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DSF File Extension | How to Open? [Definitive Guide 2021]

Audio Basis - articles about audio

DSF file extension (.dsf) is a high-resolution audio format, that contains a lossless 1-bit audio stream in sigma-delta modulation (aka Direct Stream Digital). The format is intended for 1-bit DSD DACs. Multichannel DSD music is supported. The alternative format is DFF. Read how to play, convert, edit DSF music files and more.
Remark: Also .dsf is a graphical format to store diagrams, illustrations and others, that opened with graphical editing software (an example, Corel Designer).

Watch and share: DSD vs FLAC [Format Comparison]
 
Watch and share: What is DSD audio? Video explanation
 

 


 

DSF converters

 

DSF converters are intended to convert:

Converter quality is estimated by noise/artefact level of conversion.

Also, converters to DFS files may be compared by overload tolerance. Read more >

DSF file converter software

Disclaimer: wrong or obsolete software descriptions may be at this page. To get exact information, contact the software developers and/or vendors. If you found wrong information, contact us, please.

See more FREE audio converters >

Converter software Input files Output files Sample rate Operation system Graphical user interface
AuI ConverteR 48x44 DSF, DFF, ISO, PCM (FLAC, WAV, mp3,...) DSF, DFF, PCM up to D1024 (DSF, DFF),
up to 768 kHz (PCM)
Windows, Mac Yes
Audiogate       Windows, Mac Yes
DSD2FLAC DSF, DFF FLAC, FLAC DoP up to D128 Mac, Linux Yes
Foobar 2000 DSF, DFF, ISO PCM up to D512 Windows Yes
iso2dsd ISO DSF, DFF D64 Mac, Windows, Linux Yes
JRiver DSF, DFF, ISO, PCM DSF, PCM   Windows, Mac, Linux Yes
sacd_exract ISO DSF, DFF D64 Mac, Windows No (command line tool)
TraX SACD Extractor ISO     Mac Yes

See more FREE audio converters >

 

Watch and share: DSF to FLAC converter
 

 

Conversion may be applied to adaptation of resolution and file format to used software (audio player or editor) or hardware (music server, computer, DAC, portable player, mobile phone, etc.).

Converter DSF audio files for audio devices variety

Converter DSF audio files for audio devices variety

Conversion DSF to PCM and PCM to DSF is applied with quality losses.

Conversion of audio file's formats don't improve quality of the audio file as itself.

But some playback modes/resolutions for an audio devices (sample rate + bit depth) may cause lesser distortions during playback. Thus conversion of files to such resolutions (sample rate + bit depth) can improve playback sound quality (lesser noise/distortions).

As rule, non-real-time conversion (via audio file converter) is not restricted by real-time performance of software / hardware and there possible applying more exact digital signal processing.

With one time offline conversion of DSF audio file before playback, we can save electric energy, that consumed for "heavy" conversion processing during each playback seance.

 

Read more:

 

 

Articles about DSD converter comparison
 


Read articles about audio issues
DSD High-Resolution Music Downloads [Check Free Files]
How to playback DSF in Foobar2000
DSD vs DSF vs DFF Files Audio. What is difference
Check Free Audio Converters
What is Hi-Res Audio? Where are Free Downloads? Myths
Check FREE DSD players

 


 

 

How to play a DSF files?

WARNING: The audio player table can contain errors. It is not offer or advertising. We are not affiliated with listed products. We guarantee nothing. If you found wrong information, contact us, please. To get exact information, contact the software developers and/or vendors.

DSF audio player software list 2018

 

See more FREE DSD players (Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi) >

DSF player Operation system License Sample rate Description
Foobar2000 (with sacd input plugin) Windows Free up to DSD512  
Hysolid Windows Free up to DSD256 To work on music server PC with smartphone app control
Fostex Audio Player Windows, Mac Free up to DSD128  
Media Player Classic Windows Free    
TEAC HR Audio Player Windows, Mac Free up to DSD256  

See more FREE DSD players (Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi) >

 

 

To play DSF files, audio players can send music stuff directly to 1-bit DSD DAC or convert inline ("on fly") to PCM and playback at traditional PCM DAC.

Audio conversion PCM to DSD and DSD to PCM has losing quality anyway.

The alternative way is offline (non-realtime) conversion DSF to PCM or PCM to DSF with converter software. Usually, offline conversion is not restricted by real-time CPU performance and can use "heavy" precise algorithms.

Audio players may have issues of DSF format compatibility: supported channel number, metadata artwork size or other.

