Oops! Sorry But think both are important and part of the op’s question to get a full understanding bewteen the two and how they are both important factors in any equations of recording and mixing/mastering.
Here’s a fairly straight forward explanation the in and outs (off wikipedia) which puts it in a nutashell as both are important in context of releases and intended market/audience from MP3 through CD, DVD and Blue Ray
The number of bits used to represent a single audio wave (the word size) directly affects the achievable noise level of a signal recorded with added dither, or the distortion of an undithered signal. Increasing a sample’s word length by one bit doubles its possible values, likewise increasing the potential accuracy of each sample and the fidelity of the recording to the original. 24-bit recording is generally considered a current practical limit as this word length allows a signal-to-noise ratio exceeding that of most analog circuitry, which by necessity must be used in at least two points in the recording/playback chain.
The sample rate is even more important a consideration than the word size. If the sample rate is too low, the sampled signal cannot be reconstructed to the original sound signal. Hence the output will be different from the input. The process of under sampling results in aliasing whereby the high frequency components of the sound wave are represented as being lower than they should be. This causes the output wave shape to be severely altered.
To overcome aliasing, the sound signal (or other signal) must be sampled at a rate at least twice that of the highest frequency component in the signal. This is known as the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem.
For recording music-quality audio the following PCM sampling rates are the most common:
44.1 kHz 48 kHz 88.2 kHz 96 kHz 176.4 kHz 192 kHz
When making a recording, experienced audio recording and mastering engineers will normally do a master recording at a higher sampling rate (i.e. 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192 kHz) and then do any editing or mixing at that same higher frequency. High resolution PCM recordings have been released on DVD-Audio (also known as DVD-A), DAD (Digital Audio Disc—which utilizes the stereo PCM audio tracks of a regular DVD), DualDisc (utilizing the DVD-Audio layer), or Blu-ray (Profile 3.0 is the Blu-ray audio standard, although as of mid-2009 it is unclear whether this will ever really be used as an audio-only format). In addition it is nowadays also possible and common to release a high resolution recording directly as either an uncompressed WAV or lossless compressed FLAC file (usually at 24 bits) without down-converting it .
However if a CD (the CD Red Book standard is 44.1 kHz 16 bit) is to be made from a recording, then doing the initial recording using a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz is obviously one approach. Another approach that is usually preferred is to use a higher sample rate and then downsample to the final format’s sample rate. This is usually done as part of the mastering process. One advantage to the latter approach is that way a high resolution recording can be released, as well as a CD and/or lossy compressed file such as mp3—all from the same master recording.
Hope this helps make it all a bit more of real world examples
16/24 bit at 44.1 id fine for CD, can be lowered then for web/mp3 but for DVD/Games/Scoring, the obviously 96-192Khz is more the norm (as long as you’ve got racks of disks to store the projects and back them up onto)