Unlucky 4

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It doesn’t sound like much. The difference between 48 and 44 is only 4 but that can make a lot of difference when it comes to audio.

The industry standard in recording studios is 48kHz sample rate and its multiples of 96kHz and 192kHz.

For reasons unknown to me, the consumer industry chose 44kHz for CDs which means every recording made at 48kHz has to be downsampled and converted to 44kHz before being made into a CD. While this might seem to be a small issue it is rather a large source of sonic trouble.

I had mentioned in yesterday’s post that the software tools used to downsample and master CDs has an enormous impact on the quality of sound we get to eventually hear on our hifi systems. Only a few of the best mastering engineers have made an exhaustive study of the available tools and hand-selected the best sounding solution: Gus Skinas, Cookie Marenco, and Bernie Grundman come to mind. For 99.9% of the CDs mastered by the others, quality is a bit of a crapshoot.

It is instructive to note that what we might think of as having little meaning, the transformation of 48 to 44, actually plays a huge roll in how our music sounds.

We could call it the unlucky 4.