What’s sampling rate? And why does it matter for music?

Do you keep hearing people talk about sampling rate in music? But aren’t certain what that actually is?? Well, friend, you’ve come to the right place.

On a fundamental level, sampling rate is a result of the digitization of audio. While analog sound waves are continuous, digital music is made up from lots of small data points played one after another.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Sampling rate in audio is literally the number of “samples” taken per second. This is measured in Hertz (Hz).

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Now, the common rate is that of CDs or FLAC, which is a lossless audio file. This clocks in at 44.1kHz. What this means in practice is for every second of music, 44,100 samples are taken from a continuous analog signal in order to create a digital file.

The higher this number is, the higher the quality of audio — up to a point, but we’ll get to that soon. This graph is a good visualization tool for how that works: