What am I missing?

When discussing streaming we often hear the quality achieved by streaming compared to "cd quality". "Cd quality" seems often to be the standard by which streaming is favorably compared while cds have at the same widely fallen into disfavor as a medium. If "cd quality" continues to be a quality standard by which we judge streaming services -which it appears to be- why exactly do we hold cds in such disfavor? More sophisticated dacs can always be employed with cd transports as they are with streaming. I understand the convenience and storage issues with cds but I also understand that with streaming you will never own the music which you do with cds. This becomes even more unclear to me when considering the resurgence of vinyl and the storage and convenience issues involved with this medium. I don't believe the music industry ever wanted us to own the music we listen to but rather preferred we only rent and pay for that music each time.


"CD quality" is heading toward being the 'base quality' for digital. You can already get higher quality then CD. Spotify and others are well below CD quality. 

I agree with you, the Music industry doesn't want us to own music, why would they? They can either sell you music once, or charge you forever, basically. They use to do it by going from 78's, to LP's and 45's, then 8-track/cassettes, then CD's and now  'higher quality' 180 gram LP's for old recordings. 

Notice I left out digital in that list, and it's because of MP3's and Napster (Free music!) that they needed to figure out a way to make money. They tried various coding/decoding methods, but that failed (Sony had a real bad time with it). They finally figured out they could make good money on subscriptions (renting as you put it). 

Personally, I like owning my own music and buy used CD's or buy Hi-Res when available for my Aurrender, but I bet they eventually kill both, and most people will never own any music. Records will probably still be made, people pay big money for new recordings. And they don't make the best digital copies, so it's really not worth it make 'illegal' copies. 

This is my take on it. If someone has a different take, I'm fine with that. I just look back at history and this to me is how we got here and where it's going.

At least with my rig, I often get my finest fidelity via Qobuz’s’ Hi-Rez streams. A good half the time it beats out what I get from my LPs.


Though their streams aren’t officially Hi-Rez, Idagio’s streams can deliver me excellent sound, as well. I also have to say that my Sony CD/SACD player sometimes beats my record player, too, at least by a nose. What can I say? My analog rig ain’t bad, either -- updated SOTA Sapphire turntable with Alphason arm, Hana cartridge and Moon phono stage. To be sure, none of my components truly explore the frontier of what is the best of the best, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the heck out of the sound my components provide.


Also, oddly, I just don’t care enough that, when I stream, I’m only renting the material, not owning it.

A huge part of my youth was spent hunting for LPs in record shops and in magazines and later for CDs and SACDs in shops and online.

Anyone coming into Hi-End Audio now is blessed that they have millions of albums to choose from for a small monthly fee.

With the exception of bootlegs everything is available and then some. Owning music really doesn't make any sense anymore, unless you already own it.

Barring some dystopian future where the internet goes down we'll be scraping through the remnants of humanity for CDs or even better SSD drives.

The ownership (or the lack thereof) criticism is not valid anymore. If you own a streamer and local storage/server, you can always buy and download your music if you like. I stream mostly with Qobuz but I have ripped most of my CDs and have downloaded many DSD and other high quality recordings that I own. If anything, you get the best of both worlds.

Yep, still have option to download if you feel the need to own. Another consideration for me has been storage. I have well over 3.5k cd's and same with vinyl, I have this physical media stored all over my house, total pain, don't need or want any more physical media.

Your premise is a bit off. CD sales are up 21% and the number of units are up 47%.  Hi Rez is not much of an advantage, sound wise, than Redbook if the CD is properly mastered. In fact, it can be indistinguishable between the two types.

Personal ownership is still a thing for some as well as properly compensating the artists. Don't forget that the whole concept of streaming and sharing music started off as a way to rip off the artist and pretend you were dissing the man (record companies). I still get a laugh over that one. Now that it's SOP, let's get the tech down pat and enjoy the fruits of our crimes. The sad part is, a different group of owners are screwing over the artists and still charging you to listen without owning. Owning costs extra. 

All the best,


CD quality is the standard only because it was the first digital. The next was ripper files, then purchased files, now streaming.Since streaming services more and more have higher resolution files than CDs, streaming can frequently sound better (equipment dependent like all of audio). Qobuz for instance has over one half million high resolution albums. My streamer sounds better for these, in general than the CDs, and on pretty equal footing with my high end vinyl rig.


