Did you notice....

That even great quality streamer streaming great hi-rez digital format cannot outperform cheap CD-player playing red-book CD or it's only my 'illusion'?


That even great quality streamer streaming great hi-rez digital format cannot outperform cheap CD-player playing red-book CD or it's only my 'illusion'?


Depends how much effort you put into streaming. Not necessarily big $'s needed.

My streaming setup sounds better than any of the cheap CD players I've owned - and it doesn't use any Uber priced streamer. My setup is computer/ethernet based (Roon/Qobuz/HQPlayer) with the affordable UltraRendu streaming to my DAC. Sounds superb to me and I have access to an huge music library. 

I was a dedicated vinylphile, but these are golden times for the music lover IMO.

I completely agree. Mastering must be the same if the same results from streamers and CDs are to be similar or even the same. Perhaps a streamer can reproduce sound/music equivalent to a CD playback. I am unfamiliar with streamers capabilities generally (except at audio shows). Why streamers often use inferior remastered/altered recordings which are compressed and louder is the question. Why not just use a good CD as the streamer basis (or is it a financial reason)?

The first question you have to ask is "Am I comparing the same masters?"  Most often, if you have an older CD, then NO, you are hearing a newer master from the streaming service, and it's usually not better than what is encoded onto your CD.  

I have compared some CDs to the album on Tidal, and found them to be identical... but MANY times, the streamed version is louder and more compressed, and therefore worse sounding.  Sometimes the difference is subtle, sometimes dramatic, but I have heard a few sound nearly identical. So that tells me the streamer CAN indeed match the sound of my CD player (an OPPO 105). 

"Audiophiles are Snobs"  features an idiot!  He states, with no equivocation,  that $5,000 and $10,000 speakers sound equally good and a $500 and $5,000 integrated amp sound equally good.  He is either deaf or a liar or both!   There is a site filled with posters like him called Audio Science Review.  If a reasonable person posts, they immediately tear him down, using selected words and/or sentences as 100% proof that the audiophile is dumb and stupid with his money and that the high end audio equipment/cable/tweak sellers are criminals who commit fraud on the public.  

What a waste of time, “Audiophiles are Snobs”.  Life is to short to waste time listening to idiots like this. Why would he waste his time talking about this… and why would anyone listen to it?

@twoleftears thanks for your post. Perhaps, I don't understand your comment. Is there something 'wrong' as 'not correct' in his speech? Please elaborate, many thanks.

BDW, I do like Darko's comment about tolerance towards the end of this video. Especially when he compares the audiophile snobs vs the inverted snobs.



Ha, ha.  I have tried four low end Marantz CD players (as transports) in my high end system.   As CD players, they were warm and slow, lacking in resolution and openness.  For $600-$1000, they were okay but old Denon 1500 and Kyocera 310 kills them.   I went with separate high end DAC/transport with a Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria digital cable and now my digital competes with my analog (VPI TNT VI/moded SME IV/Zesto Allesso SUT/Dynavector 20X2 L).  Again, streaming is great to find new music but is abysmal for listening to 40% of my collection of 78s/LPs/CDs, most will never be available in another format (especially ethnic music).  Then there is the problem of availability one day and gone the next (at least download good stuff to keep on an HD server or thumbdrive) and the 15% which is actually available in high rez, not compressed, poorly remastered or just CD quality (as if that were not sufficient).  

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.

ghasley,                    I have the Analog DAC which does not have Pro USB. The AUDIOQUEST Diamond USB cable bettered all other cables I tried . I had a spare Jitterbug  which I just added . On reading your comment I removed the Jitterbug and agree that it makes no difference. Thank you for alerting me.

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

@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.

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.


CD is better.  My kit: Aurender to MSB DAC.  MSB TRANSPORT to MSB DAC. STREAMING OPTIMIZED WITH UPTONE ETHERREGEN SWITCH , AUDIOQUEST Diamond USB , AUDIOQUEST Jitterbug .  Power cables all exactly the same ;Transparent Audio Reference.  Cd is easier on the brain and holographic. 

I’m curious why would you have an Audioquest jitterbug and an Audioquest diamond usb cable in the chain between your Aurender and your MSB dac? Do you have the pro usb msb interface? Unless you have an Aurender that only outputs USB then why wouldnt you compare a burned music file from the aurender fed through AES/EBU to your MSB dac? The reason I ask is I have done the same experiment and there is little discernable difference between the sound quality with the Aurender sounding slightly better, which I assumed was its caching advantage over a transport only. The usb output of even the most basic Aurender when fed into even the base usb input of a MSB discrete dac would not be positively influenced by the Audioquest Jitterbug.

