Choosing Quality and Channels

Selection combination - this article explains different DSD, DXD rates, stereo, multichannel, binaural, spatial and which you may choose

Jonas Sacks avatar
Written by Jonas Sacks
Updated over a week ago

Choosing the right DSD Quality

NativeDSD only offers recordings from labels that originally recorded in DSD, DXD (352.8KHz PCM), PCM 192 or Analog recordings that have been transferred directly from Analog to DSD. Read about provenance, as well as "Pure DSD" in this help article.

All our for-sale DSD and DXD files have .dsf and .flac as the file's extension, meaning: they have tagged metadata and cover art inside them.

The various qualities available at

  • FLAC or WAV 88.2 / 96

  • FLAC or WAV 176.1 / 192

  • DXD: 24 or 32/352.8 kHz PCM .wav or .flac, (aka 8 times redbook)

  • High Res PCM: 24 or 32/384 kHz .wav

  • DSD 64 (aka DSD) is a 2.8 MHz .dsf file, which is 64 times 44.1 kHz

  • DSD 128 (aka Double (2x) DSD) is a 5.6 MHz .dsf file, 128 times 44.1 kHz

  • DSD 256 (aka Quad (4x) DSD) is a 11.2 MHz .dsf file, 256 times 44.1 kHz

  • DSD 512 (aka Octa (8x) DSD) is a 22.4 MHz .dsf file, 512 times 44.1 kHz

  • DSD 1024 (16x DSD) is a 44.8 MHz .dsf files, or 1024 times 44.1 kHz

Most listeners choose the highest sample rate that their unit (DAC) can accept. Check which rate is accepted on your device in the DAC Database: DSD hardware database.

Notes on purchasing and file access

  • When purchasing an album from NativeDSD, it will

  • When purchasing any rate higher than 96kHz, any lower resolution will become available for download while placing the order with an active NativeDSD Plus subscription.

  • Alternatively, you can buy additional resolutions at a la carte pricing, more info.

If you are unsure about which rate your DAC can accept, find out by easily testing all rates (for free) using the files in this folder.

PCM and DSD origin recordings available in higher rates

For releases that originated from DSD (64) or PCM recordings, our mastering lab uses the DSD edited master (the actual recording master with edits) in combination with Signalyst’s HQ Player 4 Pro and the Signalyst professional software to re-modulate the higher DSD bitrates. You can read about this process best here.

Additional Reading

2ch Stereo

2ch Stereo is always a 2.0 channel file [.dsf/wav/flac]. If you listen on a 2-way system, or with headphones, this is what you want.

5ch/5.1ch Surround or Multichannel

Only choose surround (a.k.a. multichannel) if your system is capable of playing back file-based DSD surround*. These consumer systems include the exaSound e68/s88, the Merging Technologies MC-8 NADAC, Grimm Audio MU1, Oppo 103, Oppo 105 and Oppo 105D universal players, as well as pro systems like Sonoma and Pyramix/Merging (HAPI and Horus).  Please refer to your user manual or visit the DSD database (link) if unsure. The Oppo's require USB thumb drive playback, and the exaSound requires a multichannel software player like JRIver, Audirvana Plus or HQplayer.

  • Channel Dedication is always L-R-C-SL-SR

  • Most of the '5ch' albums available at NativeDSD are 5.0 channels.

  • In few cases they are 5.1. Then the files will have a '_6ch' mention in the filename.

  • All Yarlung Records surround sound albums are 4.0, configured in 5.0 with a center channel that is silent.

  • The label that has the most 5.1 channel music is Challenge Classics

'2ch Stereo & 5ch Surround' combination option

This allows you to download the STEREO & MULTICHANNEL versions of the music together rather than buying the Stereo and Multichannel version separately. Use this option if you have both stereo and multichannel equipment to play DSD music files and want to save money at the same time.

2ch Binaural

Binaural recordings are recommended to be played back using headphones. Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments using a head-shaped microphone (see example below). 

2ch Spatial

NativeDSD has instituted a new category of recording categories named 2ch Spatial, in addition to the existing 2ch Binaural.

We're specifying 2ch Binaural as a recording captured with a physical binaural microphone head during production (above), and 2ch Spatial as a derived 2 channel deliverable optimised for headphone reproduction, created in post production.

NativeDSD has a responsibility to accurately represent what files are being offered, and how these originate, because it can be confusing what the various labels on NativeDSD, who are just recently offering the new labeled spatial recordings, are actually doing to create these spatial audio files.

There have been several engineers now employing the derived channel technique for headphone playback, and our question to these engineers / labels is whether this uses any of the new Pyramix ATMOS preprocessing application, or is it entirely a microphone positioning and traditional Pyramix mixing/post processing operation. Or, if there is a third party "outside the head" application being employed.

On the album product pages of music that is being offered with a Spatial Audio option, we will be clear in which of the post production processes has been used to create the Spatial Audio version. You can find this information in the additional information tab below the track list.

Auro3D Audio

Auro-3D is a new audio format, which adds 4 channels of height information to 5 Channel and 7 Channel Surround Sound. It is often referred to as 5.1.4 Channel Immersive Audio or 7.1.4 Channel Immersive Audio (a reference to adding 4 height channels to 5 Channel, 5.1 Channel , 7 Channel or 7.1 Channel Surround Sound).

Using the three orthogonal axes (x, y, z) the speaker setups reproduce true three-dimensional sound as a hemisphere all around the audience. Auro-3D introduces the third dimension “Height” to movies and music, which transforms and augments their emotional impact. The Auro-3D format brings immersive 3D audio to music.

How to Play Auro3D Audio Files

To hear the 4 height channels and the 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound audio in Auro-3D files, you need an Auro-3D decoder in your music system. Without the Auro-3D decoder, the Auro-3D FLAC files will play as standard 5 Channel, 5.1 Channel, 7 Channel or 7.1 Channel FLAC Surround Sound. (The decoder is what provides 4 Auro-3D height channels). To play Auro-3D music downloads from 2L, Aliud and Anderson Audio NY that are available at NativeDSD, follow the steps in the Auro-3D playback Quick Guide using your Auro-3D equipped disc player, AV receiver or computer.

Dolby Atmos TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD, also known as MLP, is a lossless audio codec used widely on HD and UHD Blu-ray Discs. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 24-bit audio and sampling rates from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 7.1 audio channels as well as Dolby Atmos immersive audio.

As Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec, the data rate is variable. For example, Dolby TrueHD bitrates average around 6,000 kbps for Dolby Atmos at 48 kHz with peak data rates up to a maximum of 18,000 kbps for high sampling rate multichannel content.

2ch Sonorus Holographic Imaging

SonoruS Holographic Imaging (SHI) was invented by the Dutch engineer Arian Jansen. SHI uses a proprietary matrix incorporating phase, timing and EQ information to reproduce a three-dimensional listening experience from two speakers. With the correct playback setup, this format can fill the room with musical information, with sound coming from up to 270 degrees around the listening position.

Holographic Imaging only works from a center listening position, however, and only works if every component in the playback chain is phase coherent. Please download Holographic Imaging test tracks first to determine if your system can accurately portray the signal circling around your listening position. If it can, enjoy! If it cannot, we recommend stereo or surround sound versions instead. Test tracks are available at and more information can be found at or reading this Positive Feedback Article

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