The integration of high impact sound effects is no longer only for the sound design professionals. Many working professionals are integrating professional sound effects in their productions, each for their own reasons; some for video productions, some film background ambiences, audio or radio production or multimedia productions such as PowerPoint presentations. While many look to download SFX to enhance their presentation, the different formats that downloads come in can cause a lot of confusion. With the whole development of the internet and downloading of music, formats such as MP3?s have become more prevalent. So how can you tell if you have high quality sounds effects in your productions? Many people can?t even tell the difference in quality between a MP3 song and a compact disc (which is actually a higher quality format then MP3). So what is the difference? Since you are going to download SFX, we?ll try and break it down into a simple way to understand.
Traditionally (in the past ten years or so), music has been produced in what we call a 16 bit format. The 16 bit format was established as a standard by the music industry and long used by compact discs (your music CD that you purchase at a music store). You ask what is a ?bit? and what does 16 bit mean? The bit rate measures how many different ?bits? or slices of audio are recorded at one time. When something is recorded at 16 bit, there are in total 65,536 different bits or pieces of audio that are recorded. Alternatively to 16 bit, today many SFX libraries are being opted to be produced in what one calls high definition and one can choose to download these SFX in 24 bit format. With high definition 24 bit sound effects there ends up being 16,777,216 ?bits? of audio recorded at one time, producing a much higher quality of recording and clearer sound effect in this case. Quite amazing!
Further, usually a CD had been recorded with a sample rate of 44.1 kHz. A sample rate is how often the audio is measured per second (in time) when it is being recorded. The CD standard (or also called red book standard) is 44.1 kHz. This also could be translated (to say it more simply) that the audio is being measured 44,100 times per second. As in the previous example of high definition sound effects, many new high definition sound effects are now being recorded in 96kHz. What does that mean? As you might have guessed already, that means the audio is being measured 96,000 times per second.
So to summarize the technical discussion, you will want take two things into consideration when looking to download SFX for your presentation! First, you will want to consider that high definition (24 bit) sound effects are numerous times the quality of a 16 bit sound effects since they are sampled more often and the audio is recorded much more clearly. Secondly to keep in mind though, is that if you are going to go the route of downloading high definition sound effects, you need to know that they will likely be about three times the size of ?traditional? 16 bit sound effects. If you download SFX libraries that are high definition 24 bit, they will take up a lot more space on your hard drive, so plan appropriately!