Just wrote this out and thought I should post it on here… probably posted the same kind of thing before but never mind.
Q: “Should I be bouncing [at a] higher [sample rate/bit depth]?”
Re bit depth / sample rate… Quick explanation.
Terminology thing first: bit rate is different to bit depth. Bit rate = bit depth x sample rate. So CD audio is 16 x 44100 = 705600, x2 cos it’s stereo = 1411200 = 1411kbps. Which is over 4x as much data per second as a 320kbps mp3.
[EDIT: This last bit was edited – see comments. This doesn’t mean the 320kbps mp3 has one quarter of the signal. I forgot about the data compression side of things when positing originally, apologies]
Anyway, bit depth, always export at 24-bit basically. Lower noise floor, ie better precision/quality at low levels. Rule of thumb is 6dB dynamic range per bit. So 16 bit audio has its noise floor at 16 x 6 = -96dBFS. 24 bit = 24 x 6 = -144dBFS. You might have seen people say about ‘the stair steps getting smaller’ which is incorrect; they just go further down.
So 24-bit means any subsequent processing is done from a better starting point, and hence is a good thing.
Sample rate: if you are going to work at higher sample rates then you must do it from the start. There is zero point in mixing at x rate and then exporting to a higher one. So everything you record from your outboard/analogue, do it at the higher rate, mix at the higher rate, export at the higher rate, I’ll master at the higher rate and then bring it down at the end.
Underlying point here is that at some point it will have to come down again, and sample rate conversion is a pretty nasty thing. Mine is very good here, but I’d still rather avoid it. It’s fine to send out to analogue at one rate and capture at another but it obliges a certain converter combination – [unless you have] a million converter options.
Blah blah blah. TL;DR = either do it from the start and stay at higher sample rate the entire time, or don’t worry about it.
IMHO the benefits of working at 48k are at least balanced by the downsides of downsampling to 44.1k, so, whatever. If you do choose to do it, 88.2k is plenty, 96k might even be worse (search for Dan Lavry’s famous white paper if you are really really bored).
But all this is a comparative side-issue if you have 200dB too much sub bass, you know?
Boring enough for you? Good 🙂