Streaming is simply an unbelievable good deal. Nothing to do with “the industry” not wanting you to own stuff. For the price of one CD per month you get access to millions of albums! This is a screaming deal. The trend has been for higher quality through streaming and the cost is going down not up. It is the future, period. I had 2,000 CDs. I gave them away. I never listened to them anymore since I got good quality streaming.

Technological trends cause change for all in the area. For the consumer, it creates real bargains. For musicians it creates problems, how to, adjust to the new world. I know some. While they are not happy with the small payments for the use of their music, my close friend makes money through concerts. They will need to work this out over time.

That is a GREAT question. I think the advantage to CD is buy once, no monthly fees, I have a choice of ripping them or playing them. SQ will be dependent on your components. To me the BIG disadvantage of streaming is movies, they are compressed and sound weak compared to a 4K UHD BR in Atmos.

I have owned hundreds of movies in laser disk, VHS, DVD, DVD special addition, Blue Ray and on line. So, conservatively I have spent $500 on copies of permanent copies of Star Wars and many other movies.

I bought vinyl, audiophile pressing, CD, and HD copies of Kind of Blue.

We can stop this madness now. Over the next years the best available will become what is on line as all content becomes so. All documents, music, video, photographs…

People will always want to own physical media. Vinal, CD or DVD. Not seeing any of those formats go away in most people lifetimes. 

In 80's and 90's they said vinyl is dead. Guess sales just slowed and with most things it is all part of the cycle.

I am enjoying the heck out of the cheap prices on CD's 

When you compare cost, even with the ongoing monthly subscription costs over a lifetime, the value of streaming is unbeatable. It would cost me at least multiples of $10k to own all the music in my streaming libraries. While I appreciate the art and tactile sensation of physical media, in the end its the music that matters most for me.

Lack of artist compensation is not an inherent problem with streaming, rather its business model. Present business model works because a critical mass of consumers don't value music greatly. Consumers could demand greater payouts to artists and artists could refuse to release music to streaming services, perhaps this  would lead to fairer compensation. I doubt you'll ever see either of these scenarios take place, vast majority of consumers certainly happy with present situation, and artists want their music to be heard. Think about how many of these artists wouldn't get to be heard if only physical media existed. Distribution of physical media costly, unknown artists have no chance for exposure with that business model.


I still receive mailings from physical media sellers, don't see vast majority of contemporary artists in my streaming libraries with vinyl or cd offerings, mostly twentieth, thirtieth, whatever remaster of older popular artists. How many copies of a single release from artists llike the Beatles, Stones, Steely Dan, etc do I need! Physical media ain't making vast majority of artists rich!

There is a very good 6 part (?) series about the creation of Spotify called The Playlist.  Well worth watching.  Sheds a lot of light on how streaming came to be, where the money actaully goes and how little the artist is being compensated.  Check it out.  

It all boils down to how you run your business. I've bought CDs from European labels that charge around €12-15, and about €9 for the digital download version and some even have a MP3 category for less, along with an album version, usually for around €19-21. So, yes, the artist still can make money the old fashioned way as it all depends on one's morals and ethics, and for some artists, this is their only avenue for getting their music out and they count their blessings as the major labels won't touch them. It's kind of like buying things on Etsy instead of Amazon.

If all artists demanded it, then things could change but all the world is doing is saying goodbye to the old boss and hello to the new one and depending on country of origin, they are stuck with the goofs in charge.

The more successful artists can tour to make old fashioned killer earnings but then the fans have to deal with jackholes like Ticketmaster. Not every artist can do that. 

All the best,

I have about 1600 CD’s and about 1700 ripped CD’s on a NAS. There is a convenience in using the NAS, but the sound is about the same. I just started streaming 6 months ago and am currently using Amazon Music HD. The quality of their music is all over the place! Some tunes that they say are in high res sound horrible when compared to the CDs that I have.

After the holidays, I’m going to do the Qobux and Tidal trials and see/hear what the difference is.


I am enjoying the heck out of the cheap prices on CD's

Last year went to a multi family garage sale. They had boxes and milk crates of CD’s. After I started looking through the third box, the guy comes up to me and asked me if I’d buy them all. I asked “How much” and he said $150. After a few more minutes I bought the lot. 1100 CD’s.I kept around 100 and gave the rest away. So I ended up paying $1.50 a disk!

