# Question relating to Nyquist frequency

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### Question relating to Nyquist frequency

I'm currently having a go at making a microcontroller-based VCO and consequently pondering issues around sample rates and wave reconstruction.

As far as I understand the Nyquist sampling theorem, to reproduce a sine wave at a given frequency you need to sample the wave at least double the wave's frequency.

So if I have a sample rate of 44kHz and a sine wav of 22kHz I would sample it twice and that should be sufficient to reproduce. However it seems to me that this would only allow me to deduce the frequency - not the amplitude of the wave. So if I have this wave:

and sample it at positions A and B then that describes everything I need to reproduce the wave. However if I sample it at positions C and D then I know the frequency but have no idea of the wave's amplitude.

So two questions:

1. Does the Nyquist theorem only work for frequency?
2. If so, what sample rate would I actually need to reasonably accurately reproduce both the frequency and the amplitude of a sine wave at a given frequency?
dwebb
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

The sampling rate has to be greater than twice the frequency you want to sample. In your example, you've used exactly twice the frequency, which is inappropriate. You yourself said 'at least double', and then used an example that ignored that! :D

Use a greater sampling frequency, and the points on the graph will have different amplitudes, and a waveform can be reconstructed.

The theory also only works for a bandwidth limited range of sounds/waves. Which is why you also need to apply a filter to prevent aliasing, as a 44kHz wave or an 88kHz wave would otherwise also appear to be a 22kHz wave if no filtering was applied but the sampling rate kept at just above 44kHz.

The Nyquist frequency tells you how fast you have to sample, but you obviously need a means of determining the amplitude of the wave as well to give it its proper structure, which is what an A/D converter does. It's the clock rate of the A/D converter that determines the upper frequency it can detect. On receiving a new clock pulse, the A/D converter converts the voltage level at that point in time into a bit value that gives you the amplitude.

Wonks
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Have a look at the Nyquist and Signal Content section of this webpage.

I suppose it depends how you interpret the theorem here, it is one thing to say that you can completely determine a pure sine wave by a series of points spaced apart at this frequency but another thing to say yout could do this with any sequence of points (ignoring the phase). To avoid this you need to sample at a higher rate.
wireman
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

I would just add that the design of those filters is something of a black art. They have to be steep enough to do the job, but at the same time not be susceptible to ringing or instability.

For example, I have a KA6 here that performs very well, however hit it with a really clean square wave from a signal generator and the ringing is quite obvious..

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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

dwebb wrote:However if I sample it at positions C and D then I know the frequency but have no idea of the wave's amplitude.

As others have pointed out, you correctly state the essence of the theorem, and then completely ignore it! :wave: you need to sample at more than twice the highest frequency you want to sample, taking into account the response of your reconstruction filtering -- the latter being a critical part of the whole sampling process (and one which is often completely overlooked in simple explanations of sampling theory).

H

Hugh Robjohns
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Folderol wrote:...however hit it with a really clean square wave from a signal generator and the ringing is quite obvious..

Any band-limited square wave will exhibit obvious ringing. It's a fundamental of physics, innit?

H

Hugh Robjohns
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

There is no such thing as a "clean square wave". For a wave to be perfectly square, the leading and falling edges would have to occupy two values at the same point in time - which can't happen. So there is only a true square wave in theory, not in practice. And as you can only have a finite band-width on any real-world device, you'll never be able to recreate the infinite sequence of sine waves necessary to create the perfect square wave.

This popped into my head kept me awake for half the night just over a week ago!

Wonks
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Wonks wrote:There is no such thing as a "clean square wave". For a wave to be perfectly square, the leading and falling edges would have to occupy two values at the same point in time - which can't happen.
That had never occured to me before! :headbang:

blinddrew
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

This probably proves that the universe is bandwidth limited, but I have no idea of what that means or implies.

Or I've got it wrong.

Wonks
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Wonks wrote:This probably proves that the universe is bandwidth limited, but I have no idea of what that means or implies.

Does this mean deep space is a low pass filter? Can we voltage control it?

nathanscribe
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Well, those new age folks always say it has a resonant frequency...

Wonks
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

OKOKOK I was being simplistic to make a point... innit!
Said sig gen output looks pretty damn square on a scope with a 10M bandwidth i.e. the trace has no 'sides'.

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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Folderol wrote:OKOKOK I was being simplistic to make a point... innit!

:D

Hugh Robjohns
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Folderol wrote:OKOKOK I was being simplistic to make a point... innit!

That was your mistake! :lol:

You can never do that here without someone saying, "Ah! Yes, but..."

(Unless you say that you're trying to keep it simple for the sake of the original questioner. Even then it doesn't always work...)
Mike Stranks
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Mike Stranks wrote:You can never do that here without someone saying, "Ah! Yes, but...

True! But in my defence there was an important point to be made. When Mr F said:

Folderol wrote:I would just add that the design of those filters is something of a black art. They have to be steep enough to do the job, but at the same time not be susceptible to ringing or instability.

While no one would want an 'unstable' filter, some might think from that comment that the goal would be for the filter to exhibit no ringing at all when exercised by a square wave (or, indeed, an impulse).

However, that would be impossible and contrary to the laws of physics.

The low-pass reconstruction filter inherently removes the higher partials (harmonics) contained within a square wave signal, which results in the square wave becoming decidedly 'wobbly' with apparent 'ringing' before and after the transient edges.

Hugh Robjohns
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

I think I understand - the idea is that if the sampling rate is more than twice the frequency you can reconstruct the wave - at least from a mathematical perspective.

On the practical level, a DAC can only output output fixed voltages at the chosen sample frequency. In this situation I would (I think) need need to have an output sample rate at significantly more than double the frequency of the wave to I was trying to output. I would guesstimate around 6+ samples per cycle would give something that would look close to the sine wave I was trying to reproduce.

If so, is there a rule of thumb (or something more scientific) that states the required output sample rate to recreate a close enough approximation of a desired sine wave frequency?
dwebb
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Again, you are overlooking the critical role of the reconstruction filtering....

And somewhere around 2.2x the highest wanted frequency is usually enough.

H

Hugh Robjohns
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

This might help https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/digital-problems-practical-solutions but, in a nutshell, 44.1kHz sampling frequency is sufficient to render a perfect reproduction of a 20Hz - 20kHz audio signal.

edit :- and this https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/q-should-i-use-high-sample-rates

Sam Spoons
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

This might be relevant (and was also written by Hugh) - https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... -solutions

I understand some of the words in that article ;)

Edit: Sam beat me to it!

Eddy Deegan
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### Re: Question relating to Nyquist frequency

Great minds Mr D :thumbup:

Sam Spoons
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