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Free Hi-Res Audio Music Download [Long Website List 2021]

Audio Basis - articles about audio

► Read the definitive guide to hi-res audio (HD music, HRA): Where can you download free high-resolution files (24-bit FLAC, 384 kHz/ 32 bit, DSD, DXD, MQA, Multichannel)? Where to buy high definition music? Where are hi-res audio streamings? See our top 10 and long list of high quality download websites.
What is high definition audio capability or it’s a gimmick? What is after hi-res? What's the highest sound quality? Read myth debunking of audiophile musical formats and not the obvious things, that, maybe, never heard before. The explanation by Yuri Korzunov, audio software developer with 20+ years of experience in signal processing. Keep reading.

Watch and share: Hi-Res Audio [How it works. Sound quality. Myths]
 

Watch and share: DSD vs FLAC comparison
 

 

Top 10 Hi-Res Audio Music Websites for Free Downloads

Look at our top 10 sites for free high-resolution musical downloads [in alphabetical order].

  1. 2L
  2. Anadyomene' Secret Rec. (24 bit / 96 KHz)
  3. Archive.org
  4. Blue Coast Records
  5. Hifi Statement
  6. Less Loss Audio
  7. NativeDSD
  8. Oppo
  9. Soundkeeper Recordings
  10. Wechseldominante

See below long list of high quality music download sites, where you can get sound files for free or buy.

Where can I download Hi Res music for free and paid music sites [long list]

Download music and audio resources

DISCLAIMER: File formats, other details in the tables were at the sites upon the publication. It can be non-correct, incomplete, changed, disappear with time. The sites are looking legal by our opinion. But we can't guarantee it. Classification of resources is based on our opinion and may not be a reference for everybody.
It is not advertising or offer. Our site is affiliated with Audiophile Inventory only. We are not responsible for listed resources, quality records there and others.

 

See long list of free and paid download websites with high resolution hifi music

Music site Description Free high resolution music downloads
2L Classical, jazz music up to DSD256 (256fs, 11.2 MHz), DXD, FLAC up to 352.8 kHz / 24 bit, MQA Download free hi res audio sample(s) here
24bit96 Site about hi-res audio Test files in high resolution
7digital US, NO, DE | 24-bit FLAC sound recordings, pop, electronic, rock, jazz, classical, others  
Audiophile Inventory

Test signals in DSF files

Get free downloads
Anadyomene' Secret Rec. 96/24 FLAC audio files 24 bit / 96 kHz FLAC free studio master sample downloads:
link #1 and link #2
Audite WAV up to 44.1 kHz / 16 bit, FLAC up to 96 kHz / 24 bit, including surround. Classical music  
Acoustic Sounds DSD64(64fs, 2.8 MHz), FLAC up to 192 kHz / 24 bit  
Archive.org Internet musical archive with hi-res samples Free HD music downloads
ATMA Classique Online classical hifi music store  
Audio Check Test sound files  
Bandcamp WAV, FLAC, AIFF, mp3, aac etc., musical platform for various genres  

See the continuation of the list below...

Music site Description Free high resolution music downloads
Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings Blue-ray, SACD, downloads  
Bleep 24 bit musical files  
Blue Coast Records recordings up to DSD256(256fs, 11.2 MHz), WAV/FLAC up to 192 kHz Free hi res music downloads
Blue Moon Audio Technology up to 96 / 24 Free hifi downloads
Blue Note 44.1 KHz / 24 bit and others  
Boston Symphony Orchestra up to 192 / 24  
Bravura Records 44.1/24 Free music
Bruce Springsteen MQA, FLAC, DSD, others  
Burning Shed 24 bit and others Free musical samples
Cambridge Music Technology 24 bit Free hi res audio samples
Cardas Audio 96/24 FLAC and more Free musical files
Carpe Diem Records 24 / 192 and more  
Cedille Records FLAC 24-bit sound files and other Free download
Chandos Classical hifi music shop  
Channel Classics Records Lossless and DSD audio files  
Chasing the Dragon DSD [2.8, 5.6 MHz] and WAV 192kHz/24 downloadings  
Cybele Records
[unavailable]
96 / 24, DSD64, multichannel (5.0, 8.0), binaural Free test downloads
Dacapo Records FLAC 24 / 96 and more  
David Elias DSD 2.8MHz stereo and multichannel, MQA  
dCS Sample audiophile files Free file downloads
Dead.net FLAC 96/24 and more  
Design w Sound DSD/DXD/PCM Free hi-res samples
Digital Domain Calibration files, demonstration musical files, 24 bit Demo files
Downloads Now up to DSD256, PCM 192kHz  
Dr.Z's Test CD PCM, DSD files Download file
DSDfile.com DSD64, 128  
DSD Master DSD, PCM 24bit 352kHz Free samples
EClassical FLAC up to 88.2 kHz / 24 bit Free downloads
e-onkyo music Musical store Free samples
Footprint Records Stereo/multichannel, DXD, FLAC  
Gubemusic 24 / 96 and others  
Gumroad | Serieril DSD64, 256, 24-bit, others  
HackettSongs 24-bit audio and others  
HDtracks DSD, AIFF/ALAC/FLAC/WAV up to 352.8/24  
HD-Klassik
unavailable
DSD, 24/96, more Free test downloads
High Res Audio DSD (up to DSD128), FLAC, DXD, MQA and Multichannel up to 24-bit  
High Def Tape Transfers DSD, DXD, 24/192, MQA, multichannel, others  
Hifi Statement Magazine Free downloads:

