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?


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.  
You guys are probably think I’m goofy but I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different stuff. I went pretty deep down the DAC rabbit hole ending up with a $10,000 Meitner. Honestly it’s hard to tell the difference between that and a $2000 mytek. So I hooked up some older equipment I had that was made back in the early 90s by DBX. It’s called a 4BX expander and it really does expand the music. I don’t know how to explain it but it was designed to undo the compression I’m guessing they put into records back in the day. It does seem to have the same affect even after the music has been streamed to a DAC and then converted back to analog. 
Back to the conversation I find streaming much more enjoyable and much better sounding than the CDs that I have. I also thoroughly enjoy finding new music, there’s so much stuff I would’ve missed if I would’ve only stock with the CDs that I have.
Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the music in the best format that is sensible.
If you're perfectionist, a Redbook copy printed onto a gold disk often sounds better than the original. If you like listening repeatedly that is probably the way to go. If you like sampling a big part of the  recorded music universe Qobuz is the best value.
Tidal meh!