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Chapter 2. Source Material: Getting It i... > Comparing Audio File Size to Quality

Comparing Audio File Size to Quality

It's important to understand how audio is captured. The quality of the audio file is determined by its sample rate. With audio, digital audio (such as from DATs) is rated as the highest quality, recorded at 48 kHz, or 48,000 samples per second. These samples are “snapshots”of the audio signal. The higher the number, the more details about that source that are being recorded. The lower the number, the longer the time intervals are when your sound is sampled. This means that the computer basically fills in the intervals between samples, resulting in a less-accurate representation of the original source signal.

A good way to describe what takes place with the sample rate is to imagine a connect-the-dots game (see Figure 2.20). Notice the more-accurate definition between points over the course of 1 second. The more samples that are taken, the better-quality reproduction that signal has. Where is the cutoff? Well, that depends on you. The lower the sample rate, the smaller the file size. The higher the sample rate, the better the quality of the sound file. Each project you produce determines the individual specifications. I recommend that you always capture at the highest sample rate (the best quality). You can always convert it down (44 kHz to 11.025 kHz), but you can never go in the reverse direction. See Chapter 10, “Outputting Your Work,” to find out more about output options and signal qualities available through Premiere.


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