I'm learning the basics of audio recording and mastering and I was thinking to some of my purchased audio collection. I have some assumptions that I feel may be incorrect or incomplete and would like clarification.
It seems that as defined by the CDDA Red Book, CD quality is 16 bit with a maximum sample rate of 44.1 kHz. I understand 44.1kHz was chosen due to human hearing limitations so I assume 16 bit was chosen as the smallest encoding rate that can handle that sample rate vs acceptable data storage size (physical CD and play time).
As such, at sample rates greater than 44.1 kHz, is it fair to say that 16 bit cannot handle that amount of data being encoded?
Also, it seems that the higher the bit rate when mastering, the larger the dynamic range and the greater the reduction of degradation of audio when mixing different sources together. However, the intricacies of mixing down to a lower bit rate confuse me.
If the same master source is mixed down to 44.1 kHz, what benefit is there to using 24 bit rate encoding over 16 bit?
I assume at a digital level this is simply information stored in a file / physical media, so I would have assumed the the actual playback frequency of 44.1 kHz would be identical in both bit rates, except that the 24 bit rate would just have more data storage size (i.e. a bigger file size) with I assume mostly empty or padded data since the extra bits are not needed for such a small sample rate.
That said, it seems like in audio forums, many people anecdotally swear that 24 bit encoding even with a 44.1 kHz sample rate has a larger dynamic range over 16 bit. I get that good mastering (dithering etc) has probably the most impact, but I'm curious if this holds up from a 1s and 0s point of view.