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High-Resolution Audio [Download Free]

Audio Basis - educational articles

yuri korzunovRead easy explanation and see tape, vinyl, hi-res, lossy, CD comparison infographic by audio software developer Yuri Korzunov: what is hi-res audio and how it works; High-Res vs 44.1/16; Myth debunking, F.A.Q. and other things that you want to know; Where to download free high res samples (24 bit FLAC download(s), DSD and others); Where are online streaming sites.

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

Watch and share: DSD vs FLAC comparison

Hi res audio download free (music sites)

DISCLAIMER: Noted in the table file formats and other details was found at the sites at the time of publication. It can be non-correct or incomplete or changed or disappear with time. We publish here only sites, that looks like legal by our opinion. But we don'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 not affiliated with listed sites (except Audiophile Inventory). We are not responsible for listed resources, quality of distributed records and others.
Look for DSD-only sites.

Hi res audio download free and paid resources

Name Description Free high resolution audio downloads
2L DSD 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
Anadyomene' Secret Rec. 96 kHz / 24 bit 24 bit FLAC download(s) free (studio master samples) here
Audite WAV up to 44.1 kHz / 16 bit, FLAC up to 96 kHz / 24 bit, including surround Hi res audio test recordings
Acoustic Sounds DSD64(64fs, 2.8 MHz), FLAC up to 192 kHz / 24 bit Internet archive Free HD music downloads
Audiophile Inventory Test signals in DSF files Free downloads
Bandcamp WAV, FLAC, AIFF, mp3, aac и пр.  
Blue Coast Records DSD up to DSD256(256fs, 11.2 MHz), WAV/FLAC up to 192 kHz Free hi res audio downloads
Blue Moon Audio Technology up to 96 kHz / 24 bit Free downloads
Bravura Records 44.1 kHz / 24 bit Free music
Chandos Classical music shop  
Cybele Records 96 kHz / 24 bit, DSD64, multichannel (5.0, 8.0), binaural Free test downloads
Design w Sound DSD/DXD/PCM Free hi-res samples
EClassical FLAC up to 88.2 kHz / 24 bit Free downloads
e-onkyo music Music store Free samples
HDtracks DSD, AIFF/ALAC/FLAC/WAV up to 352.8 kHz / 24 bit  
High Res Audio DSD (up to DSD128), FLAC, DXD, MQA and Multichannel up to 24-Bit  
Masters From Their Day Site about music production Free samples
NativeDSD DSD up to DSD256 (256fs, 11.2 MHz), DXD Free sampler
Oppo DSD64, MQA up to 352.8 kHz / 24 bit, FLAC up to 88.2 kHz / 24 bit, stereo/multichannel Free samples
ProStudioMasters DSD up to DSD256 (256fs, 11.2 MHz), FLAC/AIFF up to 352.8 kHz / 24 bit Download free hi res audio sampler
Qobuz up to 96 kHz / 24 bit  
Presto Classical FLAC up to 192 kHz / 24 bit, also physical mediums SACD, CD, DVD, Blue-Ray are available  
Real HD-audio Free tracks by email request Free samples by request
Sony Links to hi res audio download music stores Download free samples
Soundkeeper Recordings Up to 192 kHz / 24 bit Download samples

Download music free online resources (other)

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


Download music and audio resources

Name Description
Envato Elements Music library
BBC Sound Effects BBC sound effect archive



Look more information about:



High resolution and audiophile streaming

Look at list hi res audio online resources.

