with just a file copy, in the audio world there`s been a debate of “digital data never changes” vs. “same binary code does not mean same sound.”

Shinanokenshi, the company that created drives such as the Plexor Brand, is pointing out how delicate digital audio is by using atomic force microscope photos to show how sound changes with data tracing.

Anyway, at a certain point we should leave this kind of analysis to the specialists and as musicians, base our judgement by how the end product sounds and feels.


The Relationship Between Mastering and 96kHz

What we really have to think about is how to raise the final CD quality as much as possible.

Whether we record at 96kHz or 44.1kHz, in the end to be heard by the wider world we will normally be dropping the quality to 44.1kHz for CD. So dropping to that 44.1kHz is the main task accomplished during mastering. This is carried out by playing the original digital audio and recording it to the master recorder. So if we have to drop it to 44.1kHz anyway we should record it at 44.1kHz is how people might want to think. But if you actually record something at 96kHz and at 44.1kHz and listen to each, the difference is dramatic. After having this kind of experience, you are forced to think more seriously about the issue.

Then why if the original source is 96kHz does the resulting sound become better? Let me tell you what I think.

If the original data has 96kHz resolution and in order to create the master data 30% data degradation occurs, then the post-op data will have the equivalent of 67.2kHz quality. But if you start with 44.1kHz and use the same system to create the master data, 30% data degradation occurs and  the resulting data will not have enough quality.
If the original data is 44.1kHz and uses the same system, 30% degradation is equivalent to 30.87kHz,which is a loss of quality that we can definitely hear. Learning through trial and error, no matter how far we take things with 44.1kHz further potential remains untapped, and I can see how the sound keeps getting better and better. 30% is of course just an image of the amount of degradation that occurs during mastering, but it is hardly an exaggeration.

44.1kHz has so much potential that is as of yet unexplored. But even  to polish the sound that comes out of our DAW systems requires no small amount of effort,  and the higher you aim, the more time, money, and effort must be invested. By comparison, recording at 96kHz is much easier to accomplish, and it is no different with sample sounds.


The Incredible 96kHz Test

I have seen the power of 96k.

When 96k was new on the scene, we did a comparative test, recording the same artist with the same instrument at both 44.1k and 96k. I was in charge of the 44.1k recording. At the time I was already confident in my professional recording know-how, and was obsessed with sound quality and its accompanying craft. I first listened to what I had recorded and thought it was quite satisfactory, but when the 96k team played their recording, I was unable to hide my shock. Both were simple recordings, carried out with no limiters or effects, but it felt like the amp level had been turned up, what we call sound pressure, I could feel the energy of the sound. There was an undeniable gap between the two recordings. The 96k recording sounded so alive and full of energy, while mine sounded so weak and thin. it was a comparison at the same 44.1kHz, but the differance was huge. Where did the huge difference in quality come from? At that time I knew that 96kHz was the answer.

Since then, in my work as an engineer I have never once  recorded anything at lower than 96kHz(88.2kHz). There is a popular conception that 88.2kHz is better. That is because it when you digitally convert(not analog)it in half it becomes 44.1kHz.

Nowadays 192kHz also exists but most of the top engineers has conclude that more than 96kHz is meaningless. Lavry, the company that offers AD/DA converters to the mastering studios around the world also keeps the stance that more than 96kHz is not needed. I have not done any comparative test yet but as a data size i always choose 96kHz since the size is still realistic.

The reason i wrote this topic was because one of our customers sent us a comment saying that he was looking for drum and piano samples in 24bit/96kHz but that it is rare to find them. I strongly believe in the importance of having sample sounds with 24bit 96kHz and i am glad that there are people like me that are appreciating our products. Especially drum sounds since that's where the sound quality and the sound pressure matters most.Thinking of the ideal environment and setup to record the optimum quality, assembling these sounds has not been an easy process, but for the sake of myself and and others who value sound quality, it has been well worth it.

I hope that the 24bits96kHz PREMIER SOUND FACTORY helps you improve your production. 



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