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When talking about digital audio, another important term to understand is sample rate. Sound is a continuous entity or wave. When we capture audio digitally--which is what we're doing when we record into a computer--we're not really capturing every single moment of the sound. What we're doing is capturing samples of the sound. Just as a video camera doesn't capture every single moment of motion, it captures frames. But it captures enough frames per second--generally 24 to 30 frames per second--that when those images are played in sequence, we have the illusion of motion. So, when you digitally recorded a sound, the frames in this case are called samples.
The more Samples you can collect per second, the more accurate the sound will sound when you play it back. The speed at which these samples are collected is called sample rate. For example, the standard sample rate of a standard music CD is 44,100 hertz, or 44.1 Kilohertz. That means that for every second of music, what you're really hearing is 44,100 samples of the music, which is acceptable to the majority of people in terms of sound fidelity. When you create a new recording in Audition-- I'll choose File > New > Audio file-- one of the choices you make here is Sample Rate.
You can see there is an incredibly wide range of choices here. But generally, you're probably going to stick with the 44.1 or 48 Kilohertz. The accepted rule is that you need a sample rate that's at least double the highest frequency you're going to capture. 44.1 is considered the minimum you should go with since human hearing tops out around 20 Kilohertz. So 44.1 Kilohertz gives you a nice buffer. Again, music CDs have a standard sample rate of 44.1. But you'll find that when you're working with videos, those generally have audio recorded at 48 Kilohertz. So if you're going to be working with video, you should go with 48 Kilohertz as a rule.
But if you have the hard drive space to spare, many people recommend going as high as 96 Kilohertz. Now beyond that point is probably not worth sacrificing additional hard drive space. You're not going to hear the difference between 96 Kilohertz and 192 Kilohertz. You also want to keep the final destination of your recording in mind. There are different schools of thought on whether it's worth recording at 48 Kilohertz if you're going to be burning your recording to a CD, at which point will drop to 44.1 Kilohertz. Some people say it's better to have a higher sample rate to work with while others point out that the difference is only 8% between 48 and 44.1.
And it might not be worth your time to convert your file to 44.1 at that point. Now, some engineers are starting to record at 88.2 Kilohertz, which is exactly twice the sample rate of 44.1 so they can exactly cut their sample rate in half when they reduce the sample rate for CDs. It's really something you're going to have to determine for yourself. But another factor in the recording quality of your project that you'll need to consider is Bit Depth. And we'll talk about that next.
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