A new unified methodology was proposed in Finkelstein and Kastner (2007)  to derive spatial finite-difference (FD) coefficients in the joint time-space domain to reduce numerical dispersion. The key idea of this method is that the dispersion relation is completely satisfied at several designated frequencies. We develop this new time-space domain FD method further for 1D, 2D and 3D acoustic wave modeling using a plane wave theory and the Taylor series expansion. New spatial FD coefficients are frequency independent though they lead to a frequency dependent numerical solution. We prove that the modeling accuracy is 2nd-order when the conventional (2 M)th-order space domain FD and the 2nd-order time domain FD stencils are directly used to solve the acoustic wave equation. However, under the same discretization, the new 1D method can reach (2 M)th-order accuracy and is always stable. The 2D method can reach (2 M)th-order accuracy along eight directions and has better stability. Similarly, the 3D method can reach (2 M)th-order accuracy along 48 directions and also has better stability than the conventional FD method. The advantages of the new method are also demonstrated by the results of dispersion analysis and numerical modeling of acoustic wave equation for homogeneous and inhomogeneous acoustic models. In addition, we study the influence of the FD stencil length on numerical modeling for 1D inhomogeneous media, and derive an optimal FD stencil length required to balance the accuracy and efficiency of modeling. A new time-space domain high-order staggered-grid FD method for the 1D acoustic wave equation with variable densities is also developed, which has similar advantages demonstrated by dispersion analysis, stability analysis and modeling experiments. The methodology presented in this paper can be easily extended to solve similar partial difference equations arising in other fields of science and engineering. © 2009 Elsevier Inc.