The industry standard for digital recording is 16-bit depth and 44.1sample rate. Almost every client comes to me at one time or another asking if I can record at bit/sample rates higher than 16/44.1. Almost all digital recording studios can accommodate much higher rates, mine included.
However, before you decide on increasing the bit and sample rates you should think about a few things. Will you be putting the finished tracks on a cd? If so, your 32-bit masterpiece will get bounced down to 16 bit when it reaches the CD. Also, are you prepared to handle .wav or .aiff files that are roughly three (and when using 96khz sampling rate up to six) times larger?
Also, do you have enough high quality gear for higher rates to make a difference? If you use high quality mic pre-amps, mics, interfaces, and have a great room then you might very well hear a difference. Lastly, all of that hip, cutting edge gear means nothing if you don’t know how to use it properly. Something as subtle as proper mic placement can make an SM57 sound ten times better than a vintage Telefunken U47.
Finally, a stellar performance on cassette recorder is better than a lousy track on floating 32-bit/192 state of the art gear. Always hire and work with great players and you’ll be ahead of 90% of the pack. Next month we’ll talk about what these different settings sound like and where they might be best used.