#1 (WAV 32 bit / 384 kHz, DSD64/128/256)

#2 (WAV 24 bit / 192 kHz)
HiFi Track DSD, 24/192, others  
Hyperion Records FLAC 24/96, others  
ImmersAV
[unavailable]
24/96 and others  
iTrax WAV, FLAC, stereo, multichannel audio  
Kate Bush 24/96  
Less Loss Audio 24/96 sound downloads Free samples
Linn Records 192 kHz and others Free test files
London Symphony Orchestra SACD, FLAC 24/96, others  
Masters From Their Day Site about music production Free samples
MA Recordings SACD, 24 bit/176 kHz, others  
Marten 24/96 Downloads
Max Research 24/96, others Download free samples
Melba Recordings 24/96 FLAC, WMA, others Test files for download
MIR Creation 96/24, 192/24, DXD 352.8/24, DSD64, stereo, surround  
Mora 96, 384 kHz/24 bit, DSD64/128/256, others Test downloads
My Sound 48, 96, 192/24, others Free musical samples
Naim Records 24-bit lossless music  
NativeDSD up to DSD1024 (1024fs, 45.2 MHz), DXD. Classical, jazz, bigband, blues, chanson, rock, electronic, others Free sampler
Neu Records FLAC, ALAC, 24/96, 2.0, 5.1  
Nils Frahm 24-bit audio and others Free samples
Nugs.net FLAC-HD, ALAC-HD, MQA, DSD, others  
Oclassica WAV 24 bit / 96 kHz, others  
Oppo DSD64, MQA up to 352.8/24, FLAC up to 88.2/24, stereo/multichannel Free samples
OTOTOY 48 kHz / 24 bit, DSD, others  
ProStudioMasters Files up to DSD256 (256fs, 11.2 MHz), FLAC/AIFF up to 352.8/24. Alternative, jazz, pop, rock and others Download free hi res sampler
Qobuz up to 96/24  
Patricia Barber FLAC HD, ALAC HD (Apple Lossless) 24/96, others  
Pentatone Super Audio CD (SA-CD), downloads (F.A.Q.)  
Presto Classical FLAC up to 192/24, also physical mediums SACD, CD, DVD, Blue-Ray are available  
Rare Noise Records 24/96, others  
Real HD-audio Free tracks by email request Free samples by request
Reference Recordings WAV, FLAC, and Apple Lossless (ALAC) 88.2/24, 96/24, 176.4/24, 192/24, others  
Resonus Classics 24/96  
Sony Links to hi res download music stores Download free samples
Sound Gate Library Sound library 24/96
Soundkeeper Recordings Up to 192/ 24 Download samples
Sound Liaison DXD 352/24, DSD, FLAC 96 kHz, others  
Spotted Peccary Music 24-bit Apple lossless (ALAC) and FLAC, others  
The Spirit of Turtle 384 kHz, DSD256, stereo, multichannel and others  
trptk DXD Studio Master FLAC 352.8/24, 2.0, 5.1 surround, DSD and others  
Wechseldominante DSD64/256, PCM DSD free downloads
Willowhayne Records 24/96  



Download music free online resources (additional)

Name Description
Free Music Archive Music library of legal audio downloads
Datpiff Platform for musicians and music discovering
Jamendo Music Platform for musicians and music discovering
Last.fm Music listening platform
Musopen Audio library
Noisetrade Platform for musicians and music discovering
ReverbNation Platform for musicians and music discovering
SoundCloud Platform for musicians and music discovering


Other musical libraries

Name Description
Envato Elements Music library
Epidemic Sound Music for a content
Sound Effects Sound effect archive
Undrgrnd Music sample library


 

Look more information about:

 

 

High resolution and audiophile streaming

Look at list hi-res audio online resources >


 

What is Hi-Res audio? How it works? Why does High-Resolution is need?

  • High resolution audio (hi-res audio, high-definition audio) is musical formats (digital signals) with resolutions above 16 bit/44.1 or 48 kHz, including 1-bit DSD (Direct Stream Digital).
  • Hi-res music is intended to get better listener experience, than standard CD-audio, via higher sound quality.
  • It is one of widespread audiophile, hifi and music production terms.

Does hi-res audio really sound better than CD? There is no simple anwer to the question. Keep reading to know details.

What's the highest quality audio format? [lossy, CD, Hi-Res, vinyl, tape]
click to enlarge to see more details

At the picture we can see approximate artistic visualisation of sound format difference. It is not real differing. Implementation of the musical systems is matter. But we can see general trends.

"Wow and flutter" is sound altering due fluctuations of speed tape or vinyl record rotation.

"Tape compression" is non-linear distortions about overload, that reduce output level softly, when input level is increased linearly.

Some colourization can cause more "nice"/"interesting look" of analog mediums, than digital sources, that are closer to the original sound source.

When vinyl recording is produced from tape one, their distortions are merged complicated way.

