You are here

Playback Sample Rates In Digital Monitoring

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Playback Sample Rates In Digital Monitoring

Postby Rak1978 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:14 pm

This post is not about the optimum sample rates to record/mix/master... as that’s been done to death on many forums/posts! My question is about the playback rates of different digital monitors and whether that would make any difference to your workflow and end result.

I’ve noticed that a lot of digital monitors convert and play back at a different sample rates. The Kii 3 resamples everything to 93.75 kHz. I think the Dynaudio Core 7 runs natively at 192kHz for analogue inputs, and when supplied with a digital input the DSP runs at the incoming sample rate, with no upsampling. The Dutch and Dutch 8Cs converts and plays back at 48k.

1) if you’re mixing (or mastering) at a rate of 96k (or above), but are playing back on monitors at 48k... then are you losing the ability to hear some of the detail that the higher rate supposedly gives you?

2) Conversely, if you’re mixing (or mastering) at 48k, and also playing back at 48k on the... but the client wants a 96k or higher file... then are monitors that playback at 48k going to be the right choice?

Basically, I’m wondering if you’re hearing everything accurately by using monitors that convert and play back at a lower sample rate.

Obviously in an ideal world everything would be recorded, mix and mastered at the same sample rate!

Hope my question makes sense…
Rak1978
New here
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:17 pm

Re: Playback Sample Rates In Digital Monitoring

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:49 pm

Rak1978 wrote:1) if you’re mixing (or mastering) at a rate of 96k (or above), but are playing back on monitors at 48k... then are you losing the ability to hear some of the detail that the higher rate supposedly gives you?

A 96k sample rate can, theoretically, convey signals up to 48kHz, but even if your ears could detect these ultrasonic signals (clue: they cant)... not many speakers can reproduce signals that high anyway. Most conventional tweeters have given up the ghost by 25kHz or lower. You'd need speakers with an extra 'super-tweeter' to reproduce signals in that octave from 25-50kHz or so. Such speakers do exist, but they are rare and I can't think of any with DSP.

The main reason for using high sample rates in the DSP is to minimise latency and optimise the EQ curves in the wanted audio band.

2) Conversely, if you’re mixing (or mastering) at 48k, and also playing back at 48k on the... but the client wants a 96k or higher file... then are monitors that playback at 48k going to be the right choice?

Again, unless your speaker has a tweeter capable of that extra top octave, it really doesn't matter what the DSP sample rate is.

Basically, I’m wondering if you’re hearing everything accurately by using monitors that convert and play back at a lower sample rate.

You raise a valid point that will probably have escaped some using DSP-based monitors, that the signal pathetic may not be what they think when working with high sample rate audio.

But at the end of the day, what matters is how well the system works across the bandwidth that we can hear and that the speaker can reproduce. And as I said, it requires a specialised design with additional super-tweeter drivers to generate any sound waves above about 22-25kHz.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28309
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Playback Sample Rates In Digital Monitoring

Postby Rak1978 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:44 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
The main reason for using high sample rates in the DSP is to minimise latency and optimise the EQ curves in the wanted audio band.


Thanks for your quick reply Hugh! Although it's probably obvious to most, the thing about higher sample rates being used in the monitor's DSP to optimise EQ curves... that makes total sense, but I didn't realise this was one of the main reasons for the higher sample rates. I thought it might have something to do with the quality of audio being produced by the monitors (i.e. high samples rates = more information being put out, or something like it!).

But as you say, if the system works well across the bandwidth that we can hear, then all's good!
Rak1978
New here
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:17 pm