About DSD

If you are tired of standard quality music and your desire is to instead play live and recording studio grade original recording quality sound, NativeDSD is your one stop shop. Listening to DSD files will allow you to discover details in the music you were never able to hear before.

Testimonials regarding sound quality

Read more reviews regarding sound quality.

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

Direct Stream Digital (DSD) is a 1-bit Sigma Delta Modulated (SDM) audio format developed by Sony and Philips. The DSD 64fs version of this format has also been used for releases of DSD music on the the Super Audio CD (SACD).

Many musicians and record labels that record in DSD, DXD, Analog and Very High Bit PCM (24 bit, 384 kHz) and create DSD editions of their music – offer their original recorded DSD data at NativeDSD.com. You can download these DSD files (available in the .dsf format with metadata) and play the files through your DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) or DAP (Digital Audio Player).

Downloading DSD Music

You can choose to download Stereo, Binaural and/or Multichannel DSD 256, DSD 128, DSD 64, and DXD.  A growing number of albums are also available in the popular Stereo DSD 512 format as well as the latest Stereo DSD 1024.

FLAC Files for your convenience

NativeDSD also offers Stereo, Binaural and Multichannel FLAC files for your convenience. These FLAC files, available in 24 bit 96 kHz and 24 bit 192 kHz FLAC, are created from DSD and DXD editions of the albums on NativeDSD. The conversion is done by BitPerfect, using their unique “Zephiir” conversion process which produces high quality FLAC files for listeners who would like to download the albums on NativeDSD in FLAC format. 

Delta-sigma modulated digital audio

DSD files contain 1 bit audio with pulse-density modulation encoding. The DSD 64fs version of this system has also been used to store DSD audio signals on SACD discs. DSD can be recorded in Standard Rate (2.8 MHz or 64fs), Double DSD (5.6 MHz or 128fs) and Quad DSD (11.2 MHz or 256fs).

Playing DSD

You’ll need a few things to play DSD files:

  • A Mac, PC or mobile device to purchase, download and store the DSD files from NativeDSD.com.  While DSD files can be played directly from some DSD capable optical disc players and Digital Audio Players (DAPs), you will often need music playing software (such as Audirvana, Signalyst HQ Player, JRiver Media Center or Roon) that will output the .dsf files to a DAC. (See this page for a list of DSD capable music playing software).
  • A DAC (Digital to Analog converter) – a USB or Ethernet connected device that on its part sends the DSD signal to analog output.
  • An amplifier and speakers or headphones, which you will feed the audio with coming from the DAC.
  • Read our Getting Started Article to dive deeper into playing back DSD files.
  • If you are not sure if your DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) can playback a DSD (.dsf) file, you may check here.
  • Find out which software players you can use on the this page
  • Read more about the Quality and Channels offered by NativeDSD on this page.

The ‘native’ in NativeDSD

NativeDSD, is our name, defining the objectives of this download service site. But, what exactly does that mean?

The word “native” in NativeDSD Music means offering music files that are sourced as early in the production process as possible. The key word is native. Unlike the majority of download service sites today, unless otherwise indicated, NativeDSD offers only DSD Edit Masters, sourced from DSD session recordings, and not ripped files from optical media. The much abused term “Studio Masters” has little relevance when the source of a sites download file is from the same optical media available to the consumer.

To put this into perspective, this is most important for recordings that contain the fragile low level spatial and instrument detail content of acoustic recorded music. That is music recorded in an acoustic space at the highest technical level available, with the intent of transporting the music performance to the listeners’ room at the highest degree possible.

NativeDSD chooses its recordings from the earliest production stage possible, ensuring an optimal original experience of the sound.

Jared Sacks, co-founder

Studio and Field Acoustic Recording

Recordings can be grouped into those that are studio originated, and those that are field acoustic recorded. Acoustic recordings (which consist almost entirely of classical music and jazz recorded in a performance space), contain the low level information of instrument detail, spaciousness, and dynamic range, that allow the listener to best judge music image reality. Also, that which greatly enhances our emotional involvement.

It is however those natural acoustic recordings that are most subject to sound quality degradation from the multiple processes inherent in production recording. For this reason, NativeDSD chooses its recordings from the earliest production stage possible.

All DSD acoustic recordings start as musicians in an acoustic space being picked up with multiple microphones. The analog signals from these mics are first amplified by mic preamps, and fed to DSD Analog to Digital converters. Some labels will perform a session analog mix and balance before A/D conversion, but most labels, perform that mix and balance digitally in post production. In any case, post production always includes editing to correct note or tempo phrasing, and playing errors. Musicians and producers strive to present the best interpretation and performance possible. 

Binaural Recordings

A binaural DSD recording approximates what a listener would hear at a performance of the music if they were sitting at that spot using an audio principle known as HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function). So, the only difference between stereo and binaural recordings is the microphone setup used. The intended result are recordings optimised for either spaced loudspeakers or headphones. For stereo recordings, the primary microphones are two mics typically spaced four to eight feet apart, matching the spacing of most home loudspeaker placements. 

Ways of recording

Binaural recordings are made with two microphones implanted into the ears of a head shaped model known as a “dummy head” (see for example the Neumann KU-100 Binaural Microphone system)

Playing a binaural recording on a stereo setup

While binaural recordings are specifically intended for headphones, and will not reproduce the same in standard speaker setups (due to crosstalk of left speaker reaching one’s right ear, etc) it is in no way damaging to hear the recordings on a stereo setup.

Post Production

DSD Edit Master

The result of post production editing and mixing is a .dff DSD digital file called the DSD Edit Master, and which is the source of NativeDSD’s downloads. 

In Super Audio CD (SACD) production, a DSD 64fs edition of the album from the Edit Master is encoded to produce an SACD Cutting Master, which is then used by the SACD plant to produce an SACD for distribution. There is however debate about whether the compression and encoding process for optical media production is in fact lossless from a sound quality standpoint.

All download services have to obtain the file data they sell from the labels. With the exception of a very few house label download sites, and sites remastering original analog tapes, these files are supplied to the download services in optical media form (SACD, and to a lesser degree DVD-A, and Blu-Ray), and are then ripped. If the resulting DSD files are to be sold tagged with metadata, they use the track tagging contained in the ISO file. 

What we do different

NativeDSD obtains the .dff DSD Edit Master files directly from the labels, converts them to .dsf (no music data conversion, just added data buckets to contain metadata). These .dsf buckets are then custom metadata-tagged with album data like artist name, composer, etc.

The objective of this additional work is to provide the closest to the edited original project recording as possible, tagged with the most complete metadata available.

NativeDSD Starter Pack

NativeDSD provides a free* a free 16-minute sampler album in Stereo DSD 64, 128, 256 and 512 to get you started! We collected tracks in various musical genres that function as an introduction to the DSD sound format and resolution in several different musical styles.

* Free up to Stereo DSD 64. Multichannel and Stereo 128 and up are available at a minor fee to cover the download costs.