I've got some MOFI and AP discs that are selling for $100 apiece now..I think I'll hang on to mine and probably acquire more at garage sales too:-)

I love my CDs and I love streaming. CD quality at 16-bits/44.1KHz was not arrived at lightly. In the late 1970s much research was done on how "good" digital needed to be in order to sound, well, "good". At the same time the technology of the day had to be considered as well - and meeting price points that consumers would adopt.  So yeah, CD quality is what we got. I like it just fine. High Rez files might be better, and yeah, I've tried DSD256 files for what it is worth. But I keep coming back to my CDs because I have more than a few that are out of print, the labels went belly up, and they will never be on any streaming service. So there is always that to consider. 

If you like something - really like something - buy it. It is yours. No lawyer, label, or even artist can take it away from you. And you won't have to go on Discogs and cough up $114 for it either (plus a ridiculous amount for shipping). 

Maybe if my ears were younger, I'd be more into the High Resolution stuff, but I simply can't hear a significant difference.  Heck, vinyl albums sound fine to me. 

@larry5729 keep up Spotify really was the pioneer of streaming music. Really the first successful commercial streaming platform. 

In my system I still believe CD's sound best, but by an increasingly small margin. However paying $20 a month for essentially unlimited access to music close to, at or above CD quality is a bargain. Access is great, do everything from your tablet, if I didn't own a CD player I now wouldn't buy one. The record companies In my opinion are a necessary evil, we would not have high quality recordings without them and probably very little access to good music. 

I’m just about to get into streaming (late bloomer).  I own lots of CD’s and have pretty good equipment and they sound pretty good (except for poorly produced ones).  The advantages I expect from streaming will be (i) increased access to a whole world of music for a small monthly fee with the option to buy what I like, in CD form or otherwise, and (ii) claimed higher resolution that what I experience already.    

Cd quality has not been the standard for several years now ,a disc rotating with wobble is very hard to accurately read .

a quality recording on a SS drive is far more accurate , the dac a is far better implementation.  The key is that it takes quality throughout ,Ethernet cables , Hub usb cables most important the quality of the dac ,and the computer-streamer 

imo around $10-$12k minimum to achieve a pretty respectable digital setup 

which I am nearing that goal , but much more $$ can achieve much better results still, the Denafrips Terminator anniversary  dacs, and Holo spring May KTE dacs are without question best of in class $4600-$7k range  the Bricasti M1SE streamer-Dac has lots of filters and is very good at $12k and a very good buy .that may be on my short list for next year.


CDs are still great, as far as I'm concerned. 

I really don't understand the resurgence of vinyl, as I lived w vinyl for many years and was so relieved when CDs came out for many reasons from space issues to easy care to sound quality... I do understand some people claim greater "warmth" from vinyl, and yes it's charming and nostalgic to spin discs and/or a novelty for younger folks who didn't grow up w vinyl-only options.  I still have a Sansui turntable and still spin an LP from time to time, but when I do I'm always reminded why I prefer the simpler, easier compact disc.

and 10-12k for a "respectable" digital system is beyond ridiculous, imo.  



Ditto Curtdr.  My seasoned audio friend parted with an integrated amp with an internal DAC to get a pure integrated amp so he needed a DAC.  I suggested the well-reviewed Topping D90SE just for the heck of it, but he bought it and is enthralled with it.  He has a near $20K analogue rig and he finally admits that digital music is "awfully close to the sound from vinyl."  He is wedded to vinyl because of the tactile fiddliness of itl... the exact reason I parted with my SOTA TT several years ago and never looked back.   I had several ~$1K DACs that all sounded okay, but then got an Ayre QB-9 in my system and consequently sold my TT the next week since it sounded so close to analogue.  My Aqua LaVoce S3 is a fair bit better.   

Same as many, I have over a couple thousand vinyl plus hundreds of CDs. Love them all, wil always keep them, they sound great on my vinyl and CD rigs and are pride possessions. However that is going the way of the dinosaurs. Streaming is taking over whether we like it or not. The convenience, the price, the quality and the ever ending multitude of choices make it the clear leader in today's way of enjoying music. And to think I used to be like MC just a couple years ago, analog was king and that was that. Then I grew up, at 68 lol. Thanks to the few folks here who were relentless in talking up streaming. I would never have gone down this musical road without you guys.

Convenience? Streaming Quality streaming? Tidal over Qobuz that sounds a tad forward for me. YMMV and by the numbers probably does.

SACD over CD - But by this stage it’s recording rather than format.

Vinyl who?
My tt has been wrapped up for a year and prob 3/5 yrs. I don’t miss the rice bubbles. Snap crackle and pop.

