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DSD Decoder for Audio [Article]

Audio Basis - articles about audio

DSD decoder is software or hardware for decoding of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) audio stream to PCM or analog signal. The stream is 1-bit sigma-delta modulated digital signal. Digital DSD or SACD decoder audio is a converter of audio stream from DSF, DFF, SACD ISO files to PCM multi-bit format. The decoder is part of DSD DAC (digital-analog converter). Keep reading...

May 5, 2023 updated | since July 5, 2015

Author: Yuri Korzunov,
Audiophile Inventory's developer with 25+ year experience in digital signal processing,
author of the articles that make audio easy for beginners
Optimize music files
 to reach your device's sound quality limit,
get compatible audio format or save disk space

AuI ConverteR 48x44
 audio file converter software
 for music production and discerning music lovers

FLAC, DSF, DFF, SACD ISO, mp3, m4a, CUE, CD...
We think about quality. You just work with music.
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AuI ConverteR 48x44 - audio converte software



What inside DSD decoder

As we noted above, the inner structure of the decoder is like to hardware DAC.

DSD digital-analog converter is applied simpler way than "native multibit" PCM decoder, which is based voltage matrix. It is especially true for sample rate 44.1 kHz. The decoder inside has 2 voltage steps (-1 and +1). And DSD's low-frequency analog filter is more gentle than the analog filter in PCM DAC.


DSD decoder audio


Filter for 44 kHz sample rate is most hard in design due to steep transient band.

A wider transient band of the filter for DSD allows simpler achieving of lesser distortions of the filter.

It allows simpler improvement quality than for PCM DAC on 44.1 kHz.

As rule, now all modern PCM audio DACs have DSD DAC inside.

Decoder DSD to PCM is a digital filter, that cuts sigma-delta modulation noise and has multi-bit output.


DSD decoder quality

Audio quality of the decoder is primarily defined by the filter.

The filter has contradictory features:

1. Conversion artifacts and sigma-delta modulation noise suppression.

2. Filter's own ringing artifacts.

3. Linearity of phase.

4. Number of calculations (time performance).

5. Precision of calculations.


Watch and share: How to DSD modulator and demodulator work


DSD decoder types

1. Plug-ins and other external connected modules.

2. Modules builtin inside audio software.


How to decode DSD audio files to PCM

To decode DSD audio files to PCM:

  1. Launch audio conversion software [AuI ConverteR]

  2. In the main window, push to Open files button. Or, push to Open dir button. Select files with .dsf, .dff, .iso (SACD ISO) extension.*
  3. In the main window of the converter (left bottom), in Directory output files field, select output directory.
  4. In AuI ConverteR's main window (right middle), Format field, select target PCM-audio file format: WAV, FLAC, AIFF, mp3, m4a, etc.
  5. Click Start button.
  6. Wait until the end ot conversion. Converted files are located in the directory that selected in goal 3.


*WARNING: DVD-audio/video, Blu-Ray, DVD/BluRay/CD ISO are NOT supported.
For Modula-R version, SACD ISO, DSF, DFF are supported in proper configurations.
For ISO tracks, DSF, DFF longer than 3 minutes, FREE edition mutes 2-second silence in the output middle and has other restrictions



Frequently Asked Questions

What is DSD decoding?

DSD decoding is:


What is DSD encoding?

DSD encoding is a conversion of digital PCM signal to DSD.



Should I convert FLAC to DSD?

There is no single answer what is better DSD or PCM (FLAC). You can check it for your recording and audio setup.

Read how to convert FLAC to DSD files here...



Read more

  1. What is DSD audio >
  2. DSD vs. PCM. Real competitors? >
  3. How work sigma delta modulation in audio >
  4. DSD Converter of Audio Files: What Inside? >
  5. What is Audio Formats DSD 2.8 DSD64 DSD5.6 DSD128 DSD256 DSD512 DSD1024 >
  6. DSD vs DSF vs DFF Files Audio. What is difference >