Choosing the Right Audio Bitrate for Video Editing

Want to learn more about audio bitrate and what the best audio bitrate is needed for your video? Let's dive into audio bitrate and what it means for your audio experience. 

When you work on a video project, you know how important audio quality is for your video. Bitrate is a crucial factor in determining audio quality, as it refers to the amount of data transferred into audio. Generally, a higher bitrate means better audio quality.

Types of audio files

To fully grasp the concept of bitrate, we need to talk about the different types of audio files. 

There are three types of audio files: uncompressed, lossless, and compressed

Uncompressed files are the largest, containing all possible information that audio equipment can detect and record. Examples of uncompressed file formats include WAV, AIFF, and PCM. 

Lossless compressed files, on the other hand, are smaller in size but still retain all the data. Examples of lossless audio file formats include FLAC, WMA, and ALAC. 

Lastly, compressed or lossy files are the smallest file types that remove non-essential information. Examples of lossy audio file formats include MP3s and AAC, typically used for streaming services.

The sample rate and bit depth also play a significant role in determining audio quality. The sample rate refers to the number of times per second that the audio recording equipment transforms sound into data. The bit depth is the number of bits in each sample. A high sample rate and bit depth mean more details in the audio, and need a higher bitrate.

What's the ideal audio bitrate?

You choose the audio bitrate depending on the purpose and the delivery method of the audio. If you're planning to deliver the audio via streaming, you'll need a lower bitrate for efficient streaming. But if you're delivering audio through physical formats or downloads, a higher bitrate is ideal.

High bitrates don't always mean better quality. Even if you have a high-bitrate, high-fidelity audio, it won't matter if the user is consuming the video with the audio on low-quality hardware like earbuds or desktop speakers.

Let's see more about audio bitrate in this short video:

What audio equipment to use for audio recording?

The are a couple of things to consider here.

It's best to record with a high sample rate and bit depth if you want the highest audio quality.

Keep your highest-quality files around for future-proofing against new technology (which may require higher audio bitrate). 

Understanding how to work with a sound equalizer and how to mix music will improve the audio you produce, regardless of the bitrate.

Here are several other points to keep in mind before you record and use the audio in your video.

When exporting audio files for video editing software, make sure to choose a compatible audio format that meets the software's requirements. In other words, see what fits best your video editing software.

When recording audio for video, try to minimize background noise and use directional microphones for better sound quality.

It's essential to consider the loudness levels of your audio and ensure they meet industry standards to avoid distortion and clipping.

What are the requirements for audio bitrates in online videos?

The most popular video platforms have specific requirements about the audio bitrate in videos.

YouTube recommends the audio bitrate of 128 kbps for mono, 384 kbps for stereo, and 512 kbps for the 5.1 surround audio type. In one word, target the audio bitrate of 128 kbps and above for your YouTube videos.

Facebook and Instragram videos should have the audio bitrate of 128 kbps and above. For video streaming on Twitch, for example, the audio bitrate should not exceed 160 kbps.