High-Res Audio, DSD Audio

High Resolution Audio is the same as Hires Audio, High-Res Audio, and Hi-Res Audio. It refers to music files that have a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than a Regular CD, which is 16 bit / 44.1 kHz.

These are the six audio file formats that can be referred to as “High Resolution Audio”: DSD (dff), DSD (dsf), WAV, AIFF, FLAC, and ALAC. At the NativeDSD Music Store, we offer the following ‘highest’ resolution audio formats, namely: DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128, DSD 64, DXD (352.4kHz), and PCM 384kHz. Recently we have also started to include Stereo and Multichannel FLAC 192 and FLAC 96 download options.

Apart from FLAC, the most notable audio format from that list is probably DSD 64, as that is the SACD resolution. “SACD” stands for Super Audio CD, a physical audio carrier released in the year 2000 containing the DSD 64 Stereo and often DSD 64 Multichannel audio layers for playback on SACD Players.

Cat & Mouse

Since the decline of the number of SACD Players and the wish from listeners to still hear music in ‘High Resolution’, digital download business naturally evolved. As Jared Sacks (recording engineer & producer of Channel Classics Records) once said:

For many years we have been playing ‘cat and mouse’ with listeners at home. In the studio we would always have one step higher quality audio format than the people at home purchasing downloads. I think that most of us were hesitant to put our ‘studio masters’ out there in the world. But what a shame to keep the best for yourself! Now, with the availability of the actual master files from DSD & DXD recording labels, that ‘game’ is finally over. The listeners at home now hear what the recording engineers, musicians, and mastering engineers heard in the recording: the sound, levels, balance, interpretation, ambiance, overtones, and the emotions – exactly the way they are intended to be heard.

— C. Jared Sacks

Not all DSD is real DSD – but it’s still High Res Audio

An important note to make is that the ‘highest’ resolution audio is not always what it seems. It is not uncommon that a PCM recording is released on SACD. So where did that DSD 64 layer come from? It is upsampled and remodulated PCM audio. Thereby not creating more overtones or emotion, because they were not captured in a recording in the first place. Then, once a DSD 64 edition is created, remodulations are made to also create DSD 128 and DSD 256 files. Not here though, not at our store.

At NativeDSD we have a source guarantee. The verified hi-res – or should we say High-Res or Hires – audio sources are: DSD 64, DSD 128, DSD 256, 352.4kHz (DXD), 384kHz original recording format, or Analog Tape Transfers direct to DSD or DXD. You can find the ‘Original Recording Rate’ on every single album page.

Try DSD Now, for free

The NativeDSD Starter Pack is a free of charge DSD 64 or DSD 128 download, with many thanks to the participating labels! You can find the detailed track listing in this booklet.

The Tracks on the free DSD Sampler are available in various DSD rates: DSD 64, DSD 128, DSD 256, and DSD 512. As well as high resolution audio FLAC 95 and FLAC 192. Choose the rate & channel structure that is compatible with your playback setup. More help in choosing the right channels and quality.

If your playback setup is DSD compatible, it is always safe to give Stereo DSD 64 a try. It’s free. It’s a new experience. This is what high resolution audio can sound like. Enjoy!

* Free of charge in: Stereo FLAC 96, FLAC 192, DSD 64, and DSD 128. Multichannel FLAC 96, FLAC 192, and DSD 64. Other rates (DSD 256 and DSD 512) are subject to a small fee, as a contribution to the server’s transfer costs of these very large files.