As usual, I have been confused about this for years and until I made a mistake with exporting audio I didn’t really have to figure it out. Well, now I know. 24bit is used to edit with. 16bit is used to actually distribute the music on CD or otherwise. 16bit is still the standard for mass accessible audio.
We have inaudible noise with 16-bit audio and better editing with 24-bit audio, but what’s the deal with 32-bit audio? You get 4,294,967,296 different combinations of binary digits with 32-bit audio, but is that really necessary? To be honest, not really.The only real benefit of 32-bit audio is the added headroom when it comes to editing. While you get less distortion with 32-bit audio, you have enough headroom with 24-bit audio with room to spare. The differences between bit depths are inaudible and not really worth the hype.