CD sound vs HI-res

My configuration is Marantz CD57mkII player connected via digital coaxial cable with Atom. For a couple of months of using Atom, there was a feeling that I prefer the sound from a quality recorded CD than from HI res files. HI res is usually new production, 24bit flac, but I have quality riped jaz archive too . I use USB HHD for source. Hi res is more detailed but something missing in musicality. Is it something with my configuration or just subjective feeling?

Who knows? But Jason at Naim apparently prefers to use CD rips to demo Naim’s top kit rather than high def tracks, so if you prefer CD quality you are not alone.



One “problem” is that you may well not be comparing the same versions / masterings of the recordings, as well as comparing cd vs. hi res formats. If they are different masterings, then all bets are off trying to do a valid comparison.


I prefer good CD-rips too, compared to all the HiDef versions I’ve tried. I think it is the modern Mastering of a lot of these as there were possibly some HD files from newly-originated Classical music that seem good.

I also tried making my own samples from Vinyl at different rates at 24bit - 48k, 96k, 192k rates - and I prefer all of my own and also can clearly hear the improvement up to 192k as best.

But the remasters I’ve heard of previous released music I prefer from an early release old original Master onto CD to almost all later Remasters and HiDef. I think it can be done right but the temptation to ‘improve’ and tweak things ruins them even when the final format is capable of higher definition replay - which just lets you hear what has been done, which I generally don’t like.

There is generally a lack of life in the smearing of low-level information. I don’t know if this is an artifact of the poor noise-floor of some computer mastering equipment, or over-use of poor multiple-pass trans-coding, compared to when it was not done so intensely on computers as seems typical now.
Most modern masters do not have the noise floor quietness that lets you hear the micro-dynamics as well as on older masters I find.
Modern masters seem designed for replay on low-dynamic range systems - the exception being Classical and Jazz - great for these but for Rock not so good.



Blimey. Hi res beaten by CD, beaten by vinyl. So all this streaming malarkey is really just for convenience, discreet storage and absence of surface noise? And all these threads about drop outs, internet problems etc. It doesn’t sound very enticing to this old Luddite!



@stuart.ashen I thought seriously about streaming, and getting the ND555, but after reading post after post about the intricacies and effort needed to get the most out of one of these streamers, I figured I would try the CD555 first! The additional cost required to do it ‘right’ along with the time needed to rip all of my CD’s etc just didn’t appeal. I have a young family though and my own business so time is in short supply!! After putting the kids to bed I am happy to sacrifice some ‘ultimate’ quality to just be able to place a silver disk in the player and listen. Luckily I have listened to music since they were born so no amount of volume really bothers them!! If I had spare time then I am sure I would immerse myself in the process and really enjoy it but right now I am happy to sacrifice a little quality for a lot of convenience! Sounds like original CD presses are up there in terms of sound quality anyway!


Wise decision Steve IMHO. I have tried streaming. The initial experience is quite exciting, access to so much music and controlling everything from my sofa etc. But once the novelty wears off it just feels that I am extending my daily screen time by a few hours.

On the other hand I have hundreds of CDs and records and top class sources on which to play them. Why get involved with all the potential problems if ultimately the sq is no better? Just my view of course as there are many happy users in this place.



It’s not actually complicated at all. It’s simply that people like to make it complicated.

Regarding high res, the albums from Hyperion Linn and ECM for example, which are originally recorded in 24 bit, sound really stunning. Beautifully natural. High res taken from the original analogue tapes can be great too. A lot of ‘remasters’ are not so good though.

I remain a partial Luddite though, as I can’t get along with Tidal and Qobuz. There is just too much choice. I’d rather play my own collection and add to it things I really want. There are over 3,500 albums on the NAS to keep me happy. Our house isn’t large and it’s wonderful not having thousands of records and CDs clogging the place up.


But there is something in the ritual of inserting a silver disc into the player :slight_smile:



:thinking: sounds like a lot of choice too…

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I personally find streaming great. I used to get frustrated looking for the cd I wanted, then dimming the lights and starting to listen and get immersed in the music but all too soon the cd was finished. Getting up, turning up the lighting and searching for the next cd spoilt the mood a little. Also I would often start listening then decide I fancied a different cd, so up I’d get again.

Now, with streaming my cd collection from my nas, it has made listening much more pleasurable. In my case the sound quality of streaming my cd’s is better than I achieved with my cd player, so win win for me.


