Is there a DAP that can DSD up-sample stored PCM files?

Is there a DAP that can DSD up-sample stored PCM files?

Digital Audio Players (DAPs) have revolutionized the way we experience music on the go, offering audiophiles and music enthusiasts a portable means to enjoy high-quality audio. One of the features that often captures the attention of discerning listeners is the ability to up-sample PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation) audio files to DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format. In this article, we will explore the world of DAPs and highlight some models that can up-sample stored PCM files to DSD, offering an enhanced audio experience.

Understanding PCM and DSD

PCM and DSD are two different audio encoding formats:

  1. PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation): PCM is the standard digital audio format used in CDs and most digital audio files. It represents audio as a series of discrete samples, with bit depths (e.g., 16-bit or 24-bit) and sample rates (e.g., 44.1 kHz or 192 kHz) determining the quality of the audio.
  2. DSD (Direct Stream Digital): DSD is an alternative audio format that represents audio as a continuous stream of single-bit values at a very high sample rate (typically 2.8 MHz or 5.6 MHz). DSD is known for its ability to capture audio nuances and is favored by audiophiles for its high-resolution capabilities.

DAPs That Up-Sample PCM to DSD

While most DAPs are designed to play audio files in their native formats, some advanced models offer the option to up-sample PCM files to DSD in real-time, providing a different sonic signature. Here are a few notable DAPs that offer this feature:

  1. Astell&Kern: Astell&Kern is known for its high-end DAPs, and several of their models, such as the AK380 and AK380 Copper, support real-time PCM to DSD up-sampling. This feature can be toggled on or off, allowing users to choose their preferred audio processing.
  2. Sony NW-WM1Z: Sony’s NW-WM1Z is a flagship DAP that supports DSD up-sampling for PCM files. Sony’s DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) technology is employed to enhance the audio quality during up-sampling.
  3. Lotoo PAW Gold Touch: The Lotoo PAW Gold Touch offers PCM to DSD up-sampling as one of its features. It employs high-quality digital signal processing to transform PCM files into DSD for a unique listening experience.
  4. iBasso DX220: iBasso’s DX220 is a versatile DAP that allows users to up-sample PCM files to DSD using various algorithms. This flexibility gives users the ability to fine-tune their audio preferences.

Benefits and Considerations

Up-sampling PCM to DSD on a DAP can offer several potential benefits:

  1. Enhanced Sound: Some listeners find that up-sampling to DSD can provide a more natural and spacious soundstage, with added warmth and detail to the audio.
  2. Personalization: DAPs that offer up-sampling often provide customization options, allowing users to adjust the up-sampling process to suit their sonic preferences.
  3. DSD Playback: If you enjoy DSD audio but have a library of PCM files, this feature allows you to experience some of the characteristics of DSD without needing to convert your entire library.

However, it’s essential to note that up-sampling is a matter of personal preference, and not everyone may prefer the results. Additionally, the quality of the DAP’s DAC and up-sampling algorithm can significantly impact the outcome, so it’s crucial to choose a DAP known for its audio quality and processing capabilities.


DAPs that can up-sample stored PCM files to DSD offer audiophiles a unique way to explore different sonic characteristics and enjoy their music libraries in new ways. These advanced DAPs not only provide a versatile listening experience but also demonstrate the ongoing innovation in portable audio technology. When considering a DAP with up-sampling capabilities, it’s advisable to audition different models to find the one that aligns with your sonic preferences and enhances your overall listening experience.

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