High resolution has not these "analog" issues and may have lesser aliases (shifted copyes of original signal) comparing 44.1 kHz. Read explanation below.


Watch and share: Analog vs Digital Audio
 

 

Why does Hi Res audio need?

Hi-res audio was designed to provide higher sound quality and better listener experience, than standard CD-audio. Read below: is the aim achieved or not?

PCM 44.1 kHz / 16 bit vs. High resolution: PCM and DSD

PCM 44.1 kHz /16 bit vs Hi-Res PCM and DSD

 

Issues of music a genres

Some kinds of music with a wide range of instrument loudness (like classical, jazz), demands a wider dynamic range of a musical system.
The range may be achieved via increasing of resolution.

High resolution recordings were invented for music with wide loudness range

 

 

What is the highest quality audio? What is the highest quality music?

It is audio, that provides minimum distortions. Higher sampling rates and bit depths give potential abilities to achieve better sound quality. But, actual result depend on audio equipment and software implementation.

In the moment of the answer, for a DAC:

  • sampling rates are  DSD 1024 (45.16 MHz), PCM 1536 kHz;
  • bit depth is 32 bit.

It is necessary to remember, that an actual DAC noise floor is limited by electronical noise (approximatelly -120 dB). However, with 32 bit formats, engineers almost not to have to worry about digital processing into a digital-to-analog converter. Other hand, there are other factors, that can increase or reduce audio quality.

In general, lossless audio formats (FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF, DSF) are recommended. However, lossy audio formats (AAC, mp3, etc.) with high bitrates (kbps) may save hard disk space and be indistinguishable by sounding with lossless source files.

Read more:

 

Digital recording issues

We havn't full control of recorded level. As example, in classical music recordings. Digital recording demands some tricks to avoid analog and analog-to-digital conversion overload distortions, that can not be fixed after record.

 

Overload is output level is stop changing when input one continues to grow.



 

ADC overload
ADC overload issues

However, reducing of analog signal level at analog-to-digital converter (ADC) input can cause worse signal-to-noise ratio. Especially, for low-level fragments of a musical piece.

So, ADC should have wider dynamic range, to reduce risk of damaging of recorded signal.

In general, noise level of digital representation of an analog signal (quantization noise), should be lower, than ADC's own electrical noise (relative overload level).

Example:

ADC's maximal level is 0 dB and noise floor is -120 dB.

We record a symphony orchestra in 2 microphones.

To avoid overload, we reduce input analog level of ADC. It give some loudness reserve. But it degrade signal-to-noise ratio of quiet musical fragments. More reserve is more the degradation.

If we use lower bit depth resolution, it can cause quantization noise, that is higher than [electrical] noise floor of the DAC. And the signal-to-noise ratio get more degradarion.

 

Digital Signal Processing

However, resolution of further digital signal processing (DSP), may be increased, to "transparent" (for DSP designers) work with sound.

Read more and details in "Does 24 bit sound better than 16 bit?" part below.

There are many questions about the necessity of hi-resolution musical recordings.
One people thinks, that "excessive" resolution waste disk space only.
Other people think, that such records are needed to produce ultrasound.
But, by author opinion, existing of high-res may be useful and have other reasons. Read "Myths" part below.

High-resolution audio file formats
(sample rates)

 

High resolution audio formats (sampling rates)

 

High-resolution music file formats
(bit depths)

 

High resolution audio formats (bit depths)

Opinion, that high res gives advantages always, is not correct for all cases.
Sometimes people, who play records with high sample rates, stumble with unexpected noise or other unwanted sounds.
In "Myths" part you can watch the video with example.

 


Watch and share: What is DSD? Video explanation
 

 

How can I play high resolution audio on my computer and other devices

Hi resolution may be played back at:

  • computers,
  • portable audio players,
  • mobile phones [smartphones],
  • tablet computers,
  • music servers,
  • SACD and BlueRay players,
  • etc.
High resolution audio file player software list

 

Separate [DAC-headphone amplifier] device may be used to connect to a mobile phone, portable player, computer and etc.

There are high res musical players Mac, Windows [PC], iPhone, Android.

There is Bluetooth for high-resolution music [aptX™ HD] may be used. It supports 48 kHz / 24 bit LPCM data.

 

High-res audio converters

Audiophile and professional audio conversion software should provide a wide range of sample rates and bit depth, including 32-/64-bit.

List of converter software for high resolution audio files

 

What is after hi-res sound?

High resolution audio solves issues of non-linear distortions primarily. However, it is one dimension of the sound naturalness.

Second dimension is spatital distribution of acoustic waves in the listening point. Read details...

 

 

How many GB is 1000 songs?

Let's suggest the average song is 3 minutes.

Approximate size of 1000 songs (stereo audio files)

Format Resolution

KBit per second*

1000 songs
(3 minutes),

GBytes**

mp3 44.1kHz/16bit 128 2,75
mp3 44.1kHz/16bit 320 6,87
FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit 847 18,17
FLAC 192kHz/24bit 5530 118,65
WAV 44.1kHz/16bit 1411 30,28
WAV 192kHz/24bit 9216 197,75
DSD64 2.8 MHz 5383 946.28
DSD128 5.6 MHz 10767 1892,57

* 1 KBit/s = 1000 bit/s of compressed tream
** GByte = 1024 * 1024 * 1024 bytes, average FLAC compression is suggested 60%.

