Red Book CD, WAV, FLAC - Silk Purse Sow’s Ear?


I don’t get this Digital stuff. We’ve all got well recorded CDs and some shall we say less so.

Currently listening to a legacy Von Karajan DG recording (AAD) of Mozart 38 on CD. Just sublime expansive it just engulfs you. Conversely earlier I listened to Chavez Ravine by Ry Cooder and despite there being some really interesting content it’s compressed and you’re just left with the feeling that this should have a whole lot more impact. So I tried a little experiment. I switched to my Qb streamed Chavez from Tidal in FLAC and it still sounded narrow. Now I guess I understand that the guys at Tidal merely rip standard red-book recordings onto their system so they can’t improve upon the original data.

I get that a high res version of a piece might be better because presumably it has in some way been remastered(?) but why do proponents of streaming claim that a CD ripped to FLAC or WAV will sound better than when played back on a good CDP? Surely it’s just trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?

If this is a stupid question okay guilty as charged!



Maybe a GREAT digital player will sound better than a GOOD cdp. Other that that, I dont know any proponent of streaming who claims what you claim they claim. I’ve not read that here - with any regularity at least.


One reason is a CD rip can be played bit perfectly without needing error correction. It’s worth having a listen to some streamers and then you will know the answer yourself. :grinning:
Generally a Naim system will make most music enjoyable but won’t make it all sound the same. If you desire that then try Amstrad :wink:

Not sure i understand either Lindsay, but its probably not much different to vinyl mastering. If its say even Steely Dan…Aja, so many different copies out there, vinyl or cd, without what streaming companies are doing to supply the stream. Sorry, probably did not help your question.

Do they? First I’ve heard of it.

The key phrase in your statement is “good CDP”. I don’t think people are claiming that at all. Without a doubt, below a certain threshold, the odds are stacked in streaming’s favor. I’d expect more from a $500 streamer than a $500 CD player given the simpler device with no moving parts to pollute the power supply and no read errors. But after a point, I think the discussion about streaming vs CD is more about how you want to access your music once you get to CDX2 vs NDX comparisons.

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I personally don’t see the OP premise as an argument or discussion subject.
I simply don’t want my house full of CD cases & the ugly space clogging racks that go with them, instead I have a little black box with more space potential than a small room full of CD’s
The fact that a ripped CD ‘might’ sound better & that 24-bit & DSD recordings ‘do’ sound better is a positive additional benefit over & above the space saving.


Personally I went for a streamer so I could use the space the CDs were occupying for more vinyl. The choice when i made this decision was between an NDX, NDS and/or some chord thing, The Merging NDAC looked interesting but was too deep for Fraim. I already had a 555ps from the CDX2. From what I’d heard of the NDS I wasn’t fully convinced so wasn’t too sure where to go, then Naim launched the new Unitis. A refreash of the streamers was an obvious next move so I ordered a Core and a Rega DAC as a temporary measure and waited, meanwhile ripping my CDs. When the ND555 was anounced it was a little more than I’d planned for but (with one ps) it’s the only digital player I’ve heard that doesn’t need the excuse of being digital, and that includes the CD555. You do have to pay a lot of attention to all the set up details.
I’ve never seen pigs ear leather, could one be suede?

After enjoying several Naim CD players over the years, culminating in the CDS3/555PSDR, we are making the switch to streaming. The primary reason was to clear over 1000 cds out of the living room (to make room for more vinyl :grin:) but the streamer had to equal or better the musical enjoyment that we derived from playing cds on the CDS3.

The sound quality hurdle proved to be a high bar to overcome but we have been able to do so at a considerable cost. Our primary source material is cds ripped using the AIFF codec, which we preferred over either compressed (level 5) FLAC or uncompressed FLAC.

The order has been placed, the cd player and 555PS are now with their new owners and we look forward to the end of September when the new streaming bits arrive.

In the meantime, best to go on a holiday!

Best regards, BF

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You might well have said so elsewhere, but are those bits…?

Indeed. All else being equal (including same or identical DAC), CD has to read a disk, a process that is prone to errors due to a variety of potential causes largely of completely absent in hard disk of solid state file storage. Becausr if this CD players have inbuilt error correction that fixes errors by, fir example, interpolation, and which although designed to be inaudible or minimally audible they can affect the sound compared to reading without errors to have to correct.i have cited this from time to time, though the way I have put it is that streaming from one!s own store has the potential to be higher quality (also of course streaming can play higher resolution files -adding to the potential.)

Hi Gavin,
Here’s a link to the relevant thread:
Finding a streamer to better our CDS3

It has been a bit of a journey, full of learning.

I hope the links works…

Best regards, BF


Thanks guys for the responses.

I’ve read on more than a few occasions that some maintain that a WAV or FLAC would give a musically more satisfying result than CD. In fact there was someone on the old Naim forum who maintained that WAV files from his laptop through a Lavry DAC (not expensive I understand) outperformed a CDS3. I haven’t done the test on my system so can’t comment. Technically, but as a luddite, I can see that removing the scope for jitter would yield a better result but equally I would have thought a well designed DAC would buffer the data and eradicate this problem.

My own experience with streaming is limited to using TIDAL on my Qb and I actually find it very useful. In time I think I will adopt it on my main system.



Online streaming has more challenges than from your own local store. The latter has the potential for the best achievable quality.

The Lavry DAC I heard was truly awful. No match for CD5i let alone CDS3. There are some first class DACs around these days. That said my computer audio setup is convenient, but sound quality is commensurate with my CDP: different because of DSP, but neither better nor worse SQ. Local computer audio or playing a CD sounds significantly better than Internet streaming services like Tidal to me.

I moved away from the Internet for TV and Audio. Ultraslow broadband with no sign of fibre is pretty pathetic in the village, but even on fast broadband I found Tidal poor.

I’m in the same camp as many others in this thread - I moved to streaming to increase the ease of access to my music by having it all in one place, and decrease the ‘clutter’ caused by years of collecting CD’s. I don’t see the sound quality of streaming as necessarily any better than playing a CD (although clearly it depends on what streamer/ CDP are being compared) - streaming just gives a lot more options, once you factor in hi-res/ CD quality downloads/ streaming services etc. Having various Muso’s around the house that can also access the network was a further benefit that emerged later on. I have no regrets about making the switch, but appreciate it is not for everyone.

Welcome pferrier.

Yes I get the convenience - if it all works okay.



Thanks, Lindsay.

Agree totally on the ‘if it all works okay’ point. My system is currently boxed up while we undergo house renovation work - the new set-up will have everything hardwired, which should eliminate/ greatly reduce a lot of the wi-fi pitfalls that can occur. Roll on getting it all set up again!


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