A different world

For decades I have struggled to get digital even close to comparable to analog. Then finally a couple years ago after lots of upgrading and experimentation I succeeded. Streaming is equally satisfying with analog, very, very comparable. The full soundstage, instruments suspended in space, tonal balance, dead silent background, and details of brass cymbals … etc. Red Book CDs through my CD player are bested by my streamer with Qobuz or Tidal with hi-Rez versions.


A new world. It takes a while to get it. No longer confined to music you “own” to play over and over. Replay is supplanted by exploration. You love an new (or old album) and hit, “add to library”. It is yours.

So, HiFi+ magazine has an article on building a European 21st Century Jazz Library. I just start with the first album in the list and listen (add to library), the 2nd album (add to library), the third… the forth, fifth… a whole new category of incredible music to sit along side Miles Davis and Hank Moberly. Just a couple days in the life of a audiophile streamer. I could have never predicted this as a possibility ten years ago.


You love music? The goal of having an infinite audiophile library is now possible. It is possible at any high end level… just requires knowledge that it can be done… and I guess give up the idea that there is something special about your CD collection, or players.


I have a 2,000 vinyl albums, play them, usually one a day. They are fun, occasionally sound ever slightly better… but not significantly, I like them for nostalgic reasons.


Unfortunately the streaming services use compressed versions of music.  Here is one example.  Dynamic range is smaller on the streaming service.  You never know what you are getting with Tital or Qobuz.


So, we have one example of alleged compression, so of course everything compressed on steams, brilliant inductive reasoning.


I had similar path to streaming excellence, only cd rips superior to playing cd's on transport, over time and with continuing network upgrades, streams equal to cd rips.

And both superior to present vinyl setup. Streaming is for music lovers, I have at least 3K vinyl and 2.5k cds, not even close to all the music available to me from streams.


Further network upgrades coming soon which should make streaming experience that much better.


It’s a new world indeed. My digital streaming playback has transcended both CD and Vinyl playback so I’m now 100% digital. It sure took bit of work but it was well worth it. The tweaks made to my home network is now paying back in spades. And then there is so much music to explore, I think we have barely scratched the surface. I love the Roon radio feature, it has introduced me to so many artists and music that I couldn’t possibly explored on my own.

There is always going to be those who have not warmed up to digital streaming or prefer CD / Vinyl for whatever reason and that’s quite ok. But I’m not buying the argument anymore that Streaming is not par with CD or Vinyl playback. Bad or compressed recordings equally exists on CD and Vinyl. You don’t have to have provenance info (though it will be a nice feature) to recognize you’re listening to a compressed or bad recording :-)

Enjoy the music!

I am all in on streaming as well for this very reason. I made a significant leap by adding a stand alone DAC in the chain. I bought a used Aqua La Voce S2 that does PCM only as I have no DSD nor feel the need to. It is a lovely sounding bit of kit that has certainly bridged the divide between digital and analog.

Currently streaming via Bluesound Node 2i. I am using a Geistnote digital coax from there to my DAC. What other suggestions or things I need to do to make it top notch?


You have a pretty awesome DAC, one of my favorites. The Node 2i is decent but you are going to appreciate your La Voce S2 even more with a player like LinQ. I know there are other inexpensive options but nothing else will sound anything like a pairing of LinQ and La Voce especially through its I2S digital interface. There is go, one and done instead of monkeying around with anything else :-)

Also, what have you done to isolate noise on your Ethernet (between your router and Node 2i)?

@lalitk That's the area where I am least knowledgeable. I am running a 35' Bluejeans Cable Co Cat 6 from my router directly to the Bluesound. What do you suggest?


That’s great that you’re using a direct ‘wired’ connection between router and Node 2i. I would recommend adding a passive filter like upcoming Muon Streaming Filter from Network Acoustics. I have not heard it yet, but as per my conversation with Rich at Network Acoustics it’s a definite improvement upon already excellent ENO Filter. So I would wait to buy anything else until Muon is available. And then there are additional benefits of adding a Ethernet switch but I defer this upgrade until you get a high quality player like LinQ. The Ethernet switch improvements are mixed bag, some hear positive results and others do not.

