Best digital format (non streaming)

So if you take 'bandwidth' (I assume to stream music) and/or file size issues out of the picture: what is the best available digital format of music I can buy (stored on a cd, dvd, chip, usb stick, downloaded to hard drive, etc)? 


When you have a poor recording , there is only so much you can do, CD or High Res. But if you have a good recording, High Res can sound amazing! Also, a lot has to do with your setup. That Boombox from the Seventies isn’t going to be able to reproduce the dynamic range. But a good Transport, DAC, Amplifier and speakers in a well setup room, no that’s another story.

Assuming context of a high-quality studio master.

It depends on genres of music you are listening to.

For "simple" music, e.g. "a girl and an acoustic guitar", majority of pop songs, 16/44.1 CD format is more than sufficient.

To cover "complex", e.g. prog rock, classical, PCM 24/192 or DSD128 would be better.

For "extreme", such as symphonies requiring 120+ players, PCM 32/384 or DSD256 may be called for.

For storage efficiency, losslessly compress with FLAC or ALAC.

Think of a multi-lane motorway/freeway. The number of lanes would represent the bandwidth, and the cars going along the road would be the data, so too many cars and not enough lanes=problem. 

+1 @drmuso and @kr4 


A great multichannel mix can add so much to Symphonic recordings, and in two channel a DAC that can accept the DSD output is also special