Is computer audio dead?

Former Stereophile writer Michael Lavorgna proclaims on his excellent new site, Twittering Machines, that streaming has killed computer audio. All you need, he says, is Tidal or Qobuz (he prefers the latter), and you can kiss goodbye to “music storage, disc-ripping, and high-res downloads.” He also seems to like the Mu-so.

Anyway, the site is well worth a visit – if you don’t mind disappearing down the rabbit hole for hours on end.

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…and when your chosen streaming company goes out of business? Or decides to have a huge increase in fees? Or has issues with their own database security etc etc

I’ll always have downloads thanks, even if my internet collection was sufficiently fast for Tidal etc, which it is not.



I posted this in the ‘Lost my Bottom, thread, which mentioned tha same article, but actually more relevant here. But given the above introduction I’ve modified my opening:

Had a read, and if that typifies the content I won’t bother going back to Michael Lavorgna‘s site. He lives in a different world. Maybe one inhabited by lots of people, but nevertheless a different world.

One’s own store never suffers poor quality due to bandwidth, network traffic, etc. It is always there, without having to pay to keep it available - and without relying on the service provider to stay in business, maintain a contract with a copyright owner, not change their priorities, rename or re-sort things. So for people who want their preferred choice of music to be available, reliably and indefinitely

But for disposable music or cursory music listening, online streaming certainly makes more sense than buying. Likewise checking out new things. Then there are people starting out: for them, online streaming gives access to a huge library at far less cost than quickly amassing a completion, and the question for them is how good quality donthey require, and how much do they want to be able to come back to the same music and anticipate still listening to (at least some of) the same music in many years’ time - the latter in particular may be the deciding point for buying.


I think that while streaming can be very good my local files are generally a tad better, more detail and more dynamic. I like having files that I know that are not going to disappear under my feet.

IF I was new into the market and didn’t own thousands of LPs, CDs, DVDs & BRs I might well choose to go in an easier and cheaper direction.

That said, on those occasions when my ISP fails me it is nice to not worry.

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Fair enough. If I didn’t already have a substantial LP collection that I enjoy for “serious” listening, I would probably stream exclusively. As it is, I rarely bother with CDs or downloads anymore. I’m reasonably confident that streaming services are here to stay, although I expect to see consolidation, new developments and changing fee structures.

As a side note, I no longer have issues with my ISP. Maybe I’m lucky, but reliability continues to improve, in my experience.

I’m not sure what you mean. I’ve always found him to be a decent audio journalist.

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I work from home and since Christmas I have had one outage, connectivity was up and down for an afternoon; just went and listened to more music, it was hell.

When I add up what I have spent on NASes, and associated HDDs, it is not insubstantial, but it has been for far more than HiFi.

I am actually buying MORE CDs at the moment. I test albums on Qobuz and then buy them on CD for ripping. Had a few of my likes removed.

One thing that concerns me for newer audiophiles is that in due course it could well be streaming only, and then I would expect to see MQA in spades, and if you want more than MP3 then you must pay even more. Perhaps I am overly suspicious!

Lavorgna’s point was that streaming has killed computer audio, not physical media. But that will probably happen too. And I don’t know that it’s possible to be overly suspicious here. As soon as Apple and Google throw their weight behind high-res, then “streaming” will refer to your money flowing to the Silicon Valley behemoths.

Yes, but I would equate the one with the other. Companies want an income stream and would rather lease to us on a per usage basis IMO. After all, we don’t own the content on our physical media either.

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I was previously unaware of him - I may or may have read reviews of his, but I tend not to note the names of the majority of people writing in hifi press and add to that I only read the hifi press (or other media these days) when I am looking for some new piece of kit, and have not been an avid reader since the 1980s - so I only have thta article to go on, and it painted a a different word from mine.

I’m glad to see Michael Lavorgna back. He may live in a different world but it’s an interesting world!

Streaming was fun for a while. But I like to go deep rather than wide and then you suddenly note streaming services collections can be very erratic. And suddenly titles would disappear … probably they no longer had access to it. And then I realised that streaming is just renting and I thought it seemed expensive when you see it that way.

So I am back on CD:s and ripping and it feels allright. I dont miss the hires files, to be honest I never found them sound musically good like the best ripped CD:s can - I proably need to tweak my system but I am happy with it so hires can wait.


I still buy quite a bit of CD’s, I also have a TIDAL Hi-Fi subscription. I use Tidal when I travel via a laptop with headphones in hotel rooms. I also use TIDAL at home to listen to new releases and recommended albums from other members on the music forum. I enjoy living in both worlds.

I can justify the cost of streaming with the number of CD’s I do not buy today after having listed via a streaming service. Using TIDAL with the NAIM app has been a fantastic experience for me. A few occasional hiccups regarding connectivity issues but the majority of the time it has worked as designed. In the old days I bought a lot of CD’s at the store and realised after I got them home and listened to them a couple of times they were not going to get played much, if at all, in the future.


My NDX and UQ2 are my only sources. 100% of my listening is from NAS. I buy loads of CDs and have no CD player.

This was discussed to death in the old forum here:

Ultimately, I am free to unplug from the world if I wish and still listen to music. And as I have joked before on similar threads, if some armed conflict arises and disrupts streaming services, I can hole up in my cabin in the woods (that I only have in my head) and still rock on.

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I think computer audio has died… it’s a term that belongs to a by gone era. These days most don’t use ‘computers’ to play music, they use streamers, file/download players, streaming wireless speakers, and even a few still use physicals like vinyl and CD etc.
Computer music in a way harks back to the time when it was convenient for some as well as being novel to store audio on a computer system… the world has moved on, and the underlying technology is irrelevant to most as most music is digital now, and computers are no where to be seen in the playback chain…


These days your CD player or TT manufacturer is more likely to go out of business… can’t remember any major streaming company going out of business, but if one actually does, you simply choose another one… simples… and you know your SQ is unlikely to be impacted…

Sure nothing stopping you using physicals, I still do, but if I solely relied on them I would find it very limiting…


Computer audio died a long time ago. Computers died a long time ago. When does anyone sit in front of one today to do anything computery.
Tomorrow’s digital streaming hubs will be more sophisticated with ease of use and high sound quality for sure.

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I actually see computer audio as being the best solution for me and have no plan to change.
I have a NUC in a fanless case with linear PSU. My music is stored on internal SSDs and I stream all my tv, movies, youtube etc through it.
It’s great to have everything on one little device.


Sadly, every day. It’s how I do my job. And in the evenings a PC with 2 good screens is much easier to consume content than a phone or the iPad. There’s a place for all still, imo.

Technically streaming is still computer audio. The difference is that the computer is now somewhere else.


Well, I do. Every day.


Ah, the joys of trying one’s best to keep the Forum running on a civilised basis … I don’t envy you. :clap:

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