Streaming vs Physical Media

I have a decent digital front end with a Lumin U1 Mini (w/ external power supply) and a Border Patrol SE dac.  Have some CDs, but no transport.  Would a CD transport sound better than a streamer of similar quality/price?  


There's a good share of disagreement on this subject. I continue to often get my best fidelity via Qobuz,  even better than what I get from SACD, CD or LP. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a shot.

I find them about equal.  I run the streamer (qobuz) and the transport (CDT6000) through the same DAC (DAVE).  I have a lot more music choices on qobuz.



In my case, music ripped to a hard drive sounds equal or better than when using a transport. Qobuz can sound as good, depending on the release. I have the same streamer as you.

Yep, ripped better than my last cd transport. Access to so much more music via streaming vs. cd makes streaming a no brainer to me, and I have at least 2500 cd's. Streams  Qobuz and Tidal via Roon also pretty much on par with rips, so sound quality should be of no concern.


As many above reported, streaming sound quality is now on par with CD playback and CD rips. Instead of investing into a CD player, I would explore ways to improve your streaming experience (if you haven’t already done so). One of the ways to improve streaming sound is inserted a noise filter like ‘Network Acoustics ENO’ between U1 mini and your router. The ENO is offered with no questions asked 30 days return policy. There are other ‘cheap’ thrills to isolate noise but I found none to be as good and effective as ENO.

I have gone 100% streaming but still likes to selectively buy high quality CD’s. Instead of maintaining separate CD and streaming playbacks, I invested into a solution that allows me to rip, store and playback of my modest 400+ yet precious CD collection. All of the above tasks are painlessly accomplished by Aurender ACS100. Again, there are cheap alternatives to rip, store, stream your CD collection and cloud based streaming but none are as elegant and superlative as ACS100.


I wonder how the Aurender compares to the U1 Mini in streaming quality.  What improvements did you notice with the ENO in your system?  Thanks

One thing I can say is that streaming through WiFi as I’m doing now is vastly inferior to the same recordings played through my transport.  After speaking with some folks here they were pretty adamant that a good streaming setup outperforms using a transport, so needless to say a good streaming setup is in my future and I agree with upgrading your streaming equipment over using a transport.  When you start incorporating things like better routers, fiber optic connections, upgrading the streamer, etc. you should have as good and likely better performance through streaming with all its other wonderful benefits.   Best of luck. 


I can’t say how U1 mini compares to ACS100 because I have not compared the two in my system. Both Lumin and Aurender makes great sounding streamers. Are you going to prefer one over the other, hard to say. The only way to know is try Aurender in your system. If you re-read my post, I wasn’t trying to steer you away from Lumin but simply offering an alternative. The ACS100 makes sense for aforementioned reasons which are integral part of my holistic system approach and listening preferences.

If you like to hear Aurender, you’re welcome to stop by next time you’re in Houston.

As far ENO goes, I suggest you read up on following thread.


It simply depends.

I have a fairly modest digital front end, but actually it sounds pretty good. iFi Zen Stream > Denafrips Aries II via USB. An exterior 4TB hard drive connected directly to the iFi Stream via USB as a streaming server & an Audiolab 6000CDT CD transport > Denafrips Aries II via COAX digital for CD play.

Before I bought the Audiolab 6000CDT, I would say my streaming set-up was better than CD’s with my old Yamaha BluRay/CD player as my transport. Once I installed the Audiolab, my CD’s, once more, have bettered the streaming rig overall, but not by a tremendous amount. But it is better SQ overall.

Lots of good posts.

So much of streaming is listener dependent. What I like, you might find awful.

@mdonda ,

A CD will play only Redbook(44.1khz), streaming might offer the same track at higher resolutions. And, much of the playback quality will be due to your DAC.

Border Patrol is one of the highly rated DAC's, so you should be good to go.

If you do want to compare, I would suggest finding a Rega Apollo CD transport. It is not very expensive, and does a very good job, and you can insert your DAC, if you wish.



