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I wouldn't say 96 kHz audio equipment is a waste...
Inexpensive and readily available audio equipment with very high
sampling rates seems to me to be boon to research, for example for
nonhuman audition and vocal behavior, and in speech research.
Historically, researchers working on nonhuman audition and
vocalization have faced a double whammy--dramatically fewer resources
available for the work, and equipment needs that may not be met by
the gear designed for humans. Nonhuman researchers have always been
at the mercy of a market overwhelmingly driven by human-centered
demand and design. That situation has improved dramatically over
recent years, as consumer-level electronics have become increasingly
sophisticated and inexpensive.
Researchers interested in nonhumans immediately benefit from higher
sampling rates, and I suspect there are clear benefits to studies of
human vocalization and audition as well. For example, better
representation of the waveform provides more accurate representation
of accurate representation of fundamental frequency variation and
associated vocal perturbation measures in human speech (as well as
nonhuman vocal behavior).
I say three cheers for such "waste."
Michael J. Owren, Ph.D.
Psychology of Voice and Sound Research Lab
Department of Psychology
224 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853