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"CD Quality"???

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Chuck Manly
"CD Quality"???
on Apr 14, 2009 at 9:00:15 pm


I'm trying to figure out what standard file settings to ask voiceover artists to give me files in.

These files would be used in everything from a nat'l brodcast spot to an internal corporate video or even a web video.

By whos definition constitutes "CD Quality" as far as file formats go?

I was under the impression that it was only a Wav file that was at least 16 bit, 44,100 Hz, Stereo or Mono.

I've got different folks trying to tell me that a MP3 as long as it is 192 Kbps or higher and 44,100 Hz is "CD Quality".

I'm not really hung up on the CD Quality thing but want to know what my voiceover folks need to give me for my various projects.


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Ty Ford
Re: "CD Quality"???
on Apr 15, 2009 at 2:08:50 am

Hello Chuck,

Technically, the data rate of CD audio is about 1450kbps.

I suspect they were referring to 192 kbps mono, which would be 384kbps stereo

1450kbps stereo is significantly greater than 384 kbps. Can you tell the difference? Maybe not.

192kbps 44,100 khz is still compressed. It is not the same as 16-bit, 44.1 kHz.

Remember that the whole chain must be considered. If you send a 384kbps stereo file out, it may end up recompressed on a facility's hard drive, through their digital STL link from studio to transmitter or during compression for streaming. In these cases, you're headed toward a "house of cards" by compressing an already compressed clip and the sound will suffer.

Having said that, spots are sent out all the time at 384kbps stereo, or less.


Ty Ford

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Steve Kownacki
Re: "CD Quality"???
on Apr 15, 2009 at 6:52:14 pm

The client is always right. Right? You're the client, get what you want.

You'd probably want to stick with an original 48K, 16bit anyway for video, why do a conversion from 44.1. And what do you edit on? I don't think you can even use MP3 in Final Cut.


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JC Boulay
Re: "CD Quality"???
on Apr 17, 2009 at 5:19:27 pm

Officially, the phrase "CD Quality" means absolutely nothing. 128kbps mp3 files are routinely referred to as "CD Quality", yet anyone with a functional pair of ears knows that's far from the case. There are stringent standards that define what a "CD - Digital Audio" is, but none relating to "CD Quality". Forget "CD Quality", it creates more confusion than anything else.

What you'd want for a solo VO is definitely not mp3 files. There is a big difference between compressing a full mix to mp3 and compressing its split tracks. The former is standard practice in many scenarios, but the latter is hardly acceptable in a pro context. On a solo VO, there is nothing to mask the artifacts of the mp3. The standard used in most audio post facilities is WAV/AIFF 24-bit/48kHz. That's the format final mixes usually transit in and the format that'll be striped to most broadcast media. 24/44.1 also works, but it'll be converted to 48 in the end anyways. 16-bit is so 1990's. Unless there are DATs involved in the project, 16-bit should not be seen in an audio post project, IMO. Note that WAV and AIFF are pretty much interchangeable.

In a pro audio context, mp3 is acceptable for client approvals and as a distribution medium for radio spots. It very rarely has a place in any project involving video.

Of course, rules are meant to be bent when needed. Still, it's better to stick to them.

JC Boulay
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada

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