There is a ritual of wiping your bottom after having a poo but it doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. CDs are horrid things and their nasty plastic cases are worse. At least streaming avoids plastic waste.


Inappropriate comparison!
Ok, the ritual is one thing, but I put a topic for sound. On my equipment, the CD sounds really good.

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I’m a recent adopter of serious kit for streaming but prior to that I have used a Squeezebox touch into a Matrix DAC for around 10 years.

Despite having first rate sources - a Gyrodec and naim Cdi player I found myself using the Squeezebox 80% of the time (i.e. for non critical listening in the evening after work or while doing other things). It was quite simply easily good enough for that and much more convenient.

I recently added a Naim NDX and have to say that sound quality and user interface are both significantly improved. I haven’t done a direct comparison with the other sources yet, but would say with music streamed from the NAS in FLAC it’s probably a very even match for the middle tier naim CD players such as CDi/CDX/CDX2.

What has taken a giant leap forward over CD though is the user interface - the naim app really is sensational when it serves full colour pictures, artwork, artist biographies etc to my ipad. No more fiddling with those infernal jewel cases, no more trying to read the tiny print on CD sleeves in dim light, links to similar albums and artists. This is honestly the first time that digital has offered a similarly enjoyable user experience to vinyl for me and it’s a revalation.

Tidal at CD quality to me seems maybe a little less sonically rewarding than CD rips from my NAS and I have no idea why. I’d liken it to Squeezebox level quality of rips from my NAS, but again it’s easily good enough to enjoy.

As for the complexity of setting up, not really. I was already running a NAS for music so just plugged in the NDX, it found the network, the NAS and I was away. No configuration at all required.

So I’m a convert to streaming. Vinyl and CD are there when I have the time to sit and faff about but the NDX is a seriously effective piece of kit and I wouldn’t be without it.



I get where you are coming from. I have my CD’s organised alphabetically and by major genre. I have sold off a chunk I no longer listen to but still have in excess of 1000. I limit myself to an Ikea Billy bookcase set with shelf height of a CD and when I overflow I just sell some that I have not listened to in several years.

For listening I grab a few before heading into the living room. Sometimes I will just listen to the album again if I am being lazy!

I have a Qobuz subscription which I use on my phone and my computer via a dac and headphones for work. I enjoy it but find the volume of material by a certain artist is overwhelming with multiple versions of the same album. The process is not enjoyable for me and often when working from home I still prefer to play a CD in the other room with the volume up and listen that way!!


I have been staggered at the sound quality available from ripped CD - I think the mastering is probably the key - if that is done right the sheer musicality shines through and you forget about the the ripped resolution. For example one CD that demonstrates this very well its the La Bamba Ozone Percussion Orchestra …( track 10 Jazz Variants in particular) … the sheer dynamics and power and delicacy is incredible…all from a 16 bit format… not one of my 192’s come that close…although they are very good.


One type of “hi res” format that easily trounces CD IMO is SACD.

Ever since buying a DSD/SACD-capable player last year I have been blown away by just how good this format can sounds - albums by the likes of Can, Stones, Floyd, Goldfrapp, Nick Drake, Dylan as well as a lot of classical and jazz stuff are revelatory on SACD.

Otherwise I am pretty happy with the standard of CD replay on a decently-mastered red book disc.


What puts me off is the high cost of downloads in general and high res in particular. Example Western Stars by Springstein is £19 for high res,£15 cd quality on some download sites or get the cd for £10 from the River. I would love to ditch the cd , but these sites are taking us for a ride imo.


Or £11.99 with Qobuz Sublime subscription, which admittedly involves extra costs… But if you have Sublime, you can listen to HiRes before making a purchase. Listen before you buy might save some monies…

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I tend to do this empirically, and listen for what I think is the ‘best version’ of certain favorite albums. Many of those are hi res versions, but some are cd rips.

The hi res that sounds ‘really thin’ seems to be a thing of the past. When HD Tracks first started, that seemed to be more of an issue. It was often speculated that there was something odd about their sources…never really knew why.

If you (or I) have a really good sounding cd rip, experimenting with buying a $15.00 hi res version could be a bad idea.

But for new albums, and recent remasters that you like, there is imho no reason to avoid hi res as somehow fatally flawed per se as a format; no reason at all.

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