It simply depends

The truth. This is a repeated topic on this forum. The answers do not change. Setting up a good streaming system is very doable but can (Potentially)  be finicky and sometimes complex with numerous digital signal path pieces and cable hookups. 

Depends on individual effort and commitment, Streaming I'll concede can be utterly convenient and offer vast library access to all music genres. In terms of sound quality I'd readily put up a very high quality CD transport like the Pro-Ject RS2T or Jay's Audio CDT 2 or CDT3 against any streamer option mentioned thus far.

These transports are not cheap but they offer very high sonic performance from Redbook CD. Very high. My stance is you can achieve excellent sound quality with either digital source option tied  to a good DAC. CD transports and streamers can peacefully coexist.



”Would a CD transport sound better than a streamer of similar quality/price? “

It depends.

The important thing is that a streamer can sound better than a transport. Knowing that… it is critical to work on the streamer… once achieved, it will give you a nearly infinite library for almost no cost, and it is the future… no comparison… work on streaming.


I have spent decades trying to get digital to sound as good as analog… in my system it does. It can in systems of different values. My systems are shown under my USERID.

no comparison

If this is referring to sound quality I could not disagree more. Simply not true. It is however an open discussion forum so certainty all opinions are welcome. Up to the OP to decide for himself.


Unless you have a large number of CD's, or very rare music on CD (which is doubtful), I'd go just with streaming and not spend it on a CD player. I myself did have a large number of CD's (600+) and went with a Bluesound Vault and burnt them to the hard drive, and it also had streaming with it. Now I have gone up to an Aurrender. I do not find either stream or CD to be better then the other, so unless you have a good reason to copy the CD's you have, sell or give them away and spend the extra money you save not getting a CD player again on a really good streamer. Just another opinion, but I have been there and for my collection of CD's, it made sense to burn them and have streaming for anything I didn't have. Hope this is helpful.



Personally, I just can’t do that. Perhaps my age, and the ‘need’ to have physical media. Dunno.

As example, I have the Jerry Garcia Band live recording from 1990, recorded at Club Front.

I have it on my original double cassette I bought back then (still have it, and a Nakamichi tape deck), have it on CD, and also a rip of the CD on my server, also on Tidal if I want it there….and just bought the 4 1/2 LP box set that was recently released.

If I want to listen to it, I grab the vinyl first, no doubt about it. Then, maybe the CD, Or even the cassette which sounds great still. The only time I stream it is if I’m feeling extremely lazy, or listening on my bedroom system without a TT.. The vinyl is bar none the best choice SQ-wise.

That said, yea, I listen to all formats, and all are important to sound good to me regardless.

My two bits....


I definitely get better SQ from my CDT, but I own maybe 400 CDs. Streaming Tidal gives me millions of choices, so I spend far more time listening to Tidal.



Term "Streaming" used to be dedicated to music you don't own.
I use computer as server for the the music playback.  IMHO it can sound better than CD/Transport.  Transports operate in real time being able to read particular sector only once and in case of failure have to derive missing data from the error correction or to interpolate. Cheap computer drive ripping CD can read the same sector hundreds of times util proper checksum is obtained and this can also be verified by the checksum of whole CD.  I transfer this bit-perfect data over wi-fi, making anything on computer side (speed, amount of RAM, playback program) irrelevant, since only 100% bit perfect data gets to the other side of WiFi bridge. Up to this point it is only bit-perfect data (no timing involved).  What happens next, how this data is delivered to DAC decides upon sound quality.  It can be better or it can be worse than CD/Transport, but it is cheaper and more convenient.   I still have physical CDs because I like tangible media and because it is required by RIAA copyright rules. The fact that I can easily make multiple backups gives me sense of security and longevity of my music.

As for streaming services like Tidal - I tend to be old fashioned, but who knows - using server also sounded foreign to me at first.

