Question on importing audio files

Folks, I have what I hope is a simple question regarding importing audio files into audacity. I have some 16 bit 44,100 Hz audio files prepared using audacity for writing to a CD. By chance, I needed to re-import some of the files back into Audacity. I used the drag and drop method. Upon doing this I noticed that the sample rate (44,00 Hz) was correct but the bit resolution shown was 32 bit float (not 16 bit). Did Audacity convert the bit resolution upon importation? Or is this incorrect? My default sample rate is set at 96,000 Hz and bit resolution set to 32 bit float.

Thank you.

I am using 64 bit Windows 7 installed using the .exe and Audacity 2.02.

Audacity always works at 32-float internally in order to avoid damage during filters and special effects. When you Export your show, Audacity creates a whole new sound file, divorced from the one that came in. This will probably affect you little or not at all, but it kills the people trying to edit MP3 files. They get double compression artifacts and damage and frequently kill their show.

Audacity isn’t a WAV or MP3 editor.

We do warn you not to ‘step on’ your old file by using the same filename for the new one. I believe Audacity will do that, but it destroys your chances of backing up or emergency rescue if you break something.


Thank you. I remember reading that somewhere but did not realize the implications. Currently, my workflow requires that I export and import files several times. Could I mitigate this issue (if it is even an issue) if I always worked in 32 bit float until the final export to 16 bit? Or will Audacity still leave some conversion artifacts upon import even in this case?

My kindest regards.

Converting from 16 bit to 32 bit has no losses or artefacts of any kind.
Converting from 32 bit to 16 bit is a little less perfect because some sample values need to be rounded to a 16 bit value.
If you work entirely in “32 bit float” until the final conversion to 16 bit, you will avoid any unnecessary approximations and get the highest sound quality.