I have to calculate a 48 point FFT using an N-point FFT library function which only supports lengths that are a power of 2.

Is it possible to calculate a 48-point FFT using a 32-point FFT and 16-point FFT? If not, what is the most efficient way of implementing a 48 point FFT?


2 Answers 2


If not, what is the most efficient way of implementing a 48 point FFT?

Three 16 point FFTs plus one set of 3 point "Butterflies".

Matlab example

%% Do a 48 point FFT, this is NOT efficient but shows the principle
n = 48;
nFFT = 16;
x0 = randn(n,1); % test vector
fx0 = fft(x0); % reference
x1 = reshape(x0,3,nFFT)'; % reshape into 3 N-16 vectors
fx1 = fft(x1);   % 3 FFTs 16 points each
fx2 = [fx1; fx1; fx1]; % periodic repetition for easy butterfly code
W = exp(-1i*2*pi*(0:n-1)'/n); % twiddle factor, N = 48
% execute a 3 point "butterfly"
fy = fx2(:,1) + fx2(:,2).*W + fx2(:,3).*W.^2;
% calculate and print error
d = (fy-fx0);
fprintf('Relative Error = %6.2fdB \n',20*log10(sum(abs(d))./sum(abs(fx0))));
  • $\begingroup$ don't you mean Three 16-point FFT one 32-point FFT? $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Oct 18, 2021 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ There is no 32-point FFT. $\endgroup$
    – Hilmar
    Oct 18, 2021 at 14:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Ben, no he doesn't mean that, because it won't work. He means that you should follow three 16-point FFT's with a set of butterfly operations, each on three elements, to finish up the 48-point FFT. $\endgroup$
    – TimWescott
    Oct 18, 2021 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Hilmar: I feel it would be more clear to say "set of 3-point butterflies", or "3-point vector butterfly" -- the FFT newbie may not realize that you are prescribing one 3-point butterfly primitive to each of the elements in each of the three 16-point FFTs. $\endgroup$
    – TimWescott
    Oct 18, 2021 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @TimWescott: done. Thanks for the suggestion $\endgroup$
    – Hilmar
    Oct 18, 2021 at 15:13

No, that's not possible. You can piece together a 48-point FFT from factors-of-48-FFTs, in your case from multiple 16-point FFTs using the radix-N method.

You can even use the Split-Radix Algorithm to piece together a 48-point FFT from 32 and 16 point FFTs – but it's not going to be

48-point FFT using a 32-point FFT and 16-point FFT


48-point FFT using multiple 32-point FFTs and multiple 16-point FFTs

However, in practice, you'll want to implement your 32-point FFT through Radix-2-combine 16-point FFTs, so this choice is just an "awkward" way of implementing the 48-FFT through 16-point-FFTs, anyway.


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