So what is native playback? In essence it means the digital music files are played back in:
- Native Format: music files are played in their original format using the original codec (without re-sampling, format conversion,etc). In other words, lossless audio such as FLAC is played direct as FLAC, DSD direct as DSD, WAV direct as WAV, and so on.
- Bit Perfect Mode: data is played directly without any manipulation, digital signal processing or volume control applied.
This method does not necessary imply worse/better sound quality, or less/more accurate reproduction. There are far too many variables in an audio system for anybody to reliably state native playback on it’s own is good or bad for you.
However, one advantage with native playback is it allows you to better understand some of the variables in your audio setup. Grasping these variables gives you a better picture of what is good and what is bad in your audio system, insights that may well prove invaluable when auditioning gear for your next upgrade.
As an example, your system may be better at playing DSD when compared to standard 44.1 kHz redbook, or WAV better than FLAC. People often choose the better playback method and move on to something else, and that is not a good thing. This is call masking - masking happens when you do something that changes (masks) the effects of another.