As a premium music collector, you might have many different audio formats in your collection: FLAC, WAV, DSF, DFF, ALAC, AIFF, and maybe even lossy AAC and MP3 (shudder).
You might want to convert some of your files, either for certain devices with restrictions, or want to see if converting might make your music sound “better”. Maybe converting your PCM (WAV, FLAC, etc) music to DSD might improve it, or maybe you want your DSD files converted to FLAC or WAV so they can be played in devices that cannot do DSD.
Whatever your reason, you would want to use a program that can convert your files on-on-the-fly without spending additional cash (that you would rather spend on new headphones or a decent meal). There are actually quite a handful of programs that convert DSD to PCM and back, but they do cost some money just to use fully.
But there is one program that can convert for your needs for free: The Tascam Hi-Res Editor (for Windows and MAC).
A Free DSD to PCM Converter?
Completely free, not insert a silence or encode up to 30 seconds or full functionality for 10 days. No, this program is free from the get go! It has some great features:
- Easy file conversion from PCM to DSD and back.
- A basic audio editor to cut, add gain/loss, and combine files.
- Handles and converts PCM files from 44.1kHz up to 384kHz, and three DSD resolutions (2.8Mhz, 5.6Mhz, and 11.2MHz).
How to Use the Tascam Hi-Res Editor Program
1. Open up the program, and once you see the editor window, drag your lossless audio file into the middle:
2. Give it some time until the audio wave fully loads. Once it is fully loaded, make any adjustments (if you want to cut or apply gain) but once ready hit the EXPORT button at the bottom.
3. Specify the filename, folder, format, and resolutions to your desired file. You can checkmark ‘Apply Short Fade’ if you choose to. Once done hit EXPORT.
4. You will see a progress bar, speed on conversion will depend on your computer’s capability.
5. Once the conversion is done, click OK. You should find the new file in the folder you specified. Rinse and repeat for more files.
Downsides for the Program
As a free program, there are some limitations to what other, paid converters can accomplish:
- No direct convert from non-WAV PCM files. If your source files are FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, or other lossless file containers, you will need to convert to WAV beforehand (for a free program, convert via Foobar if you use Windows. Not sure on a MAC since I do not use it often)
- Cannot batch convert. You will need to convert each file one at a time. Very daunting if you have a massive collection.
- No options for processing. Cannot add effects or filters and the like.
Other Programs for Conversion?
Here are some other programs that are capable on converting, but would require some cash or special equipment to use:
Audiogate by KORG (WIN, MAC)
This program is able to handle batch files and PCM formats such as FLAC and AIFF, but in order to use the full capabilities of this program you will need to buy specific KORG DACs or recorders to unlock the program (no you can’t just plug in your USB-capable synthesizer, it won’t work, I tried). Version 2 used to work fully for free (all you needed was a Twitter login), but has been since removed.
JRiver Media Player (WIN, MAC, Linux)
A standalone media center, can playback all your audio and video files. Will need to purchase the program after 30 days, costs about $50 USD for one license. Can batch convert files.
Aul Converter 48×44 (WIN, MAC)
A feature-rich converter, can convert up to DSD256 (22.4MHz). Expensive for the full version ($249.80 USD).
Pyramix Digital Audio Workstation (WIN)
For the recording engineer, can record into DSD and convert. Massively high price, and to edit DSD files they will be converted to DXD (a 32-bit / 384kHz PCM format).
SONAR by Cakewalk (WIN)
Another Digital Audio Workstation, much cheaper than Pyramix, and can import and export file in DSD.
You can use Foobar or dBpoweramp to convert also, but will need configuration and some extra codecs to work. I picked the Tascam because of ease and simplicity.
Couple of Considerations Beforehand
- Please do not convert lossy formats. Converting mp3s and oggs to DSD will just result in average sound in incredibly large-sized files. The absolute minimum before converting to DSD would be 16-bit/44.1kHz PCM files.
- Do not delete the source files you got. In case something goes wrong with conversion, best to archive the source files.
- Whichever music player you use to playback files, they might playback your files at a different loudness levels. I have noticed on my Foobar2000 setup my DSD files (native and converted) play louder than the PCM-based files.
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BONUS: For more reading on DSD-PCM Conversions: