This paper reviews the recording and reproduction chain from the viewpoints of digital audio engineering and psychoacoustics. It also attempts to define the audio requirements of a transparent digital audio channel. The theory and practice of selecting high sample rates such as 96kHz and word lengths of up to 24 bits are examined. The relative importance of sampling rate and word size at various points in the recording, mastering, transmission, and replay chain is discussed. The paper then examines types of coding that are capable of attaining the target performance, describing the advantages of schemes such as lossless coding, near-lossless coding, and matched noise shaping with pre-emphasis.
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