Similar set up to some here Audiolab CDT 6000, Denafrips Ares 2, onto Vincent Hybrid pre / power to Audio Physic Sitara 25's. Recent change to Lindemann Limetree after much experimentation with Lumin, Bluesound and Aurender leaves me unable to say whether stream or CD consistently sounds better. However if pushed I'd say CD by an absolute fraction. For everything else however streaming is the way to go. 

A CD player IS a streamer. It streams 16 bit data to a DAC. It reads this data from an optical disc. The difference is in the encoding. Since lossless streams are available there is no difference anymore.

Have the CD player try to access music from tidal or Qobuz. I’ve been streaming for over 15 years, got rid of my $3000 Classe CD player 14 years ago, and still have a Sony SACD player that hasn’t played a disc in 10 years.

I have tried all different types of servers/streamers and the best 3rd party streamer I found was the Auralic over the Lumin and Aurender, and the Auralic software is still much better than the other 2. I sold the Auralic years ago. The only reason I would buy a 3rd party server/streamer would be if I would ever need to use usb to the dac, which I will never do again.

Since I keep my server 100ft away from my listening room, the main thing that matters most is the software that reads/accesses the music, which can be Roon, Aurdivana, or a couple others. My current setup sounds much better than the Auralic did and the Auralic sounded better than the others I auditioned, but to get this improvement, I also got rid of my usb dac and went to a high quality dac with Ethernet and i2s input

@lalitk in regards to that eno Ethernet filter does it has to be hardwired to  your streaming device or just to your router? I currently stream Qobuz over Wifi.


The ENO filter is designed to be placed between your Ethernet router/switch and streaming device. So yes, ENO needs to be hard wired to your streaming device. The idea behind this passive filter is to eliminate ‘noise’ on the Ethernet line thus leading to clear refinement as end result.

Your setup may not allow hard-wired connection but Wi-Fi is not the best way to take advantage of high quality streaming.

@lalitk Curious if you also tried fiber optic from your router, and if so what product did you use and how was the ENO better?  

@bkeske - I didn't know about that JGB from Club Front in 1990 - is that available on CD? I didn't see that on any of the Garcia Live series....

...quote from another thread,,,


'Benjamin from Mojo Audio here.
I just wanted to let you all know that my current reference digital source is a modified Jay’s Audio CD transport.
The time, tune, and harmonic coherency is like nothing I’ve ever heard. And I’ve owned some pretty exotic CD transports
Don’t ask me to explain why, but the best computer audio won’t hold a candle to a proper CD transport. Even those new JCAT XE OCXO clocked USB cards, which has the same type of OCXO clock as the Jay’s CD transport, is not even close.
When I played this for some local audiophiles all their jaws dropped. The sound was so much better than any digital music they ever heard no one ever asked to go back to computer audio for a comparison.
I now consider the best computer audio as background music. The timing and tune are totally messed up. Streaming is worse, but even music played from your music library on an internal SSD is off time and tune.
Seriously. Once you hear it you can’t unhear it. The sound those of you who are real music lovers have been waiting for.
I removed all computers from my main system. If I’m going to warm up my tube amp, I’m going to change CDs from now on.'



Yep, as I said, I have it on cassette, CD, ripped files, and now vinyl. The vinyl is incredible. IMO, it is the best overall Jerry recording….ever.

Check Discogs, or perhaps PopMarket

Here is the cover for the box set, the CD and cassette has the same artwork, by John Kahn actually

@bkeske  - I've had that for decades, but it's from the Warfield. That's a painting of the Warfield from stage-view on the cover....  If you check the credits in the booklet, it says it was MIXED at Club Front, but this was recorded at the Warfield. I was often to be found in the first row of that balcony....


Yes, you are correct. It was the Warfield. It is very confusing in the credits on all my media, but is correct on the vinyl box set. Fantastic recording and performance by Jerry. I have a feeling his daughter was responsible for getting it released on vinyl last year.

