play CDs or files from music server?

Hi, my first post here and it involves the difference (if any) between listening to a CD vs lossless files of that CD (e.g. FLAC).

A little background first, and I will try be as brief as possible! I currently have a CD5i/Nait5i which I love and have had for years. I’ve been looking to upgrade but it seems like the higher grade players can only be found used now. When I asked a dealer about this he basically said nobody plays CDs anymore, just rip them to a server and go from there.

Is this really true? Once a CD is ripped to a lossless file is there really no difference? If that is the case then what was the difference between the 5i/x2/555 etc? Playing a FLAC file will sound just as good as any of those? This is where I am lost a bit. I know the DAC has a major impact, and I assume the 555 DAC was superior to the 5i DAC, for example (but I suspect this was not the only difference between them). So I guess I am asking, are there music servers with comparable DACs to the CD players?

Apologies if I am asking silly questions. At the end of the day I stubbornly decided to hold on to the physical and found a used CD5xs/Nait xs-2/flatcap xs. Can’t wait to hook them up!

By the way I also have the other option. I have ripped all my CD’s (lossless) to a mac mini and can play that through a USB cable to my Oppo. I guess I can do A/B comparisons to satisfy my curiosity.

Any comments appreciated…thanks!

p.s. one route I refuse to go down is wireless speakers!

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welcome to the fourm @progfan915

I will give you my experience - I to had a CD5, uprgaded to CDX2/XPS and then in 2014 moved to NDX

have I ever regreated the move both musically and ease of use NO

I use Asset as UpNP through my NAS which is QNAP - my files are storted in FLAC and converted to WAV when played

still have my NDX in my system - musically superb certainly IMO equal to CDX2 on standard 16 bit files - even more music as you get bigger and larger files

plenty of advise on here on best direction to take

enjoy the music

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Yes it’s really true, CD is on the way out. I suspect very few CD’s are bought by the younger age groups, the majority are bought by folks with existing CD players. but I also suspect like vinyl, the final demise of CD will be way off.
There are a lot of CD fans on the forum, but no more new CD players from Naim.
Like Antz I moved from CDX2 to NDX also in 2014.
I ripped all the CD’s, still do buy the occasional new one, and now mostly buy FLAC 16 or 24bit from www.
It’s all stored on a Synology NAS, play with Asset UPnP (also FLAC transcoded (play as) WAV) & use iPad tablet or Android phone for browsing.

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I know my CD5i is no where near as good as previously mentioned players, but it is of a similar level as the xs. I keep it for ‘nostalgia’ as I don’t play CD’s any more. Having gone from Unitiqute (with/without separate amp) to ND5xs, & then to NDX - playing from my NAS completely blows away my CD5i in quality. I did try Audivarna via DAC v1, but the streamers are considerably better. :relaxed:

I haven’t touched a CD in I don’t know when, let alone bought one. They are now just a physical transfer medium for wav or flac files and I can get those by other means.

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Assuming you have ripped them correctly and are playing them through the same DAC there should be no difference in SQ whatsoever.

The questions is rather if you enjoy owning / collecting cd’s. Putting them on and browsing through the booklet? This really comes down to the music you listen to. There is not much love put into mainstream cd’s or cd’s coming from major record labels and if that is what people have in mind when talking about CD, then i completely understand that they have no value as an artefact.

On the other hand, there are many smaller companies where there is quite a lot of thought and love going into the packaging. I could name many. For me it is joy to own them and to play them through a CD player.

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I keep buying CDs. Quite often cheaper than downloads. I’m somehow attached to the rituals and if I do a phone/tabletless night the CD player is more than welcome.


I’m with you on this one Ardbeg

I’ve read a lot on the forum on CD vs streaming and I’m yet to be convinced there is a significant upgrade in SQ moving to streaming

The evidence is not coming through at all to me , but I do understand the convenience factor and access to more music

As they say, I’ll get my coat and run


Qobuz has revolutionised how I listen to music. The ability to explore new artists, genres and follow suggestions from the music room threads is wonderful.
I have never listened to so much variety in my life.


CDs are pretty much the last bastion of curating a lifetime’s music collection, despite the recent vinyl resurgence. A subscription to Tidal doesn’t quite cut it in terms of the attachment you get to each individual album.

Even a ripped CD isn’t the same as picking the thing off the rack and placing it into the player.

Sticking with my CDX2 for the foreseeable future.


Also, I find that ripped CDs from my NAS sound a lot better than Tidal streams. We don’t get Qobuz in Canada (yet?).
Internet radio is also very good thru the NDS … as good as Tidal usually, I find.

As many here i havent used my cd player for years!

I either listen to Qubuz through my NDX5 ND2 . Mostly 24 bit or from my NAS which has all of my legacy CD,s stored in FLAC (ripping them felt like a never ending task!) Or increacingly 24 bit files downloaded from qubuz. And yes you can absolutely tell the difference between 16bit and 24 bit, its night and day on a good system!

On the other hand i have a turntable and a shelf full of records!

