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?


George is ABSOLUTELY correct to cite how new albums found on streaming services are indeed, compressed from a dynamic range standpoint.

And that’s where it ends for me, if it’s had the very life squashed out of it, I don’t want this "compressed stuff" anywhere near my hi-end system at home, where there’s no quiet spaces for it, me and the missus to breath to the music as it was made by the artist if he/they were playing it live to you.

In the car or through iphones/ipods taking a walk, ok this compressed junk is fine, that's what it was made for and should stay.

But as an audiophile it saddens me to see this kind of compressed music being pushed by those ignorantly on these forums (with hi-end systems) and they say it’s great, far from it, it’s mediocre at best being played back on todays hi-end systems.

Cheers George

And cleeds - you’re explanation to the aforementioned user - the ECC built into a CD is absolutely ZERO match for ECC built into any modern ISP’s network or a decently modern home network.
So what? Compact disk and streaming audio protocols include both error correction - which I noted is extremely effective - and interpolation, for errors that cannot be otherwise recovered.
Have you ever performed an update on any computer system and were able to install a corrupted file? No - the storage you have, or your memory, or processor, might corrupt the file, but what is delivered to you is always, bit perfect - hash tag matched - each, and every, single, time, provided the equipment used to send and receive is working as expected.
Correct. But you’ve confused that process with digital audio playback, which must be done in real time. That’s why interpolation is part of digital audio. You wouldn’t want to use interpolation for something like a software install, because that has to be absolutely bit perfect.
... give me a microwave or a piece of wadded up aluminum foil, and we’ll compare how your "perfect cd" sounds to my bit perfect digital stream. Errors cannot, do not, "creep in" - they are clearly identified and rectified within milliseconds again ...
Nonsense. Your imaginary, hypothetical textbook "bit perfect network" doesn’t account for the real world, where ISP and local network issues can include signal disruptions that may extend to actual dropouts for the user. And that is why interpolation is part of the digital audio protocols, even if the errors may not always be as extreme as outright loss.

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

Again, many recordings on Qobuz sound great. Still very enjoyable while what you are is also true of some recording files on Qobuz. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water in terms of enjoying the streaming format.  Nothing is perfect in this world and I find enough great sounding recordings to keep me content. 
Again, many recordings on Qobuz sound great. Still very enjoyable ... No need to throw the baby out with the bath water in terms of enjoying the streaming format. Nothing is perfect in this world ...
Exactly. There have always been poorly made LPs and CDs, and now we have poorly made digital files. But the best of any of those formats can still offer exceptional sound.

Finding the best (highest fidelity) version of any particular recording has always been a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition. The only thing that’s changed is that now - sometimes - the best version of a recording is what’s available from a streaming service such as Qobuz.