Why does my old CD player sound so much better than my new streamer?


Earlier this year I upgraded my system. Briefly, new Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP integrated, new Lumin D2 streamer/DAC, kept my Tekton speakers, bought a 10 year old Muse Erato CD player, new Nordost Red Dawn cables all around.  After plenty of break in, the Lumin D2 streaming Tidal, even 24/96, does not sound close to as good as the Muse Erato.  I understand the Muse was about $10k new years ago, I paid $650 for it on Audiogon, is that the difference? It replaced my Naim I had for 20+ years and I bought it on the chance I want to listen to something not on Tidal, but now I'm going to CDs when I want to sit and listen instead of streaming. I considered upgrading to the Lumin T2, but will that be more of the same Lumin sound, which is accurate but thin and a little cold compared to the Muse.  I like the Lumin when just letting Tidal shuffle music as I move around the house, but from the opening note in an A/B test the Muse just sounds so much warmer, live and simply more enjoyable. Any thoughts or suggestions?
fsgattuso
If your Lumin is connected by WiFi you could try an ethernet cable and see if that helps. If your Muse has a digital in connection you could try bypassing the Lumin DAC and having the DAC in the Muse do the D/A conversion.

I had the same problem where the streamer without DAC that I bought cannot match the SQ of my SACD player.  Streamer USB output was connected to USB DAC input of SACD player.  I compared playing ripped files inside streamer SSD vs SACD player playing discs.  My own reasoning - CD/SACD player has very short signal path internally, and a good player has very good power supply.

Since then, I have learnt a lot about computer audio that my DIY streamer SQ can match the SACD player SQ.  But this is a different topic, best discussed in Computer Audiophile forum, not here.

FYI Lumin D2 uses internal switching mode power supply.
It has nothing to do with the switched mode power supply. The Lumin D2 actually sounds quite warm and should have far greater resolution than the old Muse Cd player.

A couple of questions: Have you played with the Lumins setup menu and tried the transoding to DSD function? The Lumin D2 sounds much warmer playing DSD files are you using the Lumin’s volume control?

Are you using a good power cable and ethernet cable? These make a very noticable improvement.

We would recommend you try the tips mentoned above, if you are still unhappy you can use the digtial output of the D2 into a warmer dac, the Ifi DSD pro is warmer, the Aqua Hifi La Voice is warm as well. 

Also you can get a bit more warmth by changing to one of the new AQ power cables and a set of Isoacoustics footers.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Lumin dealers
"...changing to one of the new AQ power cables and a set of Isoacoustics footers." LOL!!!
He who laughs last laughs best. 🤡
Thank you for the comments.  To Audiotroy, I just did a plug n play with the Lumin, did not play with a set up menu nor do I know how. Is it in the Lumin app? I am using Wi-Fi, cannot direct connect with Ethernet. I am using the stock power cable.  I am running Roon but when I first set it up was using the Lumin app and set the volume all the way up but found it less harsh with the Lumin volume set to 3/4, but this was before burn in. I can go back and turn it up all the way.
Any thoughts about an upgrade to the T2? What does it do better than the D2?
How are you actually retrieving the music?  Are you using a streaming service or retrieving files from some storage device?  Did you rip your CDs, and if so, have you compared the rip to playback from your CD player?  I ask because I've heard plenty of crap sounding albums from streaming services, even those claiming CD quality.  

Everything counts in audio.  How everything is connected up matters.  I don't use WiFi for anything audio (except to control devices via a iPad), so I don't know if it degrades the sound, but, that certainly is a possibility.  One of the dealers in my area, hates USB connection, another thinks that having really high quality ethernet connections count a lot.  
To Larryi, I am streaming Tidal, MQA when available.  Regarding this, I am not noticing much of a difference between 16/44 and MQA through the Lumin and the old CD player sounds better than both.  Maybe this is indicative of a problem with how I am using the Lumin? I have not ripped any CDs, I avoided the need to do that by buying the Muse.
T2 is in a whole another league than the D2
I owned some Muse gear many years ago. It was superb, even with the stock power cord ;-).

