CD player or Streamer for loud play

I have heard that streamers can sound a little thin at loud volumes.
Please advise if there is any truth in this. I have a CD player and it plays just as well with the volume set high (10 o’clock) through very large speakers. Sounds great. How does the NDX2 cope at loud volume working from a USB and by other means. Or should I consider another model if I also want a jump in sound quality at loud play. Apologies for such an oddball question but would be very interested to hear from anyone with experience in this. Thanks.

My NDX 2 sounds absolutely fabulous. Not sure where you are getting your information but it is false. Where or who is providing you this information?

I had no problems with my ND5 XS, NDX, or NDX 2 playing at loud volumes with my SN 2 in the past or my 282/250 DR.


I cant imagine that any source would make any difference to replay at any volume, any change in sound at differing volume levels would be as a result of the pre amp, power amp of speakers themselves, thus if you have no issues with your cd player in this regard then you should similarly have zero issues with any other source.

At the end if the day the voltage from the source to the pre amp is the same (not constant obviously but the same at each point in time on every replay) whether you have the volume at 0 or full.

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I’ve read it on 2 or 3 of the particularly long topics on this forum.
I guess I thought it had a grain of truth from the different way these players get their information. CD players from my experience have always played loud and clear and was one of the most noticeable characteristics when moving from vinyl back in the day. If the streamer is getting it’s information wirelessly or via Bluetooth? I really have no idea and not much experience streaming so thought let’s ask the experts. In a blind test can you tell difference between a top rated CD player and streamer costing a similar amount.

If you are using a wired connection for the streamer, should be no difference (other than the quality of the music being streamed, the streaming service used, and the format/bit rate of the stream (320b/s, 160 b/s, etc. and is it MP3, Wav, FLAC, encoded etc). The CD player will be probably consistent quality at playback. Streaming using wireless/bluetooth or other can have sonic degradation but for non-serious listening shouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps it was in reference to these aspects that the comments of “thin” etc. were made. Context is everything.

Bluetooth is entirely different because it is lossy. Only use for casual stuff like friends playing from their phones.

The streamer will usually use wired network or wifi, which provides the exact same data as the CD (provided that the source file is the same and not some mp3 streaming)

There can still be differences between digital units and someone might prefer a CDS3 to an NDX2, but it’s not the way the data is delivered that is causing it, and it’s not that streamers are fundamentally inferior


As others have said, a streamer provides the same digital data as a CD player. There is no good reason why a streamer should be inferior to a CD player. There is a lot of guff and pseudo science in this industry.

The only degradation in sound quality will come from the quality of the data being transferred. You can stream at a higher quality than CD resolution, so in theory streaming can be superior to CD, but my experience is that you can’t discern any difference. Similarly, streaming using bluetooth will be at a lower resolution, so depending on the rate being used you may be able to hear the difference. Using a decent wired or wireless connection, rather than bluetooth, overcomes this.


Not something I’ve experienced and I often listen loud, though I haven’t used an NDX.

Unlike possible amp or speaker effects, at least if played through a separate preamp and that is used to control volume the volume setting / loudness can’t affect the sound coming out of the streamer, so any thinness/graininess or anything is from something else. However, a digital volume control potentially can affect the sound, so if being adjusted in the digital domain rather than after the DAC stage there could be an audible effect.

I have made detailed comparisons of CD vs streaming. I compared my CD5XS using analogue out vs digital out vs streaming the same CD, all played into my pre/streamer and the SQ improves in each case with streaming definitely better than the others.

As for music sounding “thin” when played loud, this is the opposite of what I would expect unless you push the amp or speakers into distortion. But this is unlikely to be affected by whether you play CDs or stream.


Even thru my ol’ NDS (2018 model) and SN2, it sounds excellent at high volumes. And the HFs don’t get harsh on the ears either, except with some Pop pieces.

Thanks for clarifying. Just another quick question. If you’re listening to say Spotify through your streamer and loudspeakers but selecting tunes on the ipad using Bluetooth does the streamer get the tune automatically from the WiFi hub wirelessly. Is that the best and only way to access tunes or should there be a wired connection.

Using the streamer as a Bluetooth speaker will mean lower quality.

Using the streamer as an endpoint through Spotify Connect will mean higher quality.

So as long as you don’t use Bluetooth, you should be good.

I am a massive fan of CD as a format but I cannot see why the same song will sound worse at high volumes streamed to a good system…

… Unless you are looking for distortion that is!

Neither Airplay, I would add.

Airplay is lossless and can therefore stream CD quality, so it would be better quality than Bluetooth which is lossy.

Ah interesting! Not sure all will agree. Because generally Airplay streaming sounds worse, by a good margin, vs network local streaming .

The last CD player I had was a CDX2/ XSP2… indeed its presentation was screechy, very obvious at high volumes. Immediate resolution on moving to streaming.
In fact, I found all CD players to be screechy.
My experience only though…

I presume that is simply as you say - obvious at high volumes, simply less obvious at low, rather than present at high absent low? I suspect it is poor mastering (either that or some aspect of your system).

…agreed, CDs did improve over the years.

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