Best Sound Recording Format?

MadMaverick wrote on 5/17/2016, 3:16 AM
I have an H4N Handy Recorder. It has a plethora of recording formats. I was wondering which one you guys recommend going with? There's MP3, and there's WAV. For MP3 there's quite a few different kbps settings. Would it be best to go with the highest number? I currently have it set on 128 kbps, and it sounds pretty good.

I can always see differences in quality when it comes to the picture... but I've always had trouble spotting quality differences with sound. A lot of times something with a way lower kbps sounds just as good as something with a high kbps to me.

I've been told that it's best to record sound at 48KHZ. Which seems to only be available thru the WAV format. One reason I've heard that it's best to record at 48KHZ is to keep sound from drifting... which I found kinda confusing, cause I've never experienced this problem... at least not knowingly.

What's the best volume to generally record on with the H4N? I have it set on 65, and that seems to be a good general setting. I suppose the answer to this is to just adjust it based on the circumstances.

While we're at it, what's the best settings in Vegas to render out audio in a video, or with audio by itself?

I guess most of this is personal preference, but was just wondering what you guys recommend.


VMP wrote on 5/17/2016, 3:49 AM
With 'best' if you mean the maximum possible setting for Vegas then you can record using
196.000 Hz at 24 Bit depth in the project setting.

Check for the highest setting in your H4N.

I would be surprised if anyone directly heard a big difference between 48 KHz 16 bit and anything above.

Former user wrote on 5/17/2016, 8:29 AM
MP3 is a compressed audio format. In some cases, you may not hear the difference, but as you recompress, there will be some loss.

The standard audio format for video is 48khz. I would recommend you record as a WAV file at 48khz.

The record level should be based on your source and what your recording meters are showing you.
Dimi Koan wrote on 5/17/2016, 10:12 AM
>>I would be surprised if anyone directly heard a big difference between 48 KHz 16 bit and anything above.

In theory 24 bit recordings allows you leave some headroom, so you won't have to record as close to 0dB as possible, just record at about -6dB or even lower.

Going over 48kHz could make sens if you are planning slow down the recording drastically (for sound design purpose maybe) and you mic can pic anything above 20kHz. Otherwise no need.
Eagle Six wrote on 5/17/2016, 10:14 AM
+ 1 VMP

+ 1 DonaldT

I always record the highest wav available in the Zoom H4n and the audio level is of course adjusted for best sound (without clipping) depending on the mic(s) being used, wind/ambient noises, distance to voice, etc.

If we listen to high quality audio through the typical computer audio system/speakers, we cannot really appreciate the high quality sound and often will not hear the poor quality aspects either. That would be the same if listening through typical TV speaker. But if the sound system we use to listen to playback is high quality, the imperfections are easier to hear and high quality sound is more enjoyable and detectable. Just a thought.

Best Regards.......George

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CJB wrote on 5/17/2016, 10:45 AM
In the real world 96k and 192k are overkill, and take up way too much resources. Go with 48k. Do record at 24 bit resolution as it gives you editing overhead on your levels, assuming your mic can capture that range. There are other benefits from using 24 bit, but you are unlikely to derive them based on your likely recording sources and equipment. File format - .wav of course.
musicvid10 wrote on 5/17/2016, 11:23 AM
Always best to record the audio format that conforms to your delivery specifications.
You haven't said what you'll be delivering? DVD, Internet, HD, BluRay, UHDTV, ???
rraud wrote on 5/17/2016, 11:38 AM
Without double posting my response, The OP queried this in the VP audio forum as well
Geoff_Wood wrote on 5/17/2016, 4:36 PM
Unless it is a non-critical one-off recording, MP3 not the best idea, as any subsequent editing will require a re-encode and further compromise the already limited sound quality.

As memory is now cheap and big, little point in recording in anything less that 24-bit WAV. This offers easy headroom and best bit-depth possible. Sample rate 48kHz if end destination is video, or 44k1 if for CD. Higher sample rates if higher-spec audio is an objective.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/17/2016, 7:32 PM


...and my reply is posted there as well.

riredale wrote on 5/18/2016, 2:44 PM
Talking about audio recording technique is akin to arguing about religion; there are some very general ideas with which all agree, and then it disintegrates from there into frayed tempers.

