96/24 vs cd 44/16…really?

As I enjoy the increased clarity from the phoenixnet in my naim system, I was listening to « 2 against nature » from Steely Dan streaming remotely from Qobuz in Hi Rez 96/24, and felt the music was a bit dull lacking prat. I then switched to the cd version and there it was, more edge.
So I wonder what the cause for this is…
Maybe this is linked to streaming since the file is much bigger…? Only way to know would be to purchase the 2 versions and make the comparison again between the downloaded versions on local streaming. Anyone already did it? With what results?

I’ve compared a few hi res files to the cds and find the results can be mixed. However more often than not there’s little difference between them imo. My 96/24 WAV file of Pink Floyd’s DSOTM definitely sounds better than my CD.

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The mastering is not the same between LP, CD and streaming.


Is this the case even when they go on the market at the same time, like in this case? I understand when they have different launch dates.

Quite correct, the CD mix is much better, has more edge, than the 24 bit remaster version.

I’m skipping the subject of compression and brickwall-limiting.

CD is a fixed target for mastering. The RedBook gives a 44/16 frame within the limits of our hearing and when mastering you make sure to use that frame optimally but no more. You creep as near -0dbFS as you can but you do it with metering that show inter-sample peaks and stay just below.

Now there are things you can do like make the mix sound brighter (without using EQ) and if it all sounds flat there are ways to create an artificial depth-of-field. When I sometimes help out with this I always check with MP3 and AAC and look for clipping.

The last thing you do is add dither which there are various algorithms on the market, I always use basic TPDIF. It eliminates quantization distortion.

What will haooen if you change the bitstream that include this polish is not that much explored, so to get the best out of CD (ripped or not) I would let the bits play as they are through the DAC and use an analog volume control (preamp).

For streaming you mostly optimize for Spotify, Apple and Youtube. You prepare a 24-bit WAV with a loudness normalization set at -14dB LUFS and a true peak set to avoid inter-sample distortion. Spotify still runs ReplayGain on their end - this software gives a figure (in dB) stored with each file and used unless the user turned auto-level off. Apple and Youtube have their own ways of doing this.

Youtube use -12.5dB LUFS, Spotify -14dB LUFS, Tidal -14.5dB LUFS, Apple -16dB LUFS … So, if you were to master your track at -14dB LUFS, YouTube would increase the volume of your track by 1.5 dB and Tidal lower it by 0.5dB and so on.

The next step when preparing for streaming is checking out compatibility with Ogg, MP3 and AAC. Same here, they have varying tolerance to LUFS vs. true-peak levels and so on. There are tools that helps out with all of this - including simulating how it will sound on the largest services. Apple even provides a plugin for your workstation.

You dont dither as this is the last thing that should be done, so the streaming service should do it.


My experience comparing CD discs to BluRay Pure Audio Hi-Res discs normally at 24/96 but some 24/192 is also mixed, sometimes I prefer the CD and othertimes I prefer the BluRay.
What I am sure of is that CD discs sound slightly better than streaming CD quality from Tidal and BluRay discs sound slightly better than streaming MQA Hi-Res quality from Tidal with all digital sound sources being played through the same streamer/dac, in my case a Lumin P1.

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I posted on the forum a while ago about this stream.

I just sounds weird to me. Can’t listen to it.

Maybe the masters are different for the files or maybe your local streaming is just that much better than cloud streaming. I do a lot of comparisons b/w Qobuz (sublime sub) and local and when the masters are the same my local always sounds better. I think this disparity b/w cloud and local is less for folks on the latest streaming platform, I’m on a legacy streamer. I’ve heard some folks claim hires isn’t as good as cd quality but I never took those claims seriously. Outside of the occasional poorly mastered file I’ve always found hires to have better SQ than cd quality.

Is the mastering also different for streaming VS. purchased hi-res downloads (AIFF or FLAC)?

Lots of good info!

I don’t find ANYTHING consistent in audio mastering. For instance, LPs have varied through the decades and between different genres.

I love Nancy & Lee having been bought up on their music. I find the most musical representation comes from the LPs. In terms of digital the 44.1/16 have more edge, so much so that I avoid them. The 9624 versions are better, but do not threaten the bass weight and vocal prowess on show when you place a needle on the record.

Generally I prefer older digital masters to their modern re-masters, Steven Wilson being one of the modern exceptions.

I haven’t found any simple rules, except to say the a higher resolution doesn’t automatically mean better music.

