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Chapter 2. Introduction To Digital Audio > Sampling Rate and Bit Depth

Sampling Rate and Bit Depth

The higher the sampling rate of a digital file (measured in samples per second), the more frequencies that file can reproduce. Frequency refers to the number of sound waves or “cycles” repeated per second, measured in hertz (Hz). A 10 kHz frequency, for example, is a sound containing 10,000 cycles per second. The frequency of a sound determines its pitch; low frequencies produce low-pitch sounds, and high frequencies produce high-pitch sounds. The human ear can hear frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to about 20 kHz.

According to Nyquist's theorem, which says you have to be able to take two complete samples per second to reconstruct an accurate waveform, for a particular frequency to be captured in a digital file, the sampling rate must be at least double that frequency's value. So a recording containing a peak frequency of 12,000 Hz, for example, would require a sampling rate of 24,000 samples per second.


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