I have upgraded from ENO filter to Telegartner M12 switch (you can read further about it in my virtual system) but a straight forward passive filter like Muon should be your next step until you’re ready to upgrade your Streaming player. Then we can talk about adding a high quality Ethernet switch in your ethernet signal path. Hope this helps!

I remember a commercial on TV about 20 years ago. A customer is sitting at the counter in a diner with a juke box menu in front of him. The waitress says "every song ever recorded". I thought "whoa!". Guess it has come to pass...


It took a long time. But incredibly worth it. Like the gap between the promise of Windows and the reality, like 25+ years. I was in IT. My job was to separate the marketing hype from reality… it is so great when at long last it becomes reality. I am simply awed every day.



Yes, very true. High end streaming is like all other aspects of high end audio, getting outstanding sound requires all components to be of the highest quality and all the little stuff matters. It takes little wrong to collapse the magic bubble… but when you have it… it is breathtaking. 

The streaming components don’t all have to be of highest quality. It just has to be done well, which most modern streamers and DACs are, for outstanding sound.  The end result will depend on the entire system as always.  


It is not only one example. I stream alot, just typically not as good as vinyl even though my digital system cost in in the 5 digit range. The link below is a newer site but is doing our community a service by examining these formats in detail. 30+ popular albums analyzed which is not a lot by all means but it is a start. In no case is the vinyl version compressed. In the cases they have the streaming data, 90% of the Qobuz and Tidal version are compressed. This is statically significant. I was surprised that Amazon Music seems to be using less compressed versions than the other two. Too bad Amazon Music in not on Roon.


And so we have thirty three albums analyzed. Were these cherry picked? Does this guy have an agenda? Will one's system expose these varying levels of compression?


Thirty three releases out of the tens of thousands releases, still anecdotal evidence at best.


I have aprox. 2500 cd rips, 3,000 vinyl, varying levels of compression in all formats, far more dependent on individual release than format in my experience. Vast majority of sound quality determined by original recording engineering, production. Also whether duplicates come from original masters, safety's, whatever generation copy.


I don't hear overarching and inherent dynamic range limitation with streams vs other formats. Such contentions require large scale testing.

Cherry pick?  Agenda?  If you spend any time on the site you would understand there is no agenda.  Several comparison are digital to digital. Comparing Blueray as well.   I have compared several of these in my system and I heard a big difference. Have you?  If you have a bigger data set that prove this wrong, show it and I will change my position.    I plan to monitor this site as new albums are added so I understand the best versions. I personally I want all formats to be the best they can be because I use them all.   I won't stop streaming because it is great way to hear new stuff but if there is something I really like I will buy the vinyl because it is likely to be better in my opinion.

One of the last things I do at night is to listen to one of my many LPs. One of the first things I do the next morning is to stream.

I listen to streaming about three hours a day, and also spin a vinyl album once a day. Sometimes just for fun I’ll spin a CD (and compare to streaming). All of these formats sound outstanding to me, and typically when something sounds notably better it’s a well mastered tune… usually in streaming. But this discussion about the masters of a few albums mastering is just nitpicking. There are a few remasterings that not as good as one you got in the 70’s is just irrelevant minuscule noise.

When you have a system that can stream at the same level of fidelity as CD… or even vinyl, a few albums might be not as good sounding (I haven’t run into any)… and a lot better are absolutely better… this argument just becomes non-sense. The world of audiophile level of streaming is so incredible it just leaves physical media in the dust.


Hey, I still buy a couple vinyl albums when I go to get my hair cut. There is a vinyl record store across the street. It’s nostalgic, I just got a new record cleaner… I have an incredible analog end… no ticks, groove noise, elegant… fun. But 95% of the time it is streaming.