 

Does 24 bit sound better than 16 bit?

24 bit does not sound better than 16 bit as itself. It's only one of many factors. But it give potential technical abilities to improve sound quality.

When bit depth is discussed, human hearing range (about 130 dB from inaudible to pain) is taken as the reference value.

16 bit has a difference about 96 ... 110 dB between lowest (noise floor) and highest peak levels.
It looks like enough to cover almost full range 130 dB.

However, the range doesn't consider sound quality aspects.

Low hearing threshold 0 dB (quiet rustle of leaves, as an example) is sound with own signal/noise ratio.

As an example, we want to provide proper sound quality (like tape's 60 dB) at 0 dB audible level.

So we can add about 60 dB to 130 dB (total about 180 dB) to provide allowable quality at lowest levels.

Why depth, higher than 16 bit, is need.
Look at signal/noise ratio of lowest loudness (quiet instruments)

Why bit depth, higher than 16 bit, is need

 

It is not exact numbers, because the author doesn't have a result of researches. But we can get it as the hypothesis.

So sample depths, higher, than 16 bit, may be needed.

Direct Stream Digital solve the dynamic range issue via noise shaping.

EXAMPLE

ISSUE:

Let's low levels of musical piece have bad (low) signal/noice ratio.

We want to improve listening experience of these piece places. And we boost volume control.

And we begins to listen these places better way. But noise is boosted together with music. And it degrade sound.

SOLUTION:

To reduce noise of quiet places of the piece, we should reduce noise level there. If bit depth is bottle-neck, we can do nothing.

But bit depth reserve give us ability of boosting of record level:

  • without noise level increasing (if DAC is noise bottle-neck); or
  • signal noise of the quiet places is good enough even for higher loudness.

 

Why sample rate above 44.1 kHz is need

Why hi-res is need [sample rate]

Sample rate 44100 Hz:

  • cover audible band 0 ... 20 000 Hz and
  • have 2050 Hz reserve for the transient band of low-frequency filter (in ADC and DAC).

However, the reserve is considered abstractly. Real-life filters are analog. And have wide transient band.

To solve the a wide transient band issue, digital filters and higher sample rates or oversampling are used.

But digital filters are not ideal and have:

  • ringing audio (property of digital filters);
  • limitation of the minimal size of the transient band (due to limited computing resources of example).

To reduce necessity in "hard" efforts to proper filter transient band, higher sample rates (including DSD) may be applied.

Read details issues of sample rate and filters:

 

 

Myths

Myth #1. High-resolution music has no sense because we can't hear ultrasound

High res is not intended to recording and playback of ultrasound.

ADC and DAC have an analog filter at input and output respectively.

Analog filters are not steep and can't suppress aliases properly in allowable band 20 000...22 050 Hz for 44 100 Hz sample rate.

Higher sample rates allow placing aliases at higher frequencies, in better suppression range of the analog filter.

The issue may be partially solved via:

  • digital filtering and decimation in ADC or
  • oversampling and digital filtering in DAC.

However, an issue with the quality of filtering may be there due to limited computing resources of hardware.

Resume: high resolution is intended to analog filters in ADC and DAC. And ultrasound playback is sequence of higher sample rates. Ultrasound playback is not target of hi-res records.

 

Myth #2. High resolution have sense because it playback ultrasound

Practical experience, that may be checked right at home, says, that we can't hear sines with frequencies above 16 ... 22 kHz. And there no surprises for number trials.

There is a study:

  1. Toshiyuki Nishiguchi, Kimio Hamasaki, Masakazu Iwaki and Akio Ando: Perceptual Discrimination between Musical Sounds with and without Very High Frequency Components

This study doesn't found a significant difference between samples with and without very high-frequency components. However, the authors of the research neither confirm nor deny a general human possibility to discrimination of music with and without the components.

 

Another hand, some researches, that studied ultrasound issues:

  1. Milind N. Kunchur, 2007: Temporal resolution of hearing probed by bandwidth restriction

     
  2. Lisa Zyga, 2013: Human hearing beats the Fourier uncertainty principle

     
  3. Tsutomu Oohashi, Emi Nishina, Manabu Honda, Yoshiharu Yonekura, Yoshitaka Fuwamoto, Norie Kawai, Tadao Maekawa, Satoshi Nakamura, Hidenao Fukuyama and Hiroshi Shibasaki, 2000: Inaudible High-Frequency Sounds Affect Brain Activity: Hypersonic Effect

 

Some of the studies show, that we may have a brain response to ultrasound. But, it is unknown, how ultrasound impact to sound quality.

 

Myth #3. Hi Res sound nicer (or closer to analog) because it cause lesser "stairs"

Digital signal doesn't cause "stairs" in any resolution. Because analog filter at output works as interpolator (connect momentary voltage values of digital samples via smooth curve).

Digital signal isn't stairs

Digital signal isn't stairs

For high resolutions, interpolator (analog low-frequency filter) is easier to implement in better quality (see myth #1).

