Getting Technical: Supporting High Quality Audio

bit-depth-vs-sample-rate-tweakheadz-dot-comAs the industry evolves in both listening trends and formats, we at The Orchard make it a priority to stay at the forefront of new audio technologies and store requirements. For a long time, 16-bit audio has been the standard, stemming from Compact Disc limitations and transitioning into the digital norm. Most retailers still only support 16-bit audio, but a number of new digital retailers are now exclusively moving to 24-bit audio, or at least are offering the means to support it.

Fun fact: most audio releases are in fact mastered as 24-bit, so it makes sense to offer to the consumer a record in its most native state. TIDAL is an example of a retailer that caters to a listener seeking the best possible sound. iTunes offers some 24-bit products as exclusive releases that have been specifically mastered for iTunes (MFiT), requiring the mastering engineers to adhere to their strict guidelines.

With that, The Orchard’s brand new standard audio specs are: WAV (.wav) / 16- or 24-bit / 44.1 kHz / Stereo. We do however accept other file formats, below:

  • FLAC (.flac) / PCM (.wav) / Apple Lossless – ALAC (.m4a)*
    • FLAC, PCM & ALAC are the codecs that fit into the containers .flac, .wav, and .m4a respectively.
    • *Apple Lossless format is only accepted as 16-bit, 44.1kHz
  • 16-bit: 44.1kHz, 48kHz
  • 24-bit: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz
    • kHz refers to the sample rate, or the number of times your audio is measured (sampled) per second. For example: 44.1kHz = 44,100 samples of audio per second.
    • Be uniform when submitting your releases and avoid uploading a mix of 16-bit and 24-bit tracks on the same album.

Please note: although The Orchard fully supports 24-bit audio ingestion and delivery, MFiT releases still need to be manually communicated to a label’s client manager for the time being.

And that’s a wrap! You’ve completed your technical audio education for the week.

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