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?
Thoughts?

AK





4afsanakhan

@riaa
Red,
Your ASSUMING that the labels arent giving the services the data. Perhaps the info IS given and the services are choosing not to give you that info. Could be they dont WANT you to see the data so you cant do your due diligence and compare different master/remaster versions. Certainly not saying this is true but it is in the realm of possibility.

Maybe (sounds a little extreme, but anything is possible I suppose), but given the fact that downloads from the labels / artist directly as well as the digital stores (pro studio masters, acoustic sounds any of them really), metadata in those are no better, in my experience.  Just artist, track, album etc.. minimal crap.  It should contain everything pertinent (what one would find on CD sleeve).

I've emailed Qobuz the exact question (looking to clarify cat number) and they were helpful, but I recall the response was something like that's what the label provided and they are not touching the metadata
(WITH the caveat that George points out too - provided they're the exact same mix/ release of the album.)”
The test was as follows;
On my son’s system, a Devialet Expert Pro 220 driving Magico S3 through Synergistic Research Foundation speaker cables run a stream of albums on Tidal that I have on CD and them compare them.
You know what the CD is because it has a "catalog number"
But what's the version is of the streamed one when there is no provenance you can get for it so you can check it on the DRDB you have no idea if it the latest highly compressed release or not??.


but some of the dig downloads I have purchased (new releases) have included cat numbers in the metadata.
Have you look at the DRDB to see what you got, and "PLEASE" give us the Cat no. of the streamed ones you managed to get form Qobuz so we can all see?
As this on is the rubbish latest release from them https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/58448 

Could be they dont WANT you to see the data so you cant do your due diligence and compare different master/remaster versions. Certainly not saying this is true but it is in the realm of possibility.
Ummmmm yes this is what I can see is why.


It’s easy to imagine that when streaming audio from a server farm miles away, errors could creep into the signal that would require error correction or interpolation.
Yes, it's only natural to think that there would be even more errors to correct than a CD, maybe compressing and uncompressing the download will create even more again??

Cheers George



And here we go!!!,
Just managed to search the DRDB site for just Qobuz entries 3 pages were ID’d and yes mainly only the latest compressed re-issues https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/1?album=Qobuz
There are sprinkling of untouched uncompressed ones that I would pay for but they are more your hi-fi show type CD’s which never got compressed re-issues. Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, Diana Krall etc etc

And again only the later re-issues from "HD Tracks"
https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/2?album=HD+tracks
One one uncompressed 1986 Louis Armstrong https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/185788

Cheers George
I’ve been comparing quite a bit lately. My ears tell me the story. CD beats steaming (even high res) 9 out of 10 times.