CD Player vs. music streaming

Dear audiophiles:

I am in the cross road for the media choice.  My CD player suffered from abnormal tray movement and consider to replace a new one (maybe the 2nd hand one).  But on last Sunday, I paid a visit to the audio show and find out there are showing many streaming player of the famous brands with  the price range of US$ 5000~20,000.  I feel the sound is not bad with short listening. 

I am thinking about my situation once more, if I buy a HI-Fi CD player, the price might equal to the audio streamer.  Then, if I choose the CD player, I would keep on buying CD. But if I give up CD player and replace it with a audio streamer, my expense might be the monthly subscription expense which cost a CD or so.  Besides,
my kids have no interest in classical music appreciation. There is no meaning for me to keep on buying CD. When I  am passed away, the CD are useless...without not penny. 

Under such kind of   consideration, should I stay in CD player or should I switch to music streamer. 
Any good opinion?
I like music streaming when i was traveling other then at home i am a CD Player lover.
I don't see this as an either/or situation. Unless you intend on ripping your CD collection you might want to replace your CDP so you can still enjoy your collection. Find a streaming service which will suit your taste .. Qobuz and Idagio come to mind .. and a streamer which supports the service. There's a bevy of streamers at every price point so you have plenty of choice. 
Bluesound Node 2i streamer with DAC is about $500. Excellent sound quality! No need to spend $thousands! And you can still buy a fine CD player for another $500 (Cambridge, Denon, NAD ...) to enjoy your CD collection!
if i had to start over, and hadn't accumulated thousands of cds, i'd simplify my life and stream exclusively. as roberjman suggests, a bluesound for >500 + ten bucks a month for a streaming service is a small price to pay for essentially unlimited listening
I would do both, run into the same DAC.  Given your budget, there are several cd or streamer transports (lacking DACs) available.
My CD player (a Marantz KI-Pearl) sounds better than my streamer (Bluesound Node 2 into an Auralic Vega DAC), but I stream a lot more often than I listen to CDs due to the convenience.  The sound quality is only negligibly better listening to CDs and only really noticeable if I compare back to back.
I agree with Mesch above. You can do both.

1. If your budget is as you describe, perhaps buy a high quality DAC. There are many to choose from and most are very good at that price point over $2500.

2. Buy a CD transport and connect it to your DAC via COAX or decide that debate...;-)

3. Buy an entry level streamer like a Bluesound Node 2i for $500 and connect to your DAC via Coax, toslink or USB. Get experience with streaming then decide if a more upmarket streamer appeals to you.

start experimenting with Qobuz, Tidal and others and see if that works for you.

this should be fun!!
I too have and would recommend both, but it is my experience that playing my CD’s is more enjoyable than streaming for serious listening. Almost always I pick a CD over streaming to ‘really’ listen to one of my classical (or any) selections, but lately, have been using the turntable and vinyl even more so.
I ripped my 800+ CDs to an Innous Zenith MKII.  I play downloaded DSD and FLAC files, and stream Tidal, Qobuz, & Internet radio from the Zenith - and haven't looked back.  

I prefer vinyl over streaming, but as I get older I'm enjoying the ease of streaming more and more.  
Given your particular situation, why not have your cake and eat it too with CD, Dac, Streamer in one box. Forget the preamp section and run it through your main system. Buy no more CDs but keep those you have for times alone at leisure.
Don’t be fooled, the Bluesound Node 2i is an entry level piece, decent to get started with or for background music. If you decide you want a very good setup, be prepared to sink some $$$ into it. You don’t need a dedicated streamer and I prefer not to put a streamer/computer in my audio room. Also, I will never use USB to hook up to my external dac. USB has too many flaws and there are way too many tweaks to try to get it sounding good. Also, you need a good GUI application to run your streaming/ripped setup, and you can’t get better than Roon. Keep it simple: Roon, external computer in another room running Roon, iPad/iPhone running Roon, Ethernet connection/no WiFi, good Ethernet cable (cat7/cat8), and the best dac with a network connection you can afford.
This may create some controversy, but I was at the same vinyl/ CD crossroads a year or two ago. Love the warm feel of vinyl and detail of CD. The issue is convenience. The only reason vinyl has mad a comeback is warm sound and nostalgia and CD has stayed around is it is a recent enough technology to be still in vogue. Streaming is the future.
The technology is there now to equal both options but the price point on DACs and file conversion is not quite there. We all love certain albums, but lets face it, 3 cuts are really why and the pain of plopping on the album or disc for those 3 will be overcome by the ability to click on the 50 songs you really want to hear and be able to sit back and hear them all while doing nothing.
There will always be those of us who relish the experience of putting the needle down, but it is a dying bread that will pass with our generation.
Having said all that pontification, get a 32 bit Bluetooth receiver 5.0 and a good DAC and enjoy.
Dear Audiophiles, 

