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
7c67ab18 c2ce 4b45 9523 fc4a71684ce0rvpiano
+1 same for me on my system Linn CD12, I’ve yet to get a better 16/44 or 24/96 from recorded downloads when owners bring them around.
Even the owners start making excuses, that don’t ad up, why the Linn is sounding better than their downloads .

Cheers George
Who knows the provenance (where they came from) of those streaming bits? What generation of the master tape (if at all) was used? That's why I'll stick with physical media (LPs,CDs,RTRs), thank you!
@rvpiano - What is the source of the files you are streaming? Ripped CD's store on a hard drive? Spotify? Tidal? If it is from a streaming service, is it their low-res or hi-res offering?
Results depend on the CD transport and the cables used. Chromecast Audio will sound better if you insert a reclocker inline with the DAC.  

I'm a Red Book man all the way!

mg

Reubent,

As I said above, I’m not talking about hi res files.
it doesn’t matter what platform I use — Tidal,, Qubuz, Spotify,  the result’s the same.
Actual Red book CDs were compared 
Kalali,

Could you you explain what a reclocker is, and how to install it?

Thank you.
This sounds like you are running into a limitation of your DAC or Chromecast. 

Streaming of Redbook should be the same as CD if the devices you use are working optimally and settings are for bit perfect reproduction, after all it is the same file.
I can't hear a meaningful difference between CD/SACD discs on my Esoteric K-01X and files or Tidal into the USB interface of the K-01X.  However, the Ethernet-to-USB conversion needs to be of high quality.  In this instance, Roon DSP engine on QNAP i5 NAS into SOtM endpoints, with all components synchronized to a 10mHz master clock and powered by a Hynes SR7 LPS.  I'm sure YMMV depending on execution. 
@georgehifi "Why is the Linn CD12 sounding better than their downloads?" Perhaps because you're playing your CDs on a $20K CD player with practically legendary stature?
@rvpiano - Sorry, I was not clear. I was referring to the standard service low-res/low-bitrate from Tidal or Spotify, vs. the hi-fi, CD quality offering. So, the $10/mo. vs. $20/month offering. I was not referring to hi bit-rate resolution such as 24/96 or greater.
I always choose the  CD quality option.

So, lemme see if I got this right.... you are streaming a service from some device (iPhone, iPad, laptop??) to the Chromecast via Bluetooth (strike 1), then the Chromecast is connected to your Gumby via USB (strike 2). Now onto Redbook CDs - you are playing them thru some CD transport, outputting SPDIF (hopefully coax) to the Gumby.

If I got the above right, there is no doubt in my mind that Redbook would be superior to your streaming services (any of them). 

I finally got amazing "streaming" music quality once I took USB out of the direct loop using a DDC (in my case a Matrix SPDIF2, converting USB from my MacBook Pro laptop to AES/EBU for my DAC; even SPDIF coax sounded superior, but I like AES/EBU a little better). 

I don't think any streaming service will outperform Redbook in your setup, assuming I understand your setup correctly.

Results depend on the CD transport and the cables used. Chromecast Audio will sound better if you insert a reclocker inline with the DAC.  

Absolutely.  MP3 or ALAC streamed files will always lose a little depth and width over the .wav file (CD quality), but if you minimize the jitter from the Chromecast, the streamed files may be even better than the CD transport.  If you use a Synchro-Mesh to reclock with one of my excellent BNC-BNC cables, it will probably beat the transport.  I stream occasionally  using Amazon Prime music and it sounds wonderful.  Not as good as my Ethernet renderer, but really nice.  I don't use any transport by itself because the jitter is too high.  I only use my Oppo for movies now and reclock it with an iFi SPDIF iPurifier, which reduces jitter for Dolby Digital tracks.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

@georgehifi "Why is the Linn CD12 sounding better than their downloads?"
I didn't mean Linn's downloads, I meant the downloads the owner of the HD servers with downloaded music on them they bought to compare to my Linn CD12.

