CD Quality Versus Streaming Quality

I realize this will be a contentious subject, and far be it from me to challenge any of the many expert opinions on this forum, but if I may offer my feedback vis-a-vis what I am hearing, and gain some knowledge in the process.

i will begin saying that my digital front end setup is not state of the art, but i have had the good fortune to listen to a number of really high-end systems. I guess the number one deficit in my digital front end is a streamer server, and no question about it that will improve the sound.

My CD player is a universal player; Pioneer BDP-09fd. It uses Wolfson DACs. It has been modified to a degree. I have bought and sold other players, but kept this one, because it has a beautiful sound that serves the music well.

Recently, i ventured over to my son’s place and we hooked up my player (he doesn’t have one and rely’s on streaming only) We compared tracks / albums of CD quality and master quality streamed on Tidal with ‘redbook’ CDs I have. For example, some Lee Ritenaur CDs and some Indian classical and the wonderful Mozart and Chopin.
His system is highly resolving.

we were both very surprised to find the CDs played on the player to be the better sound. And not just by a little. The sound was clearly superior, with higher resolution and definition, spatial ques, much better and clearer imaging. Very surprising indeed. Shouldn’t there be no difference? This would suggest the streaming service is throttling the bandwidth or compressing the signal?

i am most interested to hear others’ observations, and suggestions as to why this might be? I do love the convenience aspect of streaming, but it IS expensive for a chap like me of fairly modest means. The Tidal HiFi topline service is $30 per month I believe, something the good lady is not too thrilled about. God forbid I should suggest Roon on top of that I may likely get my walking papers. I jest, but only partially LoL. My point is, if I pay this sort of money, isn’t it fair to expect sound to equal the digital stream from the CD player and silver disc?



Streaming usually uses the later released versions of the same album, which are highly compressed and it saves them money on bandwidth space (more $$$ for them), compared the the original uncompressed ones from years ago.

Proof here with links in the last few posts starting here near the bottom with my post on Elton John’s "Madman Across the Water".
Cheers George

Well the earlier uncompressed "used" ones are now demanding far more than what they were new on ebay. So you know the streaming companies aren’t going to shell out for those. They are going to go for the cheapest they can get, which unfortunately is going to be the later/latest highly compressed versions.

Just look at this, which do you think the streaming company will end up getting 28 years difference for the same CD only the oldest one is uncompressed. Look at the shocking difference in dynamic range!!

Cheers George
My SQ rule based on my experiences!
Original LP
Remastered analog or digital LP
Hi res Tidal streaming

this topic has been explored in many threads here.  Personally I see no reason why one digital technology should be better or worse than another.  A CDP can extract the bits and send it to an internal DAC, leaving all the streaming issues aside, such as provenance of the masters, the quality of the streaming service, whether the ISP is throttling bandwidth in this era of Zoom and everyone getting all of their entertainment over the Internet, the home router, and the quality the streamer.  For me, given all the links in the chain just described, the wonder is that streaming can sound as good as it does, but the claims that it inherently is superior to CD replay are just marketing blather