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Audio Basis - articles about audio

DSD audio format with DSD64 (DSD 2.8 MHz), DSD128 (DSD 5.6 MHz), DSD256, DSD512, DSD1024 sample rates is one of high-resolution digital audio formats, intended for audiophiles. Read audio software developer Yuri Korzunov's article about the sound quality difference between DSD sample rates.




What is DSD?

DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 1-bit audio format. It may be packed to audio files with extensions .DFF, .DSF, .ISO (a.k.a. SACD ISO - image of SACD audio disk).

Watch and share: DSD versus FLAC comparison

Watch and share: What is DSD audio? Video explanation

Look video about DSD converter.


DSD sample rates

DSD is one kind of sigma-delta modulation.

Its sample rates are multiple 44100 Hz (sampling rate of CD-audio):


Check DSD music site download list (also FREE downloads there) >

Look at free DSD players (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS) >

Read about sample rate and sound quality >


As rule, DSD has 1-bit resolution. Multibit DSD may be used (read below).


Audio Formats DSD 2.8 DSD64 DSD5.6 DSD128 DSD256 DSD512 DSD1024


Watch and share: How to work DSD converter

Read about audio converters

Read more about DSD

  1. DSD vs DSF vs DFF Files Audio. What is difference >
  2. Check FREE DSD downloads >
  3. DSD and PCM. What is common base? >
  4. What is DSD audio [How it work, Play, Convert, Edit and more] >
  5. DSD vs. PCM. Real competitors? >
  6. DSD Converter of Audio Files: What Inside? >
  7. DSD Decoder Audio >
  8. How to work sigma-delta modulation in audio >
  9. What the best audio file format


How DSD works

DSD is assigned for transmitting an audio signal in the lowest part of the frequency range. Rest part of the audio spectrum is used for modulation noise.


DSD in simple words:

Let's imagine DSD audio format as a dish.

Center pit is intended for a soup (audible music) storing.

The dish edge (DSD noise) is not used for soup. We grip the edge to bring the dish (DSD) containing soup (music).


Initially 1-bit signal has high level of noise, comparing the transmitted audio signal. Used noise shaping procedure for pushing noise energy to high-frequency range. Therefore, the lowest frequency range has a minimum noise floor.


Let's imagine DSD noise as water in a pool.

At the pool bottom, under water, a box (music) is placed.

Let's giant fan (noise shaping) begins blowing to water (noise) where the box (music) is placed.

The water level below the fan becomes lower. And top of the box (music) will be over water (music is audible in the noise background).


"Intensive" noise pushing to high-frequency range can cause lesser stability of sigma-delta modulator.


Watch video how DSD converter works >


Bit depth increasing allows reduction the noise level in the audio signal band. Hence, "lower intencity" of noise pushing to high frequencies is needed. Therefore, lower reserve for noise band at high frequencies is required. And, sample rate (total DSD signal band) may be decreased.

Read more details >


Read more about DSD

  1. DSD vs DSF vs DFF Files Audio. What is difference >
  2. DSD vs. PCM. Real competitors? >
  3. DSD and PCM. What is common base? >
  4. What is DSD audio [How it work, Play, Convert, Edit and more] >
  5. DSD Converter of Audio Files: What Inside? >
  6. How work sigma delta modulation in audio >
  7. Check FREE DSD downloads >


DSD sound quality

DSD has range of sample rates based on 44100 Hz in most cases. Here features of professional sigma-delta modulators, that generate 1-bit audio from multibit one, will be considered. These figures depend on the modulator implementation.

Sound quality is noise distortions (artifacts) level in the audible range.

DSD 64 vs DSD 128 vs DSD 256 vs DSD 512 vs DSD 1024

Sample rate DSD Noise level, dB Remark
DSD 64 about -125 ... -145 dB about PCM 24 bit (-144 dB)
DSD 128 about -160 ... -165 dB between PCM 24 bit and PCM 32 bit
DSD 256 about -170 ... -200 dB about PCM 32 bit
DSD 1024 about -170 ... -200 dB in 100 kHz band about PCM 32 bit

The modulator has noise level limitations due to input overload tolerance. Overload at the input of the modulator can cause broken stability: silence or oscillations at the output. In some DSD records, 6 dB headroom (level reserve for maximal level) is present. Read more here >

A higher sample rate gives additional technical abilities for decreasing noise in the audible band with keeping stability.


