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Direct Stream Digital (DSD) VS MP3!

You can zoom into any corner of this 8K photo online and still see the details of the picture. Let's put this concept to the audio to explain high resolution audio. High resolution audio content include extra high frequency information. As shown below. The differences won't be noticed until you play the audio in the large theaters or the high quality amplifier sound systems. In those cases the audio gets largely amplified or you can say zoomed in.

The most popular high resolution audio format is DSD audio. DSD stand for Direct Stream Digital audio. It is a new hot topic on the audio enthusiastic nowadays.

What is DSD different to normal digital audio?

The best example to explain this technology is to use analogue recording tape. The idea of DSD is to digitally recording sound use analogue approach. The analogue audio recording is the linear recording technology. This approach has been used since the beginning of the audio recording. The method is simply sample the sound directly in the linear order. For example the vinyl recording. The machine writing the sound directly on the vinyl disk continuously until the music stopped. This is the same approach DSD used. Because it is the digital process without need for actual moving mechanical parts. The DSD recording result is fascinating on the sound quality without noise.

So why we are not all use DSD instead?

There are two challenges to make DSD the standard. One is the file size. The DSD audio file is almost 100 times bigger compare to a lossy mp3 audio file for the same song. Photo below shows the contrast of a 3.4 MB 92 kbps mp3 audio file can take up to 403MB if it is in DSD 5.6MHz format. That means your iPhone can only hold 80 DSD songs with the 32GB of free space.

Another challenge is the playback decoding software. DSD technology was developed after PCM technology. Not like 8K photos the DSD used completely different data storage format. Normal audio players designed for PCM are not able to play the DSD audio format this included all windows and mac based music players. DSD audio requires special soft and hardware to playback .Or use an extra DAC converter to output PCM or MP3. Either way are not convenient for us.

So why is mp3 audio most accessible?

Mp3 audio shared the same PCM Pulse-code modulation data storage method. You can think it is a compressed cut down version of the PCM audio. The PCM technology is widely used and available on all existing audio devices. To put two technology to the comparison you can see from the photo below. It shows you the different ways of sampling sound.

So is DSD worth it ?

We mentioned in previous blogs. Perception sound and audio format really makes different when you had right playback devices. Same principles applied here. If you had a superior quality sound system and headphone. Indeed higher the quality source will give you more details and perceived immersion. This can be proved by both listeners and sound measurements. However, if you are playing DSD audio from your laptop or mobile phone speakers. The perceived sound quality is various by listeners and the sound quality measurement will be the same to the playback device's best measured sound quality.

DSD format on OPSIS II ?

OPSIS II had two inputs. One is wireless Bluetooth that used lossless compression to give you best audio playback quality. When you stream DSD converted audio use Bluetooth to OPSIS II. The playback quality will be the best of your streaming service or device can support. If you are input use analogue line input. OPSIS II's DAC will give you best digital to analogue conversion possible for the human perception.


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