Can Streamed Music Sound Better than any other source?

I am about to make the leap. Jumping into a Server or is it a Streamer? To use existing DAC-Oppo 203- or upgrade? I love the concept of access to all the music on line. So I don't actually own any of it-thats fine. Buying downloads adds up quickly. $20/month sounds like a bargain.  Roon's system looks appealing. I can add Tidal and be done, right? I get a lot of great counsel from my old school expert at the HiFi store I support locally but he can't even spell stream.
I was born in the 50's and want to use this listening option now. As this technology is still evolving, I am not inclined to overspend on gear that may be as valuable as a VCR in a year or two.
In the end I want to know if I can have this new source sounding better than CDs and LPs. I am not going back to reel-to-reel so if that is best source, please ignore it as it regards my purposes.
Thank you. I look forward to learning from the responses!!
I think that modern DAC's are overall a LOT better than DAC's 5-10 years ago, so the issues you might have had before are a lot less. 

The benefit of an all-in-one server are better buffering/lower jitter than using a streamer + DAC via S/PDIF. 

I use a USB dac for this reason.

Give it a try, I think you'll like the convenience and access a great deal, but if you love LP's you'll never feel it is "better." Just different. 
I love my streaming so much that I haven't touched my Gryphon CD player in almost a year and yes the sound quality is just as good as CD in my opinion. I user my PC which I built for the pupose and I have lots of jitter busting progams on it to make it super smooth going into a modified Oppo Sonica DAC. I use Quobuz as most of the other sreamers have a very limited Classical selection so they to me have about the best selection availlable. If you are not technically minded then I would suggest a server as it is purpose built for the job. I think Roon would be a good decision for you as it has great sound quallity and if classical music is not your bag then something like Tidal would be ideal for you.
I can understand your situation. I returned to hifi after a 30 year hiatus.
Streaming seemed like something I would never do, however, once I did it, I haven't opened a CD or LP in years.
My recommendation-
Get an Ayre Codex or Schiit Gungnir or Yggy as a DAC. If you need to stream to other rooms or need storage, you should get a Bluesound Node or Vault. You will spend less than $2K (buying used), and get a very capable system. And, that Ayre and Schiit offer upgrades to their products makes it better.
The rotating spiral-grooved plastic disc remains the best storage/playback device for music. Truth!
Chopping music up into a million pieces and expecting to recombine it back into its original form is folly!
This has been covered a hundred or more times here. I suggest you do a deep dive and read similar threads.
Long story short, streaming, especially with Tidal & Roon can sound pretty good, but not as good as streaming high rez or well recorded CD files that are stored in a NAS(network attached store), basically a big hard drive that you attach to your router. The files online just are not large enough and high enough quality to equal what you can use otherwise. Using the same network player aka streaming device and software, play your own files instead.
Ideally the NAS(Synology & Qnap are the two leading brands of NAS) will be in a different room than the audio rig including the network player and DAC which will feed into a line input on your preamp. If you can use a long ethernet cable to connect the NAS to your network player, all the better; otherwise use wifi or an A/C line adapter to extend the connection to your audio room. You can use a Mac or PC as the network player with a good software music playing package made just for the job(e.g. Audirvana+ on Mac or many others), and get far better performance than streaming files from an online service. But in my experience with lots of this stuff, a low powered device made just for streaming, ideally using a linear power supply, does the job best. Their are many good ones at varying prices, a few to consider include the Sonore MicroRendu, Aurelic Aries & Aries Mini, NAD, Bryston )Cheers,
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I would say that is a matter of opinion as one who has given up turntables and never looked back. My pal has a turntable that cost with arm and cartridge over £40.000 and at a tenth of that price I am listening to 24/96 streams that are every bit as detailled as his and not a tenth of the bother.
Thanks to everyone who had an opinion and was willing to share it.
I am at the crossroads of choosing which source to upgrade. For now
my downloaded thumb drives are by far the best source I have.
This is why I lean toward trying streaming. I don't think I want to start
building a great Phono system when it can cost $50 to buy one quality
LP. I will read up on past threads but it seems this is a somewhat evolving technology so going back too far may be less useful.
Just be sure to consider streaming from your files as separate from streaming from online services. It's w shame that common vocabulary doesn't have two different verbs to distinguish between these. Driving your Lamborghini is quite different from "driving" a skateboard! Cheers, 
Not sure if it is better than vinyl or CD, but when the BBC stream live classical concerts, the sound even through a cheap as chips Bluesound Node streamer sounds rather good to me.

Yes I would heartily agree about the quality of the BBC broadcasts as being beautifully clean and dynamic and most probably the best radio recording and broadcasts going. In I think 2016 they broadcast the Proms in 16/48khz flac and also binaural sound which was absolutely stunning but they said it was a one off but I really hope enough people e-mail them so they will relent and maybe start doing limited concerts again.
The Oppo 203 has a couple of USB ports. Put your digital music on a solid state drive and connect it to the USB on your Oppo. Connect a small monitor to the HDMI output. Bingo! You now have a decent "server" with a large LCD display to navigate your music and see what you are playing. Yes, you can use a usb thumb drive to test it out.

The Oppo won’t "stream" music from Tidal so you need another device for that. I use a Bluesound Node 2 to as a streamer for Tidal HiFi. The Node 2 dac ain’t shabby (Burr Brown) but I connect its digital out directly to the Oppo input to bypass the Node 2 dac and use the Oppo’s dac instead which I like better. If you already have an external dac you could connect it to your dac's digital input instead.

Bluesound just released the new Node 2i so if you are buying a new Node 2 get the latest version.
The above will get you "streaming" and "serving" for under $700 including the Node 2i and USB drive for you to be able to answer your title's question for yourself using the type of music and whatever music source you want to compare to.


