24 January 2023

DSD Vs PCM | Difference | Comparison

Super audio CD, a read-only optical disc format, is stored in DSD using delta-sigma modulation. DSD is also a 1-bit format with a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz. On typical CDs or computer audio systems, however, sampled analog signals are digitally represented using the pulse code modulation(PCM) technique. So let's debate the DSD Vs PCM to understand more about it.

What is PCM?

Digital telephony CDs, computers, and other digital audio applications all use pulse code modulation(PCM), which is the industry standard. It is the fundamental approach to encoding sampled analog signals digitally. PCM only transmits digital stereo audio data, hence it is impossible to transmit surround sound. For instance, your Yamaha receiver is getting a stereo signal if it shows PCM.

Related Article: Pros and Cons of DSD

What is DSD?

Philips and sony principally utilize the trademark direct stream digital(DSD) for their technique of digitally reproducing sound signals for the super audio CD. The pulse density modulation encoding method is used to encode sound signals in digital audio utilizing delta-sigma modulation. Recordings in 1-bit DSD are for sale. There are several DSD codecs available today with greater resolutions. However, 2.8224 MHz is typically used as the sampling rate. They include, among others, DSD128, DSD256, and DSD512.

Similarities and differences between PCM and DSD:

  • They both use the same sample rate and channel configuration.
  • Both can be used with similar compression levels, limiting, gain staging, and other audio processing techniques.
  • In terms of audio quality, both formats use 16-bit audio samples at a 44.1KHZ sampling rate and 16  bits per channel. However DSD is a highly compressed format, thus it offers better sound quality compared to PCM at the same bit depth.
  • Both rely on audio samples that are kept in memory and transformed into digital signals before being transmitted from the apparatus to the speaker or headphones through an analog headphone connector.

DSD Vs PCM | Diffeernce between DSD and PCM:

  • DSD files are more error-prone than PCM files. If you create an MP3 or WAV file from a DSD file, it will be more likely to have problems like clipping or distortion.
  • PCM is a lossy process, while DSD is not. This means you will lose some information with PCM compared to DSD. The amount of information lost depends on the bit depth of your audio file.
  • DSD files are more efficient at converting data into sound than PCM files. So they can be used when you want better sound quality but don't have enough storage space for high-quality files like FLAC or AIFF. PCM may be a better choice if you are just looking for better sound quality without any other benefits, such as increased efficiency. 
  • PCM uses an analog signal to store digital data, while DSD uses a digital signal to represent an analog signal.
Thank you for reading this article. Still, if you have any questions or queries in your mind on the DSD Vs PCM then please ask us in the comment section below. 

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