Business models are out of our reach but not the top artists. Some things have changed. Mostly impact audience rather than studios and marketers.

The use of “cd quality” is used to establish a benchmark. There are way too many formats to list here for music files. Some are terrible compared to cd and some are superior to cd. It all has to do with the bit rate and amount the information is compressed. The lower quality highly compressed uses less bandwidth. That was necessary a few years ago as the bandwidth coming into our homes could not achieve hi res files. CD’s imo are only falling out of favor from the advancement of quality dac’s. A cd player will never have an internal r2r balanced dac in it. Yes they are making transports only but with the quality of streaming who needs it unless as like I do I still have my over 2000 cd’s. I use an old blue Ray player feed into my Gustard R26 dac and they do sound very good.

1. RedBook CD



4. Ripped version of each above saved in a NAS

5. Streamed version of #s 1,2,3


Put these in order of SQ 

"Mass market" standards rarely meet the expectations of audiophiles-- the bulk of consumer electronics sold are cheap, essentially disposable, can tie into a phone or computer and CD is certainly better than MP.3 

I think you have to put all this into context -- when the record business was booming based on physical media sales, the big labels had money to advance to unknown bands to develop. The labels took the risk on a lot of artists that never made it in the hope that one would grab the gold ring and make up for these outlays.

When Napster first opened the door to file sharing, everybody was "Yeah, I don't wanna pay for a whole album. I just want one track." (Assuming that they were willing to pay for even that much). I don't lay the demise of the old industry structure entirely on the advent of file sharing-- there was heavy reliance on legacy acts, less A &R and more follow the trend than ever, but artists who did sell got paid through advances, whether or not they fully earned them back. 

Now we are at a point where the majors got gutted, pretty much like the major motion picture companies- no more back lots, no more in house studios and performance spaces-- simply distribution arms. The gate keeper is Big Data. Music is more commoditized than ever. And it almost always migrates downward to the lowest common denominator. 

At the same time, we are still enjoying a hi-fi renaissance in our little corner of the universe- more vinyl, turntables, tonearms, cartridges, etc. than ever. But, think about all the threads here now devoted to streaming--its easy, convenient and can sound pretty good. You are paying more for the gear and services that will do that, but its a small investment compared to what you'd wind up spending on physical media. 

It's also a no-win for the artists. Touring is costly, ticket prices are hard to justify and unless a song catches and gets used in a tv show or commercial, very few songwriters make big money these days. The supporting musicians make very little. Composing for film or TV can still be lucrative. I feel for the artists, try to support them in various ways, but the reality is, music isn't the kind of high priority purchase that it might have been in the '70s when a good stereo was part of the lifestyle. "Good enough" is usually fine. 

2nd - 

As above, the Entertainment Industry (Film and Music) do not want the Consumer to own Physical media.  Beware.


Happy Listening!

Many good points brought forward in this thread. I’ve never had a vinyl collection worth talking about nor a setup that would make it worth listening to so I ditched it all 30+ years ago and went with CD format. Even today I feel Redbook format is the best- especially when ripped for solid state drive playback.

There have been a few threads in the past couple of days regarding music and its availability, accessibility, how we find it and prefer to use it. In reading these I see how many have/are embracing the world of streaming and although I understand all of the positive points I just can’t get past the sound quality- I don’t feel it’s there regardless of what format it claims to be.

As of today I stream music frequently with my low budget Sonos but that is only for auditioning new stuff to buy. As I don’t want to be totally closed minded to the fact that many others here are really happy with streaming I can’t help but think there must be some combination of equipment that would pull the streaming experience up to that of what I’m using now. But what is that $$ amount? 

Does it take $5K, $10K or is it more like $20K before you reach a level that equals or bests great Redbook playback? I’ve thought about it a lot but I’m just not sure. Maybe that question should become the topic of another thread.

Terrabyte drives have become dirt cheap.

Load from the source of your preference, with the means of choice.

Save the vid/images/lyrics of same with same.

Next itteration of means/media, transfer.

Soon enough, you can 'go to the concert, pick where 'at' it you want, and how you hear it'.

Our era is fading away, as is always the case.

Live the future, live with it...or stay put where you choose.

I prefer to pursue, in the method and means of my choice and costs.

Same deal, different day.... ;)


Agree with all you say.  But

"At the same time, we are still enjoying a hi-fi renaissance in our little corner of the universe- more vinyl, turntables, tonearms, cartridges, etc. than ever."