Thank you very much for your kind opinion and suggestions regarding the subject. 

Though, we are all authentic music lovers, but put age into consideration, we have to think before we leap.   If  we stick to buy a mid price CD (around US$4000), we have to keep on spending on CD purchase. But the problem is my family members have no interest in music listening, esp. classical music just like the ordinary people do.  So, it is not good investment on my point of view for stick on CD.  

But if I select streaming machine, a moderate one also need to cost around US$4000, all I have to bear is one pc. of CD price for a month.  The only thing I need to worry is the update of the music stream machine spec. are rather fast and wide. A high cost investment can't avoid the advancement of the stream machine and software update...... Both kinds of selections have pros and cons. 




Tidal MQA or Qoboz high res or Amazon HD are superior formats, when the files are available to Redbook CD.

Rarely put a CD in any more. Seems little point. 
I use CDs via a Bluray player as transport into my Dac.
Not perfect but space is limited.

Have CDs on MacBook, using Audirvana.
Then Tidal HiFi

With these, I have all the music I could want.

Sound quality order?
1. Tidal Hi Res
2. CD 
3. Tidal CD quality

Still, Tidal HiFi is more than acceptable in many situations.
for Classical music I would stay with CD. The streaming services are very bad at organising classical metadata and it is difficult to find the piece you want to listen to by the orchestra or artist or conductor.  Maybe this is will change one day but for now streaming and classical music are not good partners.  
:) the CD is still the king on the hill in terms of price to output quality ratio. The only better format is the SACD or DSD files.
The best price to audio quality is on the turntable side but CD is better in general quality because of its durability. Turntables are expensive in usage, degrade the sound every time you use it (skratches, dirt, head usage). Files still require superb application to be better than CDs but once you have it they are better as turntable with this advantage they do not get old. What is interesting in DSD files is tha they soind better then CD even on mid class equipment but... how much DSDs you have? As regards Tidal, Qobuz I am a bit dossapointed. They sound nice but has no this expression that CD offer. MPQ is definitelly better but loose with CD too. I suppose this is the reason of digital watermark, perhaps the streaming lags... 

So... the winner is: not CD :) but ripped CDs played from files. In therm of comfort, quality and durability this is the best choice. 
Thank you!
I wouldn't do either. I was in the exact same position as you, and I purchased a Sony HAP S1 for $700 USD. It is a high res unit (100,000 freq range) with a hard drive and internet radio. It has a 500 gig hard drive that organizes your ripped  cds by song, artist, genre, album... It picks up world wide internet radio. There are no monthly fees. I ripped my cds as 24 bit hi res format and they are played back in that same format.  It includes Iheart radio and tunein radio (low res). I was listening to music from Brazil last week.  My opinion is after paying months and months of streaming services, you are left with nothing. 
I just picked up the Bluesound Vault 2i which not only gives you streaming but also has a CD ripper and a 2TB onboard storage.  It does not however, play CD's, rather allows you to save your CD's in a FLAC format and then allows you to play the file through the Bluos app.  I think I read somewhere that it could store up to 30,000 songs and it also allows you to use other formats like WAV and MP3 among others.  This way, less wear and tear on your CD collection and gives you playlists of various CD's without getting up and changing discs.  Not sure yet on SQ between the FLAC file and playing the CD, but it's just an added convenience so you can listen to your CD collection and stream interchangeably.

