DSD stands for Direct Stream Digital and it is a high-definition lossless audio format with a twist. PCM signal solutions (like FLAC, TTA or APE) measure a set of bits multiple times per second to capture the audio data, hence the 16/24-bit parameter. On the other hand, DSD uses only one bit but samples it 2.8 million times a second to capture the audio signal.

dsd file logo colibri
DSD is a trademark of Sony and Philips

What are DoP and DoPA?

DoP stands for DSD-over-PCM, which is a data sending / encapsulation mode that uses PCM frames as a carrier for the native DSD audio data. Once the receiving DAC / Audio device assembles the resulting DSD data from said DoP frames, it will be identical to the original DSD data. This is a technique that allows native DSD audio to be played under macOS / OS X, as currently native raw DSD playback is not possible through CoreAudio without other workarounds, such as a specialised audio driver.

For this to work, your DAC needs to support “high enough” PCM sampling rate capabilities so that “enough” of the DSD data could be sent. This means that if your DAC supports native DSD256 then it might only play up to DSD128 in DoP/DoPA modes.

For reference, here’s a part of the XMOS AN00103 design document (available from here):

DSD native and DoP sample rates – from XMOS

There are two main variations of DSD-over-PCM and they differ in the marker they use:

  • DoP uses 0x05/0xFA markers
  • DoPA uses 0xAA markers

Your DAC / Audio device might support both, but typically they only support/recognise only one marker type. Try both modes and see which works for your DAC / audio device – one should result in crystal clear audio whereas the other mode will produce noise (as it will be treated as ‘regular’ PCM).

DSD Test Files

Try playing back one of the test DSD files available at the 2l.no Test Bench (archived via Archive.org) – if you’re in a hurry, click here to download a DSD64 test file (2L-125_stereo-2822k-1b_04.dsf.zip).

SACD (.ISO files) and DST are not supported

Colibri does not support DST encoded DSD files and
Colibri does not support SuperAudio CD (SACD) ISO reading!

This is because of licensing issues that I’ve tried to resolve, albeit without any success: all my requests have been rejected with the reason being there is no way to answer my request. I tried getting in touch with both Sony and Philips and will try again in the future. On the off-chance that You who is reading this can somehow help me reach out to them, please let me know via e-mail.

Consider converting your SACD / DST file to a compatible one using the awesome, free audio converter for macOS called XLD – more info & download at the official website!

Is my DAC supported?

If you are not sure how your DAC would work with Colibri then you can download the free Colibri DAC/DSD Test app from the Mac AppStore and try it for yourself!

As Colibri does not collect usage data, statistics or anything from the user, the compatibility below is based solely on user feedback. Please let me know if your DAC is supported so I can add it to the list. I would also like to know if your DAC isn’t supported – that way, I can add a warning here to let users know before buying Colibri. Your feedback is much appreciated!

The following DACs are known to work with Colibri:

DACs that work with some caveats:

PCM mode only:

Results could vary even if you have the same hardware! A different circuit board revision or firmware version is enough to make the difference – this is why Colibri DAC/DSD Test was born and why it is free. Download it from the Mac AppStore link above to see whether your DAC works with Colibri’s audio core. If your DAC works and it isn’t on the list, please contact me so I can add it for others to find as well, thank you!

What’s so good about DSD?

It is a completely different approach to capture and store high-definition audio than the other, more widely used consumer formats.It is a bit harder to compare these formats, not to mention the real difference is only heard by using really high-end audio gear. However, many say that most records have a more natural, warmer tone when played from a DSD source.

To some extent, yes – mainly among audiophiles, so to speak. OSX (now macOS) does not offer built-in DSD playback possibility, although there are various audio players to choose from.

How to play DSD on Mac?

A fresh install of macOS currently does not have a convenient way of playing such files, as DSD/DSF files need special decoding hardware or a software signal processing solution to render the audio stream. A good DSD player for the Mac is one of those audio apps that support DoP (DSD over PCM) stream packing along RAW and Native modes – which brings us to…

Colibri – Native Lossless Audio & Music for your Mac

Colibri - Native Lossless Audio for Mac Colibri

is a DSD player for Mac (among other things) that represents a simple playback solution while hiding the required complex machinery under the hood. A Mac DSD audio and music player with Native DoP/RAW data sending methods that supports gapless playback with or without a Cue Sheet. Bit-perfect audio playback, accurate stereo-balance. If the song contains an embedded cover art then Colibri will happily display it as well – visit the Gallery to see more.

Currently the BASS engine does not support DST encoding, which means: Colibri can not play DST encoded DSD files or SACD ISO files! If you attempt to load one, it will show an error message saying: ‘Unsupported Codec: DST’.


Get Colibri from the Mac AppStore or visit the FAQ if you have any further questions.