Which form of WAV do I choose?

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I am using Audacity, a sound editing and creation program. I wish to save my files for a particular project in wav format. I wish to use the most compatible type of wav format so it can be played on virtually any player. I am given several choices. Which is the one for me?
WAV Microsoft signed 16 bit PCM or
WAV Microsoft signed 24 bit PCM or
WAV Microsoft 32 bit float PCM?
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From the help online of Audacity:

WAV (Microsoft) signed 16-bit PCM No options for this format: WAV is a lossless format that can both be played on Windows or Mac computers. WAV 16-bit PCM is eminently suitable whenever you want to burn your exported file to an audio CD.

WAV (Microsoft) 32-bit float No options for this format: 32-bit float WAV is a lossless format, a maximum quality "raw capture" file. 32-bit float resolution gives the highest quality of the three uncompressed choices, but takes twice the storage space on disk compared to 16-bit resolution. It will not play on many players or player apps. It is mostly useful as a backup archive of raw captured recordings or finished projects.

Normally 16 bits are sufficient and guarantee the quality of the CD read al this old discuss https://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?t=11640

24 bit is the quality of DVD audio

For more technical infos read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_bit_depth
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018
If you mean for playback on any device, pick 16 bit, as the 24 + 32 bit variants take a special codec for playback.

Normally 24 + 32 bit variants are used for archival of extremely high fidelity audio, so when a 16 bit variant is generated, maximum quality is maintained.

Also keep in mind, the 24 + 32 bit variants are going to be very large, compared to a 16 bit variant.

Suggestion: Mention what you'll be doing with your save .wav files as normally other audio formats are better for saving. So you'd keep your Audacity project around forever as your high fidelity archive, then export various other formats for other applications.

Keep in mind .wav files are very big (compared with .mp3 + .aac) so if you're providing these over a network connection, working with .mp3 + .aac formats will work much better. If your audios target inclusion in a video container (like .mp4 or .mkv) keep in mind that .wav files aren't supported in these video containers + will no playback correctly on most devices. Also .mp3 isn't supported in video containers by most playback devices + software.

Tip: Start with describing your end use, just to ensure people give you best advice.


Experts! Thanks so much for your solution/advice. I appreciate it!

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