44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz: Differences Explained

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First and foremost, we will talk about the average human ear frequency response according to National Library of Medicine researchers. 

The human ear by the nature is able to detect the frequency range between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. At younger ages, humans can hear above that range and as the years pass and people age, this number drops. 

The research named Extended High Frequency Thresholds in College Students: Effects of Recreational Noise states that statistically reliable threshold distinction where humans use audio devices between 3–6 dB are at the highest frequencies (which is between 10–16 kHz) and conducted that people who use the audio devices up to 5 years create harm in their ear.

Starting with “Hz” which refers to “Hertz” is a measurement of either sample rate or sound frequency levels. 

Now the “Hz” or “Hertz” does not have to do with the wide frequency, instead, it is more about the sound quality that just a simple music listener cannot notice difference and some professional producers can. To simply put it, the higher the sample rate is, the higher quality music you will receive.

What is 44100 Hz?

The digital audio has a sample rate and 44100 Hz in one of them. It is the measurement system in how many times the sound is recorded per second. Old songs and records usually play at a 44100 Hz sample rate. Since technology took a few steps forward, now the higher rate at 48000 Hz is represented.

What is 48000 Hz?

48000 Hz is another sample rate that addresses to more ear sensitivity. A 48000 Hz or 48kHz mainly focuses on low-end audio and chips in modern computer technology. Even though you have a decent stereo sound system with standard-sized speakers, there’s nothing wrong with encoding them at 96 kHz. You won’t notice anything different, but the only time that difference is noticeable is if you use a high-end sound card.

To be honest, there isn’t a huge difference between these 2 sample rates. Any music player like MP3 such as iPods, H10, and Sony players are most likely to support that sample rate of 48000 Hz.

44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz: Which one to Choose?

If your ears are special and you can recognize that small difference between the sound quality, you may want to update from 44100 Hz to 48000 Hz and be aware that it will take up quadruple space in your store, just saying. If you have a dedicated space for audio, that’s perfectly fine. These are difficult aspects of higher sound quality that you must face.

It’s more effective to record at 44.100 Hz due to the smaller file size. You won’t get old waiting while looking at the screen and seeing the loading tab.

44100 Hz is more than enough for your ears. Digital Pulse-code modulation (PCM) has 16-bit samples and these are the two things that may happen. 

    1. The sample has a value number that starts from 0 to 65,535.
    2. The sample value represents the closest integer of 32-bit, and the value starts from -32,768 to 32,767.

When a Higher Sample Rate at 48000 Hz is Needed?

There is always an exception, don’t forget that. It was estimated that for each doubling in sampling rate, the quality increases for 6dBs resulting from 16kHz to 22.05kHz. That in short means the quality is lost pretty much from 0 to -10dB. 

To prevent that from happening, you need quite a premium sound card and other audio equipment like speakers, studio monitors, headphones, or even amplifiers that can go beyond hearing frequencies. Remember, a human being can afford to take frequencies no more than 20kHz.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Higher Sample Rate (48000 Hz)

Advantages

You may also want to encode at this higher rate if you have a good ear for music and can tell the difference between 44100 Hz and 48000 Hz.

Additionally, an enhancement in sampling frequency results in around 6dBs per doubling boost in overall quality. Due to the physical constraints of our hearing, which cannot distinguish frequencies over 20kHz, this may not be audible on most stereos.

Disadvantages

Files encoded at 96 kHz require roughly 5 to 6 times more data storage than files encoded at 48 kHz. That number more or less takes four times longer encoding time.

In simple words, encoding a song at 96 kHz will hasten the wear and tear on your hard drive or flash drive. It is not worthwhile encoding at higher speeds because you need more space for all of your other files, assuming your hard disk is designed to exclusively be used for music.

44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz: Format and Sample Rate

AIFF/WAV are audio formats that reflect the great sound quality and takes more storage on your device. On the other hand, there is the MP3 format which the sound quality is a little bit lower in comparison with AIFF or WAV audio formats. MP3 requires decoding, so it can play the sound and for that reason, it requires more processing time.

The Red Book standard audio for 44100 Hz is 16-bit and for 48000 Hz is 32-bit in Wave or AIFF format. In MP3 format this number is between 256-320 kbps. 

The sound quality in both formats shows great performance, however, the higher the sample rate, the slightly higher quality is.  

 

Format Sample Rate Bit Depth File Size Sound Quality
Wave or AIFF 44100 Hz 16-bit Large Excellent

48000 Hz

32-bit

Extremely Large

Outstanding

 

Format Sample Rate Bit Rate File Size Sound Quality
MP3 File 44100 Hz 256-320 kbps Medium Mediocre

48000 Hz

320 kbps Large

Great

A Brief Summary

To conclude the article, I must say that music is a beautiful art and, to be honest, it needs to be appreciated more. 

These two numbers 44100 Hz vs 48000 Hz represent sample rates. The sample rates are measured in “Hz” which is the abbreviation of “Hertz”.

Both formats Wave or AIFF and MP3 File produce great sound quality, however with a 48000 Hz rate you get slightly better audio performance. There are pros and cons of the higher sample rate, you just have to know that the higher rate takes more storage and more loading time. A 44100 Hz is vice versa. Picking 44100 Hz is enough for your ears, there’s no need to go higher.

Further Reading

As always, you have homework to do, so you can read about a few comparison that I have written, such as Bose Home Speaker 300 vs. Home Speaker 500 Sonos Bridge vs. Sonos BoostJBL Flip 5 Vs. Bose SoundLink Flex, or Yamaha HS7 Vs. Yamaha HS8.

Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!

 
 
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