If an audio player supports stereo files only or you want to save disk space at a portable digital audio player (listen to stereo headphones), it is possible to convert multichannel DSF 5.1 to stereo.

For "native" playback DSF, DSD DAC is need.

For playback DSF at PCM DAC need conversion DSF to PCM.

Playback DSF audio file

Playback DSF audio file



 

Read more about DSF file players >

 

Read below how to edit DSF file metadata and audio content.

Watch video about DSF to FLAC conversion.

Check more links to articles about DSF, DFF, DSD below ↓

 

 

How to edit DSF files

 

Edit metadata

  1. AuI ConverteR 48x44 (Windows, Mac)
  2. JRiver (Mac, Windows, Linux)
  3. Metadatics (Mac)

 

In the AuI ConverteR you can apply artwork size limitation during conversion:

see Settings > Metadata tab > Maximal size artwork... (width or height)

 

DSF specification

DSF file features

 

  • DSF file format support sample rates:

    2.8 MHz (DSD64, D64, CD sample rate 44100 Hz x 64),
    5.6 MHz (DSD128, D128),
    11.2 MHz (DSD256, D256),
    22.5 MHz (DSD512, D512).
    45.2 MHz
    (DSD1024, D1024),
    etc.
    Read details below and read more about sample rates.

  • Bit-depth: 1 bit (see below bit number discussion) [1]
  • Modulation type: sigma delta modulation (aka DSD)
  • Channel number: 1 ... 6 (see below)
  • Metadata (song, album names, year, performer, artwork, etc.): ID3v2 format

 

Detailed DSF specification

 

More details

Sample rate DSD calculated as 44100 Hz x K (coefficient: 64=2^6, 128=2^7, 256=2^8, 512=2^9, 1024=2^10, etc.)

Example: 44100 Hz * 64 = 2 822 400 Hz = 2.8 MHz

Also DSD sample rate may be based on 48000 Hz [2] (non-standard range). However the range can be implemented in DSF files too.

 

DSF audio file structure is:

  1. Header
  2. Audio data
  3. Metadata block

The audio data divided by blocks. Last block may be filled partially. Wrong values into header can cause reading of unfilled place of last block. In some cases it can cause click at end of the DSF file.

Channel number is integer value. So channel number more 6 may be supported too. DSF have specified channel types and channel position in file structure from "mono", "stereo" to "5.1". However, the channel variable have reserved unspecified range for custom types. Of course, using custom types may cause issues with different software and hardware.

 

 

DSF file format quality issues (DSD vs. PCM)

DSD vs. PCM

If we want to compare quality DSD (sigma delta modulation) and PCM (pulse code modulation), we consider ear tests. As example, dsf vs flac or other. However, not all so simple.

First, mathematical models and hardware implementation should be separated.

Sound file is pure mathematical implementation of theoretical model of sigma delta modulation. As final criteria here quantization noise level (QNL) is considered. The level depend on frequency.

Hardware implementation distorted the mathematical model by non-linearity of real electronic components, their frequency characteristics, electrical hum, electromagnetic interference.

Software implementations have different resampling, modulation and demodulation algorithms, that can cause different features and sound.

 


Read other articles about audio issues

 


 

Abbreviations

BD - bit depth

NS - noise shaping

PCM - pulse code modulation

QE - quantization error

QNL - quantization noise level

SDM - sigma delta nodulation

SR - sample rate

UMB - useful music band

 

 

Bit depth (BD) and sample rate (SR)

DSD bit depth may have any positive integer value theoretically. Bit depth and sample rate may be considered in complex only. Both these values impact to quantization noise level:

higher BD or SR => lower QNL.

Higher bit depth have lower quantization error (QE), and, therefore, QNL.

Higher sample rate provide wider signal band and the noise energy distributed in wider band. So QNL is reduced.

Quantization error and QNL are different things. QNL depend on QE. But for same QE, QNL may be different. At different frequencies, as example.

 

Noise shaping (NS)

To reduce the quantization error energy at useful music band (UMB), sigma delta modulator "pushes" the energy to high frequency range. It is . Band reserve shall be provided for NS. It reduce UMB into fixed SR/2.

There are ways of expanding signal band:

  • more steep the shaping;
  • more high sampling frequency value.

Steeper NS can cause modulator stability breakdown in overload (read below).

Higher SR is larger file size, more computing resource and electrical energy consuming.

Can we reduce bit depth and keep quality?

Yes. To keep UMB level noise, noise shaping is applied. Quantization error energy from low frequency range "pushed" into high frequency area. However we lose part of high frequency band in full range [sample rate / 2].