I have not owned a Lumin, but I stream my own library and also Qobuz through an Auralic Aries G1. The sound of my own library streamed is first-rate, at least as good (some friends think better) than a CD through a Simaudio transport. I find the Qobuz sound variable, though I am puzzled why. It sometimes is as good as local files, but last night, I played the same track both from Q and from my own library, and the local source sounded better (more "there").

If you have a local music library, how does that sound, streamed through the Lumin? Unless you can compare that to the CD player, you have too many variables to figure out what’s going on.
You need to try ripping a few CDs and playing those through the Lumin.  You will then have a much better test.
Some CD players can sound pretty good, either as transports into DAC or using their own DAC section.  The simple answer to the OP is that the DAC of the CDP is sounding better to him than the DAC in the streamer.  End of mystery 
No streamer matched my Luxman D08u. Period 
I owned the D2, as well as several good dacs if you truly want to hear realism check out. The new Lampizater Amber-3 dac it has a lot of trickle down technologies from their top gear for $2750
with tube rectifier  and 2 other tubes it  is more musically involving then my $6k ps Audio dac  they give you I  think two weeks to check it out. I bought the demo model  after a 24 hr settling in 
itis a keeper. One of the Best Buy’s in all of Audio !!
Are you level matching with an spl meter between sources ?????? Louder is better
“No streamer matched my Luxman D08u. Period”

LMAO!!!!! The folks with ‘absolute’ statements, like they have tried all the top tier Streamer / DAC on the planet. 
Check out under reviews what 8 consider by far the best dac out there at its price and far above at $2750 the New Lampizator Amber 3 . Even before NOS tubes sounds great !!

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/

The thing that took my Lumin D1 from ok to Great was the Linear Tube Audio LPS. Unfortunately the D2 power supply is internal ....BUT!!! Your power supply can be upgraded by a kit sold by sBooster.
https://www.upscaleaudio.com/pages/search-results-page?q=lumin+sbooster

You need 2 items the connection kit and the LPS.
A great start would be to read the instructions for the streamer and the software before using it and then complaining on an internet forum. 
A great start would be to read the instructions for the streamer and the software before using it and then complaining on an internet forum.

+1
I don't think DAC technology has changed much over the past 10 years, perhaps even longer.  Some of the better DACs being made today use ancient circuits and some very old chips that have been squirreled away because they sound better than modern chips.  After all, the priority with each new generation of DAC chips is NOT sound quality--it is smaller size, lower power consumption, and more tasks handled by the chip--all for the sake of portable devices.

Some of the better, ultra expensive DACs, like those from Audio Note, and the Reference level music servers from NAIM, use chips that are 20 years old or so.
tidal is crap! I get my tunes from you tube for free, same quality as my cds
I believe most of old CD player and old DAC will have a superior matching sound stage output when playing a cd 14.4K red book format. The design concept is to achieve smooth musical soundstage and reduce hearing of micro details which to reveal errors when playing cd 14.4k format.

A new, modern DAC does not design to get best quality from 14.4k format but a high def, DSD, or other super high quality format which will give much more detail and soundstage providing that you got those high definition sources. Using of this modern high quality DAC to play 14.4k CD format will give you annoying, too much revealing details, which is not a pleasant listening.

I have both old legacy dac and a moderm DSD DAC, both serve its purpose well and it cannot beat each other. 
fsgattuso

There is something to be said about a player retailing for $10K. 
Ayre, Muse or Naim are all excellent within their own design. If you own a sizeable CD collection, this is your best option over a server/streamer option.

Happy Listening!
I like the sound of my streamer/DAC combo better than my CD player. My CD player is a Cambridge Audio 851-C. Although I would suspect most here would not regard that player as being really that good.
Is Audioquest a high-end HDMI cable?  I got one of theirs for $400 for my DVD player--was told the image would have more depth.  Hard to quantify, but it does look good. Is there a USB or ethernet equivalent for computer/DAC-based front ends and streamers?  Seems to be lots of tweaks for headphone systems, must be for the above.     

