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Sample Rate, Bit Depth & Buffer Size Explained

Applies to: All products 

When recording audio, there are certain aspects that contribute to the quality of your sound.

It is important to understand the purpose of these and how they should be applied to ensure optimal performance of the device and the overall sound quality of your recordings.

In most DAWs you will find sample rate and buffer size options and it's important to familiarise yourself with how they are applied during the recording process.

Settings such as Sample Rate and Bit Depth are usually set before your session and typically should not be changed as the audio that you have recorded at one sample rate will not play back correctly at another sample rate. e.g. A piece of audio recorded at 44.1kHz will play back faster if played back at a sample rate of 48kHz. A piece of audio recorded at 48kHz will play back slower if played back at a sample rate of 44.1kHz.

 

The Sample rate will be the number of audio samples that are captured per second and is measured in Hertz.

Common Sample Rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 (kHz)

This means that as you increase the sample rate, more data is captured per second.

 

Bit depth is the number of “bits” captured in each sample per second.

As this changes so does the dynamic range which is the difference between the lowest and highest volume of a signal that can be recorded. As you increase bit depth, you expand the threshold of what can be heard and recorded by your recording software although the maximum range of human hearing typically does not exceed 120 dB.

Common Bit Depths: 16, 24

 

Buffer Size is the amount of time allowed for your computer to process the audio of your sound card, or audio interface.

This applies when experiencing latency, which is a delay of processing audio in real time. You can reduce your buffer size to limit latency but this can result in a higher burden on your computer which can cause glitchy audio or drop-outs.

This can generally be fixed by increasing your buffer size in the audio preferences of your DAW or driver control panel.

When introducing more audio to your session, you may need a larger buffer size in order to accurately record signal with no distortion and limited latency. Increasing the buffer size will allow more time for the audio to be captured without distortion.

It is important to find the appropriate buffer size for your session as this can vary depending on the number of tracks, plug-ins, audio files etc...

 

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