The BBC should broadcast at the highest quality  as they receive approx 3.7 billion pounds sterling a year from the good burgers in the UK, EVERY year. A friend of mine worked in accounting a few years back at the beeb, and he told they spent a million pounds a month on limousines etc to chauffeur all the lovies around. It is staggering how many streaming channels BBC has, literally 100's (maybe a slight exaggeration but for sure many).  There is a multitude of good quality streaming channels available for free that should satisfy even the ardent audiophile. I, for one am a streaming radio convert. 
How can anyone not like the quality of 'Davide of MIMIC' for classical music, or Linn Jazz?

@gawdblessYes I heartily agree about the streaming abilities of the BBC but they are using the most quality that they are allowed by the EU ( maybe we'll get our airwaves back after Brexit ) . They already put out two streams for people to sample 128 and 320 kbps .flv files and really they are rather good as I have often been thrilled by the quality of some of their Mahler and Richard Strauss broadcasts. Do remember that quality also comes from mike placement and the BBC go for the simplest for the task in hand and I have attended concerts that were recorded for later broadcast and all they used for the recording was a crossed pair and a spot for the soloist. later they would broadcast it and it was a very believable acoustic and superb sound.
I laughed at your bit about the luvies and to a point I have to agree but there is one thing that burns up the license fee more which is the exorbitant fees that they pay these vacuous and extremely loud airheads in these awfull soaps that Brittain gets flooded with every night. I think the watchword for these idiots is who can shout the loudest. One of the latest and greatest who can hardly string a sentance together and co hosts a Saturday night dancing contest fo about 15 episodes gets £440.000 for that alone. No the license fee is dribbled away by the programs where the worse that you are at acting the better you are paid.

Robberman- Thanks for providing the info I was asking for. Perhaps a 
poll would have been a better Idea: Rank the best sounding source in order: Phono, Digital Disk, Streamed. Anyone with ears can score
their preference.

  polls are fun, but meaningless.  We all have different preferences.  I wouldn’t waste my resources buying what other people like unless it sounds right to your ears

Generally nobody wants others to decide what sound they will like best.
However if you consider my poll thought you might find that this poll is a relative question that would possibly be interesting to many people unfamiliar with different sources.
I was skeptical about streaming and HDD audio storage....  I messed around ripping cds via computer to a hard drive, and while convenient to play it was a pain adding new music....

Then I bought a Bluesound Vault 2i and it changed my life....     I did a trial subscription to Tidal and the sound quality is awesome.    I was using my OPPO 103 to access songs on a hard drive but the Vault is so much better.   

I can access the Vault through my OPPO and control it via IR remote and see album art on the TV or just use the BluOS app on my phone or tablet to control it.

It has two way Blutooth communication so a guest can stream to it or the Vault can stream to a tablet.  

I did not expect it to sound that great through it's analog outs but I was wrong.   MQA files for the most part sound great, like any format there are a few that didn't impress but I have to believe it's the original source material.   It sounds so good that it's hard to say which is better , it's output with MQA or the 96k stream my DAC sees...  I will say one thing.  I won't replace my current DAC until I can afford one that sounds better and can unfold MQA.
I am yet to find any streaming service (internet or thru home server) that sounds better than popping an CD or vinyl.

However, the convenience during listening sessions is tremendous.  The overall pleasure gained is definitely worth the mildly compromised sound quality.

I have a much superior system than I might otherwise because I did NOT expend thousands on an analogue rig, and further thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, on a vinyl collection. I do not believe I would enjoy the gratification I have now had I pursued aggressively an analog setup. It would have killed the means to achieve a wider experience of systems, which is my true joy. That may not be true for everyone, but if I am the sole exception, I am content to be it!  :) 

Comments about sources made out of context of particular audio systems imo are of little value. 

As I have gotten older, I have placed a premium on quality versus quantity. To me, streaming doesn't sound particularly good at all, but you get the convenience of access to a large quantity of recorded music, and running a playlist from a tablet. OTOH, physical media sounds best to me (I'm a shiny silver disc guy), and provides a much higher quality listening experience in all respects. 
@douglas_schroeder   One could make the same point about any aspect (accessory / peripheral / component) of a system or the room. Can you explain? Thank you. - David.

Comments about sources made out of context of particular audio systems imo are of little value.

@rlb61   +1 on placing a "premium on quality versus quantity."


To me, streaming doesn't sound particularly good at all

It's in the implementation and execution. Streaming can rival the best vinyl based systems. The same applies to physical media.

One can have a preference for and choose one over another, but to say [streaming]: "doesn't sound particularly good at all" is not accurate.
I've made my streaming sound a lot better than when I started building my digital system last year. The sound quality from my Denafrips Pontus II DAC helps, but efforts to reduce the amount of EMI and RFI in my digital signal path seems to have even more effect. Changes which have produced a noticeable improvement include: (listed in order of more to less improvement)

1. Going from a PC or iPhone as a streamer to a dedicated streamer (possible reason: less electrical noise from general-purpose computing devices not optimized for low noise)
2. Turning off WiFi and HDMI outputs on my streamer & using Ethernet via a WiFi Extender.
3. Switching from an AmazonBasics Cat 6 Ethernet cable to a Supra Cat 8 cable
4. Using Qobuz instead of Spotify (Amazon HD and Tidal sound worse than Spotify Premium to me)
5. Putting a Audioquest Jitterbug noise filter on my streamer's USB output
6. Using a Stordiau Lush USB cable

Even though it takes work to get streaming to sound good enough to be enjoyable, the upside is that I have millions of tracks of new music that I can explore. What I like, I'll try to get as a local file for better sound quality.
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