What is 'bit'?

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by Lonneybat6, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. Lonneybat6

    Lonneybat6 New Member

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    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  2. Ultraq

    Ultraq Master Guru

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    [EDIT]: Welcome to the forums Lonneybat6! :)

    A 'bit' is a binary digit, a 0 or a 1. When talking about sound samples, the number of bits determines how many 0s and 1s are used to represent the sound waveform at a particular point in time.
    eg: 44,100Hz, 16-bit, stereo - commonly called 'CD quality' - means that a sound is sampled 44,100 times a second, and at each sample, 16-bits is used to describe the wave at that point for each channel.

    Since sound waves are analogue, and sound samples stored on a computer are digital, these bits are never completely accurate representations of the original sound, but we get close enough. The more bits used, the more accurate we become. However, the limitations of binary mean that we can never become 100% accurate.

    When it comes to sound cards, this is where somebody might need to correct me because I'm never sure if the '16-bit' tacked-on to the side of the soundcard's box means that it can output 16-bit sounds through a digital channel, or if it can be given a 16-bit sound sample to then turn into an analogue signal for your speakers.

    For general music and gaming, the leap from 16-bit to 24-bit is not noticeable and is only a processing overhead for your CPU/soundcard. I believe the only practical application of 24-bit sounds is in the recreation/restoration of older mediums, like phonographs/vinyls -> digital, where every little 'bit' counts :p
     
  3. umeng2002

    umeng2002 Maha Guru

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    Another thing to keep in mind is that most audio even in computer games are 44.1 kHz 16-bit or 48 kHz 16-bit.

    Only DVD-audio and Bluray and HDDVD audio is higher like 96 or 192 kHz and 24-bit.
     
  4. JaylumX

    JaylumX Master Guru

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    Just to touch up fella, CD-Audio is 16-bit at a rate of 44khz while DVD film audio format is generally 16-bit at 48khz. High Def formats on the othe hand uses a sample depth of 24-bit and a frequency rate ranging from 48khz to 96khz. DVD-audio as far as i know uses 24-bit depth and at 96khz for 5.1 channels and at 192khz for stereo in its Lossless MLP format
     

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