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?



For me, I prefer the sound from a well recorded CD over all of the streaming. BTW, I have a collection of over 2500 CDs, 1200 vinyls, 40,000 on a separate hard drive in AIFF format, 300 cassette tapes, and subscription to several streaming services.

Yes until the streaming/download companies put up which version releases they stream/download so you can be assured not not getting the "usually compressed later re-issue ones", you never know until you paid for it.

And then they have to guarantee they don't compress it to send it to save themselves bandwidth costs also, but you can check that with a file size that's sent against a uncompressed cd size, (if you have it)

Cheers George
George, which streamer do you use? Which service? Software? What is your digital path from wall to streamer? This will help me better understand your particular streaming experience.  

George, which streamer do you use? Which service? Software?

None, I have a friend who owns Soundstage Australia he reviews them and many other things, he assures me it the very best hook up. I hear it on his very revealing system a/b against just the Yammy (as a transport) both into the Total dac D1 now upgraded to the later Total dac
This is his system

Associated Equipment

  • Speakers — Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2,
  • Amplifier — Gryphon Audio Antileon EVO
  • Preamplifier — Supratek DHT Reference, Lightspeed Attenuator LDR passive
  • Sources — Yamaha CD-S2100 used as transport, Totaldac d1-core DAC,

And sometimes mine if I get the chance and he comes over and logs on to whatever he stream services he uses..
Which being big ESL’s (ML Neolith panels 150hz to 10khz), Plasma tweeters >100khz, and SV12 bass <150hz, based, even more revealing I think, don’t know if he does, he doesn’t cross that line.
But it’s his bread and butter, you won’t find controversy with his reviews, but what’s said with a red in one hand privately is another story when we do a/b’s .
Cheers George
This is the "Bruce Springsteen" "Born to Run"
That Quobuz streams/downloads that you pay for.
It’s the worst compressed version of all 28 re-issues/originals.

And here is the original 1982 uncompressed CD. (which would you prefer?)
George, this is really shocking that Qobuz sees this amount of compression and can't get a better release from the record label. The streaming system is f#~ked up, the record label holds all the cards. 

In every case, there's no way to know the provenance of the master used to make the Qobuz copy. 

I've had some luck checking the copyright of an album on the Qobuz Info page, then checking to see if there's a matching date on DR Database or Discogs. 

My only recourse with the Qobuz Springsteen file is to listen to the album on CD.

You’ve got it. (thank tweak1 for that link)
Wouldn’t be great to know the provenance what you get, then all you have to worry about, if they stream it to you compressed to save size (money), but that’s a easy size check, if you have an uncompressed CD to compare.Cheers George