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?


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?
I'm one of those tone deaf doofuses who actually often prefers streamed versions of selections over my original (but not always first issue) LPs & CDs. In any case, more often than not there's enough difference between my originals and the streamed selections to make it pretty obvious that Somebody From the Future has had their way with my Analogue Treasures.  That, though, doesn't mean they're ham-handed clods.  Qobuz is particularly talented in bringing out the best of what was hiding in the originals.  Monsieur Q has a pretty good set of ears.
my ears. I have heard some great streaming systems too, but not as good as a high-end transport DAC Clock CD / DSD systems

Glad you posted this experience, which is both substantive and convincing.
I always knew digitally streamed somehow missed the power of  the music. The soul of the music. 
Kind of flat and spiritless. 
Cd will  give you the true sound of the music, as opposed to streaming's **almost as good as cd quality***, But always falls short.

I also think a  good phono can beat out ever so slight, a  great DAC. But not by much. I prefer CD, as LP's can scratch and you have to flip a  LP over after 30 minutes play time. I have cds, 85 minutes in length!!!
Former CD owner sold out to now stream exclusively and damn happy to have switched as I now listen to as much new music as I do my old music.

As importantly the switch/server/ddc/dac chain that I spent $15K on sounds as good as my buddy's $25K Esoteric K-01XD SACD player when I use it in my system.

Can't seem to really identify/appreciate the difference in sound quality between Tidal Masters and Spotify Premium so I use both, when Qobuz is available in Canada I will sign up to use it too.

Upshot being I agree with those here who say there's nothing to lose by trying out streaming, just be prepared for a steep learning curve, it took me 2 years to figure out the tech chain and how to optimize with tweaks, if that ain't your thing then yeah stick with the SACD player and disks.
Streaming on my system, there’s not much difference between Qobuz HiRes and Tidal MQA.  Tidal has more of the old school R&B music I like so I use it.  I find Qobuz SQ overall better.  I also like the Tidal interface better.

I’ve long since ripped my CD collection to FLAC on an Innous Zenith MK2 streamer.  Those sound very nice as well and better than comparable Qobuz or Tidal albums.  I have a few DSD128 albums on the Zenith as well, and they sound the best by far.  DSD64 sounds OK but no better than Qobuz HiRes in most cases.  

That said, me and my friends all agree, my vinyl rig sounds the best.