Digital sampling and stair-stepping explained


Boring Old Git
I completely agree this should be a's one of the best explanations ever of digital audio and I can't count how many times I've posted links to it.

However, can I respectfully suggest a title change to something like "Why digital signals are NOT stair steps" or something similar?

...just so people don't get the wrong idea!


New member
I found this video posted on another forum and thought it would be useful here.

D/A and A/D | Digital Show and Tell (Monty Montgomery @ - YouTube

Nice video! I think I need to see it a couple of times to understand completely whats actually happening.. Also Im strangely confused.. If 8 bit signals only rises the noise floor compared to higher bit signals. Then why the old 8 bit soundcards were not capable of giving any descent sound quality?? I still remember my first 8 bit soundcard. And obviously my old casette tapes sounded much better.. And the man in the video claims the analogue casette is comparable with around 6 bit digital audio.. Wich everyone can know is not the case... Do you remember yourself how the old 8 bit sound cards sounded? Terrible.. no descend sound at al.. So he is showing and explaining something.. but also something wich has to do with hearing is missing.... Guess I really need to see it again....

The 8 bit sound cards were also lower sample rate, if I recall correctly. Also, the digital noise floor is both worse sounding and not as transparent as the noise floor of a cassette tape.

I'm pretty sure he was referring to the dynamic range between the noise floor and clipping of a cassette tape is the same as the range between the noise floor and clipping in an 8 bit signal.

Dynamic range is not the only, or the most important part of recording quality.