Those in the know just know. The technology from the stream just keeps getting better. And if DSD takes hold oh man ! @ghdprentice spot on man! The exploration is seemingly endless. The only problem I foresee is not having enough time to hear it all...... peace

Great thread.

I started streaming in my main rig a little over three years ago (almost all components and speakers new at that time). I've found that in a good system, everything makes a difference; streamer, DAC, network cables, power cables, network switch, linear power supplies, etc. I make small changes as I feel and have gotten to a point that it is so, so good! Can it get better, I think it can, but right now I love listening and never wonder what it'd be like with a vinyl rig, I can listen at my local dealer anytime. Next change is power conditioning, just picked up today.

BTW, streaming just opens one up to such a wonderful universe of music. Been selling or giving away CDs and need to get rid of them all, or most. Maybe someday I'll get to ripping the CDs that are out of print that I want to listen to in the future.

Yes, this is a different world. And one I so love sitting down in front of.

I stream in the office and have a very good digital front end. I still buy CD as they are so freaking cheap!

Love my vinyl and always will listen almost every evening.

Matter of fact have a new stack to spin tonight.

Cheers great thread.

I'm not a vinyl guy myself but it sounds like we need a vinyl streaming service..

Thank you guys. I really appreciate you chiming in. I have spent my career evaluating and introducing new technology to corporations. There is so much hype and confusion to obscure the truly great leaps forward. While not in the corporate environment, this is truly a Great Leap Forward in high end audio, something more close to my heart. I hate to see a lot of folks focus on old tech and miss out for years on what is possible now. After fifty years of working to experience outstanding audio and to get the entire world of music to boot… well, I am so lucky… I hope as many people as possible can experience it.

I am getting better with my digital end but just got listening to raw sienna from Savoy Brown on my vinyl rig and no matters the few clicks and pops, it was awesome.

Digital technology is an add on, not an end all IMO.

Which format better . . . . meh . . . . . which recording better . . . we're getting closer to what matters.


But streaming through these services today 'is' THE REAL DEAL.  With ever decreasing exceptions, the history of music of the past several centuries and more available for listening in fairly good to excellent resolutions and quality.


I'll be honest:  I wondered what the buzz was about over the last few years, until the most obvious part of it hit me.  Think of an artist . . think of a recording . . . . and in most cases by far, there it is for you in several seconds.


I added Roon to my system last year along with Qobuz and Tidal. I am completely hooked. I love buying and playing albums, but the streaming services are really outstanding. I am finding new music and I love being able to play music non-stop all day long. I was planning on getting a new CD player, but now that plan is on hold. All my CDs are ripped and I let Roon handle the playback. I’m not certain if I will even get a new CD player now. It seems like a waste of money to play a disc if my ripped discs and streaming sound just as good. I’d rather spend that money I had budgeted for the CD player on new vinyl.

Totally agree. It is a good time to be a music lover and audiophile. I am all in with Roon and Qobuz. I have also found even with similar redbook resolution Qobuz has the goods of a better remaster than what is in my library. Nick Cave's Masterpiece 1997's The Boatman's Call is just one example.   

Nearly the identical experience.  Much larger world of music though it is still fun to hold the CD or record in your hand, get off on the artwork, read the liner notes.  Does vinyl and CD (played on an Ayon) sound a bit better? Yes.  Does it detract from having an infinite amount of music to hear?  No.  And streaming DACs will only get better.

Through my experiences, the following always applies:

- Analog recordings never sound better on digital systems than analog rigs.


- Digital recordings always sound better on digital systems than on analog rigs.

Somebody said that in other words on this site a while back and after testing many examples of it I couldn't agree more. 

Try it for yourself.


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I’m very impressed with streaming, I love my Denafrips DAC and can’t imagine how much I’d need to spend to better it. If you think how far & good streaming has become in the last few years it’s encouraging to think what is in store for the streaming world. 