Cheers George   
A lot of us are old enough to remember the good old days of radio, and the best part about it was that it was free. Now, we’re being convinced that being our own personal DJ is the way to go and to stream our music, but there’s a catch. All you have to do buy even more stuff that’s not ready for prime time as it’s continually being developed and refined. Then, you need to pay some HOA fees (the streaming service itself and your internet provider).

I’ll stay with my CDs. 😄

All the best,
Nonoise
I connect Chromecast to the Gumby with an optical cable.
i am using a coax to connect CD transport to Gumby.
What can I do to improve the streaming quality.
How do I minimize the jitter from the Chromecast?
I don’t know what a reclocker is or how it connects.
I connect using an iPad.
Never mind my questions.  I think I found the reclocker device I need and how to hook it up.

Forgive my ignorance.
Agreed with all above that CD offers superior playback performance when compared to streaming. For this reason, I think it’s just a matter of time before CD makes a come-back, similar to vinyl.
For this reason, I think it’s just a matter of time before CD makes a come-back, similar to vinyl.
Hope your right, as I will not take a backwards step.

Cheers George 

Radio was not - is not  free just spend 10 mins listening to it and you hear the not free part every other song they are called advertisements. I'd pay $10 a month for free from adverts with out question. in the age of $5 coffee $10 a month for all the music you can stream is a very good deal IMO.

once your streaming equipment is the same quality as your CD player I think you'll hear they are the same or better if higher rez files.

same or better if higher rez files.
If your talking DSD, it sucks just like sacd did, compared to PCM/Redbook 16/44 or 24/96 and if it ever pulls it’s finger out DXD.

Cheers George

I connect Chromecast to the Gumby with an optical cable.
i am using a coax to connect CD transport to Gumby.
What can I do to improve the streaming quality.
How do I minimize the jitter from the Chromecast?
I don’t know what a reclocker is or how it connects.

This is simple. The Synchro-Mesh reclocker connects in-line with the digital coax cable. Cable in and cable out, so you need a second cable. All coax cables should be 1.25-1.5m in length, not shorter. You can connect your sources to the Synchro-Mesh input using Toslink or coax and the output to your DAC using either Toslink or coax. You can actually connect two sources, both the CD Transport and the Chromecast to the input of the Synchro-Mesh and switch between them, one Toslink and one coax. They can both have lower jitter going to your DAC.

The Synchro-Mesh in addition to lowering jitter also provides galvanic isolation, so the ground of the sources are not connected to the DAC. This eliminates ground-loops and the noise that these produce. The Synchro-Mesh also upsamples the data from 16/44.1kHz to 24/96kHz, which is beneficial because your DAC will select a better sounding digital filter that has minimal artifacts in the audio range.

The risk of trying this is low because the SM and BNC cables have 30-day money-back guarantee, less shipping.

BTW, I highly recommend this Toslink cable:

https://btpa.com/TOSLINK-XXX.html

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Audioengr,

Thanks a lot for your input.
To me Tidal CD or MQA streamed through my node2i using the dac on my integrated sounds as good as cd on CDP through the same dac. Maybe my ears aren’t good enough to notice.
@georgehifi You misunderstood me I was simply saying a CD player of the exalted quality of your Linn CD12 would sound better than any download not to mention many other CD players.
I have found ripping with DB Poweramp on wav or 
# 8 uncompressed  flac files after cleaning with art De son,, the discs sound more alive then streaming and I put a Beldons best Ethernet cable 
then from model a AQCinnamon and atcomputer end . It sounds good but still better direct through computersSolid state drive via USB .the New Nordost Heimdall -2 usb I like betterThen my AQ Diamond, and Wireworld 7 flagship platinum my brother owns.  
Thats in my system.
jond You misunderstood me


Sorry yes I did, teach me to measure twice and cut once.