I'm a throwback for CD players, I have to say.  I like big power cords and connectors, good XLR connections and interconnects, high-purity copper, heavy platters, big power supplies, heavy platforms, complete isolation from vibrations, and the CD itself--big and heavy, that's where the sound is for me. My audio retailer, who has a MacBook set up into a number of  DACs as well as featuring players in his showrooms, once said stored files may not be as good as the CD from which they are derived--I know little that or about file-based audio but would just say try to optimize connections and reduce vibrations. 
@fsgattuso : I read your post too quickly & neglected to look up the D2 until now. It is quite possible that a Muse Erato might have a better-sounding DAC than the D2. Kevin Halverson of Muse was some kind of digital genius (may still be, don't know his whereabouts now). His Muse gear of Erato vintage persuaded me to give up my analog front end. Keep yours as long as it runs!

In any case, I agree with another poster that, to do a fair test, you need to rip a few CDs and run them through the Lumin. Some of us find that audio quality from the streaming services can be variable.


answer:because it's not so old ,costs five times more made by a far better audiophile minded brand and meant for audiophiles with money no object revealing systems. it's not surprising at all .
sound quality wise a cd player  is just far superior to any streamer.i suspect that a 2k cd player from today will also kill any streamer(even when both use the same dac... scary ah?) .cd players are measured by their sound quality streamers are measured by dsd:
 dsd 128 is less than dsd512 that's all you need to know
that salesmen dogmatic answer is just priceless
so  dsd is a warm sounding format compared to what? 
 we say it's warm so it's warm!
 you don't like the basic sound signature? upgrade and enhance it!
swap the power cord! try acoustic treatment! drink something!
it's panic and they ignore your problem completely 


It is quite possibly not actually the digital conversion, but rather the analog stage in the DAC.  The analog output stage designs vary pretty wildly in both DACs and players, and range from op amp based. all the way up to fully discrete output stages.  
Great interview with Ed Meitner.  https://www.audionirvana.org/forum/the-audio-vault/analog-playback/cartridges/124328-ed-meitner-on-optical-cartridge-interfaces-dacs-etc

The problem arises from the chip manufacturers. They have the technology to build a fabulous 'for audio' chip, but it would be expensive. Since mass production leads to profits, and there is no mass in high end audio, they don't bother.

You can perfect everything around a chip, but if the chip is a pigs ear, that's your ceiling.

As Audiophiles, we lose.
By the time the data gets to the DAC its too late. The damage is done in the first picosecond as the laser reads the physical data on the disc. There's absolutely nothing you can do to reverse the damage once it occurs. Sorry to be the bearer of bad gnus.
I second the opinion of ripping one of your good sounding CDs and then listening to that version through the streamer. 

I enjoy Tidal, but recognize that the releases on Tidal may not always be the masterings with the best dynamic range. I use this website database to lookup which ISBNs have the highest DR. Good luck.

http://dr.loudness-war.info/
Because you expected it to. 
f917025 what cool aid are you drinking? Do you honestly think that the thousands and thousands of audiophiles accross the world are getting rid of their CD players because their new streamers suck?

We have been at this rodeo for 30 years, and often times when this situation occurs, it is a simple matter of finding out what the issue is, sometimes it is because the older unit is voiced to work better with the system as it is vs the new product which may be more transparent. 

Sometimes it is just a burn in warm up issue, a cold dac/ streamer or CD player will take one to two days to come back to sound quality after being unplugged and moved.

Other issues could be that this listener wants a really warm or more rolled off piece of digital where the Ifi DSD pro for example which uses tubes has a fatter more colored sound than the Lumin.

DSD sounds warmer based on the technlogy and how filters are applied, ask most listeners to decribe the sound quality of DSD vs PCM, 

We were around when DCS 20 years ago was showing how transcoded PCM files sounded distinctly different than the same file played as a PCM file. 

There is also no such thing as basic sound or intrinsic sound quality when a system is an aggregate of all of its parts. 

Think of it like cooking, you start with great ingredients, and then add a pinch of salt or pepper or other spices to bring out the flavors you wish. 

Most dishes even with great ingredients don't come alive until flavor enchancers are added to the meadly of the other ingredients.  If you omit the salt, pepper, vinegar or acidic ingredients, and other similar flavors even the great ingredients fail to capture the palet. 

Same thing with a warm beer, same product pretty uninspiring at room temp unless it is a porter or stout, but cool the beer to right temperature and add the right glass and the experience is radically different.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Lumin dealers







It is the different DACs which is contributing most of  the difference in sound you hear.
  