NO THANKS, I will keep my physical media. Stream to find new music, and then actually BUY it.

Well, what kind of CD player do you have? A good CD player with a high quality DAC is difficult to beat. Not putting down streaming services...but saying it’s better than your CD player or turntable is not saying very much.

My CD player is best described as a 32 bit dual differential DAC with a transport connected to it. It rivals my LP playback system. I enjoy both.

I want to try streaming some day but have never been impressed with listening room experiences with streaming services.

I listen to streaming to discover music for now.

I think someone should come up with a "Broker" app that will find what you want to hear if it isn’t on your primary service.

@ghdprentice - Since you have the expertise, can you create a You Tube video to explain the streaming world? I know I’d find it useful. Thanks


Thank you for the link to Vinyl vs Digital website.

I had posted months ago about my disappointment with some of the digital Hi-Res releases not sounding as good as the original CD, and now am thinking that many of my observations may be answered by the issue of dynamic range compression. As another poster observed, the "n" on this site is small, but hoping that with time they will continue this effort to help us identify the best possible presentations of our favorite music.

Also agree with OP - the problem is that now music is like literature.....too many choices and too little time. Digital medium definitely lowers the obstacles to broad exploration...kinda like the library used to be when there still were such things :)

Ghdprentice said " You love an new (or old album) and hit, “add to library”. It is yours."

I have no experience streaming music but am always interested in this evolving technology.  I would just like to clear up one thing from the comments and that is when you add songs or an album to your library it is only yours as long as you continue to subscribe, correct?

Or, when you hit "add to library" do you pay for the album or individual song at that time (in addition to whatever monthly fees are being paid for the service) and then you physically own the download even after the service is discontinued.

How does it work?

I don't want to speak for @ghdprentice, but when you add a song or album in Tidal, there is no cost. But you must maintain the membership cost to keep the list. I'm a total cost of ownership kinda guy, but I got over that very quickly and would skimp somewhere else in order to keep up my Tidal subscription. I'm enjoying music so much more now, it is a life changer for me. I would not wait another minute to get started with the fun. BTW, I'm 58 YO and came from a CD player. Never use it anymore, streaming is just too good, both based on SQ and the shear amount of music available. Jump in, the water is extra specially nice!

“A good CD player with a high quality DAC is difficult to beat. My CD player is best described as a 32 bit dual differential DAC with a transport connected to it. It rivals my LP playback system.”


I am curious to learn about your system. Would you tell us about your CD player, DAC and LP system. Can you elaborate on coming away unimpressed with listening room experiences with streaming services? What kind of system you’ve heard and where?

I used to spin CD’s and Vinyl :-)



My CD player is an Audiolab 8200CD. It is really a DAC + CD combo and can operate as a standalone DAC with multiple inputs.

My Turntable is a Technics 1200G with Hagerman Trumpet MC tube phono stage. AT33PTGII cartridge

These run into a Don Sachs preamp to a Primaluna Evo 400 to Tannoy Turnberrys. This is a modest system in a good enough room with 2 dedicated AC lines.

The streaming systems I’ve heard were at Upscale Audio...both front and back rooms. I used these rooms to demo speakers and amps in the last year.

Always thought my CD player in my relatively modest system easily sounded better than what I heard at Upscale. Maybe my room acoustics were better than their front demo room but their back room is pretty damn good.

I’m not listening for dynamics or soundstage/imaging...although my system floats a bigger soundstage. I’m more listening for timbre, decay...the sides and edges of things...little bitty but solid things that come through.




Tell me what kind of analogue and digital systems you have.

I suspect you may have quite a good digital rig.

Not to steal lalitk's thunder, but just go look at his system by clicking on his user name. I've looked at his system many times; it must be pretty amazing sound with his attention to detail in how he puts systems together.


