Which audio setting do I choose on my camcorder, 12 bit or 16 bit?

Camcorders can record audio in 12 bit and 16 bit.

What does this mean?

12 bit audio records using less space on the tape, at a lower quality than 16 bit. By using less space it leaves room for you to add extra audio using the camcorders editing functions. So you may add a voice over to remind you of the activities you have recorded or some backing music.

16 bit audio is better quality sound, so if you are playing it back through a quality hi-fi or surround sound system you will hear a difference. You will not be able to add any extra audio when using the camcorder, but this will not stop you from adding some using your computer.

Which should you use?

This very much depends on what you want to do. If, as I've said above, you want to add extra audio and don't want to do this with a computer, then choose 12 bit.
If you are going to use the computer to edit the video, then virtually all editing programmes work best with 16 bit audio, so choose this option. If after choosing 16 bit, you decide to make a movie for the web, you will lessen the quality of the audio, but if you've recorded in 12 bit, you will never be able to make it better quality.

Whichever you decide to use, check the camcorder manual to see how to set it up. Do this now, because most camcorders come set to use 12 bit and most people will want to use the 16 bit option.

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