Common theme is they both sound great to me!

I haven’t listened to a cd on a cd player for years but until recently was still buying them and ripping to a pc music server. The cd’s then get stored in a box in the barn!
Recently though I have gone over to the dark side and subscribed to Amazon music HD. Now for 15 quid a month I can add anything I want to my music library always at a minimum of cd quality and often at a hi res. It opens up a whole world of music that I wouldn’t have bought just to try out.
I am also now buying the odd vinyl just because I like the aspect of spinning a disc. I haven’t yet, but I will buy the odd cd for stuff that isn’t available to stream.

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Hi Progfan,

In 2019 I bought the Nd5xs2. The plan was to use it besides the cd5x and have the extra afford of streaming wav & flac files from a Nas/pc.
Many files where plextor or eac rips and downloaded high res files.
But since the arival of the nd5xs2 and a Qobuz subscription the Cd5x hasn’t been touched and 95% of music played is Qobuz and hidef internet radio.
So there is only one ting to do 4ya…



Streaming, assuming you have a quality streamer on a properly set up network and ripped files, is preferable to CD for me for improved sonics and ease of playing music. Having access to 7K locally stored files at your fingertips is pretty awesome. Of course there’s some front end effort involved to get to that point but it’s well worth it.

Value for money now I think a decent CD transport can give great results if you have a decent offboard Dac
Comparing my Innuos Moon Streamer combi with decent ethernet cables v a Meridian CD transport into my Naim Dac yes it is better. However the CD holds its own and I would suspect if the Innuos wasnt there and using a standard Nas would not be much in it

There is the storage space for CDs needed but for what pick them up for now there are pros and cons for both

I started my proper hofi journey with a cd5xs into a nait xs. When I upgraded to a 272-200 I traded both the cd player and amp in and moved to streaming.

Since then I have invested in a decent TT which I think gets the musicality right if not quite the level of detail as I do from high quality rips however I definitely like the physicality of it. I therefore very recently bought a high quality cd transport (a cd player without a dac) and am using the 272 as the dac.

I haven’t done a direct comparison to a rip of the same cd but I must say that I have listened to at least 40 of my cd albums in the past few weeks of owning the transport and therefore regardless of my thoughts on sq comparison, (I’m sure in reality there aren’t any differences to speak of), im wanting to listen to more music so that’s a plus in my book. My advice would be to keep the cd player anyway, if nothing else but for convenience, ripping a large library can be tiresome.

I buy CD’s to rip to my NAS for local playback. I also buy used CD’s cause they are cheap!

In my networked system I have a Unitiserve SSD used predominately only for ripping CDs, an HDX, used for ripping and as a music server plus QNAP NAS (both as the main repository for ripped CD’s and backup for the HDX and another AUSTOR NAS for music and other media storage/backups. All music I as stored from day one as wav files as storage is cheap (well over 20TB across the NAS drives; all RAID 5, high quality NAS drives; it is very expensive though if trying to do the same with SSD drives even at a 1/4 of the NAS HDD capacity). Playback is via NDS, NDX, HDX or Unitiqute/DACV1, MUSO Qb depending on which room in the house one is in (everyone wants to listen to their own type of music) and the CDS3 is with the main system. The CDS3 still sees regular use as some family members like to use the main system only and play their CD’s without going through one of the streamers or servers.
From a practical point of view and sound quality, if there is a difference between the CDS3 and the ripped files played through the main system, it is slight, with the edge ever so slightly going to the CDS3. I have found WAV file format to be the best (FLAC a close second) and I do not have a problem with storing a huge collection of music digitally in WAV format. I also find the transcoding of data from whatever format back to WAV for playback somewhat unnecessary.
Just to stir the pot somewhat, if the same recording is on vinyl, almost universally the favorite source to listen to the music is still vinyl although the CDS3 and NDS do a very fine job as well and the NAS/streamer access is certainly much more convenient.
Would I give up the CDS3, maybe, as the HDX using either the NDS DAC or nDAC is also an extremely fine sounding CD player and to be honest, cannot really hear a difference (plus it would clear up 2 shelf spaces on my rack) but would still have CD playback capability.
More importantly as others have stated, used CDs are cheap and often purchasing even a new CD and ripping it is significantly cheaper than buying the entire album on-line. I only buy on-line if the music I am interested in is available in a format with higher resolution than what I can rip the same CD with using my Naim rippers.
Apologies for the length. :slight_smile:

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Welcome to the forum! Like many, I have not played a cd in many years. I have a home server with files that I ripped from cd’s or purchased online.

The major differences between playing ripped files vs. the cd’s themselves will come from the different hardware, as opposed to the mere fact that the digital data file is on a drive vs. on a cd rom. This makes it hard to a vs. b the sound. Experience has shown many of us that we can just ignore that. Listen to digital players and/or read reviews and buy the best sounding one you can afford. (I’d give that same advice to someone shopping for a cd player.)

I have not missed my cd’s at all! I much much much prefer in-home streaming them.

Good luck!