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’ve been comparing quite a bit lately. My ears tell me the story. CD beats steaming (even high res) 9 out of 10 times. 
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.
Most likely because the later streamed re-releases, are far more compressed than your "older issue" less compressed CD’s.

And why the cat. no. should be supplied with any streamed/downloads before purchasing.

Cheers George
If you have a high quality dac ,and very good streamer 
a key to help ensure noise is at its minimum is a great network switch without spending too much $$ such as Uptone Audio 
ether Regen which is very apparent eliminating noise 
and the Excellent Bricasti M3 dac withNetwork streaming
has tons of trickle down technologies from all they have learned in mastering studios ,exceptional performance that is actual to the point it surpasses a good turntable in many areas.I have friends 
with very good $10k + turntables and used to hate digital. A top CD player like Esoteric can be exceptionally good, but still not up to par with the pristine signal from Ethernet 
or usb from my experiences. A very good dac-streamer is better 
pin sonics,purity of signal Ethernet ,as well as I2S is a superior 
Digital signal. And cd is just Waay outdated.I use only if I can’t find 
on QObuz or Tidal.
If you have a high quality dac ,and very good streamer
a key to help ensure noise is at its minimum

All this means "nothing" when the music you stream or download is compressed, as shown, in the last few pages, have you read them??
No amount of money spent can help that.

Cheers George
+1 on Qobuz. I listened to Tidal for about a year and I can absolutely tell a difference on both my systems. Actually I still have Tidal since I bought a year subscription. I have tried switching back and forth. Most Qobuz songs have more depth and body to the sound. A good DAC also makes a big difference. I’ve compared Qobuz with a good DAC to CDs on Oppo and Marantz players. CD is either just the slightest better or indistinguishable.