The perfect sample rate and bit depth for every situation! - Rich sound | Mixing and Production Tutorials (2023)

Producing complex musical, visual and audiovisual works on the computer is a lot of fun: you can unleash your creativity, focus on creating musical pressure and use state-of-the-art audio production techniques.

However, it's not always that simple: sometimes you have to worry about tedious technical issues like choosing a suitable sample rate and bit depth for your projects.

What does this means? Is there a specific way to solve this problem to streamline your workflow? These are great questions and we have the answers, so keep reading to find out more!

What is audio sample rate?

Before we get started, let's see what these terms really mean, starting with sample rate. Every audio file you've ever heard is made up of samples, and we're not talking samples of remixed songs.

You can think of a sample as a tiny grain of sound recording, where each second of audio is made up of tens of thousands of samples.

It's practically atoms that make up digital sound, and the more samples there are, the more precisely the sound will be recorded.

Ultimately, this means that audio recorded at a higher sample rate is of higher quality, and peaks and valleys in the waveform are better recorded than those recorded at lower sample rates.


The sampling rate is the number of samples (small pieces of audio) played each second. Therefore, high sample rate audio tracks are considered to be more accurate and of higher quality. Standard sample rates today are 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz.

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What is bit depth?

Another common term you'll encounter when producing digital music is bit depth – this is a little more complicated than sample rate, but it's actually a pretty similar concept.

You've probably heard of the bits used to describe binary sequences, written in 0's and 1's, used as machine code to program computers. As mentioned, every audio file you'll ever listen to is made up of samples, and those samples are stored as bits.

Due to the complexity of recording audio, each sample requires several bits, and as you've probably guessed, the more bits each sample has available, the better the audio quality.


The bit depth is the number of bits (the most basic unit of information) that each sample has. Therefore, audio tracks with high bit depth are considered more accurate and of higher quality. The standard bit depth today is 16 bits for listening and 24 bits for mixing and mastering.

Perfect sample rate and bit depth for music production

If you're looking for information on what sample rate to output music to, you'll find it.the value 44,100 Hz (44.1 kHz) 90% in time. Why is this value so important?

Well, for many decades, 44,100 Hz was considered the minimum sampling rate for high-fidelity digital audio. This is the sampling rate used for CDs and various other media throughout the digital music age.

The main reason this sample rate was compromised many years ago is because it strikes a good balance between ensuring excellent audio quality and preventing file sizes from becoming too large.

It allows about 75 minutes of audio to be distributed on a CD, which is considered ideal for an album.

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It may be tempting to increase the sample rate for a higher quality recording, but keep this in mind.20,000 Hz is the highest frequency humans can generally hear.

So 44,100 Hz is more than enough and anything higher quickly becomes unnoticeable.However, as we'll see shortly, there are some applications for higher sample rates.

In terms of bit depth, some people will consider 16 bits to be the minimum for music production: it offers a total of 65,536 bit values ​​per sample and is the standard for CD playback, so many people think that This is enough. .

However, this does not apply to music production, especially mixing and mastering.

16-bit is fine when the music has already been rendered, but it's not enough to compensate for the final music production processes. Therefore, you should use a bit depth of 24-bit or higher and 16-bit for these final representations.

It's often impossible to tell the difference between 24-bit and 32-bit audio, but 32-bit prevents waveforms from losing data during clipping, making it useful for high-fidelity productions.

Perfect sample rate and bit depth for video production

Audio-for-video production requires careful thought: the process of choosing an appropriate sample rate and bit depth is a little different.

First of all, it should be noted that the industry standard for video formats started with DVD and then moved to Blue-ray.

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Of course, nowadays video is more common digitally than on physical media, but these standards are still widely used. As a result, a DVD audio soundtrack usually has a sample rate of 48 kHz and a bit depth of 16, both of which are significantly higher than CD audio quality.

Some audiovisual producers choose to use 96kHz or even 192kHz+ for maximum compatibility, but this is generally not necessary for traditional formats. If you're working on some unique video formats, this might be worth considering, so use your faithful ears to judge this.

Ultimately it's a subjective decision, so you'll want to know if higher sample rates really make a difference after you've finally converted audio to video.

Be careful: high sample rates like 192kHz can cause all sorts of problems like jitter. In general, 48 kHz and 16-bit sampling rates are sufficient, but higher values ​​can also be considered for complex video formats.

Perfect sample rate and bit depth for final production export

Falamos sobre isso brevemente antes, mas vamos esclarecer algumas coisas. Diferentes taxas de amostragem e profundidades de bits são necessárias para diferentes partes do processo de produção musical.

As a music producer, you can largely follow our advice above: In general, you should aim for a sample rate of 44 100 Hz to produce 24-bit deep music. As a video producer, you should go up to 48,000 Hz for your 16-bit sample rate and bit depth.

However, you must first consider whether you are exporting these files to share yourself or uploading the files to share. If you're exporting the files yourself and are familiar with how music sounds at the sample rates and bit depths we provide, you've won.

However, if you have a professional mixer or master that will finalize and export tracks for you, you should probably aim for something higher (like 32-bit depth for audio or 192,000 Hz sample rate for audiovisual works).

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This is because your teacher or mixer needs to work carefully with the dynamic ranges of your music in order to professionally export it to the format.

So the best advice we can give you is to communicate with your production team. Find out what final formats they plan to release the music in, because if they're working with 8k video or multi-channel audio, they'll likely benefit from a significantly higher sample rate and bit depth.

You may not be able to tell the difference, but trust us, these extremes in sample rate and bit depth can make a big difference when it comes to using professional sonic monitoring equipment and if the proper settings are not used. it's the case that could really mess up the process later on.

Always consider which platform you're releasing your media on, and if you're not releasing the music yourself, talk to the person in charge; we guarantee you will save a lot of time later.

final thoughts

We hope you've learned a lot from this article - we have to admit that the world of sample rates and bit depth is extremely confusing, but honestly, it's just one of those necessary evils.

You'll always hear these 41,000Hz, 16-bit magic numbers being tossed around the industry, and overall, that's great for most purposes.

However, as a professional music producer, it's your job to make sure you plan ahead and prepare your music at an appropriate sample rate and bit depth for a project.

This can make a world of difference when it comes to mixing, mastering and releasing a track. The last thing you want to do is put those thoughts off until the last minute.

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