No.  Not more than ever.  in the 50s 60s 70s everyone had a vinyl player and vinyl.  But certainly the most since CDs got embedded in the late 80s.

It is strange the biggest growth in vinyl sales is in the 20-30 age bracket, who spend their lives glued to their handphones, yet many want to listen via a near 100 year old technology.

I’m happily acquiring cds either buying or “mining” at record store thrift shops etc.  I rip them to my nas and they sound great, better than playing the cd itself. I’m not sold on the sound quality or reliability of streaming yet. To me, as long as your paying monthly you have the music. When you quit, your done left with nothing. Renting music. I can’t get past this yet. Maybe I will at some point. Until then my library of cds, XRCDs, sacds, and vinyl expands.

To me, it’s the recording, not the format.  Dynamic, well rendered recordings can be  heard in their glory in 16/44 Redbook CDA, whether streaming or from CD.  Using more data may squeeze a bit more realism out, but mediocre recordings are far more common in general, no matter what the bit rate. One thing I like about Tidal is the opportunity to compare releases of the same album.  Some are far better than others.  Not all Master files are the best ones…

I still like CDs and have ~1k.  But the funnest thing about them is looking at the titles and picking one I had forgotten about and the memories, good or bad, of that time.  Nostalgia!




It took me a little over 3k. 

Wifi extender

Ethernet cable

Optical isolation to cleanup ethernet

Linear power supply for streamer


USB cale to dac


Power cords for dac, isolator and linear power supply.

All described in my house of stereo system.

You do not have to spend the high amounts mentioned by many to achieve great sound. My system proves it. But for people who are willing to spend over 20k for a streamer, good for them.


I have to give a slight edge to modern CD's over streaming CD quality files.  24/96 is usually a step up, and anything higher rez is overdone, IMO.  Most of my older CD's [pre 2000] are OK in the car, but a no-go in my system.  

For those who feel the need to own the music vs renting/leasing whatever you want to call it. I already own far more physical media than I can play, I derive virtually no value from physical media I no longer play due to new listening preferences, tons of my vinyl and all cd's in storage with difficult access to. Since my listening preferences constantly changing and evolving, at least some music becomes obsolete, don't need or want more obsolete possessions, already far too much of that.


The other thing I love with streaming is the ability to access my music via smartphone at workplace and in car. Long trips made far more pleasurable with this.

The problem with streaming is that the particular mastering of a particular recording may not be the best, and there seems to be no attempt by the various services to seek out the best mastering.  Even high resolution masters can be crappy versions.  While it is true that many CDs being offered these days are truly crappy, one can, if so inclined, seek out better versions to purchase.  

@larryi That may be true in some cases, but for artists with larger catalogs there are generally many versions of same recording to choose from.  Very rare case when I can't find at least decent sound quality from one of the available versions. I do have both Tidal and Qobuz. Also, both Tidal and Qobuz constantly adding to titles available.


With most newer or more obscure artists multiple masters not available either via physical or streaming media.

This really isn't about what's better. It's about 'experience'.

This is why LPs are still around. This is why my mixed tapes, CDs,tubes and reel-to-reel are still around. 

People want the experience. If it's streaming...great. If it's ownership...also great. Streaming popularity will drop the price of LPs and CDs and that's a good thing too.

Some people actually like ownership. This will happen to real estate. Why own a single property when you can subscribe to many more. To each her own.


@clearthinker said: "No.  Not more than ever.  in the 50s 60s 70s everyone had a vinyl player and vinyl.  But certainly the most since CDs got embedded in the late 80s."

Of course you are correct. In absolute numbers the vinyl market today is niche. I guess my point was the potential customer seems to have far more options in the variety of tables, arms and cartridges than I remember from the '60s and '70s and in that sense, we have it good (albeit at a price). 

Thanks for the comment.



"Why own a single property when you can subscribe to many more."

Because here in Europe time-share was the most widespread property scam ever, that's why.

Did you suffer the same scams in the US?

The idea you can "timeshare" 1,000,000 albums for the price of one is enticing.  Assuming 1n hour/album and no eating, sleeping, working-type distractions, it should take a bit over 114 years to listen through all of them.  Of course, by the time you've finished your first pass, over 90% of those likely are no longer available.  You could just start over, knowing you'd rarely be subjected to the same music twice.

Personally, I have a lot of albums that are worth more than that to me.  I suspect a lot of them are not available streaming (local artists often self-produce).  Increasingly, these are crowd-funded through ArtistShare, GoFundMe, etc.