12-Bit Recording

I really love the great quality I am able to get with the highest settings on Audacity, however, I really want to be able to record in 12-bit format for drum samples to make them grittier. Is there anyway to make this happen? It would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you.

To clarify, I specifically mean 26.040 kHz and 12-bit resolution.


audacity has 22050 rate
and 16 bit
as the closest options that I can find

you want gritty maybe convert it to mp3 at low quality

You can set the sample rate to 26.040 kHz by typing 26040 into the Project Rate box in the lower left corner of the main Audacity window.
When you export your file, that sample rate will be used for the exported file.
Audacity does not support 12 bit audio so you will need to Export in a higher quality format, then use an external converter to convert it to 12 bit.

If you don’t need 12 bit, but you just want the “sound” of 12 bit, there are ways to simulate the effect using 16 bit, so if that would be of any use to you, just ask and I’ll type up some instructions for you.


you can type into that box?
how different from most boxes with a drop down list.

who knew?

I agree that it is not very obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind that for 99.99% of users, using a non-standard Project Rate is a bad idea that can lead to all sorts of problems.

It appears that the feature was undocumented so I’ve added it to the manual http://manual.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Selection_Toolbar

I don’t need it to be 12-bit, all I need is the sound, it would be extremely helpful.

try letting it clip
that will be gritty for sure

what is so magic about 20040 sample rate ?
what playback device would use that ?

These instructions are for Audacity 1.3.12. If you’re using an earlier version I’d highly recommend upgrading to 1.3.12.

To get the same effect at 12 bit, go to “Edit menu > Preferences > Quality” and set “High Quality Conversion > Dither” to “None”.
Click “OK” to close the Preferences dialogue.

Look at the box on the left side of the track that you want to process.
If it says “32 bit float”, then click on the track name and in the drop down menu go down to “Set Sample Format” and set it to “16 bit PCM”
(If it already said “16 bit PCM” then just miss out this step).

Now select the entire track (double click on it).
From the Effect menu, select “Amplify”.
In the top box of the Amplify effect, type -24 (minus twenty four).
What we are doing here is to drop the volume so that the waveform is within a 12 bit (72 dB) range, instead of a 16 bit (96 dB) range.
Click “OK” (the waveform will go almost flat vertically).

Now select the Amplify effect again, but this time just type 24 (plus twenty four) in the top text box and click OK.
This will restore the amplitude to it’s previous height, but with scaled values from the small waveform - that is, 12 bit values.

I expect that this will not sound as “lo-fi” as you are expecting - while not brilliant, 12 bit audio is not as bad as many MP3s that people happily listen to.
To undo the previous steps, press Ctrl+Z repeatedly (each time you press Ctrl+Z it will undo the previous action).

Try it again, but instead of dropping the amplitude by -24 dB, try dropping it by -50 dB. This effectively makes it the same sound quality as 8 bit audio.
When you amplify it back to normal, you should hear quite clearly that the sound quality is much lower (it will sound hissy).

After doing all this, you may decide that it is not the effect that you wanted, but at least you now know what it will sound like at 12 bit and at 8 bit.

For an alternative type of distortion, try the “Leveller” effect.
Suggested settings: Use the Amplify effect with default settings first, then apply “Leveller” with “Degree of levelling” = “Heaviest” and “Threshold for noise” = “-20dB”.
That may be too “gritty”. If so, Ctrl+Z to undo and use a lower “Degree of Levelling”.

Before you go on to doing normal editing, remember to switch the “Dither” setting back on for “High Quality Conversion” in Preferences.
Recommended dither settings are “Triangle” or “Shaped”.
Recommended dither settings for “Real Time Conversions” is “None”.

I am trying to digitally emulate Emu SP-1200 sampling capabilities, for drum samples. Letting it clip is not the effect I want, lol.

Thank you, Steve.

Possibly a greater influence on the characteristic sound of the EMU SP-1200 was its filter circuitry.
I found the spec. sheet for the filter chips that are used in the EMU SP-1200 which may be of interest: http://www.alldatasheet.com/datasheet-pdf/pdf/96412/ETC/SSM2044.html