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?


New to this argument and i know it can be done losses so what are people talking about when they refer to the “version” of the title that streaming services use vs the red book cd?   Yes it’s compressed but if it’s lossless what does that matter?  But if it’s true the version the streaming service STARTS with is compressed poorly then garbage in garbage out.  Just curious if that is true, was true in the past, and why people thinks it’s true. 
Just installed Mundorf Caps in my  Jadis JS2Mark2 DAC, Running Telefunken  ax's/au's and just installed JFET super high tech Class A opamps and will have my tech guy install Takman resistors,,Gonna be niceeeeeeee
I prefer cdp/DAC's over streaming. 
Agreed you are rarely getting  master recordings but QObuz has hirez masters 
as well as Tidal just not that  much maybe 10% or less , as I stated in a previous email , if the dac you have is doing it’s job correctly Bricasti for example is known for their excellence in the recording venue and use the older no longer made laser trimmed Analog Devises ladder dac chips just as a starting point there are a ton of many critical areas to total the sum of its parts to properly convert the Digital to Analog signal.  From there the Streamer has to correctly not corrupt 
or allow any artifacts or electrical noise in the signal path while it is sending data 
to be processed , as they say ,the end result is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
quality of all cables count Analog ,power cords, as well as digital .
it can be very stressful at seems  $$ money is always not enough .
now I am saving for a Loudspeaker upgrade, how much do I need to spend 
$10k-$20 k ? I guess we shall find out.
CD players are better than streamers for sure no contest especially on a speaker designed to handle their dynamics because almost all of today's speakers are not good enough to handle the cd at all they will compress it too much so i agree totally with your findings.
Wow riaa_award_collectors_on_facebook!

 Most impressive background. Facinating information that strikes of truth, and by that i mean good information. I am all ears and attention. What you are saying (and George too), means that many of the recordings we listening too from streaming services are already compressed? Interestingly, the CDs I mentioned above, are all at least 15-20 years old and more.

Guys I beg your pardon, but I think this subject is not stale even though it may have been talked about many times. Aren’t all aspects of our hobby talked about many times? We help each other to build better sound systems within our budgets.
Streaming and cloud storage is a huge business as is hardware and software around these services. My own monthly bill includes Tidal topline service, apple music (for family), britbox, acorn TV apple tv, and my cloud storage plan. Many ‘in the business’ do not want to move away from streaming because of huge revenues and profits. It seems nowadays that it is heresy to suggest that anything other than streaming is inferior. Incidentally, The best sound I have ever heard on multi-hundred thousand dollar systems was analog LP systems. By best, I mean the most convincing of reality to my ears. I have heard some great streaming systems too, but not as good as a high-end transport DAC Clock CD / DSD systems. If the music is served from a local server / NAS drive, I believe that is not considered streaming?