With this said, this segment of the market is rapidly changing, but the Bluesound has a pretty good DAC at 32bit and 192Khz, but who knows what will happen next year.  I personally like streaming for it's convenience and introducing me to new titles and types of music.  I am going through the usual suspects of streaming services and listening to the SQ of their Hi Res offerings, so can't make a call on that just yet.  But the Vault seems to fill the bill straddling between streaming and CD's.  Next would be the Roon Nucleus system to organize all of my files and to handle various streaming networks should I sign up for more than one service.  Good luck with your search.    
I’ll throw my $.02 in here.  First - I agree w/ Duckworp in that Classical music streaming leaves something to be desired from a search standpoint.  However, this is easily enough overcome.  I listen to a lot of classical music and the ability to listen to many different recordings is really nice via streaming.  I’m discovering lots of recordings I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.  You can easily search by composer or orchestra (artist).  And, you can rip your library to a hard drive to make it easily accessible (and searchable via the software). 

I would also suggest that streaming can be as good as CD/SACD played on a good player - if you have that goal.  I have a good streamer (Auralic Aries G2 - not the best, but well above the mid range) going into a good (but not great) DAC and it’s better than my CD/SACD player (also mid range).  I also have an Aurender server/streamer in another system - It’s also very, very good and better than my CD player.  Both are significant upgrades sound wise over the Bluesound Node 2 (a killer streamer for the price which I have in yet another system) from a streaming sound quality standpoint.  I actually like the Bluesound app the best out of all interestingly enough.  In any case, convenience, a nearly unlimited library and no physical media to store or search through are pretty compelling.  

To the OP, you can get a very good player/DAC if you want.  T+A, Simaudio, Esoteric, Marantz, etc.  all make such units which are very good.  

For me, I no longer play discs (despite a decent library of SACDs).  I have subscriptions to Qobuz (better sounding than Tidal at full resolution, but no MQA - hopefully soon), Tidal and Spotify premium.  Yes, I spend a fair amount monthly, but if it’s been recorded, I probably have access to it.  And, those services all have curated playlists for casual listening as well.  Spotify is much, much better than the other two in this regard. Tidal is frustratingly oriented toward hip hop/R&B in this regard - a reflection of the owners).  

So, for me - I spent up on streamer/servers and really have no need/desire to search through my disc collection again.  And, I’m discovering a lot of new music. My adult children all enjoy sharing new music with me too.  It’s been a wonderful development.


For myself personally I have heard high end CD players from today and  my LINN IKEMI from 20 years ago surpass the sound of streaming. Even implementing a high end DAC there is something lost in the transfer. Hi resolution streaming on the other hand shows promise but you are limited to what is available in that format. I love record store scavenging. You can buy CD's for a buck, used vinyl is cheap, it's something to do. Plus there is the ritual of putting that needle down seeing that big record spin. Putting the CD in a drawer that glides. It's the physical touching of an expensive machine I like.  
If you plan to use Roon and want to take advantage of it's upscaling capabilities, you'll need a fairly robust "something" to run Roon Core.  There are a lot of choices out there, personally, I'd stay way from running Roon Core on a laptop or PC and opt for something designed specifically for it. 

I started with an Innous Zenith MKII running Logitech Media Server.  SQ was excellent and I could use it for whole house stereo combining the Zenith (RAAT) with Raspberry PIs (RAAT) and AirPlay endpoints all into one "zone." 

I decided to try Roon and haven't looked back.  The Zenith can serve as a Roon endpoint and server.  As an endpoint, it is excellent.  It works as a server until you use DSP and upscaling at the same time, where I experienced dropouts.  To solve that problem, I purchased a sonicTransporter i7 for Roon DSP (without an SSD drive) to host Roon Core.  Everything is now working fine.

Had I not purchased the Zenith first and started with Roon, I would have taken a different network media server/streaming approach. Having said that, I'm quite happy with I have and will stick with it for the foreseeable.  That combination works well with my DAC (an Audio Mirror Tubadour II SE).  

