Part of the Multimedia and graphics glossary:

In digital audio , bit depth describes the potential accuracy of a particular piece of hardware or software that processes audio data. In general, the more bits that are available, the more accurate the resulting output from the data being processed.

Bit depth is frequently encountered in specifications for analog-to-digital converters ( ADC s) and digital-to-analog converters ( DAC s), when reading about software plug-in , and when recording audio using a professional medium such as a digital audio workstation or a Digital Audio Tape machine.

Bit depth is the number of bit s you have in which to describe something. Each additional bit in a binary number doubles the number of possibilities. By the time you have a 16-bit sequence, there are 65,536 possible levels. Add one more bit, and you double the possible accuracy (to 131,072 levels). When you have a 24-bit process or piece of 24-bit hardware, there are 16,777,216 available levels of audio.

This was last updated in April 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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