NS can cause audible artifacts at some apparatus due non-linear distortions (intermodulations).

 

Overload

Sigma-delta modulator is sensitive to overloads. After overloading it may go out stable condition and don't return to stable state until forced restarting. Read more below.

For avoiding overload DSF records may have 6 dB headroom for guaranteed avoiding of overload. For demodulator (DAC) it have no sense. So signal may be increased up to several dB. Such function may be called called as auto level normalization.

Auto level normalization

Auto level normalization of DSF audio file

 

 

Quantization

DSD QNL depend on sigma delta modulator and demodulator implementation.

Generally, DSD 64 have the higher QNL than DSD 128, DSD 256, DSD 512. Because DSD64 have lesser noise band reserve than higher sample rates. The band reserve placed at high frequency range. The range intended to pushing noise energy. Lesser sample rate - lesser band reserve - lesser noise energy may be pushed without delta sigma modulator's stability breakdown.

In this part the article we will consider noise level in useful music band. Above UMB noise-shaped level grow significantly.

In the table below trends bounding with DSF discretization frequency increasing. It was important to remember, that the trends depend on modulator and demodulator implementation.

DSF sample rate trends
  Noise floor in useful musical band Useful musical band width
CD about -100...120 dB 20 kHz
DSD64 about PCM 24 bit about 20 … 22 kHz
DSD128 lower DSD64 wider DSD64
DSD256 about PCM 32 bit wider DSD128
DSD512 about PCM 32 bit wider DSD256
DSD1024 about PCM 32 bit about 100 kHz

 

 

Conclusion

From point of view mathematical model DSD and PCM have differences:

  • Noise level,
  • Transmitted band.

I.e. no difference between PCM and DSD, between kinds of pulse code and sigma delta modulations when they are considered as formats.
Because format is abstract mathematical model, that give potential abilities for implementation in the real life.

These features may be implemented differently as hardware and software.

It is developer's choice what increase to reduce noise: sample rate or bit depth.

I.e. instead BD increasing, designer can increase SR, and contrary. Or noise shaping can be apply instead.

Thus no univocal advantages of PCM or DSD as format (mathematical abstraction).
But implementations may have advantages.

 

Read more DSD vs FLAC (infographic) >

How to edit DSF file

How to edit DSF

 

To the author's knowledge, there is no information (patents, publications), what DSF file may be edited "natively" (straight in 1-bit format) without conversion to PCM format and back to DSF. Here PCM has more wide meaning than WAV file in 24 or 32 bit / 352 kHz.

Editing DSF audio file

Editing DSF file audio

 

As example, DSF format may be:

- converted to PCM 352 or 705 kHz, 32-/64-bit float point,

- edited in usual audio editor, and

- converted back to DSF.

It is lossy transformation. But, professional editing software have loses comparable with resampling.

There is ringing audio matter. However, the author still don't know about exact researches of the ringing impact to ear perception.

Advice: To minimize the loses, use conversions DSF to PCM and PCM to DSF once.

 

Audio data may be cut by block without changing of binary content.

 

Watch and share: FLAC, AIFF, WAV to DSF converter
 

 

 

Conclusion

To edit .DSF file format need convert DSD to PCM and back. Quality of conversion resembles resampling quality.

 

Read main article about DSD editing here >

 

DSF vs. DFF

DSF vs. DFF

DSF file format's binary audio content may be exactly copied into DFF.

However DFF have no standard storing metadata way.

DFF consists of blocks. It allow to insert block with metadata. However, DFF software should recognize metadata block.

Warning: some software can convert DSF to DFF or back with modifications (non-bit-perfect mode). So checking of every converting tool is recommended.



 

Edit DSF audio file content

Read articles about editing of DSF audio files:

 

 

Frequently asked questions

How do I play a DSF file?

See DSF player software list...

 

What program can open a DSF file?

See program list to pen DSF files:

 

References

[1] DSF file format specification

[2] DSD technology review


 

Look at video how to convert DSF to FLAC and more links to articles about DSF, DSD below ↓

 

How to Open DSF Audio Files [Converters, Players]

 


Read more:

 

 


Read other articles about audio issues
DSD High-Resolution Music Downloads [Check Free Files]
How to playback DSF in Foobar2000
DSD vs DSF vs DFF Files Audio. What is difference
Check Free Audio Converters
What is Hi-Res Audio? Where are Free Downloads? Myths
Check FREE DSD players

May 19, 2021 updated | since January 04, 2015

 

Copyright © Yuri Korzunov
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