Bit Depth
audio file converter for music production and hi‑end audio

Bit Depth

Bit depth is number of discrete levels of digital-signal sample.

We should distinguish audio and video bit depth.


Bit-depth audio

Sound (oscillations of air pressure) at each instant has different values.

Intensity of the air pressure to ear is changed in time.

The stronger the pressure changes, the louder the sound.

We have analog (continuous) signal (air pressure).

Converting of analog signal to digital format

Measurements of the value (of the air pressure power) at the each instant stored into memory.

By time the instants are spaced equally.

Bit depth audio is level number of an instant pressure measurement.

Bit depth may be integer or floating point number.


Integer bit depth

Integer bit depth consists some number bits (8, 12, 16, 20 ,24, 32, 64).
More number of bits less level (loudness) of noise (more precision of the measurements).

Precision here is level number.


Float point bit depth

Floating point bit depth has range 0.0 ... 1.0
1.0 is highest level of air pressure.

Here is no exact borders between levels. I.e. floating point bit depth provides maximum measurement precision comparing integer ones.

However, it's not applicable for analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters.


Bit depth requirements


For different purposes, various bit depths are used:

Speech, lo-fi music - 8 bit

Hi-Fi, Hi-End CD, DVD-video, downloaded audio - 16 bit

Hi-Fi, Hi-End DVD-audio and video, Blue-Ray, downloaded audio - 24 bit

Studio recording and mixing (music production) - 24 or 32 bit and 32 or 64 bit float

For high precision applications - 64 bit integer or floating point


Bit-depth video

Each pixel (point of monitor or TV screen) has 3 colours.

Each colour has level of brightness 0 to maximum, that divide on <bit-depth> levels.


Read more




August 8, 2022 updated  | since September 20, 2013

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