The difference between Qoboz stream vs purchased songs

I am a admittedly noob, so please forgive my ignorance. Recently, have had the pleasure of getting a Innuos pulse mini, what a game changer! I knew that with the mini you cant buy music, only stream. Using Qoboz, is there’s a difference in sq between the two? I live on a fixed income so I have to be frugal and am trying to figure out where it’s best spent. Thanks so much for any info on this subject.


Let me approach this another way. The OP is wondering if there is any benefit to owning the digital files of the music which may play locally over that of the sonic quality that comes from streaming Qobuz.

@gkelly Yes, there is typically a difference in the sonic quality between high-resolution streaming and local file playback. Unfortunately, the streaming chain can be prone to a lot of noise -- through your router, ethernet cable and in the quality of the streaming architecture itself that may introduce jitter into the signal. So while you are playing a high-resolution file, it can be fatiguing and shrill. With local file playback, you typically bypass any network processing, and even a lower resolution file can sound better due to less digital errors and lower noise.

With all this in mind, there are steps one can take -- investing in a high quality streamer (the Innuos you mention is a good start), investing in an audiophile grade switch (or even just a decent Cisco one), using a quality audiophile ethernet cable for the last 1M, powering your router or switch with a quality linear power supply... the options are vast. That said, I’m now at a point where I can barely tell the difference between streaming and local file playback and believe at most times they are equal.

One other consideration -- if you want to play DSD, most streaming files are not in DSD or DSF format. Of course, there are ways to convert streaming files to DSD on the fly like using software like HQPlayer, but in my opinion native DSD/DSF files fed to a DSD DAC deliver the best sonic results above all.

All I can tell you is that it is truly rare that I'm not satisfied with a Qobuz stream (and yeah, I just checked the spelling and it is indeed Qobuz). In any case, I do wish I truly knew how much or how little an artist gets when it comes to streaming as compared to downloading or buying the artist's actual CD/slab of vinyl.  Do what your conscience tells you to do.

Bottom line, though, I love streaming with a passion. For a reasonable fee, the world of music is at my fingertips, in the main delivered with quality to die over.

I think I know what you're getting at. I'm a Qobuz subscriber at the highest level  (I think they call it "Sublime") which allows me to purchase hi-res recordings at a really low price. I have bought 15 or 20 just because there are some recordings that I consider to be staples and I like the idea of owning them. Plus, the cost is pretty minimal, certainly cheaper than a cd. I also was curious if there would be a SQ difference. In my experience, if a difference exists it's pretty subtle. I would not make plans to purchase a whole lot of music just for SQ reasons. However, there are some hi-res recordings that Qobuz makes available ONLY for purchase, not for streaming. I have noticed that sometimes when a track or an album says "not available" in my streaming setup that it is available to purchase. And sometimes there may only be a standard-res recording available to stream, but the same title my be available to purchase in high-res. This isn't a common scenario but it does exist. Qobuz streaming is honestly a pretty terrific way to enjoy music.

I think the short answer is that you are unlikely to discern a material difference in SQ between streams and purchased music on Qobuz and it's not the place to spend your money

streaming is a great way to enjoy music in a cost effective manner. I think SQ is better on my vinyl setup but not so much better to make up for the millions of songs streaming makes available at the touch of a button may a very low cost 


If you are on a fixed income and do not already have a collection of physical media, I would definitely stream only.  I personally prefer the sound quality of CDs or downloads, but it isn’t a night and day thing, as streaming gets very close