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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Digital Audio Sampling

Since digital audio only has a couple of major mathematical aspects, it won't be a stretch to cover it in one article. We'll try to keep the math to a minimum.
On the video side, we deal with image sizes, aspect ratios, zoom settings, f-stops and frame rates. The audio side has its numbers too, but they're a bit easier to wrap your head around.

Isn't All Audio Digital Today?

Back in olden times, audio was recorded to analog tape. For the end user, this wasn't much more difficult than our digital recorders today, but there was much more going on behind the scenes. For example, back in the day, a typical recording studio hired an engineer to maintain the audio equipment. Tape heads had to be aligned, recording bias adjusted and levels calibrated before every session. If the studio or producer changed the brand or grade of recording tape, a whole new group of settings was necessary. Then there were noise reduction systems that introduced their own calibrations and artifacts into the mix. To top it all off, the recording engineer had to know how to record to tape a certain way so it would sound correct on playback. This pain and suffering still goes on today - especially in high-end studios where they want that elusive "analog sound" on their modern recordings.
Kinda makes our job look simple, doesn't it? For a simple digital audio recording, we plug an audio interface into our computer, launch a recording application, check the meters and hit Record. Basic level adjustments are all we have to deal with until post production. When recording audio with your camcorder, it's even simpler. Just plug in a mic and hit Record - the camera does the rest for you. Of course, as with analog, there's a lot going on under the surface in the digital world too, but the microprocessors are in charge. We just let them do their thing. As audio enters a digital recorder or camcorder, the audio is digitized and turned into digital "words" that are copied to tape, hard disk or memory card. On playback, the digital stream is decoded and turned back into an analog signal that plays through your speakers or headphones. Simple, right? W… Read More

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