You need both , cd and streamer . Streaming quality is inconsistent quality wise. Just my 2 cents worth.
I have a healthy vinyl collection and CD collection of which I have ripped about 60% of the CD's to my server.  I did a lot of homework before jumping into the streaming field and was running JRIver on a laptop to pull my ripped music. 
After attending AXPONA 2019 and seeing the many rooms and use of streamers ( mostly Aurender ) , I settled on an Aurender X100L  w 6TB  of storage ( lovingly used ) . Coupled with its Conductor App and Qobuz I not only have direct access to my ripped CD library, but Qobuz HR has been exceptional in broadening my listening of all genres . The Conductor app also gives you access to a huge base of internet radio stations.  Aurender also gives you free updates and their customer service is exemplary.  
I still love throwing an album on or putting a CD in the transport, but if you have a good+ system , buy a good+ streamer and don't look back.  ( If you have a good DAC get a streamer without one. )   

Happy Holidays & Happy Listening ! 
IMO unless you are looking for the best possible sound which would be a CD Transport and DAC you are probably better off getting a good streamer and a good DAC.  A transport and DAC will probably give you better layering of instruments for classical music if that is your goal but that won't come cheap to my ears.

Happy Listening.
Two people mentioned Innuos. Zenith level $4,500. 
No one mentioned the other burn benefit I hear of.
That is that the downloaded cd SQ actually IMPROVES
when played back as a file. 
WTF you say. Me too. How? It was explained to me by 
the Innuos folks at RMAF last. Too technical for my feeble
So Faust-Buy the Innuos, copy all your CDs into it and sign
up with Amazon $13/Mo Hirez. Price will get better over time
for subscriptions thanks to competition. No more money
on CD players unless you buy the Hegel Mohican.
Keep us posted!!!

I’m a CD man with good cd transport and discrete MSB R2R Multibit ladder dac and passive volume control preamp. I’ve yet to hear a streamer that would make me change.

Cheers George
Hi, I too would recommend the Bluesound Node 2i as well, it covers the bases and I rate it as great equipment and good value. It's a fantastic foot in the door and let's you store your existing cd collection. Its family friendly and SQ is brilliant. It also gives you internet radio. A fantastic way to get into streaming and make use of your exusting cd library. I brought one for my 75 year old father, he's in music heaven with the variety and selection at his fingertips (via a tablet and phone), he's not tech savvy generally, but he's figured this one out. 

 What us the system you are running? Happy listening. 

As duckworp pointed out one of the major problems with streamers is the quality of the app needed to control content. I bought a Cambridge Audio CXN which sports 2 awful apps. No search function for albums downloaded from Tidal makes it almost impossible to find classical albums you have saved. At least Tidal has a search function but you can't use the Tidal app with a CXN streamer. I'm surprised that more Audiogon forum contributors don't have a problem with streamer apps. Maybe not many classical music listeners on this site as A-Z listing works reasonably well for pop, rock, jazz etc. Anyway to get to the crux of this I am thinking of getting rid of the CXN and would welcome any info on  streamers, with or without a DAC and preferably the latter, that either have a usable app for classical music or allows you to use the Tidal app.
I’m a CD man with good cd transport and discrete MSB R2R Multibit ladder dac and passive volume control preamp. I’ve yet to hear a streamer that would make me change.

Faust has not heard so many of the  streamers around, yet feels that is worthy of comment!
New here - I just ordered a Cambridge CXC transport. The V2 is out so I went with the older model - there are good deals out there. Hook that up to a DAC.Get the bluesound sound node 2i - and have the best of both worlds.

Enjoy the music and happy new year to all....
i heard a Bluesound 2i and it sounded very good.  not sure if your just streaming a more expensive server/DAC would make a difference.
I studied the same question for a couple of years ,once the quality all in one players started to show up. I had the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC ( bought used) and the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. I wanted the convenience of not having to getup to change disc and maintain a 1800 cd collection, but not lose the quality of the playback. I purchased the Aurender N100 server with 2 TB storage HD and 120GB SSD for listening so no mechanical noise! The PS Audio DAC converts the files to DSD for Great sound quality. You will have to spend the time to rip all of your CDs to FLAC files, which in my case took me about a month and a half of 3-5 hour sessions every few days. Once it was done adding new files only takes a few minutes as you collection continues to grow.  The Aurender servers are turning up used here on Audiogon now frequently for almost half price. The money you save could help you upgrade your DAC if you choose. The PS Audio DAC gets an FREE update to improve the sound about every 6 months. It is also been highly praised buy the stereo reviews since it was introduced. I love the sound and with quality cabling and speakers you would be hard pressed to improve the sound with out spending thousands of dollars more. Hope this helps to solve your dilemma. Happy listening!!
I have recently gotten rid of my Ayre CD player because I finally found a music server and DAC that sound better IMO. I’ve gone with the dcs Bartók, along with Roon on a Roon Nucleus. 
The ripped CDs all sound better (again, to my ear) than they did on the Ayre CD player, plus convenience factor is great. I use Qobuz as a streaming service because to my ear their hi-res FLAC files sound distinctly better than the Tidal MQA files - not quite as good as the ripped CDs, but quite good enough. 