You have a very nice system. I see no reason why you can’t enjoy high quality streaming from existing system. If I may suggest, reach out to Upscale Audio to audition Aurender N100H or N150 with your Audiolab’s DAC. The Aurender conductor app is excellent and very easy to follow. Sign up for Qobuz 30 days free trial. If you love Audiolab’s internal DAC, the streaming experience by pairing with N100 or N150 should be just as good as CD playback if not better.

If you like what you hear, I will then suggest next steps to further improve your streaming experience by filtering noise on Ethernet line (very important and critical step in bringing out nuances you spoke in your reply).


Yikes that's quite a set up you have! I'm sure it sounds amazing! Great attention to detail. 

To tell you the truth, I'm afraid to audition it! But would like to try it within my setup. Will see if Upscale can accommodate me.

Will certainly reach out to you to when I get to that point. Thanks for the friendly offer and hope you'll forgive my ignorant first comment.




Yes, that is correct. When you hit “Add to your library” it is adding the album pathway to my library, not the actual files.. So if you end your subscription you loose access. I was not trying to mislead.

What my Aurender’s does is to create a consolidated library of all my music: by locating all files on the storage of my Aurender, my NAS, and all the albums I added from my streamer into my consolidated library.


This is so important, or you would hear all sorts of great stuff and never be able to find it.

The cost of my physical music library was $80,000, the monthly cost of my Qobuz subscription is $14.99. The ongoing cost is so inconsequential in comparison to collecting physical media, I think of it as free.


I have own an Aurender N100… and listened to a N10, and now own a W20SE… each of those steps provided a very significant improvement in the sound quality. Aurender’s flagship.. the W20SE is simply amazing. With appropriate associated equipment it performs at the level of high end vinyl.

Thank you gdhprentice for the clarification. 

Now this, if you D/C the service for a month, then re-subscribe, is your prior pathway ie library of music permanently deleted or is the song/album list archived in such a way as to allow you to resume access to previously archived music. 



I don’t know for sure. But I would put money that it would not create a problem. I have been an IT guy all my life. If I programmed it, I would embed the URL in the library as the reference. I would never delete it because what if there was an internet outage? You want the library persistent over time.


Thank you for your kind words and no worries. I do applaud you for keeping an open mind. I have been streaming long time and started my journey into streaming with N100H. If you want to take a leap of faith, you can score a great deal on N100 on used market. While the older generation players like N100 or N10 offers high performance, the newer generation models are superior across the board. My impressions below based on head to head comparison between N10, N20, ACS100 and W20SE through EMM Labs DA2 DAC. 

The older generation of Aurender players has a softer, laid back and less dynamic presentation compare to the newer models like ACS100, N150, N200 and N20 and N30SA. They have a livelier presentation excelling in terms of low frequency extension and slam. I also heard slight edge in terms of perceived detail. 

Hope this helps in your decision making. Good luck!

I don't stream....just play my Lp,cds,cassettes, reel to reels.....you said you enjoy your 2000 plus albums....so what's the problem then...

Ohhh man what I went through last year to get my s$%t wired up... Changed my entire LAN from copper to fiber, new router with SFP+ port and all fiber-switches.  And all gear, switches, router, FMCs and EtherRegen have linear power supplies.  What my system sounds like today is beyond compare of what it sounded like a year ago.  I still find local files stored on my NAS to sound slightly better than Tidal HiFi.  As in, a little better treble extension, air, deeper bass, improved phasing, etc, etc. The audible difference is similar to adding in a new and appropriately located linear power supply unit.  But my streaming setup now rivals my Ayre, Pass, VPI/Ortofon, PS Audio and Legacy Focus driven vinyl rig.  They were so far apart a year ago that it was laughable.  And I still feel like there is more to be gained.  Experimentation is fun and frustrating all at once while draining the wallet.



Wow, really sorry to hear all the work it took. I got a couple $69 wall wart repeaters for my two systems and and got there. I did put in a EtherRegen on my main system, but it made only a tiny improvement.