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Okay. So, when you're creating a new recording in Audition--again I'll choose File > New > Audio file. In addition to the sample rate--which we previously covered--you also need to select the bit depth of your recording. Notice we can choose from 8, 16, 24, or 32 float. The bit depth determines the dynamic range of your audio file. The more bits, the wider the range of volume you can have within each sample of your recording. Think back to the previous movie on sample rate. We likened the sample rate to a camera that takes thousands of images of a sound per second. For example, a sample rate of 44.1 Kilohertz takes 44,100 samples per second.
The amount of information stored in each one of those samples is determined by the bit depth. So, for example, a low bit depth like 8-bit resolution only allows for a dynamic range of 48 dB within a sample. That's not enough to accurately capture the dynamic range of most sounds. A 16-bit resolution, which is how most music CDs are encoded, allows for 96 dBs of dynamic range. 24 gives you 144 dB range, and 32 is the best at 192 decibels of dynamic range. So, the higher your bit depth, the more information or dynamic range you have to work with.
Higher bit depths also result in larger files, though. But unless you're working on an old computer with very little hard drive space to spare, you should always work at the highest bit depth possible, which is 32 float in this case. When you're done, you can always convert your file to a lower bit depth if you want to decrease the file size, or for example, burn a CD for which you'll have to drop your bit depth down to 16-bit. Now the reason it's labeled 32 float is because this isn't true 32-bit recording. 32-bit float is actually a 24-bit resolution recording with an additional 8 bits for headroom and dynamic range.
And currently there aren't any 32-bit soundcards or input/output devices for computers. The highest quality devices are still 24-bit, and Audition uses 32-bit float to get the optimum sound quality and dynamic range out of your 24-bit hardware. The bottom line, use 32-bit float for your recordings to get the best dynamic range. You can always convert it down later, but you'll never be able to get more quality out of a recording that was recorded at a lower bit rate.
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