Is DSD (.dsf) louder?

I am trying to listen to more HiRes audio formats. I downloaded some test tracks (DSF) in different… resolutions - I don’t know the term for this? DSD128, DSD256, etc…

Using the same player, when I play a DSD file vs a FLAC or high bitrate Mp3, the DSD plays significantly louder. Is this normal? Why do I even care? I like to justify to myself that it was money well spent. haha I like A/B testing.

I’m using my computer running Audirvana (USB) => Matrix xSPDIF 2 (i2s) => Directstream DAC => BHK Pre (XLR).

No. Do you check with different native formats of the same recording? Only this would be meaningful.

You might find this response from Ted Smith of interest in response to just the opposite question: Why Is There A Loss Of Volume With DSD Files?

tedsmithChief digital dude

Jun '15

There isn’t - in fact DSD allows for more volume than PCM in that it can go above 0dBFS (0 dB full scale) and as we know PCM is unforgiving when music tries to go above full scale.

Some DSD material is mastered with less compression than the PCM releases. Comparing multiple SACDs which have a CD layer that matches the DSD layer is a way around this (tho not all SACDs with CD layers have the CD layer derived from the DSD layers.)

There also might be something like a volume setting somewhere in your chain that’s affecting PCM but not DSD. You might try running the Bit Perfect test to see if something is affecting the PCM’s levels. (See in the Support/How To’s part of the web site.)

You also might be accidentally converting DSD to PCM in your transport/player software - in order to deal with DSD that’s louder than 0dBFS often there is a setting for how much to lower the volume level to avoid clipping as it’s converted to PCM. Verify that when you play DSD that the display on the DS indicates DSD (or DoP.)

Not yet. PS Audio is still building my SACD player =). All the DSD test tracks all play at the same volume, relative to each other.

Thank you for this. I’ll check out the bit perfect test link when I get off of work. I am using Audirvana to be able to play “bit perfect” so hopefully I pass the test.

How do you like these Hi Rez formats as far as sound quality goes? To you, do they sound about the same as the single rate stuff or are they worth the extra storage room to put them into?

I don’t know yet. hahaha I ordered the PS Audio SACD Transport and now I’m ordering SACDs and downloading some test tracks to justify the purchase to myself. Until my transports gets here, I’ll be listening to the CD layer of these SACDs, and by the time my transport gets here, I’ll be very familiar with the tracks… which should aid in my assessment.

To partially answer your question, I have a portable external drive that still has plenty of space, so the larger file sizes are not really a concern to me right now.