I have a high end CD player with a digital USB input to allow a network bridge (streamer with no DAC) to run through the same DAC.   Initially CD sounded better. However by making the following adjustments to the streamer they now sound virtually identical:
1. Connect the streamer to the router via Ethernet not WiFi 
2. Turn off in the streamer the following: Bluetooth, WiFi, HDMI, and any other connecting methods other than Ethernet 
3. Introduce a good quality network switch (eg Cisco) between the router and the streamer 
4. Use Cat8 Ethernet cable. 
5. Try different USB cables. This provided subtle improvements. 

After these changes the sound is almost identical. 
A high quality dac ,like the new Lampizator amber 3 
which is $2750 is a vacuum tube dac and night and day better then Any 
streamer with built in dac is you want a you are there 3D perspective 
enjoy the music .com just gave it a rave musicality 5 stars across the board.
a good outboard dac and good usb  cable , you are all set. Here is no point 
buying a better streaming dac even their $10k LUMIN will not touch the new Lampi Amber 3 thst I can assure you having a great designed dac and then add several Vacuum tubes to the mix even streaming will give you a much warmer 
real perspective ,even less then ideal recordings are listenable ,and a 
2 week return policy if not happy. I sold my PS Audio dac That was $6k
to buy this Amber 3 it is thst good,  and can make it better still with a premium fuse and great vintage tubes ,from Brent Jesse recording ,or Andy at Vintage tube services.
Why would you want to pay a lot of money to tweek the sound to be warm and easy-listening and boring? Yes, if you like to listen to bad recordings but otherwise?
all this banter.... here’s a simple answer ready for it? Ready , ready , ready here it comes ready, ready , ready , ready................................................IT"S CALLED NOISE..... that’s why your cd player sounds better. I’m not 100% sure or your setup but to get it to sound better.
A. Eliminate noise where possible and if your budget can afford it. A Sotm switch will do that for you (has a built in clock)
B. If you use ethernet in your system Sotm Cat7 cables filters will also assist.
C. Word clock if you can afford it
I’ve heard these on streamers and the difference is night and day no exaggeration. The biggest leap when the switch was added...

Problem solved.......
You might prefer the Lampizator amber 3 to the PS Audio DS dac because it’s tube based and you like the sound of tubes. That’s cool. But, If you compare the 2 dacs, technically the DS is in a different league, and sound wise, it’s an excellent sounding dac. A lot of the time, when people originally listened to the DS dac, they were listening with an older firmware release. I just upgraded the firmware on my DS sr yesterday and got a bump in SQ for free, try that with most other dacs at any price, you can’t. Also, there are a few ways to setup the DS to get the max SQ out of it, these tips are on the web.
Looking at the Lampizator amber 3, where is the Ethernet port? I don’t see on their website that it’s FPGA based, so no future upgrades, I don’t see that it’s a Roon endpoint? Is there MQA or DSD support?With most streamers and dacs, you are using the USB interface which is flawed from the start. Salesman and tweakers are going to try and sell you technology to make USB sound better and some do like using the best cable and reclockers, but IMO it’s like putting lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.
Because it is less resolving.
And it Jams.
All of your sophisticated cables and high end hookups will not satisfy you.
Get your setup to where it sounds best to you.  For me getting off my computer setup and using an Arcam Rblink Bluetooth with a tube preamp buffer between my pre and amp was magic.

The system is musical again.
Like I have mentioned before...
Alot of streaming systems sound Vapid.
What high end video did to watching tv its the same to music via streamers...very climical with absolutely no "Jam" or any soul.

Its funny how there is a school of thought out there that insists ethernet cable over bluetooth....

A really good bluetooth is better.

The next is the device to use for music.
For me an Ipad mini...
Ok go ahead and laugh...
But it images and has a Jam to it like no other..


From the OP....

Muse just sounds so much warmer, live and simply more enjoyable. Any thoughts or suggestions......

High end Streamers give incredible detail but are just not natural.

