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Why High Resolution Audio? FLAC or DSD

01 September 2015

DSD STEREO, DSD SURROUND, FLAC STEREO, FLAC SURROUND, WAV STEREO, Audirvana, foobar2000, iTunes, Jplay, Winamp, Windows Media Player, VLC, Jriver, DAC, Headphones, Loudspeakers, Amplifier, Storage devices

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High resolution audio is becoming more and more common these days. Although there’s no standard quality the audio should reach in order to be classified as high resolution audio, we can easily assume that a file with a quality of at least 88.2 khz/24 bit is a high resolution audio file although CD quality (44.1 khz/16 bit) is usually seen as a good minimum quality. But why would you listen to high quality audio material instead of MP3 or CD quality?

The first reason is that to our ears, digital audio is still a strange phenomenon. The analog file is cut in bits and pieces in the AD-conversion process, and later on in the DAC-process restored to analog audio. The lower the sample rate is, the higher the distortion which occurs in the DAC-process. This is the main reason for high sample rates of at least 44.1 khz but preferably higher. When a 96 khz file is used the distortion is almost immeasurable. For this reason, a higher sample rate will sound less digital than a lower sample rate.

But when comparing DSD files to 44.1 khz files there is one thing else that stands out. DSD uses delta-sigma modulation to convert the analog sound to the digital domain whereas PCM-files use pulse code modulation. Due the characteristic of delta-sigma modulation and the high sample rate, DSD has a slightly more analog character than PCM-files which most people prefer.

Secondly, since high resolution audio has to be recorded at a higher quality, there are more details audible in the music. High resolution audio therefore offers more depth and ambience. Even when comparing an audio CD with a DSD you will notice the difference. When you play the DSD file you will notice the depth, as if you were listening to 3D audio file.

A comparison between DSD and MP3 seems unfair but in MP3 these details are filtered out. That is why MP3 offers a limited depth when compared to PCM or DSD files. With a properly recorded high resolution track you should have the feeling you’re at the recording spot, instead of listening through speakers.

The biggest advantage of high resolution audio, however, is less obvious. When listening to MP3s or poorly recorded material, your ears get tired after listening for a couple of minutes. Because the absence of details and the compression, your ears and your brain have to work harder to fill in the missing information. With proper audio files you can sit back and enjoy your music. It will be less distracting and more pleasurable to listen to.

However, high resolution files are big. This means that your storage devices should have enough space to store these files. Because downloading these files apart can be a hassle, we have developed a download manager. When you have installed this program it will easily download your purchased album. You can even turn off your computer and resume downloading the next day! This program can be downloaded for free here.

All the audio that is delivered to primephonic is checked by some of the most respected classical engineers in the world. When the audio is uploaded to our servers, the engineers determine the given quality. After that, every audio track is checked if it matches the given quality. If a DSD track is uploaded to our servers but our engineers notice it is an upsampled WAV it is rejected from our database. This way we ensure that every track on our site is of the highest possible quality. After checking the audio, our engineers create a spectrogram, visible to every customer, to prove that the track passed the audio check.

Remko van der Weerd

Join me in the primephonic community


Dennis Penner posted 2 years ago

"we can easily assume that a file with a quality of at least 44.1 khz/16 bit is a high resolution audio file."

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Dennis Penner posted 2 years ago

Really - 44.1/16 is High Res? Most experts, Audiophiles, Recording Engineers would take issue with that statement. I believe 88.2/24 should be the minimum standard to be considered High Res.

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Veronica Neo posted 2 years ago

Maybe, Dennis. However, there is no single standard for HiRes Audio. I think the most commonly used specifications are 24bit/96kHz and 24bit/192kHz.

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posted 1 year ago

What a terrible way of hiding the fundamental difference between DSD and multi-bit sampling using jargon! The fundamental problem with multi-bit sampling is that the 24th bit represents a signal about 10-million times bigger than the smallest bit. The only way to achieve linerarity is to add an amount representing 1 bit 10-million times. Why not just record whether to add or subtract this bit, millions of times a second? Enter DSD

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