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Switching Project sample rate on a completed mix


Nick Rundall

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I have a 44.1khz mix that is finished and I want to try converting it to 88.2khz to see what the audible difference is with the plugins (aliasing etc). What is the best way to go about doing this? Should I export all the tracks as 88.2 files and re import them into the project once I've switched rates? Or Audio>Convert Regions To New Audio File? Or another way? Cheers
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That's not a reliable, or scientific, test. In other words, even if you did it and it sounded better, you wouldn't be able to pinpoint why it did.

 

Do this first. Bounce your mix to 44.1, 24bit. Open the file in Quick time and export to aif resampling to 88.2, 24bit. Open both files in their own Quicktime players. Open the settings for whatever interface you're using and change its sample rate to 88.2. Listen to the 88.2 file. Now change the interface settings back to 44.1. Listen to the 44.1 file.

 

Does the 88.2 file sound better? If so, that means it's the D-A converter in your interface that sounds better at 88.2 than it does at 44.1. That's not unusual for cheaper interfaces. That would also mean that you can't compare whether certain plug-ins sound better at higher sample rates because under these conditions, everything is always going to sound better at the higher sample rate.

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Good point. I just tried it and it sounds much better at 88.2.

 

I also converted the project to 88.2 and did a bounce to 88.2/24 and then converted that to 44.1 to compare the two mixes with the interface set to 44.1. The 88.2 mix is definitely an improvement on the old one still. Reverbs and spacial separation is better and general clarity. I had to bounce all the soft synths and samplers (which constituted about a third of the mix) to audio tracks in order for the computer to playback without overloading the cpu. It was worth doing though, as the mix sounds better now. I'll be taking the 88.2/24 bounce to the mastering house!

 

It's just a shame it has to end up at 44.1khz! I'll be keeping a 88.2khz master for future hi res download offerings though.

 

Cheers.

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Good point. I just tried it and it sounds much better at 88.2.

Based on what you've described, you still don't know why it sounds better at 88.2. The point of the test i described in my previous post was to see if it was purely your monitoring system that sounded better at 88.2 (often the case). So, the mastering engineer, who likely has far better D-A converters, may not perceive any difference between your mix at 44.1 or 88.2.

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Maybe I wasn't clear enough. I understand what you're saying, that's why I converted the 88.2 project bounce to 44.1 to compare both the 88.2 project and the 44.1 project with the interface set to 44.1. So listening to the two mixes both now at 44.1, the one that came from the 88.2 converted project is sounding the best (although not as good as when the bounce and interface were at 88.2).

 

This seems to show that there are audible benefits to mixing at 88.2. So, unless I'm mistaken the best results should be had by taking the 88.2 project bounce at 88.2/24 to mastering and let them take care of the rest.

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I understand what you're saying, that's why I converted the 88.2 project bounce to 44.1 to compare both the 88.2 project and the 44.1 project with the interface set to 44.1.

 

You need to upsample the 44.1 to 88.2, not the other way round. If the 88.2 sounds better, then you know it's your monitoring D-A conversion and nothing to do with the file itself.

 

Note that you need to keep OSX's realtime SRC out of the picture. Always be sure your interface is clocked to the same rate as the file your listening to.

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Yes, I already did that test, as I mentioned in my post. It did show that my interface sounds better at 88.2, as you predicted. But as the whole point of this is to see if mixing at 88.2 yields a better end result once it is reduced to 44.1 on a CD, I needed to do another test. I then converted the whole project to 88.2 and did a bounce to 88.2/24. I then converted this file to 44.1 and compared it to the original mix from the 44.1 project, with the interface set to 44.1

 

The mix that was converted from the 88.2 project sounded better (although not as good as it sounded at 88.2!), indicating that for whatever the reason, there is an advantage to mixing at the higher sample rate and only converting down at mastering.

 

I'd imagine that it's also possible that the end listener, depending on the quality of their DA conversion and sound system, could discern a greater difference at 44.1 than I can on my system. Not that they'd ever be in a position to compare! Either way if it sounds better, then to me it's worth doing.

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Yes, I already did that test,

OK, sorry I didn't catch that.

 

You may notice that "some" instruments or effects plug-ins actually sound better at 44.1. Whether this has to do with how they are optimized or just by accident, I don't know. You may also find that the benefits you're hearing at 88.2 are also present at 48kHz. If you know your project's going to be very large, that could buy you back some cpu horsepower.

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Yes, I was wondering about that. I know for example my East West Quantum Leap Orchestra was recorded at 44.1. Presumably when running at a different sample rate, the plug in or logic has to do a realtime SRC. Does it make it any easier on the processing if the two rates are multiples?

The difference in CPU use is negligible. The real problem is that the realtime SRC, provided in sample players like Kontakt and others, usually sucks. It's also odd that developers of sample libraries targeted at video and film composers, provide their samples at 44.1 instead of 48. I've never understood that one.

 

While I've only done it once, (with some VSL sample sets in Kontakt) you can get noticeably better fidelity by rendering MIDI tracks in a project that matches the sample rate of the original samples. Then use a good quality non-realtime SRC to convert it to your actual project sample rate. A lot of trouble for an increment in quality, but if you're hardcore.....

 

I have some Ludwig drum samples from Esoundz that are native 48k Kontakt. The loss of quality when using them in a 44.1 project is very, very audible.

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