Music through streamer vs CD/SACD

I wonder what method is used by the platforms to upload music to the cloud, I imagine something simple like a digital ripper or hard drive on a PC. For this reason, I consider it useless to rate the sound quality if you have high-end equipment. I think that listening to an SACD on a +$15k player to compare with a streamer of the same price range, there will be a noticeable difference. What do the experts here think?


My SACD player sounds different than my streamer. My 3 different streamers all had a unique sound. This was surprising. A CD/SACD music delivery system is simpler than the path the bits travel in a stream. 

BTW - if you want a $15k SACD player for $700 - $1000 look at the D.Bob. I use a very cheap OPPO player as a transport. My prior SACD player was one of the best ever made, a modded Sony SCD-1 Vaccum State Level 5+. The D.Bob can compete with that player.

GeerFab Audio D.BOB Digital BreakOut Box – Upscale Audio

I have a high end CD player and a high end streamer. The sound quality of a red book CD is the same locally stored, from disk or from streaming. For high resolution albums, streaming sounds better. Qobuz has over half a million high resolution albums.


In general a in the fifteen to twenty K range they can be the same. But like everything in audio, you must make carful choices in equipment that is both compatible with your taste, is best in class and is compatible with the rest of your equipment. .


You can see my system under my UserID, my CD sound quality = streaming = vinyl. With the same material they sound the same. This is by design, I wanted a specific sound, so my CD player, DAC, Phonostage, and preamp are the same (Audio Research Reference level)… and I chose a phono cartridge and streamer to achieve the same sound.


If by platforms you mean the streaming services, no, they are not ripping cds or using pcs. I don’t know how the transfer is done but I assume files are sent by the record labels to the streaming services over the internet and stored on servers. Again I don’t know how they send out the streams to individuals, but I’m sure it involves a lot of sophisticated professional computer equipment. These services are not run out of someone’s basement.

Qobuz and Tidal have at least a million albums available, many hi-res. That would be a lot of ripping and hard drives.

Both can sound equally excellent.  To me the main difference is there’s obviously near unlimited music thru streaming and tons of hi-res recordings you can’t get by spinning a silver disc.

They should complement each other.  My DSD recordings from SACD are the best sounding in my collection but red book and streaming can also sound excellent.  Not all music is available on SACD and the future of the format isn’t bright 

If you’re comparing a CD player to a streamer driving an outboard DAC, then the difference may be largely attributed to the differences in DACs. If your cd player has digital inputs, i.e. USB, you can compare the sound more accurately and probably not hear much difference provided your streamer is on the same level as your player. I did this comparison just recently using Aurender N200 into the USB input of the Marantz SA-10. I compared both local files and streaming from Qobuz and Tidal. In some cases it was too close yo call. Generally though the hires streaming is on par with CDs.
If I had the N200/Bricasti M3 combo, then the sound is completely different from the configuration I described above. There’s no advantage of spinning CDs unless it’s a rare album not available on streaming. In that case just rip it to a nice SSD and you should be good. All about the quality of the components pretty much. 

I have often wondered about OP’s question: what source/method do streamers get their content?? Answers: I am reading a lot of "I assume"s here.

I have not been interested in streaming, but curious nonetheless.

Recently, I visited a friend with his new Streaming setup. I am very familiar with his system, excellent gear and speakers. Over the years I have listened to/compared many LPs/CDs of same music there, always a wonderful listening experience.

We convince ourselves LPs are ’better’, but how much of that is our bias, especially when you consider there is no personal involvement with CD’s whereas LP’s: system is a hands on, "my equipment choices, spinner, arm, cartridge, cables, phono stage, and "my alignment skills are great aren’t they".

CD, transport to his DAC, playing discs I bring, sounds darn good, female voices same as mine, and same essentially as live performances I have attended. Thus, his DAC sounds good!

New Streamer to existing DAC, same chain after that.

ALL female voices sounded OFF, range/basic characteristic of their voices, all shifted/thin. Annie Lenox; Eva Cassady; Cassandra Wilson; Sade; Fontella Bass; Ella; ALL OFF.

We tried to get the music from different services, same ’thin’, shifted characteristics, no way was I tempted to stream as he thought I would be.

He was so pleased with the ’access to everything’ that he had not listened/compared carefully, when we did, he agreed, thin, not right.

Surely you will say he bought a crappy streamer, cable, ... not the case, I don’t know what streamer he bought and I’m not going to ask him, but it was thoroughly researched and highly respected I am sure.

Years back, another friend, hard drives full of content, playlists, oh boy, everything to pick from on his Laptop. His amazing sounding system/speakers, I kept my mouth shut, but the original CDs and LPs sounded ’better’, i.e. more like I was used to from both his system and mine. He moved his system to a new location, didn’t bother bringing the hard drives full of ..., mostly Vinyl, CDs via transport/dac. Sounds different, but wonderful in the new location.

I have to believe, anyone who says ’streaming is better’ has convinced themselves.

I have another friend who just chose a streamer/dac and started streaming. He is the friend who has my JSE Infinite Slope Model 2’s. I am very familiar with his system. Soon I will get over there to hear it.

No way am I running to the bank to get some money to get into streaming.


IF I was to use streaming to find new artists (as my 1st mentioned friend intends: I would continue using free Pandora, the voices I am familiar with sound ’right’ here in my office, and ’similar artists’ those ’stations’ pick: who I then buy on LP, the LP sounds like I expected from the Pandora system.

I suggested he try boosting the bass a bit when listening to the streamer, just get the voices sounding fuller, so new singers did not sound ’thin’, but he is too sold on the purist idea for that.

If I ever get to streaming, it’s going thru a 31 band equalizer in case some ’help’ is needed.


Assuming the use of a common external DAC and redbook format, a CD player is just a streamer with a local source for the digital file. Streamers are the same, with their data source being remote. The primary differences come down to clocks (on the streamer or DAC depending on medium), DAC’s and clean power. The combination and quality of those components on a streamer or a CD player will determine the quality of sound that you hear.