No Jam to the music!
You’ve had the advice of a Lunpizator dealer, did you manage to try his recommendations to any advantage?
If you’re still getting nowhere can you get a loan of one of the latest Naim streamers? I have one and haven’t played a CD in months and though I do still play vinyl it’s less often than it used to be. The CDX2 never quite convinced on classical chamber music, even with a 555ps, the ND555 does and with ease. If it’s facility with Tidal is repeated down the range one of it’s junior siblings might be worth a listen. Alway assuming the 20 year Naim ownership wasn’t proved to be a mistake.
lol  Bluetooth is better than ethernet... that's laughable...  nothing is better than direct connections period........ also cables make a HUGE difference don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise...... ever.... 

See post above PROBLEM SOLVED 
Again OP have you tried to run the D2 with DSD transcoding engaged?

Are you using a stock power cable?

How many hours are on the piece?

Are you using a stock ethernet cable?

All of these settings will affect sound quality. 

The DSD setting gives the D2 a much warmer fuller presentation.

Hey Rbsterno just wondering if you are going to be crying when PS comes out with their next version that magically won't be upgradable for a minor cost and you will be scrapping your DS. 

You will realize soon enough that FPGA doesn't get you as far as truly upgradable hardware, which is why we recommend the Aqua La Voice. 

Aqua will be introducing a totally bespoke custom designed and built streaming bridge that is designed by Aqua and not a  cheap "Chinese made streaming  board that many companies purchase instead of designing their own. 

Lets talk in six months and do a little head to head, our fully upgradable, modular dac with a bespoke streaming board of the highest quality, that is also FPGA based at the same price and see which you prefer. 

The future of digital is modular hardware, so what sounds good today can morph into what sounds even better tomorrow of course that is for the more expensive devices. For the less expensive ones that degree of modularity will be too expensive, for that reason a unit like the Lumin D2 which can morph into a pretty good streamer or the T2 which is basically a paired down Lumin U1 streamer makes a lot of sense, built in upgradablilty by virtue of becomming an excellent streamer to an even better dac. 

As per the OP he needs to play a bit more with the D2 or try an Ifi DSD Pro which is also tube based streamer which may be more full bodied for his taste and system's voicing. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Lumin,. Ifi, and Aqua Dealers
I am by no means an expert on Computer / Streamer players. But this is what I have experienced - for anyone that cares about a layman's investment point of view.

I had sat on a Mac Mini for years before I made the commitment to send it off to have it modified to eliminate all the noise and erroneous programs that computers tend to automatically run in the background, etc. I had a separate power supply, clock, power and USB cable added. - I do use wifi to connect to the internet.

I took advantage of a Audrivana special and found that everything sounded OK. Upon giving my feed back a few months later to 3 very respected consumer audio industry professionals - they unequivocally said, at separate times - there is no way, that any computer audio/ streamer on the market today is going to be as good as,  let alone better than a 10k+ CDP.

Soon after getting that sobering dose of reality, while listening to the mac mini, curiosity prompted me to switch out the Analysis Plus Silver Oval power chord and attached a Stage 3 Concepts Kraken. The difference was not subtle.  I had a completely brand new unit that performed at an extremely higher level - by far the absolute best that I have ever heard computer audio sound to date. However it still did not sound as good as my Wadia S7i CDP. Maybe 75-80% as good. Will it get there time will tell.

The reference to cooking in one of the previous responses is a little off.
Great cooking is a result of the sum total manipulation of of the science associated with it. So by the example given what would be more accurate is that the adjustments suggested are more akin to using a different pot, pan, stove or oven to execute the process - rather than adding salt, pepper or herbs. - 

Anyway I believe everyone understood point being made.


I have been continually amazed by audiophiles who state that their streaming service doe o match  a good CD player.   Why?  Because I have never heard a streaming service/player that sounds as good a my CD player.  Can anyone here state that there in no doubt that your streamer sounds better than CD?  If so, what speakers and electronics do you have/
@ggc   all my music sounds better than CD , but its an elaborate system ...  as you noticed changing a power cord made a big difference, interconnects will also make a huge difference, usb cables (high quality) and of course a dedicated music player like an Antipodes or Innuos also make a difference a mac mini while good ; won't compete with those dedicated players... why you may ask... because they are noise treated at the board level and components etc.. special power supplies to eliminate noise...