Direct Stream Digital Audio

Why don't more professional audio engineers record above CD quality?

Why don't more professional audio engineers record above CD quality?

Meghan Andrews

This is a question that has perplexed many of us who record in high resolution audio.  Sure, our focus is on DSD / one bit recording...  but why are most audio engineers recording at 44.1 or 48?  You think it would be easy to move to PCM 9624 or 192.  Heaven forbid anyone should move to recording in DSD!

It's not a simple answer. 

One problem to point out is our education system.  Sadly, our audio schools don't teach students to record in higher resolution formats.  Maybe if there was more demand and more spoken about it directed to mass consumers, we might see a change.... just as there was for headphone demand and vinyl surging.

Generally, students and schools are on limited budgets.  While cost of disc space is going down, multitrack recording still requires a lot of space and management.  In recording at 44.1 sampling rate, a song can require 10-100x the space on a hard drive than the final 2 track mix.  Add to that multiple takes and overdubs and that album starts to add up. Then there's the time to backup.  We then need to consider managing the computing power which can cause issues with sound if not sufficient.

While in school, students tend to be more focused on plugins rather than learning microphone techniques (which are also expensive).  Most plugins work at 44.1 or 48K sampling rate.  A new engineer is inclined to collect and purchase plugins that work for the lower sampling rates.  Also to note.. many plugins are not made for higher sampling rates.  When becoming a professional these new audio engineers are inclined to do what they're used to and bring in the lowere resolution plugins.

Anyone recording and mixing in DSD knows the challenges we face.  We've modified our behaviors to work in a format that pleases our ears.  Try teaching DSD recording to a PCM engineer... even the best... and you'll find roadblocks and complaints of how hard it is to record in DSD.

Those of us who learn to record in DSD do it for love of sound.  :)

Here's a new single at Blue Coast Music recorded live to DSD256.  Meghan Andrews sings a classic.. "I'm on Fire".  You'll receive 8 different formats to in the download.  Try them out.  You'll know why we choose DSD.