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Is a 384KHz Sample Rate Necessary? Steinberg Think So, Introducing the AXR4

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Steinberg have announced the AXR4, their flagship VERY high resolution 28×24 Thunderbolt audio interface. The 4 mic preamp equipped AXR4 notably totes 32 bit converters with sample rates up to 384 KHz, and the rather intriguing ‘Rupert Neve Approved’ statement which graces the front panel. 

Steinberg are making it very clear that they are talking about 32-bit integer, not floating point. 32-bit floating point is in fact fairly common and allows plugins to process 24 bit audio with more headroom. This does however happen entirely within software after the 24 bit sampling process, after which the audio is converted back to regular old 24 bit. 

In the case of the AXR4, 32-bit integer is referring to the hardware converters themselves and allows audio to be captured at a higher resolution. Whether or not this is useful or beneficial in any way remains to be seen (or heard), however it is indeed impressive on paper, not to mention that 384 KHz sampling rate. It’s worth mentioning that this is dependant on software support. Steinberg’s own Cubase for example does not yet support such high sample rates 

Then there’s the ‘Rupert Neve Approved’ scenario. You would be forgiven for assuming that this meant the AXR4 contains the same Rupert Neve Designs input transformers as Steinberg’s UR-RT USB audio interfaces. However, they do not. The AXR4 instead refers to an analog emulation process they refer to as SILK. In Steinberg’s own words: 

‘The SILK processing function provided in the AXR4’s hybrid microphone preamplifiers offers two choices, Red for sparkling energy, and Blue for solidity and power. In addition, a continuously variable Texture control musically shapes the harmonic components to best suit the sound source. The benefits of SILK processing are also evident in the way channel EQ and reverb plug-ins affect the sound. 

SILK can be used on all mic input channels, either to specific channels or to all mic input channels to add depth and perspective to the overall mix.’ 

Very interesting stuff. This is in addition to the onboard 28×24 Yamaha DSP powered mixer which allows real time processing and monitoring using Yamaha’s VCM effects, with deep Cubase integration.  

The AXR4 should be available in Australia soon. See Steinberg’s website for more details: 

https://new.steinberg.net/axr4/ 

  

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