Sample rates at Bandcamp - an "interesting" day!

As part of an ongoing drive to significantly increase my local library I’ve made quite a few recent purchases from Bandcamp. You never quite know what resolution download you’re going to get as Bandcamp is a hosting site for labels and individual artists.

Today I purchased two albums by Field Music (“Open Here” and “Flat White Moon”). The format of these albums interested me.

“Open Here” is the only recording in my collection that’s 48/16. Obviously I’ve got plenty of 44.1/16 and also plenty of 48/24, but no 48/16 (at least not until today).

“Flat White Moon” comes in at 192/24. Nothing unusual about 192/24, but it’s the first time that I’ve had anything from Bandcamp at this resolution.

So what’s the purpose of my post? I suppose it’s to ask other users if they’ve had similar interesting* experiences when purchasing from Bandcamp (or elsewhere).

*I use the term “interesting” in its loosest sense, fully accepting that my wife and children would utter their favourite refrain “is it really though?”.

With bandcamp it’s mostly dependent on what the artist uploads.

I’ve mostly uploaded 96/24 wav masters for the artists I work with. Bandcamp will then cross convert.

The exception is if you download alac, bandcamp will limit this to 48k, to make sure they play on all Apple devices.

I had 1 album some time ago that was 16/48 and it wouldn’t play on my Sonos system at the time and thankfully I had dbPoweramp to convert it to 16/44.
I emailed the artist and told him how I got it working and he had no Idea how it happened.

I do wish Bandcamp would show the bit rates, but it would probably not change my buying decision as I buy there whenever possible to support the artists.
Great to see that super high resolution is trickling down to the site.

I also have a 48/16 album - “Heavy Horns” by “Dear Ears”. I also have 44/24, 48/24, 96/24 and a whole bunch of ‘mixed format’, which are normally 44/16 with one or two tracks at a higher rate.

Yes I am seeing a lot more mixed format albums now especially where the bonus tracks are in cd format

While it’s somewhat unusual to have 16-bit depths with 48kHz or higher, I’m not sure those should be called ‘mixed’ formats. I like to think about bit depth and sample rate as independent, and in theory, the higher the rate, the fewer bits you need…

If Sonos has an issue with 16/48, I see this as a Sonos fail. I would have taken a different approach though: convert it to 24/48 with a simple bit extension.

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I took mixed albums as having differing rates on different songs on them.

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That would be my understanding as well, different formats/sample rates/bit depths in the same album. The Bandcamp download thing always feels like a bit of a lottery. That said transcoding formats is pretty easy, metadata woes take time and toil.


Marian mixed formats we’re something different. Mainly when there are some tracks at 24/48 (or 92) and some at 16/44. I have a number of these in various artists albums from Bandcamp and also albums with bonus tracks, that are not in the same format as the rest of the album.

I also feel that the 16/48 was a Sonos issue and I have no idea if it was fixed (probably) as I have never seen another album in 16/48 format. I did convert it to 24/48 as well but it didn’t work on Sonos. It sounds like the original conversation was an error and the album was mixed as 16/44 with the creator.

I have a small number of 48/16, including a couple of Mark Knopfler concerts I bought from his website, and Greta Van Fleet’s From the Fires album. A few others are mixed format albums with the odd 48/16 track. I do wish Bandcamp would list the resolution/bit rate prior to purchase.

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That’s where I mostly encounter the “issue”. It’s unlikely that anyone would intentionally go with a 48-bit depth release. It’s likely to disagree with quite a bit of kit for no real gain.

This is more concerning, if it’s not a transcoding error. 24/48 is pretty common and I think you’d have noticed before if this was an issue.

Yes I had to change something in the dbPoweramp converter to make it work. To be fair it was a while ago, and once we worked out what was wrong the conversation worked perfectly.

But back in those days Sonos only played up to 16/44 anyway

Oh, got it. That’s actually more problematic, as labels should not release mixed format albums… Two of the albums I bought on Bandcamp turned out to be bootlegs. I think they should do a better job vetting their sources.

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After my “interesting” day, I looked into 48/16 format. It would appear that it’s an industry standard in films/movies/tv shows etc., but obviously not in music (due to CDs). The album in question was released in 2018, so I suspect that recording it in 48/16 was a sort of “halfway house” between redbook and hi-res. Luckily with my set up it makes no difference in terms of compatibility.

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I’ve got a couple of mixed format albums, but the bitrate is consistent at 24. The sample rate changes (44 and 48 on one, 48 and 96 on another). I know that some DACs can make an audible sound when changing between bitrates, but I think that sample rate changes are less problematic. I would, however, prefer not to see mixed formats.

Bandcamp have stood pretty firm on not managing or displaying metadata. It’s pretty much what the source uploads, with whatever metadata it has on ID3 tags. Saves a lot of database engineering and data validation cost. I don’t blame them, any such cost is less $$$ for the artists.

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Sorry to butt in. I have only briefly skimmed this thread.

But another example of mixed formats from Qobuz:

In my collection are some albums with mixed formats.

I must say this always annoys me a little. Maybe this is splitting hairs, but I would like to have albums in a uniform format.
I have also considered to upsample the individual songs with a lower samplerate, but this would actually be self-deception.

Until now I have not had an album in 16/48, although I buy relatively often on Bandcamp.

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I agree. I suppose it boils down to the same old problem. Most people aren’t really bothered about bitrates and resolution.

From a Bandcamp help page:

The default download format is MP3, and this is probably what you want.

You can also download in FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and AIFF formats. These options are, as we say in the interface, for “audiophiles and nerds.”

I don’t describe myself as an audiophile, so I must be a nerd! To be fair, that’s quite accurate!


Interesting that the say mp3 is the default as I am always offered the highest quality FLAC first.
But Nerd might define one or two of us here :roll_eyes: :rofl:

Here is another odd mixed format album by Hanging Garden.
Their albums seem to be a mixture of 24/48 24/44 and 44/16 so a little bit all over the place.

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I am as well, but I think that this is because Bandcamp remembers your last download choice. I seem to recall that, the very first time I used Bandcamp, it defaulted to MP3.