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Chapter 4. Recording Audio > Setting Audio Recording Preferences

Setting Audio Recording Preferences

Before you click the Record button and start recording, you need to be sure that Cubase will record the files at the bit depth and sample rate you want.

To set properties for audio recording

From the Project menu, select Project Setup (Figure 4.6).

Figure 4.6. Opening the Project Setup panel, where you can configure many project parameters.

The Project Setup panel opens (Figure 4.7). The bottom pane includes three options that enable you to set the sample rate, bit depth (recording format), and type of file to be recorded. The fourth option, for setting the stereo pan law, changes the way tracks are attenuated when they are panned further and further from center; unless you have a good reason to change it (and know what you are doing), it should be left at the default.

Figure 4.7. Typical settings for a project: in this case, 24-bit, 44.1-kHz Broadcast Wave files will be recorded.

Select your preferred settings. If you don't know where to start, try 44.100 Hz, 24 bit, and Broadcast Wave.

Click OK.

✓ Tips

  • A Broadcast Wave file is a WAV file that can have extra text added to it, such as the name of the author and the date the file was created. Broadcast Wave files are also time-stamped, meaning that when the file is recorded, the start and end positions of the file relative to the start of the project are embedded in the file. For example, if a file starts 1 minute and 30 seconds from the start of a project, that information is stored with the WAV file, and the file can be re-spotted at that exact location in another project. This makes transfer of files between different projects simple, because you can place a Broadcast Wave file in a new project at precisely the point where it started in the original project.

  • Cubase SX 2 adds support for files in the Wave64 format, an extension of the WAV file specification created by Sonic Foundry. Wave64 files are just like normal WAV files but can be much longer, so you can use them if you plan to record one continuous file for a very long time. Because the file header of a Wave64 file uses 64-bit values instead of the 32-bit values in a standard WAV file, a Wave64 file can be much longer than the 2GB limit set for a standard WAV file. You can use Wave64 files, for example, to record entire live performances that might last hours instead of minutes.

File Resolution

The arguments about which sample rate to use may go on forever. On paper, 16-bit, 44.1-kHz audio would seem to cover the entire range of human hearing, leaving no reason ever to use a higher sample rate of 88.2 or 96 kHz or a word length of 24 or 32 bits. That said, instruments undoubtedly make noises above the range of human hearing. Some people claim that the absence of this information degrades the quality of 44.1-kHz audio.

The most commonly used sample rates are 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz. The sample rate for CDs is 44.1 kHz, many DAT decks sample at 44.1 or 48 kHz, and DVDs can sample at either 96 or 88.2 kHz, depending on the format and decisions made in production. Though there are arguments about what is the “best” sample rate to use, there is little argument about one thing: converting sample rates after the fact is generally a very bad idea. The math involved in turning a 48-kHz file into a 44.1-kHz file is very complex and conversion often leaves ugly, harsh artifacts in the resulting file.

My recommendation is to use the sample rate that the intended release format uses, unless you have a very good reason to do otherwise. This means that if a project is destined for CD release, track it at 44.1 kHz. If you are still worried about not catching enough of your instruments at that sample rate, at least choose 88.2 instead of 96 or 48 kHz. Not surprisingly, the math to turn 88.2 into 44.1 is comparatively simple. Keep in mind, though, that 88.2 kHz doubles the number of samples the system uses, which makes that sample rate precisely twice as demanding on the computer as 44.1. This means half the number of tracks, plug-ins, software synths, and so on at the higher sample rate.

Bit depth for a file is much easier to choose. Nearly every sound card these days can record at 24 bits, and turning a 24-bit file into a 16-bit file for CD release is a benign process. It is strongly recommended that you record 24-bit audio, regardless of the sample rate you choose.

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