I read responses to the question.  What is "Outperform" is What? I hear advantages in both depending on the music and age of CD. Type of mixing and EQ. With streaming you might find the same song mixed. EQ better than what the CD had. Strictly RedBook? I have never heard one so have no idea.

CD is better.  My kit: Aurender to MSB DAC.  MSB TRANSPORT to MSB DAC. STREAMING OPTIMIZED WITH UPTONE ETHERREGEN SWITCH , AUDIOQUEST Diamond USB , AUDIOQUEST Jitterbug .  Power cables all exactly the same ;Transparent Audio Reference.  Cd is easier on the brain and holographic. 

In some cases people have their systems tuned to deal with all the issues associated with analog so when pure clean accurate digital comes into the picture it is a problem that requires more changes.

In other cases the reverse is true.

In others, nothing is really all that good so there is no source for reference

Still yet in others the stars are aligned and everything sounds similarly excellent. But this usually happens by design, not by chance.

Just do it well no matter what and it will all work out.  Otherwise probably not. 

Guy must have a crappy streamer!    He already said he has a cheap CD player?   What’s he comparing it to ?

I have the Naim Uniti Atom streaming from Apple Music and on what’s in my iPad. Driving a Benchmark AHB2 or an Anthem MCA 225 GEN 2 or a Carver Black Magic 20 alternately. Great.



Sergio: What class D amplifiers were being used?  With my NAD33 (including full Dirac Live room correction),  Monitor Audio Gold 100 bookshelfs, and SVS subwoofer, I have found my sound quality clearly better than my friend’s slightly less expensive CD setup without room correction.  Clearly not an exhaustive comparison, but dollar for dollar it’s certainly better, and without having to purchase any CDs, less expensive in the long run.

I happened to visit a large headphone store (I was wondering what favorites had appeared lately) ... I couldn't listen to anything - all the amplifiers were digital - Class D ... (only the Sennheiser Orpheus HE 90 was missing under the crystal display case) ... Vendors they try to use mobile phones as a source - it’s more convenient for them ... Well, it’s logical to expect that a cyborg will come to this store to buy)))

Digital audio is like trying to draw a circle with an Etch-A-Sketch.

But, we’ve been practicing a long time, and we’re getting pretty good at it.

Thanks Doug. Fellow Texan I see. Some beautiful hand made equipment in your system. I'm around Austin.

It does run hot, but it’s only an issue if you’re plugging or unplugging cables, which seldom happens.

 I have had it for about 18 months.  Couldn’t be more pleased.

I used to have Gryphon class A monoblocks which ran much hotter for 25 years with no problems.

At least streaming Qobuz through Roon, I’ve got the best SQ I have ever heard anywhere.

I have extremely good speakers and amp but not in the uber-out-of-sight range.



Intrigued by the Uptown Audio switch but turned off by how hot it runs. Can't be good for long term. How long have you had it? Your thoughts?


I can't hear a difference between the CD data coming from my Oppo UDP-203 and the same track ripped from the disc playing through a streamer connected to the same DAC.


The only problem when comparing with tracks from a music service like Qobuz is that you can't be sure if the music truly is the same as what's on the CD.

My CD transport is much more expensive than my streamer/player - Innuos Zen Mark III - and I get more detail, air and a wider soundstage playing Roon on the Zen than with most CD’s.

Many/ most streamed tracks are re-engineered for streaming so it’s tough to tell if you’re actually listening to the same recording.

The details of cleaning up the Ethernet signal are VERY important.  Adding the Uptone Audio switch just before the dedicated server and double shielded Ethernet cables took my system to a much higher level.

This is not a rhetorical question:

Is format-switching or ad hoc oversampling ever a good thing? 


(I honestly don't know) 



Just listened to JJ Cale Guitar man both on my CD player and streamer, same resolution, using remotes. If anything, the streamer is a bit bigger wider sound and even a tat clearer. You can check my setups on my system. Bottom line the OP is definitely suffering an illusion which is directly related to the qualities of his system and listening environment.



What you describe is likely an accurate depiction of your experience in your system. 


An average cd player likely outperforms a sub-optimally implemented streaming setup. The cd player is plug and play and the designer made his or her decisions and then sealed the box. You made the technical and qualitative decisions in your streaming system: software, cables, power, ethernet delivery, file/source selection etc, etc.


No offense intended but if your Carver cd player is outperforming your streaming setup, even a modest streaming setup, then you might consider revisiting your decisions on the streaming side of the equation. Many here have enough experience streaming that your original premise is fatally flawed.

Are you streaming WI-Fi or ethernet connected?  Are you using Toslink connection or digital coax?  These are BIG differences to your sound quality. I have tried things both ways.  Also, even Qobuz has its ups and downs.  Lots of music sounds phenomenal, and some of it is poor.