 

Myth #4. We can compare 24 bit / 192 kHz versus 16 / 44.1, DSD vs PCM, etc.

To the comparison we must have pure samples, that cleared of other factors.

As rule, such comparison considered as a blind test of samples provided by a label in different resolution. As an example, one album in 24 bit/192 000 Hz and 16 /44 100.

However, the main issue is there, that it is impossible to record "clean samples".

As an example, we split signal from microphone to 2 audio interfaces, that works in different resolutions. But we can't split absolutely identically. Identity of two interfaces is more sophisticated task, than the splitting.

When a single sample (music album) is converted to test with software, we don't know that we compare: converters or resolution.

But, even, when converted samples are played back at single DAC, it may works in different modes (electrical circuit, digital processing) for various resolutions.

The author would suggest to considering all known kinds of tests like "hi-res vs 44/16" as comparison of hardware and/or software, not as comparisons of music signal resolutions.

Test standard vs high-resolution:

  1. Joshua Reiss, 2016: A Meta-Analysis Of High Resolution Audio Perceptual Evaluation

 

Myth #5. Hi-res records always bring the best sound quality

Sound quality depends on many variables:

  • recording,
  • playback,
  • mixing/post-production software and hardware tools,
  • skills of recording/mixing/post-production engineer,
  • recording and playback environment,
  • quality of resolution conversion;
  • etc.

Format/resolution is one of number of these variables. No warranties, that DSD1024 is sound better than standard PCM 44/16.

 

Myth #6. Hi-res formats bring advantages only

No. High-resolution formats contain ultrasound. Theoretically, it is does not matter for ears, because we don't hear it.

But, practically, musical hardware and, sometimes, software have non-linear distortions. It can cause audible products from inaudible high-frequency components (intermodulation distortions).

At the educational video below, noise removing via ultrasound filtering is shown.

Watch and share: How to remove audible noise of high resolution files
 

 

Read more about optimization of audio >

In general case, higher sample rates and bit depth guarantee nothing. Result depends on implementation quality.

A professional audio interface at 44100 Hz can give better sound, than a built-in sound card at 192000 kHz.

 

Myth #7. Resampling can't improve sound quality

If consider altering of resolution (resampling) as itself, it lossy processing always.

After upsampling no information is added. Conversely, we have losses, as we told above.

But we can't consider a recording without considering of playback musical system.

And the system may have different distortions for various modes (combinations of sample rates and bit depths).

So, we can optimize the recording to better playback mode: choose the mode with minimal distortions.

To reduce conversion losses, audio conversion algorithm should have minimal distortions.

However, it needs to remember, that sampling rate increasing don't give advantages at its own.
Theoretically, in some cases, reducing a sample rate may make sound better.
In other cases, no audible difference between resolution.
Each case should be learned individually.

Read more about sound quality improvement >

 

 

High resolution audio PCM

High-resolution PCM is supported by lossless files: WAV, AIFF, FLAC (up to 384 kHz / 32 bit), WV (WavPack), DVD, Blue-Ray, etc.

Also 32/64-bit float formats are high-resolution formats. But these formats are intended for music production and scientific purposes rather.

Read details below in "Bit depth" and "Sample rate" parts.

Read more about PCM formats >

 

 

DSD

DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is 1-bit audio format with very high sample rate (from 2.8 MHz) and based on sigma-delta modulation.

To reduce the noise level and expand the dynamic range, noise shaping is used there.

Mediums as DSF/DFF/SACD ISO files, SACD optical disk.

Read:

Watch and share: What is DSD? Video explanation
 

 

 

DXD

DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) is PCM format with high sample rate, that derived from DSD.
I.e. DXD contains low part of Direct Stream Digital spectrum with noise.
Only part of the DXD spectrum contains useful musical signal.
Noise level is growing with grow of frequency.

As rule, DXD have sample rates 352 800 Hz and above and depth 24 bit and above.

Primarily, DXD format is intended to DSD editing purposes.
However, there are PCM lossless formats may be used too.
Read details about DSD editing >

However, not all PCM files with such sample rates are DXD. Traditional PCM has no significant noise level grow at high frequencies.

Playback devices can filter high-frequency noise.

More about DXD here.

 

 

Audio file size compression for audiophiles

 

FLAC

Lossless method to compress PCM up to 384 kHz / 32 bit. Read details here >

 

DST

DST (Direct Stream Transfer) is lossless compression method for DSD (1-bit audio) files. May be applied in *.dff files.

 

MQA

MQA is intended to PCM high res audio size compression.
As rule, it has compression ratio better, that FLAC.
But, as the author know, MQA is not lossless (no losses of information after restoring of sound from compressed stuff). Read details here.

Also read about MQA.

MQA official site

 

 

PCM vs DSD vs DXD vs Analog sound quality

All these formats give musical system designers the same abilities. Final result depends on how music system is done.

PCM has no technological noise "hump" at high frequencies. Direct Stream Digital and DXD have.

So there is no necessity to suppress the noise excess at PCM high frequencies.

However, we don't hear ultrasound (see details below in "Myths"). And the noise is not audible.

