Sound quality

From Academic Kids

This article concerns audio recording, playback, and production. For sound quality of musical instruments see Timbre.

Sound quality generally is the quality of the audio output from various electronic devices.

Sound quality can be defined as the degree of accuracy with which a device records or emits the original sound waves. This accuracy depends on the range of sound which is sampled, the rate at which it is sampled, and the various conversions that occur in any sound reproduction system. With lossy codecs such as MP3 and Ogg Vorbis, sound quality is a quantifiable factor that determines how much sound data the encoder is allowed to discard in order to reduce file size. MP3-encoded sound is generally CBR, so its quality is defined by its bitrate, in kilobits per second (kbit/s). Quality of Ogg Vorbis-encoded files, which are most commonly VBR, is a decimal value ranging from –1 to 10, with –1 being suitable only for low-quality voice.

The range of sound (in hertz) which the equipment detecting the sound samples affects sound quality. Humans can hear vibrations ranging from about 20 Hz to approximately 20 kHz, so sampling that doesn't extend this far will have a detrimental effect on the resultant quality.

The rate at which the sound is sampled refers to the amount of information the detection equipment records about each second of sound. More information about the shape of the sound waves results in a more accurate sample, in other words, this is due to the digital quantization of the analogue sound wave.

The conversions of sample range and sample rate between different pieces of equipment in a sound recording and reproduction system will affect the quality of the sound. More conversions generally results in a lower level of quality.


Sound Quality is also a program on the ABC Radio National network, featuring new music, generally in the genres of electronica but includes other genres as well.

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