Successfully Recording Your Lines At Home 

7. File Format

Ten years ago, even five years ago, people were talking a lot about the matter of file sizes. Even video editors tended to reduce the pixel resolution of the most ambitious film projects because otherwise, the files would have simply been "too big". Back then, hard drives were indeed small compared to nowadays. And another reason for compressing both video and audio down like hell was the small bandwidth for uploading anything to the internet.

All of this has changed rapidly over the last few years. Videos in High Definition have become standard now, and the mp3 format, with all its advandages, is next to be seen with a more and more suspicious eye, because when it comes to music and vocals, it means compressing an original file down up to one tenth of its previous size. And even with the highest kbs rates (kilo bits per second), this process means nothing else but reducing quality.

Some people are still arguing. But take a minute and ask yourself: After you have gone through so many steps, and maybe spent a personal fortune for a great microphone and good speakers, is there any sense in trying to achieve the best possible sound quality in the first place, and then in the end, in spending even more time with encoders, in order to compress it all down to the mp3 format?

I will not say I'm going to ban usage of mp3's any time soon. There is also some truth in the fact that the difference between mp3's with a 256kbs, or even 320kbs quality, and the uncompressed quality of a wav file, is hard to tell for untrained ears. But it's still there! So do me (and all audio editors out there) the favour and go for compressing only if you MUST, and not because you WANT TO. As an editor, I will always have a listen first and make a judgement afterwards. But if you can, please export and submit everything in wav format with a minimum quality of 44100Hz and 16bit.

Yes, uploading wav files to a server or a dropbox takes a bit longer than mp3's, but wav files are uncompressed and unspoilt, and therefore the best format you can deliver. There is only one sample rate which has to be avoided, and this is 48000Hz. Although it is fine for listening, it is no sample rate to work with. 48000Hz can't be processed properly, and the majority of editing programs, even Cubase, won't even import it correctly. Go for 44100Hz instead, or if bandwidth is really no problem for you, go for 96000Hz.

I have met people whose internet connections were excellent and whose huge hard drives contained loads of big-size movies (God knows where they downloaded all the stuff from), and then they submitted lines as mp3's with a tiny 128kbs quality. I cannot help myself but shake my head about this.