To my knowledge, the 'certain sound quality' of an original CD is red book conform. Red book covers 'everything' a human being can hear.

I notice that a well mastered/recorded CD sounds very, very good to my ears using my Myryad MXC 6000, analog into the Vincent SV500 amp.

So, from my side: Yes to the OP's question

I am 61 and my hearing is 'standard quality' for this age. Younger chaps might hear better.

Best regards, eagledriver

A good dedicated ac destroys a wobbling disc 

thsts why I got away from discs ,streaming at its best starts with a verygood dac

likethe Denafrips terminator2 or ter+  night and day better in every respect from several dedicated linear power supplies, over-controlled clocks , R2R dacs great buffers and regulators , many times better  on many levels ,yes itwill cost you$7-8 k

by the time you buy goodethernet cables and usb cables , and a pretty. Good 

Ethernet isolation hub like the uptone audio ether regen . Once you use Roon to organize your library ,and use QObuz for your library ,building and running through a tablet ,no turning back ,a ton less hassle,well worth the added cost.

Are you comparing the exact same cd ripped properly to cd resolution with the original CD? With same DAC? That’s the apples/apples test. If you are comparing music on a streaming service to actual CDs there are many reasons it may sound different. For one thing, Streaming services tend to lean towards newer remastered releases that may not be the same as older CDs. Lots of other processing can come into play that results in a different sound. There is nothing inherently wrong with streaming technology if that is what is being inferred. Rather, streaming sound quality can vary widely for many reasons. Whereas CDs are CDs. Either done right/well should sound top notch.

My streamer sounds much better than my Audiolab 6000 CDT

And while that's not a great transport, it's many steps better than a cheap CD player

Easy SQ choice for me, add on the convenience of streaming and the music catalogs on Tidal and Qobuz, I'm only too happy to pay the monthly subscription

So CDs are limited to a certain sound quality whereas streaming is not so limited. Pretty easy to hear which is better dollar for dollar, bit per bit.

@czarivey I don't doubt that what your using might sound better than Tidal via the Cambridge, but there are plenty of better sounding streamers and DACs nowadays that won't cost $1200. Qobuz sounds better than Tidal IMHE (free trials available. 

The biggest variable that's often tough to get the facts on is the mastering. Just as some CDs and vinyl will sound better than other versions of the same, streamed versions vary too(thanks to big label bureaucracy, etc.). 

Ripped CDs played w/o spinning the disk over a network stored locally performs the best for me comparing known sources. Plenty to consider. Cheers,


I’ve only been streaming a couple months now and I have found a few streaming  tracks that sound better than the CD, but I’m mostly listening to music I don’t already have. I’ve been having a blast listening to tunes/albums that others have recommended.


I must agree, a good CD player outperforms any streaming service I have used. It is handy to listening to new music that gets a good review. But I seldom agree with the reviewer. If I really like it, I buy the CD. Happy Listening!

CD player into my preamp does not sound better than my Streamer + DAC (Qobuz). CD player as a transport into my DAC, I really cannot tell a difference. Full disclosure I only had a dozen or so CD’s on hand, Boston on MoFi and a couple Telarc’s were about as good as it got. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I'm getting better results streaming directly from Qobuz compared to playing CD's on a Mark Levinson 37 transport / 360S DAC; but I have put a great deal of effort into optimizing my digital front end.

I went from a Node 2i back to CD’s.  I even tried sending the signal thru an external DAC, but it never approached the sound I get from CDs. Like the vinylphiles, there’s something tactile about reading the CD booklet and seeing what artists are playing on the track. 

One thing I will say about streaming, it was great for screening discs before I made the decision to buy them.  Still do that with Amazon Music.  It’s saved me some money a couple times. 

The best sound I've experienced has been with BluRay and DVD audio discs, which  supposedly undergo no compression..... Ringo's bass drum/toms on Sgt. Pepper are a good example.

I'm not holding my breath for more BluRay/DVD releases because the production costs are enormous.


Streaming can exceed CD, file, or even vinyl at many cost levels. It is a question of components in your system.

My streaming has equaled Red Book and often exceeded where higher resolution is available for a couple years. I use a wall wart wifi repeater to feed my streamers. You don’t need to make investments as high as my stems to achieve this. But you need to make careful thoughtful purchases… just like in all aspects of high end audio.



It's not always true, of course, but on average I continue to get my best fidelity via Qobuz. Sure, my Sony CD/SACD player sometimes outperforms it and so does my SOTA/Alphason/Hana rig. But all three are pleasing as hell for me. At this point in my musical listening existence it's simply a matter of what piece of music I want to listen to.