If I record to CD, 44.1. If going eventually to DVD, then 48. Sixteen bit depth is good to about 96db, so since I do ambient recordings (audience coughs, A/C noise) then anything better than about 70db is good enough. So I use 16 bits.

WAV is "raw" audio, mp3 is compressed. Any mp3 better than 128Kb/sec is really good, but WAV is better for post-performance manipulation.

By the way, Vegas is so precise that you can set it up to literally "hear" mp3 artifacts or the lack thereof. Just put your wav file on one line, and the mp3 version on a line below, then subtract. What you'll hear is the amount of degradation caused by the mp3 encoding process. Even at 128Kb/sec the level of error is pretty low. Could you hear it if it was mixed in with the wav original? That's what the mp3 version sounds like.
Geoff_Wood wrote on 5/19/2016, 4:24 PM
Not so much religion as science.

"anything better than about 70db is good enough. So I use 16 bits."

But if you allow headroom for recording, especially to allow for extraneous loud sounds you mention, subsequent processing will reduce that s/n. and increase the effects of quantisation distortion. And given that memory/disc space and cost has for years has been no longer an issue, why would one go 16 over 24 bits other than "habit" ?

"Any mp3 better than 128Kb/sec is really good,"

My opinion is that 192kbps is barely adequate, especially for anything involving delicate or ambient sound. And even then as long as recorded at optimal level, with no subsequent processing ! But I do 'religiously' avoid MP3s and favour WAV, FLAC or ALAC ;-)

But YMMV , especially with regard to what is being recorded and its end purpose ....

MadMaverick wrote on 5/20/2016, 12:07 AM
So it sounds like MP3 if to audio, what WMV is to video. Good analogy? lol
Silverglove wrote on 5/20/2016, 12:33 AM
Why in the world would anyone use a 128kb mp3? Trying to save hard drive space? (joke) Seriously, if you're using an mp3, why anything less than 320? Heck, let's just use .wav At only 10 meg per stereo minute, I think we're ok. When delivering to the network, I have to send out 4 channel 48/24. Everything else I stick with 44/16.
PeterDuke wrote on 5/20/2016, 12:53 AM
"Why in the world would anyone use a 128kb mp3?"

My car uses CDs to play music. You can fit more music on a CD at lower bit rates.
PeterDuke wrote on 5/20/2016, 12:58 AM
"So it sounds like MP3 if to audio, what WMV is to video. Good analogy?"

Not really. MP3 is lossy compressed while WAV is uncompressed.

No one would use uncompressed video for delivery. You can have various bit rates for MP3, WMV, MPG, etc.
Grazie wrote on 5/20/2016, 1:11 AM
@PD? "You can fit more music on a CD at lower bit rates.

But isn't there an upper Time Limitation?

Stringer wrote on 5/20/2016, 5:22 AM
No, only a capacity limitation; basically 700 MB

Lower bit rate = more playing time, just like a DVD..
John_Cline wrote on 5/20/2016, 6:25 AM
"You can fit more music on a CD at lower bit rates."

Wait, what? If you're making a standard Red Book CD, then you can't change the bitrate, audio is 44.1k sample rate 16bit stereo at a fixed bit rate of 1,411,200 bits per second which is 176,400 bytes per second.

I understand that your car plays MP3 and probably WMA files from CD and, yes, encoding at a lower bit rate will allow you to fit more music on a CD, however, not all cars can play compressed audio files. Also, MadMaverick apparently has a very limited knowledge of audio so let's not confuse the issue.
PeterWright wrote on 5/20/2016, 6:40 AM
As John says, if it's a "real" audio CD there's only one set of settings.

And yes, you can burn mp3s onto a CD, and most modern CD players in cars, will play these, and therefore you can vary the bitrate and get hours of music at lower qualities onto one disc.

For me this is a pointless exercise, as I can also play from a 64Gb USB stick in the same car!
PeterDuke wrote on 5/20/2016, 6:46 AM
"I can also play from a 64Gb USB stick in the same car!"

Yes, my car is about six years old. Time to buy a new car so that I can play thumb drives!

And yes, it will also play WMA as well as MP3 and standard Red Book audio.
PeterWright wrote on 5/20/2016, 7:04 AM
Not necessarily a new car Peter - maybe a new radio/audio player? Much cheaper!