Cheers George 
Steve, please explain why a coax needs to be at least 1.25-1.50m long. Thx 
I have the same experience even though my mind doesn't want to accept it - if I rip a CD to AIFF (1411 kbps), transfer it to my iPod Classic, and play it through a Cambridge iD100 dock to my Rega DAC-R it doesn't sound as enjoyable as the same CD played from my old Rotel RCD-02  transport to the Rega DAC-R (both using Chord Clearline Digital Coax inter-connects). They should sound identical but consistently they don't and I can flip back and forth at the press of a button to compare them (rest of the pipeline is Rega Elex-R and Spendor A4). I have been wondering about replacing the iPod/Cambridge with one of the Astell & Kern's that offer digital out. (Anyone have any thoughts?)
I often compare a vinyl track against MQA, ripped CD, and Tidal High Res. To 70 year old ears, vinyl sounds the most natural and the best.  

I rate DSD straight through to my MyTek Liberty DAC second, and in some cases first. Tidal MQA through a NAD M12 BluOS module third, with Tidal High Res, CDs ripped to FLAC to my Zenith MKII, and MQA converted to PCM on my MyTek DAC last and a toss up.   

When it comes to digital music files, I’ve found sound quality and volume levels vary widely regardless of file type or source.  But to answer the OP’s question, I’ll take Tidal streaming over Redbook CDs any day.

I use a WireWorld Cat-8 Ethernet cable to the Zenith, WireWorld USB from the Zenith to the MyTek DAC, and AudioQuest RCA cables to the M12.  Ortofon Phono cable to M12 Phone jack.  And a mix of VooDoo and WireWorld power cables.


I have all my CD's ripped to a laptop in FLAC and played with the latest JRiver feeding a Benchmark DAC2 HGC.  When I listen to Radio Paradise through the same laptop and DAC with their new FLAC format I'm in awe of how good it sounds.  Goosebumps.  I don't sense any sonic improvement on the local ripped CDs, and when I had a Wadia transport, I thought the ripped CD's sounded better than the Wadia source.
In my rig CDs ripped to Antipodes DX3 server (WAV) (Roon) sounded superior to CDs played on an Oppo 105D transport to the very same DAC. So much so, I sold the Oppo 105D. I listen to the CDs at 24/96. BTW I believe @audioengr Steve N. has noted elsewhere that WAV files sound better than FLAC files. I tested this assertion in my old system and couldn't hear a difference between them. Then I upgraded my components significantly and I now can hear a significant positive difference between WAV and FLAC files. I tested about 25 CDs comparing WAV/FLAC versions. Turns out @audioengr Steve N. was spot on. Equipment can make a difference.
WAV should sound better... this is the file format that recording studios master to. And the format they deliver. Sometimes AIFF.

In the analogue world, record pressing plants can request any format they want.

Someone mentioned a re-clocker. Here is another one you could try to improve the sound.

https://www.amazon.com/Wyred-Sound-Recovery-USB-Reclocker/dp/B01CUTMKYM/
Did you try to burn a cd from the stream? And compare original CD and burned CD from streaming source.? 
Does this sound more the same? 


My digital stream is pretty good (red book) tidal. My CD playback is very good for me.  Sony 7ESD. 

Two different digital chains so I do not aspect them to sound the same. The both can sound very good. I use my CD player as reference of the sound I like and tuned my digital stream to come close. 

Stream from internet , (tidal -Roon) 
Stream from local source, (Roon) 
Play a CD 

All different - non bad











Another reclocker is the iFi SPDIF iPurifier which I own. I think there is a USB unit as well.

@ astewart8944334 BTW I believe @audioengr Steve N. has noted elsewhere that WAV files sound better than FLAC files.
I'll have to re-rip a couple of my CDs to WAV and give it listen.  I hope I can't hear a difference because I dread the thought of re-ripping my entire CD library :-).

+1  @richer31 All different - non bad 

When comparing vinyl against different streaming sources and different playing sources with the volume set at -25 db, I've found that Tidal Masters play much louder some more than others. The same goes for Tidal High Res, MQA converted to PCM, FLAC, and ripped CDs.  I have to decrease volume to about -35 db or more, and I already have the DAC input gain set -9 db lower.

DSD generally plays lower, so I have to increase the volume to around -10 db.  As I increase volume, the sound is smooth and gets richer as I go higher; and I hear everything!  I've also found the change in sound to be more controlled with DSD.  I'm guessing that's a function of my pre-amp, since changes are in .5 db increments, and the SQ of the DSD file.

