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?


I was always led to believe that if an e32 was had (cannot read bit) 1 or 0, then whatever was read before was subsituted for the unread bit?.

Cheers George 
I ripped all my original CD’s years ago and stored them as FLAC files on a local NAS drive, with backup!
I have a £2000 Lyngdorf CD2 CD player and a £2500 Bricasti M5 Streamer. Playing the Coax output of the Bricasti and the Coax digital output of the CD2 into the same DAC results in the streamed version of the CD compared to the original CD sounding better. So I have better sound from my original CD’s that are now in storage, I have instant access to them all and I have no ugly walls of shelving stuffed with CD’s. I also stream from Qobuz for finding new music and listen to Internet radio with the same fantastic sound quality.
The reason it’s so good is the quality of the Ethernet network components. Ethernet Cables, RFI filters, precision switches are all critical to achieve this, unfortunately it’s not cheap to do it right.

I ripped all my original CD’s years ago and stored them as FLAC files on a local NAS drive, with backup!
You did this using "some other cd transport" from it’s digital output to your HD??

Sorry to me there is no way the streamer playing back the HD could be better through the same dac, than just the CD2 as a transport through the same dac.
If anything it should be slightly worse from the HD/streamer.

(unless there’s some wrong with the Lyngdorf CD2 as a transport it’s digital output)

CD > CD/transport? > copied to H/D> Streamer> Dac > system

CD > CD2> Dac> system

You posted this last year.
The CD2 playing the original CD is superior by some way to any of the streaming options. I now use streaming to explore my music collection, playing background music and finding new music on Quobuz. I then buy the CD and play that for a serious deep listen. That is the way to go.

Cheers George

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!!
@georgehifi, thanks for sharing this.  In the album details, when it says codec = flac and source = cd, does it mean that the DB measurement is done on files that is ripped from cd to flac format?