Digital Audio

What Does Digital Audio Mean?

Digital audio is a technology that is used to record, store, manipulate, generate and reproduce sound using audio signals that have been encoded in digital form.


It also refers to the sequence of discreet samples that are taken from an analog audio waveform. Instead of a continuous sinusoidal wave, digital audio is composed of discreet points which represent the amplitude of the waveform approximately.

The more samples taken, the better the representation, and hence impacts the quality of the digital audio. Most modern multimedia devices can only process digital audio, and in the case of cellphones requiring analog audio input, they still convert it to digital before transmission.

Techopedia Explains Digital Audio

To create a digital audio from an analog audio source, tens of thousands of samples are taken per second to ensure the replication of the waveform, with each sample representing the intensity of the waveform in that instant.

The samples are stored in binary form same as any digital data, regardless of the type. The samples which are merged into a single data file must be formatted correctly in order for it to be played on a digital player with the most common digital audio format being MP3.

Apart from the sampling frequency, another parameter in digital encoding is the number of bits used when taking samples. The common sampling parameter used is 16 bit samples taken over a spectrum of 44.1 thousand cycles per second or 44.1 Kilo Hertz (kHz). CD quality digital audio therefore requires 1.4 million bits of data per second.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.