DSD and PCM. Is DSD better than FLAC?

DSD and PCM both are digital signals of the same nature.

DSD has minimum bit depth (1-bit). It causes a high level of quantization noise.

But DSD has a wider band, that decreases noise in the audible frequency range (0 ... 20 kHz). However, it is not enough.

Read how DSD noise issue is solved here >

FLAC is one of PCM formats. So, it's fairly for FLAC too. Read details here...



Frequently Asked Questions

What is DSD64? What is the sample rate of DSD64? What does DSD64 mean?

DSD64 is an audiophile format with [44.1 kHz x 64] sampling rate and 1-bit resolution.

CD-audio sampling rate (44.1 kHz) is assigned as basic value.

See more...


What is DSD128?

DSD128 is a HD sound format with [44.1 kHz x 128] sampling rate and 1-bit resolution. See more...


What is DSD256?

DSD256 is a high-resolution format with [44.1 kHz x 256] sampling rate and 1-bit resolution. See more...


What is DSD512?

DSD512 is a hifi audio format with [44.1 kHz x 512] sampling rate and 1-bit resolution. See more...


What is DSD1024?

DSD1024 is a hi-res audio format with [44.1 kHz x 1024] sampling rate and 1-bit resolution. See more...


Is DSD64 a SACD?

DSD64 is sampling rate of SACD optical disk.


Is DSD the best audio format?

DSD is one of the best audio formats by sound quality. Lossless PCM format family is an alternative to DSD.

Actual sound quality depends on recording, playback equipment and software.


What is PCM vs DSD?

Read about comparison PCM and DSD here...


Is DSD better than FLAC?

In general case, both DSD and FLAC have its own benefits.
Read about DSD vs FLAC comparison here...


Is MQA better than DSD?

MQA is PCM. Both PCM and DSD have advantages and disadvantages. It's defined by recording and implementation of audio system.

Also, MQA is not lossless in FLAC meaning.

However, MQA significantly saves computer storage space and reduces throughput via a network for high sound quality.



Is DSD audio worth it?

There is no single answer. Theoretically, DSD is the best audio format by sound quality due to wide band and simpler ADC and DAC.

Note: For audio engineering wide band and ultrasound playback is not the same.

However, DSD causes issues with editing. And actual equipment implementation is not the same theoretical concept.

So, you should decide based on available equipment and recordings in given personal conditions.


What is DXD audio format?

DXD is PCM audio format, produced from DSD for audio processing, editing. Read more...


Is DSD better than PCM? Which is better DSD or PCM?

PCM and DSD are converted to analog audio in different ways. It causes different distortions. Distortion level depends on audio equipment and software implementation.


Is DSD better than FLAC? Does DSD sound better than FLAC?

FLAC is PCM. So, PCM and DSD should be compared. Read details...


What is DXD audio format?

DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) format is PCM format, that contains DSD audio spectrum including noise.

DXD is intended for DSD audio editing.

DXD has high sampling rate 352.8 kHz and bit depth 24/32-bit. So, DXD provides wide frequency band of audio signal.

It allows cause lesser distortion of DSD to PCM conversion due to lesser ringing for wider total signal band.

Quality of the conversion is depending on converter software tool.



Is DXD better than DSD?

DXD and DSD format are the same mathematically. However, both ones are converted to analog signal in different ways and sound may be different.


Is DSD128 good?

DSD128 has a higher sampling rate than DSD64. Theoretically, it allows pushing of more energy of DSD noise in the higher part of the spectrum.

So, we can apply ether wider useful audio band or get lesser noise.

Real result is defined by recording and implementation of playback setup and software.



Where can I get a DSD?

You can download free DSD samples here...

Also, see list sites with DSD music...


Author: ,
Audiophile Inventory's developer

January 30, 2023 updated | since May 3, 2017