Nevertheless, musical system hardware and, sometimes, software have non-linear distortions.
The distortions can cause the generation of audible products (noise, as rule) by inaudible noise. It's called as intermodulation distortions. See more here >


Watch and share: DSD vs FLAC [Format Comparison]
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest quality format for audio? What is the best hi res audio format? Does hi-res audio sound better?

Highest quality music formats are lossless formats, that capable save original digital data without losses.

Question "what is better DSD or PCM" have no single answer. Actually, it depend on implementation of equipment and played recording.

From point of view of format-resolution-abilities expanding, WAV and AIFF give great abilities due flexible structure.

 

Is hi res audio gimmick?

No. Hi res audio solves 44.1 kHz /16 bit issues. However, high sampling rate and bit depth guarantee no higher quality. Just it give potential possibilities. Read more...

 

Where can I listen to hi-res audio?

See list of online hi-res streaming services here.

 

What is hi res audio certified?

Read here.

 

Can you hear Hi Res audio?

Hi res audio give abilities to get more transparent sound due to lesser distortions. You can try this way to check it...

However, due non-linear distortions of some equipment, high resolution records can cause additional audible issues (noise, as example).

See video...

 

Is upsampling reasonable?

It depend on quality of upsampling and your playback audio system. In general case, higher sample rate has better potential for lower distortions in a DAC. Read details >

 

Is high res audio worth it for gaming?

High-res audio can "open" more sound quality of your audio system. However, there is no any warranties, that hi-res bring better sound.

 

What is the best audio quality?

Sound quality has 2 definitions:

  1. distortion level;
  2. subjective estimation of sound "beauty".

Distortion level estimate degrading sound of an original source. But not only integrated level of distortions is matter, but the character of the distortions makes subjectively perceived sound quality. This phenomenon is studied by psychoacoustics.

Subjective estimation can more like more degraded sound. Because some kinds of distortions can bring "warmth", "coziness", etc. of sound.

Resume: The best sound is zero distortions. But some distortions can "enhance" sound "beauty" ("colorization"). Analog sound is more colourized and it may be considered as more pleasant.

Lossless audio formats (WAV, FLAC, ALAC, DSF, DFF, etc.) provides the highest sound quality.

Lossy formats (mp3, AAC, etc.) allows to save more space at hard disk. But, some audio information losses are there. However, high-bitrate (256 kbps and more) formats has sounding very close to lossless ones.

And, audio quality of recording and playback unit(s) is essential.

 

Where can I download hi res music for free? How do I download hi-res music? Where can I download hi-res audio? Where can I download high resolution music? Where can I download high quality music for free? How can I download hi-res audio for free? Where can I download HIFI music?

See paid and free hi-res (high quality) music download site list here...

 

Where can I download CD quality music?

See where you can download CD quality and hi-res music...

 

Where do audiophiles get their music?

Audiophile music may be downloaded from special websites, that provides high quality music. See where to download audiophile grade music...

 

What is the best audio format for sound quality? What is the highest quality digital audio format?

Lossless sound formats (WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSF, DFF, others) provide storing of audio stuff without losses.

So, these formats may be considered as the best by the sound quality.

Read more details >

 

Which is the highest quality audio format?

Audio format can't improve the sound quality. But the format can keep the quality and bring proper resolution, which allowing use an audio equipment the better way. Lossless formats (WAV, FLAC, DSF, etc.) are the best decision to achieve these aims.

Read details:

 

What is 24 bit FLAC?

It is audio file in FLAC format with bit depth (precision of a sample) 24 bit. Higher bit depth give lesser noise ability. 24 bit cover modern DAC noise abilities.

 

Is 24 bit audio better, than 16 bit? Does 24 bit sound better than 16 bit?

24 bit is not better, than 16 at its own. Theoretically, 24-bit have higher signal/noise ratio (lesser distortions). But the final result depends on the implementation of software, ADC and DAC.

Read more details >

 

What is hi res music? What does hi res audio mean?

Hi-res music is music, produced and stored in hi-resolution formats (sample rate more 48 kHz, bit depth 24 bit and higher or Direct Stream Digital).

 

Is FLAC really worth it?

FLAC is a high-resolution format for audiophile music. Its' main advantages are:

  • lossless ability (size-compressed and uncompressed audio data are binary identical);
  • wide metadata compatibility with many playback software and hardware.

However, it you need support of a hi-res above 32 bit, or float-point formats, or sampling rate above 384 kHz, WAV RF64 may solve the issue.

 

Is FLAC the best audio quality?

Technically, FLAC has limitations in resolution audio. However, the resolution gives potential-only design abilities to reduce distortions. And using of super-high sampling rates and bit depths is no guaranteed way to achieve sound quality. Audio-item design is the main matter.

Also, DSD format allows solving some issues of PCM analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion.

Read more:

 

Is FLAC hi-res audio?

FLAC can contain high-resolution music (sample rate more 48 kHz, bit depth 24 bit and higher or DSD in DoP).

 

Is FLAC lossless?

Yes. FLAC is lossless PCM audio format, that provides the binary identity of original and uncompressed information.

Read more details >

 

What sample rate is FLAC?

FLAC supports sample rate up to 384 kHz and bit depth up to 32 bit.

 

Is FLAC 16 or 24 bit?

