Best sample rate and bit depth for gaming

Today we’ll be talking about the Sample Rate alternatives in Unity’s Audio Import Settings and also why understanding sample rate is essential for your game.

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This blog post has been made as a supplement to our video tutorial on this very same topic.


Introduction

We’ve arrived on the final topic of our Unity Audio Import Setups series, the Sample Rate setting.

For human being that don’t understand the fundamental theory of digital audio, the term sample rate may sound cryptic and also doesn’t say much about what it is and also what result it has on audio quality.

I think it is finest then to conveniently define the idea of sample price and also then we will watch and hear the difference it makes for our audio assets in Unity.

Sample Rate: Basic Theory

Let’s start through the question: what is Sample Rate in audio? To have the ability to explain that, we have to understand what sound is and also how it is stored in a digital format.

Normal, daily sound is transmitted with space and to our ears by sound waves. What does a sound wave look like? Let’s take a look at the mom of all sound: a sine wave


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Ride the wave

We have the right to see here a smooth sine wave oscillating 500 times per second. Another term you might have heard is Hertz (Hz). A sound wave oscillating 500 times a second is a 500 Hz sound wave. Here’s what this sine wave sounds like:

The curve of this wave looks perfectly smooth, yet if we zoom in cshed sufficient, we begin to view that it is actually made up of tiny steps. This is what we call samples.


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Digital wavecreates look even more like a staircase if you zoom in much enough

Think around it prefer pixels in a photo. When you zoom in to the level of a pixel, you see only one color. But as soon as you zoom out and also view the other pixels around that which contain other colors, you start to understand the photo as a whole.

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In photo, this is defined as the picture resolution, favor 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, which tells us how many kind of pixels are there in the horizontal and vertical plane.

Sample rate is essentially the image resolution of digital audio and also the numbers we view below prefer 44.1 kHz and also 48 kHz represent exactly how many type of (thousands) of times an audio resource was “sampled” over one second. Just like via pictures, a greater sample price indicates better audio resolution.

So what is actually stored in these samples and what execute these numbers mean?

In pixels, you would certainly save indevelopment around color and also intensity. In our audio samples, we store amplitude or the volume information of the sound wave at that certain allude in time.

To summarize, audio information contains x amount of samples per second and each sample consists of the volume information of the sound wave at the specific point in time it was videotaped. Cool? Cool.

But what does 44,1 kHz or 48 kHz mean? Those numbers are gibberish to me. Human being hearing array just goes as high as 20 kHz, right?

True, we human beings have the right to only hear frequencies varying from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The human being behind those odd numbers for sample price are Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon. In a nutshell, they concluded that you should sample an audio signal twice as many times per second as the highest possible frequency that you desire to capture. Alas, 44,1 kHz was born as the bare minimum sample price to recurrent all of the frequency that human beings can hear, plus a little headroom.

Even though 44,1 kHz is the bare minimum, and also the conventional sample rate for CD, 48 kHz has been the long-standing traditional in audio for movement photo.

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Tright here are other sample rates, but we won’t discuss the technical factors, benefits, and disbenefits for having better sample prices choose 48 kHz, 88,2 kHz, 96 kHz, as that is an additional topic completely.