 You can also find this on video via YouTube. A fun watch/listen.

Certainly, comparing a single transport to a single streaming solution will bring about many different results. It seems to me, SOTA cd transports today limited to just a few. Streaming solutions are extremely varied, and so many reportedly getting great sound out of all these variable solutions. So, between far greater choices in equipment, and the music, allied to so many preferring streaming sound quality, preference for streaming a no brainer to me.


Nice system.

If you love handling the physical media that is certainly a reason to stick with it. When I want to I have my vinyl… but long since have given up on CDs and files.


Nice system.

If you love handling the physical media that is certainly a reason to stick with it. When I want to I have my vinyl… but long since have given up on CDs and files.

Thank you, as is yours. 

I get it. It was only about 3-4 years ago I dragged up my boxed LP’s from the basement, and old Kenwood TT, and rediscovered vinyl for the first time in over 30+ years. I was also heading towards a purely digital domaine prior, but that changed everything for me.

Now, as I get even older, that may flip back again, and I do not close my mind to it. It will always there there as an end solution. But for right now, I fell in love again with my physical media. 


I understand where you are coming from, so here's my whole, long story:

I started with records in the 1970's and had maybe 400-500 of them. I would use the Allman Brothers double album to pick the seeds out of my stash while it played...the good old '70's. Anyway, I recorded cassettes for bootlegs (I had a Nak also, there was never a better sounding tape deck) and copying my friends albums.

When my rather nice CD player died about two years ago, my audio guy said to drop the CD player and get yourself a Bluesound vault/streamer. I was very unsure, but he had always given me good advice, so I got the Bluesound vault/streamer and I have never looked back. The convenance of every CD just a click away, finding that special single song in seconds, making your own playlists on the fly, being able to schedule a whole evening of music, was much better then separate CD's and since then I have only brought CD's to burn into the Bluseound. I still play albums, but I cut back my albums to just about 100, and I only buy a few special albums a year.

I have now upgraded to an Aurender with Streaming and I never miss the CD's at all. The quality is better with the Aurender, but that's also due to having a high-end DAC now rather then the built-in DAC chips in the old CD player. 

Again, I still have and love the physical media also, just not as much. From your picture I think you're about the same age, maybe younger then me! So you're not  too old yet to change. And yeah, that Jerry album is great, but right now I am hooked on the Pizza Tapes. It's like you are in the room with Jerry and friends. 

All the best to you! 

I recently had someone over to buy my old Timbernation stereo rack. He was quite an avid audiophile who's friend with one of the guys at Sony who invented SACD  (the person still makes custom equipment for those who can afford it).  

He took an interest in my Technics set up (SU-G700M2 & SL-G700 SACD/steamer/network/WiFi player) so I played him some Black Acid Soul by Lady Blackbird and not 5 seconds into it, he said, "wow...that's fast". The only other comment he made was "this just sounds great" a few times, as we listened to practically the whole CD. 

I mentioned how I have to use Pure Disk Playback on the SACD's settings to get the best sound. Doing that shuts down all other features (networking, WiFi, streaming, etc.) including the display. I don't have anything else set up with the SACD player but defeating PDP results in a noticeable downgrading of the sound.

My friend said it's most likely due to the power now being shared with the other system features even though nothing is hooked up to it. I think there's something else at work that even with the most careful R&D that Technics used, CD playback sounds the best, by a noticeable margin.

The reviews out there are mixed as some of them only streamed and used WiFi and were mightily impressed but at least one reviewer was so enamored of the disc playback that he asked Technics if they were going to make a dedicated player using the exact same CD drive as the one in the unit but they said, no. I wish they would as I'd have saved maybe a third off the price and gotten a SACD player with all the attention dedicated to just that. 

Some day I may try some of the other features but I'm in no hurry to do so.

All the best,


My limited experience with streaming and CD’s has taught me one thing, if you run your CD transport and your streamer through the same DAC, they are going to sound a lot alike. That includes CD’s that have been ripped to a hard drive.

