If you are faced with computer files that has .dsf extension, it may be files various types. Read what contains such files and how to open them.
Audio Basis - articles about audio
Data types that contains in .dsf files:
DSF is a high-resolution audio file format for audiophiles.
The format contains an audio stream in Direct Stream Digital (DSD). It's based on 1-bit sigma-delta modulation. The stream may be stereo or multichannel.
Audio format is like a box to store music or audio.
Different audio formats like boxes different forms and sizes.
If the stored thing (music) is more than the size of the box. The thing is cut to fit the box (lossy audio format).
Audiophile formats allow saving "the things" (recorded music) without altering.
It's necessary to remember, recording process loses some part of the musical information.
DSF sound files are used for music or other audio recording, distribution and storage.
Primarily, this file format is intended for music lovers.
In many cases, DSF files contain classical music and jazz.
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),
Read details below and read more about sample rates.
Detailed DSF specification
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  (non-standard range). However, the range can be implemented in DSF files too.
DSF audio file structure is:
The audio data is divided into blocks. The last block may be filled partially. Wrong values in the header can cause the reading of the unfilled place of the last block. In some cases, it can cause clicks/pops at end of the DSF file.
The channel number is an integer value. So channel numbers more than 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 has reserved an unspecified range for custom types. Of course, using custom types may cause issues with different software and hardware.
You can open DSF files with computer software, digital audio players, media servers and other devices. Read details below.
.dsf files may be opened with computer programs:
Converter software transforms DSF audio files to other sound formats:
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 >
||Input files||Output files||
|AuI ConverteR 48x44||DSF, DFF, ISO, PCM (FLAC, WAV, mp3,...)||DSF, DFF, PCM||
up to D1024 (DSF, DFF),
up to 1536 kHz (PCM)
|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 >
Conversion may be applied to adapt 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
Conversion DSF to PCM and PCM to DSF is applied with quality losses. Converter software defines sound quality.
Conversion of audio file formats doesn't improve the quality of the audio file on its own.
But some playback modes/resolutions for 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 to apply more exact digital signal processing.
With one-time offline conversion of DSF audio file before playback, we can save electric energy, that is consumed for "heavy" conversion processing during each playback seance.
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.
See more FREE DSD players (Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi) >
|Foobar2000 (with sacd input plugin)||Windows||Free||up to DSD512|
|Hysolid||Windows||Free||up to DSD256||
To work on music server PC with smart
|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 lost 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 with 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 needed.
For playback DSF at PCM DAC need conversion DSF to PCM.
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.
In the AuI ConverteR you can apply artwork size limitation during conversion:
see Settings > Metadata tab > Maximal size artwork... (width or height)
To the author's knowledge, there is no information (patents, publications) on 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
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 a lossy transformation. But, professional editing software has losses comparable to resampling.
There is a ringing audio matter. However, the author still doesn't know about the exact research on the ringing impact on ear perception.
Advice: To minimize the losses, use conversions DSF to PCM and PCM to DSF once.
Audio data may be cut by block without changing of binary content.
Also, read how to edit DSF file's sound content here...
DSF file format's binary audio content may be exactly copied into DFF.
However, DFF has no standard storing metadata way.
DFF consists of blocks. It allows inserting a block with metadata. However, DFF software should recognize metadata blocks.
Warning: some software can convert DSF to DFF or back with modifications (non-bit-perfect mode). So checking every converting tool is recommended.
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 a pure mathematical implementation of the theoretical model of sigma-delta modulation. As the final criterion here, quantization noise level (QNL) is considered. The level depends 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.
QNL - quantization noise level
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 has lower quantization error (QE), and, therefore, QNL.
Higher sample rate provides a wider frequency band and the noise energy is distributed in more wide band. So QNL is reduced.
Quantization error and quantization noise level are different things. The noise level depends on the error. But for the same error, the noise level may be different for various frequencies.
To reduce the quantization error energy at useful music band (UMB), sigma-delta modulator "pushes" the energy to high-frequency range. It is called "noise shaping" (NS).
Band reserve shall be provided for NS. It reduces the useful band into fixed SR/2.
There are ways of expanding signal band:
Steeper shaping can cause modulator stability breakdown in overload (read below).
Higher sampling rate causes larger file size, more computing resources and electrical energy consumption.
Can we reduce bit depth and keep quality?
Yes. To keep the useful band 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 the full range [sample rate / 2].
Noise shaping can cause audible artifacts in some apparatus due to non-linear distortions (intermodulations).
Sigma-delta modulator is sensitive to overloads. After overloading it may go out of a 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 a demodulator (DAC), it has no sense. So signal may be increased up to several dB. Such function may be called auto level normalization.
Auto level normalization
DSD's quantization noise level depends on sigma delta modulator and demodulator implementation.
Generally, DSD 64 causes a higher noise level than DSD 128, DSD 256, DSD 512. Because DSD64 has lesser noise band reserve than higher sample rates. The band reserve is placed at high-frequency range. The range is intended to get excessive noise energy. Lesser sample rate - lesser band reserve - lesser noise energy may be pushed without delta-sigma modulator's stability breakdown.
In this part of the article, we will consider noise level in the useful music band. Above the band noise-shaped level grows 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.
|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|
Read articles about editing of DSF audio files...
You can get .dsf files different ways:
From point of view of mathematical model, DSD and PCM have differences:
I.e. no difference between PCM and DSD, between kinds of pulse code and sigma-delta modulations when they are considered as formats.
Because these formats are abstract mathematical models. They 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 parameter increase to reduce noise: sample rate or bit depth.
I.e. instead bit-depth increasing, designer can increase sample rate, and contrary. Or noise shaping can be applied instead.
Thus no univocal advantages of PCM or DSD as format (mathematical abstraction).
But implementations may have advantages.
Read more DSD vs FLAC (infographic) >
To edit .DSF file format should be converted: DSD to PCM and back. Quality of conversion defines resampling quality.
Read main article about DSD editing here >
DSF is an audio file format with DSD content. Read more...
DSF file extension is applied to DSD audio files and a graphical format to store diagrams, illustrations and others.
DSF files are used to store audiophile music in high resolution (DSD).
Download free samples...
DSD is an audio file format. DSF is a file with DSD audio and a song description. Read more...
DSF is one of the file types, that contain DSD audio content.
See DSF player software list...
See the program list to open DSF files:
DSF is DSD audio file. FLAC is PCM sound file.
What is better is a complex matter.
DSD gives the potential abilities for better sound quality than PCM (FLAC).
However, it's a multifactor matter.
You can find the list of players of DSF files for PC here...
Alternatively, you can convert DSF file to FLAC and use any player.
In the moment of the answer question, VLC can't play DSF[*]. See the list of DSF players...
Alternatively, you can convert DSF file to FLAC and use VLC player.
Read how to convert:
Yes. DSD may be converted to FLAC according to the guide...
Read the guide on how to convert DSF file to FLAC on Mac...
Read how to convert:
Read how to convert DSF to mp3...
Look at video how to convert DSF to FLAC and more links to articles about DSF, DSD
 DSF file format specification
 DSD technology review