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Sampling rates for sample libraries

I always set up my projects at 24 bits/44.1 kHz, but recently I noticed how sample libraries are offering 32 bits/96 kHz. Do you think we have to use them?

The answer to this question depends on whether you use sample libraries or create them.

If you are a user of sample libraries then 24/96 is good enough for any purpose. 24/44.1 will sound perfectly OK to 99.9% of potential listeners and the other 0.1% probably wouldn't know unless you told them.

There is however an area where 24/96 can be audibly better than 24/44.1, and that is where samples are used transposed down from their normal pitch. The higher sampling rate will help preserve higher frequencies. 

It is worth saying however that sometimes the artefacts of sampling are exactly what is wanted. If, for example, you wanted to achieve a retro 80s sound.

In theory a 24-bit sample should offer a dynamic range of 144 decibels, which is wider than the ear can cope with. A 32-bit sample could in theory extend this to 192 dB. Bigger numbers are always better but, once again, few would actually hear the benefit. 

If you produce sample libraries, then it is best to go for the most excellent recording quality possible. That way you will keep up with, or ahead of, the competition. You will win in the numbers game and safeguard yourself as much as possible against further advances in technology. 

By David Mellor Wednesday June 16, 2010