I’m really happy with the changeover, and the simplicity of one digital source and one analog source. 
When I had my SACD player and a Paradigm streamer (Tidal),  I would listen to both. When I got a Sony ES HDD player and ripped my collection to the drive,  I haven't listened to the CD player since.  
It has been proven over a decade ago that a cd will sound better played ripped from a hard drive than from a CD player. The most critical piece of the digital chain is the dac, and not all dac inputs are created equal.

Every music server you buy is a computer. The only difference a music server company will tell you is that it’s optimized for usb 2.0 playback whereas a normal pc/Mac doesn’t have that. Another gimmick trying to get usb to sound decent. There are dozens of other gimmicks/tweaks you can apply to usb to try to get it to sound decent.

If you like playing the silver discs, buy the best dac you can afford and use the i2s input on the dac if possible, coax if you don’t have a i2s input.
if starting from scratch, you can run Roon on a good performing server with 16 GB of ram and multiple cores and put this in a separate room never in the audio room. (I use a Mac either a Mac mini with 16G or an iMac with 24 G of ram, and neither of these computers ran over 20% of its processing power and just use Ethernet going out to the dac).
Get the best dac you can afford. I also use the PS Audio DS sr and DS jr dacs with their Ethernet connections. These dacs also provide i2s connections if your CD player has this output.
Keep it simple using the best gear.

Why complicate things by using a 3rd party music server by anyone? What happens if this 3rd party server crashes? How do you backup or more importantly restore your data when your disk fails? Do you know linux because that’s what most of these 3rd party music servers use (I used linux and Unix for decades in my work but this is not an OS for the computer/audiophile novice).
The music server people will tell you to use a nas which is fine but you will also need to back that up which requires another computer. I have swapped between different Mac computers depending on how I wanted to run things. I use an external drive for my data and my Roon backup and another external drive for my hourly backups. When I want to swap computers, I move the external disk with my data and Roon backup to the other Mac, point Roon to its backup, I restore Roon and a couple of minutes later, I’m back up and running. Try that with any 3rd party server

I found myself in a similar situation. I ended up buying an Audio Lab 6000 CDT Transport and use it with my Schiit Audio DAC.  I could not be happier. I almost spent more money on a CEC transport... so glad I did not do that!
Rbstehno: the reason to use a dedicated music server is because they offer significantly better sound quality than a PC or Mac. I used to run an optimized Mac mini - solid state hard drive, 16 GB ram - only running as a music server. I never used it for anything else.  The music server I bought smoked it - not even close.  This was true even after I converted the Mac’s USB output to SPDIF w/ a nice converter.  Further, I always had to update the Mac.  Updates to the servers/streamers I have are far less frequent. I have 3 different servers and/or streamers.  None have ever crashed. 

I would also say that I now believe the music server and/or streamer is actually more important than the DAC.  I experienced a bigger improvement in sound quality from this upgrade than from the DAC upgrade.  And, I upgraded from a decent streamer (Node 2) to a higher end streamer and again experienced a leap in sound quality.

Lastly, I would note that my better streamer has greatly improved the sound quality of Spotify premium.  I have subscriptions to Tidal and Qobuz.  Both are very good and sound better than Spotify.  But, I noticed a leap in sound quality from Spotify w/ the upgraded streamer.

Regarding the backup issues you note - fair points.  However, in my one system, I use that Mac Mini as my Roon core and file storage.  Guess what just failed.  Fortunately, the Mac is backed up. 

