Maybe a tad off the subject but relevant I think. I Don't stream but have been playing some MQA CD's on my Esoteric K-03xd which supports MQA. They sound stunning far superior to standard CD and better than most SACD'S I have. I fequently hear from those that stream MQA coded files from TIDAL, Qbuz et al that MQA is nothing to write home about. Based on this variation on your scenario I would say there is merit to your observation.
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@audioman58 Too much work to get streaming to sound as good as my CD playback.
Also, unless one downloads the music, one is at the mercy of TIdal or Qobuz from deleting music one may want to hear.
Next, only about 15% of streamed files are truly hi-rez. The rest are CD quality or worse, of unknown mastering providence.
One of my friends keep their CDs but only play them ripped via EAC to thumbdrives into computers/Berkeley/Meridian Ultradac in a $500,000 system.
I use a high end DAC and transport. After acquiring the Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Eurphoria digital cable, I enjoy my 7,000 CDs as much as my 28,000 LPs. I find 50's & 60's jazz CDs often sound as good or better than the LPs. Classical also can sound great. Unfortunately, rock and pop from the 70's on generally don't (bad digital mastering/compression/noise filtering, etc). The latter is the case for most streamed files as well. Occasionally, an entire series of CDs sound dreadful for those reasons (RCA/BMG remastered mono opera recordings from 10 years ago are compressed, bass shy, shrill, etc). They are no better streamed, only the early versions from the 80s sound like the LPs.
quality of the original recording overwhelms any minor (i mean very minor) differences in well implemented cd vs streamed music quality
streamed music sounding absolutely tip top quality takes some work and expense to achieve -- some are up for that, other not, but it can absolutely be achieved, as many of us have done it
cd’s sound great too, streaming just as good -- cd players have their own output stages, can have their own sound signatures, as do dacs... so it all depends... hi res streamed through tidal or qobuz is truly excellent - bear in mind cdp's play redbook 98% of the time
my cd front end -- 1) vsei level 6 sony scd-1 2) modwright marantz sa 8005 with tube output and rectification
streaming -- i7 roon core, uptone ether-regen, sonore optical rendu, dacs: msb analog w pb / bricasti m1 mdx / weiss 501
My theory is that you can approach streaming in two ways… low end plus fiddling with your incoming signal: the complicated way. Or buy a high quality streamer. I can’t prove it.. I don’t have enough of a sample. But each time I have upgraded my streamer, it has had much higher quality sound and MUCH less dependence on my network (my streamer is much more reliable listening to music than my iPad is for reading. I can’t refresh my page from the New York Times… but my high resolution music continues without interruption.
My current system sounds as good as my analog, but is running off a $59 wall wart repeater. A red book CD sounds exactly like a streamed Red Book CD file. I’m thinking that improving my network connection will not make a red book CD file sound better than my Red Book CD played locally with my excellent CD player / DAC.
So. My conclusion is not to buy a budget streamer and fiddle with your network… just buy a great streamer.
Anyway my conclusion. I have used iPods, iPads, MACs, PCs running different software, low cost streamers, mid-priced streamers, high end streamers, and etherRegens.
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