A fascinating thread. I’ve tried to keep up! When CDs first came out, to me they sounded anaemic. Not today. It’s my preferred source most of the time and is often exceptional. Not always though.

I’ve not yet invested deeply in streaming (just the Atom this far) but already there are some things I prefer through that medium though it is already clear that there are files with different qualities shall we say.

I was going to go deeper into vinyl in the coming years but posts in other threads have more recently been highlighting inconsistent quality there, too.

Ah, but are you doing all of the gymnastics required to have the whole second “unfolding” of the tracks in Tidal? I canceled my Tidal subscription and switched to Qobuz because of that issue. I have a Nova, which streams Qobuz in native hi-res, and feel that most of the time I prefer the Qobuz stream to a CD. As noted above, when there are different masterings (e.g., Redbook 30 years ago vs. some new hi-res 24-bit remaster), you are kind of comparing apples to oranges. As far as the hi-res music I have stored locally, I can’t tell a difference between that and Qobuz.

And then, of course, my ears have to justify the $30 I just spend on a hi-res version of something I already owned on CD and vinyl, right? :wink:

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Sometimes I listen to a Tidal streaming on my Mu-So and think wow, this is a good recording it must sound excellent on the main stereo, switch to the stereo and it’s not as good or as punchy at all.
Different master / remaster and different optimisations by Tidal, Quobuz, Deezer, etc all produce different results and on different hi-fi. Same goes for 96/24 and 44/16. Some produce 96/24 from bad remasters like for example the Pink Floyd The Wall (I think 2002) remaster which is the worst thing I heard. So it is very difficult to compare. Even some SHM/SACD Japanese remasters are no better than the originals.

Hi maison00,
The Lumin P1 streamer/dac I have is full MQA compliant so does the full unfolding of MQA to give me the best Hi-Res thst Tidal stream.
With respect to the cost of Hi-Res when Pure Audio BluRay came out in @ 2012 they were AUD 40 per disc when CDs were 20 so I and most other people never bought them.
In about 2016 after not selling the discs, the biggest hifi retailer in Australia decided to give up on Pure Audio BluRay and sold all the stock off at 25 per disc, so I bought about 40 of them and since then have bought about another 10 at second hand record shops when they come up.
If you look on ebay now people want crazy money for Pure Audio BluRay discs.
At the end of the day, you pay what you are prepared to pay for Hi-Res and I really like it and am happy to still buy discs at sensible money and have the Tidal HiFi Plus subscription.

MQA is not high definition. stop kidding yourself.

Interesting how the writer on this article comments how SACD died because of a lack of support. DSD is the encoding used on the SACD format. The writer cares not for MQA, calling it nothing but a money grab by Bob Stuart.


I must admit to have not done much with HiDef - just a couple of Kate Bush CD’s and a couple of sample tracks. I can hear a slight improvement, but not massive.

However, for old time sake, I just played Jamiraquai Virtual Insanity from a ripped CD from years ago, and it was absolutely awful - went to Tidal, and could only find the re-mastered version there, and there was a massive difference. In fact quite a few of his albums have been re-mastered, so perhaps there was a problem with his mattering agents.

Anyway, from my limited experience, I have found greater differences between OLD CD’s verse CD’s Remastered, compared to CD’s Remastered verses HiDef. Do others find the same?

Yes and no.

In a lot of cases, the older CD masters are far better than the remasters that are mainly using more compression and elevating the sound level, which results in less dynamics and louder sound.

Exception is a lot of 80s CD’s that sound nasty and harsh and have been remastered with good result.

If I compare carefully created recordings (mainly classical) and compare the 16 bit to the 24 bit versions, the 24 bit versions always win for more tonal richness, even though the 16 bit versions sound great.

It very much depends on the Digital Audio Workstation used though. Labels that employ the codecs made by Daniel Weiss have that rich tonality in the 16 bit versions as well and the gap with the 24 bit version is smaller. Weiss is a genius, I wish more (pop / rock) labels would use his stuff. The outcome is always that the music sounds more organic, as if there is no recording medium used.

Yes, a lot of my CD’s are from the 80’s, and they don’t sound great. That’s why I prefer using Tidal rather than local streaming, as I can often get the better remastered copies. As you say, there are some remasters that dont improve. I’ve never seen an improved “Bat Out Of Hell”

I’m not a classical listener, but I would imagine the greater dynamics of a HiDef recording would sound pretty good