FLAC provides integer bit depths: 16 bit, 24 bit, 32 bit. You can check it in file properties, as example in converter or player software. Read more about FLAC...

 

Is FLAC the best audio format? Does FLAC sound better?

FLAC is one of the lossless formats, like WAV, AIFF, APE, DSF, SACD, etc.

FLAC has sample rate and bit depth limitations: 32 bit / 384 kHz. WAV and AIFF are more flexible.

But FLAC has wide support (including metadata) of software and hardware and lossless size compression.

Read about:

 

Is FLAC better than mp3 320 Kbps?

FLAC is lossless formats. mp3 is lossy. So, technically, FLAC is better mp3 in any bitrate.

But the difference between FLAC and mp3 320 Kbps is very subtle, that may be inaudible.

Read more details >

 

Is FLAC better than WAV?

FLAC is lossless format like WAV. They are same for audio quality. FLAC provides better compatibility with software and hardware for metadata, file size (more 2 ... 4 GB). However, WAV provides sampling rates up to 2^32 Hz with 1 Hz step.

 

Is FLAC better than CD?

Technically, Free Lossless Audio Codec allows achieving better signal/noise ratio, than a CD.

But actual sound quality depends on the implementation of audio playback system and recordings.

 

Is FLAC better than ALAC?

For sound quality, FLAC or ALAC is not mattered. But compatibility with audio player issues may be there.

 

How many GB is a FLAC song?

We can approximatelly estimate FLAC size compression ratio about of 60%.

Example:

Uncompressed audio is 2 ch x 16 bit x 44100 Hz = 176 KBytes per second.

Thus, compressed FLAC is 176 KBytes/s * 60% = 106 KBytes per second.

 

What is the best FLAC player?

It is a personal choice. But there are some general recommendations.

Read details >

 

Why are FLAC files so big?

It is a technical limitation for lossless formats (original and uncompressed audio are binary identical).

 

What is DSD audio?

Direct Stream Digital is high resolution audio format based on 1-bit sigma delta-modulation to achieve proper signal/noise ratio.

Read more details >

 

Is DSD better than FLAC? Is DSD better than PCM?

Final result depends on the implementation and played back recording.

Read more details >

 

Where can I download music legally? How can I download free music legally? Where can I download FLAC songs, music for free? How can I download high quality music for free?

  1. Some labels (recording studios) have free samples at official sites.
  2. Sometimes coupons for free music downloads may be placed in pack of audio equipment.
  3. Audio magazines can provide samples.
  4. Services for promoting musicians.
  5. Others

See the list of free musical downloads >

 

Where can I download high quality music? How do I download FLAC?

See the list of free and commercial audio downloads >

 

Where can I download free songs? What is the best free music download site?

See list of free music downloads >

 

Where can I download high quality audio songs?

Songs in high quality you can download here >

 

Does higher Kbps mean better quality?

In first approach, bitrate (estimated in kbps, kBit per second) means how many information file contains about second.

Lossy files are size compressed source files. For lossy files, higher bitrate allows keeping more information about source stuff.

Of cource, losses-per-bitrate decreasing depending on algorithm of the size compression.

Also, own recording quality is primary key of audio quality for any bitrate.

 

How do I stream high resolution audio?

There are online services, that provides high resolution streaming. It requires installing special software at your device or purchasing of a service-compatible hifi device. Read more...

 

How do I turn on high resolution audio?

High resolution audio requires recordings in high resolution format (above 44.1 kHz / 16 bit).
However, 44.1 kHz / 16 bit recordings may be upsampled (converted to higher sampling rate and bit depth). How it can help you read here...

 

How can I hear high resolution audio?

High resolution audio potentially allows reducing distortions of recording and playback. But actual result depends on audio unit/system implementation.

 

How can I play high resolution audio on my computer?

To playback hi-res audio, use compatible audio player software...

 

Where can I download MQA music? Can I download MQA files?

You can found download sites with MQA music here (see "Description" column)...

 

Is MQA better than CD?

MQA is format supporting high-resolution. It may give some advantages, that high-resolution technologies bring. However, recording quality and implementation of used audio system is matter in comparison hi-res vs CD.

 

Is MQA better than FLAC?

Both MQA and FLAC support high-resolution. However, FLAC is lossless format (coded and decoded binary content is identical). But, as far as the author know, is not lossless format in this meainig. You can compare certain recording played back on certain hardware/software.

 

Does CD sound better than streaming?

If a streaming supports lossless (coded and decoded binary content is identical) transfer 16 bit / 44.1 kHz, it provides sound quality identical to CD. However, stable and fast internet connection is need with proper data packed delay.

 

Is high res audio better than CD? Does high res audio sound better?

There are no abstract high-res and CD (44.1/16). We can oly compare given recording on given music system.

 

Is 16 bit or 24 bit audio better?

16 and 24 bit is only potential abilities for audio device designers. Actual result is formed from applied decissions, that absed on the abilities. More abilities don't guarantee result.

 

Is 16 bit FLAC better than CD?

Sound quality of 16 bit FLAC is the same CD for 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

 

Is it worth ripping CD to FLAC?

Ripping of CD audio to FLAC allows:

  • saving space at a hard disk;
  • storing metadata (track and album name, performer, artworks, etc.) and wide compatibility with various devices and software.