Perhaps the way to manage all this is to use streamers instead of servers - the difference being no onboard storage to lose.  Then, you’d keep the backup ease of your solution but have the improved sound quality and ease of use from the streamer and app.

My $.02

I just got a Bluesound node 2i to replace some 45 year old pre amp power amp which still work.  In comparison to CD it is a close call.  I know the Little Blusound is not in the league of Naim, but I can say I am very impressed with the little guy.  I have a small town home so 60w is plenty on my custom DIY tower speakers.  I would expect SA CD to sound better but you are correct about some things.  I am over 60 years of age, love streaming because all my favorite play lists follow me everywhere. I use Deezer at present which is working great.  My cell phone for the Jeep, Bluesound from home. Wireless for UTube or other sites off the phone.  I am new to all of this but my two cents is that Streaming is great. I can have the same music all through out the home.  Alexa can even play on it. When I leave this world my grand kids will decorate their rooms with my CDs and use them for nerf gun target practice. I have about 60 million songs and even pod casts ready for me on Dezzer where ever I go! (Exept heaven)
Some knowledge can go a long way.  This article is one of many that discusses some of the science that is shrouded by the hype, commercialism and misinformation available on the internet...caveat emptor.

Don't be fooled by expensive streamers.  The BlueSound Node2i is great sounding.  I would suggest using TIDAL and connecting the Blue Sound to take advantage of MQA.

I think the days of playing CD's are coming to an end.  It is way more convenient to play music by using either a cell phone or computer to access your music without having to get up to change a CD.  You would also have to spend a fortune on high res CD's compared to just spending $20/month.  I would suggest hard wiring the BlueSound using CAT6 cable.  I just wish Bluesound offered video so it would be possible to view concerts.  I will bet they will be coming out with this option in the near future.
Hello guys a few points on this thread.

People here have to stop lauding the Bluesound Node as a high end solution, yes the Node sounds great for a $550.00 streamer and has an excellent gui and operating system, however, in a really good system it is not going to cut it as a dac or a streamer.

We consider the first real step at high end sound quality to be the Lumin D2 which in our tests far outperformed the Cambridge 851N.

Tatyanah, listen to an Innous Server particularly the Zen or Zenith the improvement in sound quality over either direct streaming or using a lower quality streamer is very noticable.

Mroeturner, you should try to get a demo of the Innous servers particularly the Zenith you will notice a very large improvement over the Nucleus. The Innous servers are far more technologically advanced in terms of noise reduction over the Nucleus  units, the Zen, Zenith and Statement models also feature an incoming and outgoing set of ethernet noise filters,  to keep noise out of the unit and to transmit a better quality ethernet signal to a streaming dac.

We have been playing in this arena for many years, a good server or a good streamer/dac will outperform a CD player easily, that is not saying there aren’t fantastic CD players but in all of our tests including a one of the world’s best CD players the T+A PDP 3000 is bettered by T+A’s stand alone reference dac with an Innous server or the Formula or the Ligtht Harmonic Davinci dual dac, these setups challenge the best in analog for a sense of palbability and pureness of midrange naturalness.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Have to generally agree with Audiotroy here.  I have a Node 2.  It’s an incredible unit for the price, but it’s not a high end streamer. It sounds great, but is easily bested by better units. In my experience, the streamer quality is as or more important than the DAC.  While I don’t have experience with Innuos server/streamers, I do with Aurender and Auralic as I own units from both companies and have been able to do A/B comparisons against the Node 2.  No contest.

And, if you pay attention to the details, a better streamer playing Tidal or Qoboz will easily equal a high quality CD player.  And, if you have files stored on a NAS, even better yet.  
My Bluesound Node 2 into my Auralic Vega sounds really good, but my turntables and CD player best it.  I'd like to get a better sounding streamer, but everything I've looked at seems to be a downgrade from BlueOS in terms of usability and the variety of streaming sources supported and some apps only work on iPad. I use both Tidal and Qobuz, which many seem to support.  Radio Paradise seems to be missing from most.  I could live without that, but it's a nice to have.  I'd prefer a streamer that doesn't have a DAC, but that's not a deal killer.  I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.  The Lumin D2 or T2 look like good options, but I wonder how fast they'll become obsolete.