All the best.



Sorry for late reply. When I tried TP Link Fiber Media Converters in my previous setup between my router and Aurender N20, adding fiber yielded to a dry and thin presentation. I used standard fiber optic cable between the converter boxes and a pair of Supra CAT 8 LAN before and after Fiber converter boxes. In comparison, ENO streaming system with their high-purity UP-OCC LAN Ag cables on both ends yielded to a much natural and engaging presentation. With ENO, the music flows effortlessly and there is this sense of righteousness across the spectrum.

IMO, until we get devices that are optimized for Optical Network on both ends i.e. routers and more streaming devices like Lumin, we won’t probably realize the true potential of fiber optic in our homes. I also believe most of these mass produced cheap converter and Ethernet switch boxes are not designed or optimized for audio :-) 

Many avenues to great network performance, ethernet or optical, just one more variable. And then you have the variable as to how each is implemented. I've chosen optical as my preferred path, but optimization here includes running every FMC off lps, quality power cord into balanced transformer PC. The generic FMC can be bettered with Sonore optical, I'm also beginning to see optical enhanced devices from other companies.


Also, optimizing network both prior and after server is critical, anywhere noise has opportunity to enter and contaminate has to be isolated, and no switching power supplies.

Love streaming. The convenience and choices and sound quality are amazing. However, all of it can be taken away from you at a moment's notice by lawyers or labels.  I do have a few CDs that aren't on any streaming platform and likely never will be.  Other times it may just be that the one platform you are on doesn't have the rights to that music., i.e. some have deeper catalogs.  

So, I still buy CDs or vinyl of music I care about. I don't have a "transport", I just use a good enough CD player and can always connect it to a better DAC one day or the same DAC I'm using for streaming. 

I have about 3000 lps, around 10 cds, and I like physical media too.  However, streaming has become indispensable to me to check out new music, and music I'm considering looking for on vinyl.  I don't use it all the time, but it does come in very handy.

It all has a place in our hobby/obsession. I love vinyl, CD’s and streaming. I have an emotional connection when playing vinyl, reminds me of days spent with my Grandfather listening to his collection on the old Victrola.

Without a large existing CD collection, spending money on a transport is hard to justify. I do have the latter, but I have stopped buying CDs. I stream using Qobuz/Roon, and if I really like a recording, I buy it (in High Rez if possible). With the premium Qobuz subscription, the High Rez recordings cost about the same as a CD and sound better.

I buy CDs because many artists are unavailable on streamsites, or have told me they cannot survive on the compensation from that business model. Among those stating the latter is Maria Schneider, a major, multiple Grammy-winning jazz artist.

However, it got too hard to find a CD when I wanted to hear it (at least 5 places in the house have over 100 CDs). Now I rip them before I lose them, put them on a server, and stream from there. I’ve dabbled a bit on the commercial sites, but I’m used to choosing what I want to listen to, so this works best for me and gets more money to the artists I want to support..

As some have mentioned here, you can also purchase permanent copies of digital music. This can sometimes result in higher fidelity & additional non-musical content. Through, you can sometimes even participate directly in funding and observing the creation of new works!


I picked up my Audiolab 6000CDT transport for under $500 refurbished with a warranty. That is hard to beat for a CD transport that sounds this good.

Heck, I usually spend at least twice that on my cartridges.

And, as I said, the Audiolab made my CD's a tad better SQ-wise than streaming. Right now 😉

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I have both an Audiolab 6000CDT and a Bluesound Node 2i. Both were about $500 retail and both are paired with my Denafrips Pontus R2R ladder DAC. The CDs best streaming SQ by a wide margin to my ears. CDs are my primary medium for critical listening but I enjoy streaming for exploring new music and listening outdoors on my deck. I own over 2.5k CDs and SACDs and a good amount of the titles are currently not available for streaming.