Slaying Dragons #23 – Time Accuracy

John Watkinson considers Time Accuracy.

It’s a funny thing, but despite the Compact Disc being over three decades old I am still regularly faced with misconceptions about digital audio. I don’t mind so much when they come from the population at large, but when they come from the mouths of those making a living out of audio I sometimes tremble slightly.

An otherwise sane person informed me that digital audio couldn’t locate a transient on the time axis any more accurately than the sample spacing, and that was why higher sampling rates were needed. I resisted the temptation to reply in terms of the aerodynamics of the pig but I was surprised at how long it took to explain properly.

There are a number of difficulties here.  One of them is that audio is in many ways an art form requiring creative and subjective judgment in its execution, whereas science and its bedfellow mathematics are what they are and remain unmoved by what we believe. 

The result is an unfortunate disconnect where we have on the one hand people with scientific knowledge, who understand that science can be relied on because its theories are provable by repeatable experiment and on the other hand people who see science as a threat to their creative freedom.

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