Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 5, last updated 6/25/2013
5.3.4 Mathematics and Algorithms for Aliasing
Many of the concepts introduced in Sections 5.1 and 5.2 may become clearer if you experiment
with the mathematics, visualize or listen to the audio data in MATLAB, or write some of the
algorithms to see the results first-hand. We’ll try that in this section.
It's possible to predict the frequency of an aliased wave in cases where aliasing occurs.
The algorithm for this is given in Algorithm 5.1. There are four cases to consider. We’ll use a
sampling rate of 1000 Hz to illustrate the algorithm. At this sampling rate, the Nyquist
frequency is 500 Hz.
algorithm aliasing {
Frequency of a single-frequency sound wave to be sampled, f_act
Sampling rate, f_samp
Frequency of the digitized audio wave, f_obs*/
f_nf = ½ * f_samp //Nyquist frequency is ½ sampling rate
if (f_act = f_nf) //Case 1, no aliasing
f_obs = f_act
else if (f_nf f_act = f_samp) //Case 2
f_obs = f_samp f_act;
else {
p = f_act / f_nf //integer division, drop remainder
r = f_act mod f_nf //remainder from integer division
if (p is even) then //Case 3
f_obs = r;
else if (p is odd) then //Case 4
f_obs = f_nf r;
Algorithm 5.1
In the first case, when the actual frequency is less than or equal to the Nyquist frequency,
the sampling rate is sufficient and there is no aliasing. In the second case, when the actual
frequency is between the Nyquist frequency and the sampling rate, the observed frequency is
equal to the sampling rate minus the actual frequency. For example, a sampling rate of 1000 Hz
causes an 880 Hz sound wave to alias to 120 Hz (Figure 5.35).
Nyquist and
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