 

Is CD quality 16 or 24 bit?

CD quality is 44 100 Hz sample rate and 16 bit.

 

How many kbps is CD quality?

CD quality bitrate is 1411,2  = 44 100 Hz x 16 bit x 2 channels / 1000.

 

Why do LPs sound better than CDs?

LP (vinyl) is mechanical system with own distortions. These distortions are bigger than CD's ones.

But these distortions may sounds richer than without them. And some people prefer analog sound.

Read more...

 

Is 320Kbps good sound quality?

Lossy size compresion 320 Kbps have very subtle difference with lossless 44.1 kHz / 16 bit. Some people consider the distinction as unlistenable.

 

Is WAV better than MP3?

WAV is lossless format, that fully keep audio quality of a recording. mp3 save space, but lose some sound information.

However, high bit rate mp3 almost indistinguishable from its source WAV.

General recommendation is use WAv. If hard disk storage is not enough, use mp3 with bitrate higher as far as possible.

 

Is FLAC better than MP3?

FLAC is a lossless codec up to 384 kHz 32 bit. mp3 is lossy 44.1/48 kHz 16 bit. So, FLAC is better than mp3 by sound quality anyway.

However, mp3 in 320 Kbps gives significant size compression comparing FLAC with negligible quality losses.

 

Is there anything better than FLAC?

FLAC, as a lossless codec, keeps and restores the full quality of music stuff. However, FLAC has limitations by sampling rate (384 kHz) and bit depth (up to 32 bit, integer only). For end-user distribution, it may be considered as enough.

But, sampling rate and bit depth of an audio file doesn't define sound quality separately without recording and playback equipment.

And a higher sampling rate may bring sound quality advantages potentially. For instance, WAV format has sample-rate limitation up to 232 Hz. However, ordinary WAV is limited by length (232 bytes). The issue is solved via WAV RF64 format.

RF64 has narrower compatibility with software and hardware comparing FLAC, which also is capable with audio-stuff size of more 232 bytes.

DSD files (DSF, DFF, SACD ISO) provides alternative audio coding, that has its own advantages and disadvantages: simpler audio system in some cases but higher file size and editing issues.

Read more about audio formats (codecs)...

 

What level of FLAC compression is best?

FLAC is designed for lossless size compression of sound files. So, maximal compression ratio (minimum file size) is main criterion. Because sound quality doesn't depend on the level. It is level 9.

However, higher compression level consumes more time without dramatical improvement of compression ratio. And, if it's critical, compression level may be reduced.

There is opinion, that real-time FLAC uncompression causes additional distortions. But there is no safe evidences. And uncompressed FLAC is preferable.

Read more...

 

What frequency is FLAC?

FLAC supports up to 384 kHz standard sampling rates. Read more...

 

How can you tell a fake FLAC?

Lack of spectrum content above 16 kHz may be caused mp3 compression of source of a FLAC file.

But still, there is no 100% safe methods detecting of FLAC source: mp3 or lossless audio. Because, processing can causes frequency distortions. In instance, audio optimization, cut all above 20 kHz to reduce some playback distortion for hi-res audio systems.

 

Should I rip my CDs to FLAC?

FLAC is lossless format, that can store CD content without losses. Unlike WAV, Free Lossless Audio Codec can reduce size of file.

If you upsample CD content above 384 kHz or 32 bit for audio optimization or editing purpoces, WAV or WAV/RF64 sound file format is recommended.

 

How do I fix MP3 sound quality?

You can't restore mp3 coding losses. However, you can maximally keep what's left if uses hifi equipment.

Also, you can try convert mp3 to other sampling rate and bit depth that is optimal for your sound system (target lossless audio format is recommended: FLAC, WAV, AIFF, DSF). Read more...

 

How do you get Ldac songs? Where can I buy Ldac songs?

LDAC is codec for wireless audio (Bluetooth). The codec provides higher bitrate (24bit / 96kHz, up to 990 kbps) of transmitted audio stream.

It means that it is not only compression, but transmit syncronization.

As the author understand, the technology can't be applied to audio files in full range at least.

 

Do audiophiles use equalizers?

Audiophile system imply best sound quality as the setup can. Theoretically, lesser processing cause lesser distortions. Thus, removing an equalizer avoids its distortions (phase and non-linear). Read more about filters...

 

Conclusions

  1. Higher sample rates solve issues of analog and digital filtering in analog-to-digital (ADC) and digital-to-analog (DAC) converters.
  2. Higher bit depths solve issues of signal/noise ratio for lowest-level musical signals.
  3. Now saving space is not so actual as before (except portable devices). But lower bit stream (bit per second) value is actual for network streaming yet. So high-resolution size compression is demanded currently.
  4. Hi-res improves (in potential) some non-linear distortion issues. For better naturalness, spatial sound reproduction issues (wave field) should be enhanced too.

 

Author: ,
Audiophile Inventory's developer
September 17, 2021 updated  | since November 25, 2018

 


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DSD High-Resolution Music Downloads [Check Free Files]
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DSD vs FLAC [Comparison, Infographic, Explanation]
PCM Audio [Quick Explanation. Myth Reasons]
 

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