the difference of 16-bit and 24-bit

What is Bit Depth? 

Bit depth is one of the factors that affect audio quality, and it refers to the number of bits used to represent the amplitude of an audio sample. In digital audio, sound is represented as a series of discrete measurements, or samples, taken at regular intervals. Each of these samples represents the amplitude of the audio waveform at that point in time. The bit depth determines the number of possible amplitude levels that each sample can have.

Bit Depth

For instance, in a 24-bit audio system, there are 2^24 (16777216) possible amplitude levels, ranging from the quietest sound to the loudest. This provides a certain level of dynamic range, which is basically the difference between the softest and loudest sounds that can be accurately represented. 

That means that the higher the bit rate, the more the amplitude levels, resulting in a wider dynamic range and the ability to capture more subtle details, particularly in the quieter parts of the audio. 

What is the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit? 

Bit depth2

As stated earlier, 16-bit and 24-bit are two common standards used when differentiating the quality of audio recordings and playback. The difference between these two audio formats lies in the bit rate and frequency, which can affect the audio quality in some scenarios. 

Regarding bit depth, 16-bit audio provides reasonable quality but struggles with subtleties in complex soundscapes. On the other hand, 24-bit audio offers superior precision, preserving delicate details during recording and post-production tasks. This difference is usually noticeable when using high-quality hardware to listen to the audio. 

Regarding sample rate, the standard 44.1 kHz suits most human hearing and everyday listening. In comparison, 96 kHz extends beyond human hearing but might have limited perceptible impact. However, subtle differences may be noticed, especially for professionals in the audio industry and other audio enthusiasts who pay a lot of attention to audio quality. 

Streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify support audio files in the 16-bit format since it is good enough for most listers. For those who need more quality sound, Spotify supports 24-bit, which they refer to as HiFi or High-Fidelity audio. On the other hand, Apple Music supports Hi-Res Lossless (up to 24-bit/192kHz), which is even of a higher quality. 


What is the main difference between 16-bit and 24-bit  audio formats?

The differences between these formats lie in their bit depth and sample rate. 16-bit provides reasonable quality and suits most casual listening scenarios. On the other hand, 24-bit offers superior precision and is preferred for professional audio production, critical listening, and capturing more details.