24 Bit Audio – As reluctant as I am to splash terminology onto the screen that might cause your brain to freeze or worse, cause you to lose consciousness altogether, I think this is something you really do want to know a bit (ha ha…audio humor) about. So let’s get it out of the way. Ready? Here goes. “Try your hardest to record with a 24 bit audio analog-to-digital (a-d) converter.” Still with me? OK. Now let’s explain some things.
I talk a lot about noise, going so far as to name it the number one enemy of good audio. There are lost of sources for noise, including screaming kids, lawn mowers, attention-starved cats (meaning it’s been more than 5 minutes since their last lap session), and the dreaded computer noise. But let’s assume for the moment that you have managed to tame those sources of noise and you have a nice quiet space for recording. Since our home recording studio uses a computer for recording, the sound that we want to record-let’s say your voice for this example-needs to be converted from being a sound in the real world (air particles moving around, basically) to being something a computer can understand, namely a digital sound (a bunch of ones and zeros). It’s like what the Master Control Program did to Kevin Flynn in Tron to convert (ha!) him from a person in the real world (flesh and blood and some other gooey and crunchy stuff) to being something a computer can deal with, namely a digital person.
Another kind of noise happens after audio is converted to digital. There will be a digital noise flooror a sort of hissing sound that is a product of the conversion. You’ll hear this, as soft as it is, regardless of whether you actually record your voice or not, and even in a very quiet room.
On-board sound cards, the ones built right onto a motherboard, will convert audio from analog (Kevin Flynn) to digital (well, Kevin Flynn again, only with a goofy costume and gray-scale skin), but most of them have two problems. First, the components used to do the conversion are not great. Second, they usually only convert using what is called a 16-bit bit depth. Yikes! What the heck does that mean? Never mind that. I’ll write another article on just that very soon. All you need to know at this point is that recording when the bit depth is only 16 bits means that the difference between the quietest sound (which would be that noise floor I mentioned) and sound that is too loudis quite narrow.
One of the worst sounds in the world is audio that is all buzzy and distorted because it was too loud for the electronics. It really is unpleasant. If you’re trying to record your voice, and things keep distorting, it means you’re voice is too loud at certain points.
Read the full article here: http://www.homebrewaudio.com/why-you-might-want-a-24-bit-audio-a-d-converter