Regardless, all of it sounds good to me.

 
I can't say if WAV sounds better than FLAC but I did rip all my CD's to WAV since HHD storage is so cheap and I can't tell the difference between streaming the WAV from playing the CD on my CDP both going through the same DAC. TO be honest streaming Tidal in CD or MQA sounds as good as the CDP if not better. Non of this has been tested by a blind comparison doubt I could tell any difference. Perhaps my gear isn't as good as most here nor my ears.
I completely agree with the OP, and many Audio  critics have been making the same point recently.  It’s ironic that just as CDs teeter on the brink of extinction, the ability to replay them has developed so far.
Expensive CD player vs. the cheapest streaming setup you can implement and you are wondering why your cd sounds better? Your current setup couldn’t support the best hires/DSD/MQA streaming services that are available. Also, when was the best sounding sacd inferior to cd redbook? Sure there were some sacd recordings that were just cd’s reripped but most were superior.
IMO, trying to get your chromecast audio/toslink up to a high standard for streaming is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Get rid of USB, reclockers for your usb, and toslink, go with straight Ethernet with a fiber internet connection, get tidal hifi with MQA and you will be selling your CD player. Rip all of your cd’s to a server and use Roon for your GUI interface and you will be wondering why you waited so long to do this.
After investigating, I can see that Ethernet/Roon may well be the wave of the near future for audiophiles.
 But, in general, I’m wondering.  If CDs become obsolete, what will happen to the structure and incentive for performers to record.  Where is the profit motive for them if streaming, at $10-$20 per month for consumers, is their only source of revenue? This is the cart leading the horse. Without recordings being created, where will the music come from?  If current trends continue, Streaming Subscription prices are inevitably going to rise precipitously to much, much higher rates in order to support the creators.

After re-reading what I wrote, I realize this scenario may already be upon us.
But it still seems to me that the cost to the consumer is inevitably going to rise.
The cost probably will rise. I used to watch TV for free not counting ads and was sold the notion of a nominal fee for cable and no more ads. Now I pay ridiculous amount for cable and have 5 times the ads. Hopefully streaming music  won't take the same road.
“Another reclocker is the iFi SPDIF iPurifier which I own. “

Ditto. It actually makes the Chromecast Audio sound pretty darn close to Node2 using the same (non-MQA) outboard DAC and using the optical TOSLINK connectivity. The improvement using it with the Node2 is not as significant but still worth it. By the way, I’m using the optical cable Steve had recommended from btpa.com. Very reasonably priced and well made.

Steve, please explain why a coax needs to be at least 1.25-1.50m long. Thx

See my white-paper:

https://positive-feedback.com/Issue14/spdif.htm

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

IMO, trying to get your chromecast audio/toslink up to a high standard for streaming is like putting lipstick on a pig.

I agree, however a Sychro-Mesh reclocker will make practically any digital S/PDIF source into world-class, and probably for less money than other methods.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

After investigating, I can see that Ethernet/Roon may well be the wave of the near future for audiophiles.

It isn't for me.  I compared Roon to DLNA/UPnP on the same hardware platform and DLNA sounded better.  It was the Roon software compared to Linn Kinsky/Minimserver.  This is why I don't offer a Roon-Ready product.  I offer a better sounding DLNA product.  When they can make a better sounding playback software, I will consider Roon.

You can still stream pretty much anything using DLNA.


I have an ancillary question.

Currently, I'm listening to my somewhat extensive of Redbook classical and organ CDs via a top quality CD spinner - - and I've been very satisfied with the result. However; I might have to add a streaming capability to satisfy other family members. 

Can the streaming entities provide the specific performance of what I want to hear?  Example: There are over 40 differing performances of the Verdi Requiem.  Can I ask for a specific performance, or am I stuck with what they might have on hand in the way of the Requiem? I wouldn't want to ask for the Reiner or Barenboim, and be given one of Giulini's instead. 

Seriously, just asking about classical and organ music choices with streaming. 

TIA