In this guide, we’ll show you how to set or change your sample rate for a project, so you have crisp, clear audio every time.
If you need a quick refresher on sample rates, keep reading the next 2 sections. Otherwise, scroll down to the tutorial labeled “How to change the sample rate in Pro Tools.”
What is a Sample Rate?
The sample rate is how many times per second a sample is taken of your audio track. Samples are like “snapshots” of one part of an audio wavelength at one time.
So, for example, if you have an audio project with a sample rate of 44.1kHz, this means that the audio is being sampled 44,100 times per second.
When and Why Should You Change The Sample Rate for Your Project?
Put simply, the higher the audio sampling rate, the higher-quality the audio renders overall. This is because the highest frequency that can be rendered is equal to around half the sample rate. Anything above that threshold will not render properly and can cause blips on the audio spectrum known as “aliasing.”
Different applications use different “standard” sample rates. For professional audio production, the standard sample rate is 48kHZ. For consumer audio publishing, it’s 44.1kHz. To decide on which sample rate to use, it’s essential to consider your final publishing method and what sample rates are considered standard for that medium.
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How to Change The Sample Rate in Pro Tools
The easiest way to change the sample rate in Pro Tools is when you’re creating a new session or project. To do this, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Create a new session in Pro Tools
Step 2: In the New Session option box, locate the sample rate drop-down menu in the session parameters.
Step 3: Select the sample rate drop-down menu by clicking on the drop-down tab and choose your sample rate from the set of options available.
You will be able to choose from 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, or 192 kHz sample rates. If you’re working on a music or podcast project, 44.1 kHz should work fine. If you’re working on audio for a film or TV show, you may want to select 48 kHz, which is more standard for surround-sound audio. When choosing your sample rate, it is always important to consider your final playback devices.
Step 4: Hit “OK,” and you will now have a session that samples at your chosen audio rate
Ok, but what if you need to change the sample rate of an existing project? Unfortunately, you cannot simply hit "convert file" in Pro Tools to change the sample rate. If you haven’t rendered your project, the best way to do this is to save a copy of an existing session as a new project with a different sample rate. To do this, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open Pro Tools
Step 2: Open an existing Pro Tools Session
Step 3: Go to “File” then select “Save Copy As..”
Step 4: In the Save Copy option box, set session sample rates for your new session. Then hit "Save session copy."
And that’s it; you’ll now have a copy of your current project with the correct sample rate applied. You can now import session data from your previous session into this project. Also, be sure to save your audio files to a new location than the previous session to avoid file confusion.
Practice Makes Perfect
Working with audio is as much of an art as it is a science, and sample rates are an excellent example of this. There is much debate about how much audio improves at higher sample rates, but there are many reasons that engineers use higher sample rates for their projects. The best way to figure out which sample rates work best for your projects is first to consider the final publishing platform for your project and then decide which sample rate will give you the best results for that platform.
And if you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your Pro Tools edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind the movies, and you shouldn’t be slowed down no matter where your team is working in the world.