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minimum audio bit-depth needed...
What is the minimum bit-depth to get good audio quality?

Note: I replaced the song with the WAV version

Found here:
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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According to this paper
to achieve audible transparency, PCM with following features are needed:
  • 58kHz and 14 bit with noise shaping
  • 48kHz and 20 bit without noise shaping
in this article
some analog sources are listed with dynamic range and related bit depth "resolutions":
  • 78 RPM: 30-40 dB ➔ 5-6 bits
  • cassette tapes (prerecorded): 40 dB ➔ 6 bits
  • cassette tapes (recorded, best case scenario): 70dB ➔ 11-12 bits
  • vinyl: 60-70dB  ➔ about 11 bits
I can add to them:
  • laserdisc (analog CX off): 50-58 dB ➔ 9-10 bits
  • laserdisc (analog CX off): 62-74 dB ➔ 10-12 bits
  • VHS (mono non HiFi): 45 dB ➔ 6 bits
  • VHS (stereo HiFi): 80 dB ➔ 13 bits
few considerations after some tests I made:
  • at 16 bits I can hear -94 dB sine wave at reference level (and below) on my amplifier, possibly because of its sound nature (read: annoying) while I can barely hear classical music at -70dB
  • 11 bits (decimated from 16 bits) are enough to retain very good quality with a low (if not not audible) noise floor
  • 8 bits (with or without noise shaped) has too much noise for my taste
  • I just remembered that Akai 80s samplers used 12 bits sampling rate (and they had good reasons)
My conclusion: 16 bits has around 96 dB dynamic range, that could top 120 dB and more using noise shaping; they are more than enough to cover all music and movie dynamic range when listening even to reference level (105 dB), on a quiet room (or even recording studio, I guess); about frequency, considering that some very special gifted person that could hear frequencies higher than 24kHz could exist, but they must be extremely rare - more or less like tetrachromatic women IMHO

I'd say that 16bit/48kHz for release is good enough for 99.9% of situations/persons; productions wise, I'd stay with 24bit to take in account multiple processing and let the noise floor stay as low as possible, while 60kHz would be ideal to reproduce ANY frequency that human beings could hear; as industry standard is 96kHz, using it would be not harmful, apart using twice the space.
So, 24bit/48kHz for production is again enough for 99.9% of situations/persons IMHO, but you can go up to 24bit/96kHz to cover the residual 0.1%; anything more is overkill.
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
Thanks given by:
I think the consensus is that working in 24bit and mastering in 16bit is 'good enough' for most purposes. I know that the LFE channel for AC-3 and such was designed amongst other reasons to increase the effective dynamic range to 20bit. I can't imagine anything ever utilising the full dynamic range of 24bit (safely anyway)
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Some other interesting links:
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
Thanks given by: pipefan413
I'm the only person I know (offline anyway) who actually owns SACDs so I've done a fair bit of reading about DSD, it's kind of a s***show. The whole thing is completely reliant on noise shaping.

I've read that Ken Rockwell page before but I read it again because I find his stuff as entertainment as it is insightful. His bit about audiophiles is highly amusing...
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