Re: Don't believe the (CD) hype (HiRes)
I'd be fairly confident that the decision to not use 24-bit coding in Red Book was not a marketing one. I could imagine Philips's engineering teams would have mutinied if asked to implement such a high data rate into a product at the price-point of the original CD players (not cheap, but still, barely, a consumer product)
We tend to forget that this development work was done in the late 1970s. Moving to 24-bit sampling, while holding the sample rate constant would have reduced the capacity by a third down from 74 minutes to a 50 minute disc. 50 minutes doesn't sound too bad (still longer than a vinyl LP), but remember that the quoted 74 minute runtime of a Red Book CD was a maximum based on the track pitch - in reality, the very early playback equipment had difficulty tracking at the very edge of the very early discs, so early releases were kept to about 50-60 minutes to be safe.
Of course, 24 bits per channel instead of 16 means forcing every component in the transport mechanism to operate at a 50% faster symbol-rate than Red Book. As the 44,100 x 16 x 2 + error-correction was the cutting edge of what was possible in a consumer digital-optical device in the late 1970s, asking for 50% above that would have made the players prohibitively expensive, and the discs even more error-prone than they already were.
In fact, the original Philips proposal was to use 14-bit sampling in order to keep the overall system data rate, and thus component cost, down. Sony pushed for, and got, 16-bit, but consumer DAC linearity and noise levels at the time meant that you really only had 13 bits of faithful reproduction anyway. It was only a decade later, when properly linear 16-bit DACs became available, that Sony's foresight paid off.
Logarithmic DACs are harder to make than linear ones (it's easier to get linearity than "the right amount of" non-linearity), and while I think a 14-bit log would have done away with the need for 24-bit linear, we're really complaining that 1970s engineers didn't solve their problem with the technologies that arrived twenty years later....
Many of the problems of 16-bit are in mastering. Red Book audio is played on everything from the very cheapest of cheap cd-players to audiophile equipment costing close to six figures. The thing is, discs are mastered with the cheap players in mind, so you get everything compressed into the upper half (sometimes upper third) of the available dynamic range. This seems to happen at the final "mastering" stage, rather than final mixing - there are famous cases of unlistenably compressed CDs being available in a much more ear-friendly version as MP3 purchases (or, in the case of Megadeth's famously bad "Death Magnetic" album, as rips from the Guitar Hero videogame that featured some of its tracks)
24-bit material tends to be less aggressively mastered, and I think it's because it will never be stamped on a metal disc.