Audiophile high resolution online streaming

Name Description Free trial
High Res Audio up to 24 bit Yes
Primephonic up to 24 bit Yes
PrimeSeat PCM, DSD up to 11.2 MHz Yes
Qobuz up to 192 kHz / 24 bit, streaming and downloads according purchased plan Yes
Tidal FLAC 44.1 kHz / 16 bit, MQA on PC/Mac, web-player, iOS, Android, supported with audio players (details) Yes


Online streaming (other)

Name Description Free trial
Amazon Prime Music Allow to listen online and offline Yes
Apple Music Music platform Yes
Datpiff Audio platform for musicians and music discovering  
Google Play Music Music platform with store. Offline listening is available Yes
Jamendo Music Audio platform for musicians and music discovering. Free and paid stuff Yes
Noisetrade Audio platform for musicians and music discovering  
ReverbNation Audio platform for musicians and music discovering  
SoundCloud Audio platform for musicians and music discovering  
Spotify Music platform  
Яндекс Музыка Music site "Yandex Music". Offline listening is available. Paid and free stuff  



What is hi-res audio? Why does Hi-Res need?

High resolution audio (hi-res audio, high-definition audio) is sound formats (signals) with resolutions above 16 bit / 44.1 or 48 kHz, including 1-bit DSD (Direct Stream Digital). Hi-res audio is one of widespread audiophile and music production terms.

Medium comparison (lossy, CD, Hi-Res, vinyl, tape),
click to enlarge to see more details

Medium comparison (lossy, CD, Hi-Res, vinyl, tape)

At the picture we can see approximate artistic visualisation of format difference. It is not real difference. Implementation of the audio 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.


Why does Hi Res audio need?

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

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

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

Some kinds of music with a wide range of instrument loudness (like classical, jazz), demands a wider dynamic range of an audio system.
The range may be achieved via increasing of resolution. Read details in "Why bit depth above 16 bit is need" part below.

High resolution recordings were invented for music with wide loudness range

High resolution music records

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 audio 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 audio? Video explanation


Hi-res playback

Hi resolution may be played back at:

  • computers,
  • portable audio players,
  • mobile phones [smartphones],
  • tablet computers,
  • music servers,
  • SACD and BlueRay players,
  • other.

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 other.

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

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



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 and other.

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 (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.


Watch and share: What is DSD audio? Video explanation




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

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

Primarily, DXD format is intended to DSD editing purposes.
However, there are other 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.



Size compression for audiophiles



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



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



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 audio from compressed stuff). Read details here.

Also read about MQA.

MQA official site



PCM vs DSD vs DXD vs Analog sound quality

All formats give sound system designers the same abilities. Final result depends on how audio system is done.

PCM has no technological noise "hump" at high frequencies. DSD 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, audio 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 >

Read about DSD vs PCM >

Watch and share: DSD vs FLAC [Format Comparison]



Why bit depth above 16 bit is need


When bit depth 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 for 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 sound quality at lowest levels.

Why bit 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 bit depths, higher, than 16 bit, may be needed.

DSD solve the dynamic range issue via noise shaping.



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.


To reduce noise for the 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 for boosting 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

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:




Myth #1. High-resolution audio 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 audio 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 bit / 44.1 kHz, 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 bit/44 100 Hz.

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

As an example, we split sound from microphone to 2 audio interfaces, that works in different resolutions. But we can't split absolutely identically. Identity of 2 audio 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 audio resolutions.

Test standard vs high-resolution audio:

  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 sound engineer, recording and playback environment, quality of resolution conversion and other.

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, audio 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 for high resolution audio


Read more about optimization 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 audio 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 audio 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 >


F.A.Q. Hi-res music


What is the highest quality format for audio? What is the best hi res audio format?

Highest quality audio format for audio is lossless format, that capable save original digital data without losses.

Matter, 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.


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...


What is the best audio quality?

Audio 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").


Where can I download hi res music for free?

See here...


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

Lossless audio 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 >


What is 24 bit FLAC?

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


Is 24 bit audio better, than 16 bit?

24 bit is not better, than 16 bit 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 DSD).


Is FLAC hi res audio?

FLAC can contain high-resolution audio (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 >


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

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

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 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.


What is the best FLAC player?

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

Read details >


How can I download FLAC songs for free?

See free FLAC music download sites...


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?

DSD 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 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 >




  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.


Author: ,
Audiophile Inventory's developer


Hi-res audio


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