Sound Quality of red book CDs vs.streaming

I’ve found that the SQ of my red book CDs exceeds that of streaming using the identical recordings for comparison. (I’m not including hi res technology here.)
I would like to stop buying CDs, save money, and just stream, but I really find I enjoy the CDs more because of the better overall sonic performance.
 I stream with Chromecast Audio using  the same DAC (Schiit Gumby) as I play CDs through.
I’m wondering if others have had the same experience
Just for the hell of it I looked up the prices of downloads and is it just my imagination or are some downloads just as expensive as buying a CD? Music servers are so expensive and a clocking buffer in a good DAC should eliminate any difference in the sources of an identical stream of bits from the same recording. Is the convenience of a server thousands of dollars worth the trivial inconvenience of taking a CD from a shelf and putting it in a player?

I don't think there's a cost analysis that would show that purchasing CDs is less costly than music streaming services such as Tidal, even if Tidal was to double the price. Tidal gives you real-time access to over 40 million songs directly via most network streamers at home or via smart phone. I understand that you're likely only interested in listening to a fraction of them, but even if you purchase 1 - 2 CDs a month, you're spending more than a Tidal HiFi subscription. 

How many times have you read an equipment review where a reviewer noted a particular song or album that was produced extremely well or had incredible bass reproduction and you didn't have it in your CD collection? Do you really want to spend the time and money to purchase it for $15 - $18 or just cue it up on Tidal as you're reading the review?  I cued up songs this morning via Tidal for a review of the Rockport Atria speakers where the reviewer cited many song titles for bass reproduction.  Doesn't get better than that.


With all due respect, I think you're a bit off topic. This discussion thread isn't about downloading song titles and storing them locally.  It's about is the sonic quality of RedBook CDs better than using a streaming service such as Tidal HiFi. With streaming services you don't typically store any song titles locally, so there's no need for a 'music server' as you refer to. 

I know all about downloading song titles from HDTracks as I've spent far too much money doing so before Tidal HiFi became available. Why do you think download sales on are slumping? It's because many albums they sell are available on Tidal in MQA format for the same $20/month fee, many in 192k/24 bit format (please don't start an MQA debate here). You also don't need the aggravation of downloading and storing the HDTracks titles, which requires a computer which shouldn't be in the signal path of your system for a variety of reasons.  You also need lots of disk storage, usually a SAN device so you can back up your investment of downloaded songs. 

No need for all that extra required time, equipment, power and interconnect cables any more with streaming.

Using a DAC to measure jitter using J-test is insufficient and the wrong way to characterize digital sources.  It's okay for characterizing the jitter added by a DAC, but not for digital sources.  Digital sources are accurately characterized only by DIRECT measurement, not with a AP system.  It must include both the period distribution and the spectrum plots.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Thanks to the politics that audio is becoming and the magazine pushing the current trend the fact is formats don't make a great recording, that happens in the studio and the final release production of that performance on any format.  If poorly recorded, highly compressed, fake effects etc tracks laid down from bits and piece of instruments recorded at different locations then mixed together for the final performance where the producer gives the sound they like so no matter the format it is not going to sound good.

I've had many poor vinyl recordings and some very good ones, same for CD's, many really good ones and the early era of CD's many poor ones, but never was it the format, it was the care taken to get it right, and back in the early days of CD's the record companies rushed to get product to the market, thus the best masters were never used, care taken to master them right was not taken, the rush was to get "clean" sounding recordings out to the market. It was the decision of the record companies that made many 1st release sound so bad. 

Our systems are all colored and the more add on's/tweaks you use the more the sound is changed, so this lie of the absolute sound it just marketing, our systems can never achieve that, what we all should strive for is a system we personally find the music we play enjoyable.  Be it tubes, solid state, the new class D amps, CD, Vinyl and the king of them all now days streaming, which I do not do and never plan to. I own more music than I can play in a years time and then some.

I am experienced to know that I don't need another format so I can spend more money buying what I already own, and to burn CD's or vinyl to an SSD, NAS etc. I personally enjoy owning a whole recording, not just buying the songs I like and making compilations,  streaming songs is in the billions though, CD 2nd and vinyl 3rd in sales both combined are far below streaming songs  in sales which the mass public does buy and they can listen on their buds from their cell phones, stream it wi-fi to their speakers through their house or rooms if they want. They want portable audio and that is the focus of the record business not if high-end systems are going to play those recordings. Their needs are not audiophile needs, they only want the music and they are happy listening in a sub-par system, cell phones, desktop speakers etc.  

I know no one in my family or work life who own a system even at $1,000, most have a digital radio, XM/Sirus, Spotify etc. Now MQA another format to get us to rebuy old stuff and that's not going to make it either because 99% of the public does not care about sound quality and you think they care about another recording format? Hell I don't and I collected music for 60 years and I started at 8 years old. Now I am going out to buy new gear so I can process MQA and then rebuy the same recordings again because they are MQA? Then MQA is gone at some point. You read the magazines and they keep on pushing and pushing the format almost in hysteria. 

For any format to survive the general public has to buy it, so even if it is a better sounding format, that matters little if the format of recording does not go mainstream, it will always be a very small niche market, and us as audiophiles are a super niche market and with the hobby dying and sales drying up we see the treat now to market to the upper 5% in wage earners, as the middle class no longer has the funds nor the interest in their view of wasting money on audio gear when they have families to raise, kids to put through school etc and want portable personal audio.

I owned vinyl that sounded better than the CD release, and CD's that killed the vinyl and the reason why were the final masterings and the mixing.

Our hobby is a luxury they cannot afford. Looking at the reviews the stuff they review (the majority, not all) I could never afford and I make good money. My system is not cheap and it took years to build, but my system is a drop in the bucket by today's high-end gear. Enjoy the music and stop worrying about the format, as you become more experienced you weed out the bad and keep the good in any format but you never going to hear the "master tape" sound at home, reviewers are not like the reviewers 30 years ago, today they are an arm of manufactures and help promote sales, and some audiophiles follow them like sheep. Your room is not their room, your gear, not their gear and so what they say will matter little, much like going to an audio store if you are lucky enough to have one, what you hear there is not what you will hear at your home either.

30 years ago I heard systems that stick in my mind today, no thousand dollar power cords, thousands more in cables, and accessories, power conditioners etc. Wonder how we evr got to where we are at today?