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Question CD, Streamer, Hi-Res Bluetooth?

justinjured

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Jun 2, 2020
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Have started to upgrade my system and am wondering what the differences in sound quality there are between CD, Steamers and good quality bluetooth streaming are.
I recently bought a CXA61 amp with bluetooth capablity and although the hi-res stream via TIDAL is not as good as CD quality I am enjoying the massive convenience of having most tracks and albums at my finger tips, and am super impressed by the quality of the sound. I've never heard a dedicated music streamer in action and wondered where it stood compared to CD and High Res Bluetooth. Is it worth the outlay considering the cost of the cambridge audio CXN for example?
 

plus 1

Well-known member
Dec 5, 2019
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Have started to upgrade my system and am wondering what the differences in sound quality there are between CD, Steamers and good quality bluetooth streaming are.
I recently bought a CXA61 amp with bluetooth capablity and although the hi-res stream via TIDAL is not as good as CD quality I am enjoying the massive convenience of having most tracks and albums at my finger tips, and am super impressed by the quality of the sound. I've never heard a dedicated music streamer in action and wondered where it stood compared to CD and High Res Bluetooth. Is it worth the outlay considering the cost of the cambridge audio CXN for example?
may i ask what cd player are you comparing the tidal play back to ?
edit : i ask this as i have seen people claim tidal is better than cd for sound quality (?).
 
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justinjured

Member
Jun 2, 2020
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Arcam CD73, so around 15 years old and would be the next part of my system I would update, but am wondering if it is worth just making the jump to a streamer if sound quality is justified. The tidal, and cd is paired with Spendor S6 speakers which I am super happy with.
 
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shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Have started to upgrade my system and am wondering what the differences in sound quality there are between CD, Steamers and good quality bluetooth streaming are.
Hi,
There is no differences since bits are bits. As long as the streaming equipment does not cause delays in transporting the data to your DAC or other, such that there are dropouts, then there is no difference.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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Have started to upgrade my system and am wondering what the differences in sound quality there are between CD, Steamers and good quality bluetooth streaming are.
I recently bought a CXA61 amp with bluetooth capablity and although the hi-res stream via TIDAL is not as good as CD quality I am enjoying the massive convenience of having most tracks and albums at my finger tips, and am super impressed by the quality of the sound. I've never heard a dedicated music streamer in action and wondered where it stood compared to CD and High Res Bluetooth. Is it worth the outlay considering the cost of the cambridge audio CXN for example?
Out of interest, have you compared the sound of your CD player using its own DAC and the ESS DAC in your amp?
Whether or not you decide to upgrade it depends on your source priority.
You could always rip your CD collection and stream the files (from local storage) on the same streamer you get to stream the likes of Tidal, internet 'radio' etc.

(Fans of streaming sites ask why people bother ripping their CDs when 'everything' is available online. Those of us that have done it prefer to play the music that we own, forever at CD quality, with no monthly subscription and no chance of anyone ever turning it off at their whim).

As for choice of streamer. Massive price differences.
Control app and DAC are important considerations (though your CXA61's own DAC could be an option there too).
If the CXN was half the asking price, I'd have one myself. Actually prefer its looks to that of the new NAD M33 - though I'd stretch to the £800 for that, if only to try out it's built-in amp (trouble is, they want 4 grand for it :eek:).
 

plus 1

Well-known member
Dec 5, 2019
830
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Arcam CD73, so around 15 years old and would be the next part of my system I would update, but am wondering if it is worth just making the jump to a streamer if sound quality is justified. The tidal, and cd is paired with Spendor S6 speakers which I am super happy with.
thanks for the reply. it might just be that you prefer the sound of that cd player (?).
changing cd players may just give a "different" not "better" sound so beware !
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Audition if you can, but remember your phone must be aptx Bluetooth compatible, or HD Bluetooth compatible with the streamer’s Bluetooth capability.

Ordinary Bluetooth will always sound worst as it’s around MP3 quality and just doesn’t sound that good.
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Hi,
There is no differences since bits are bits. As long as the streaming equipment does not cause delays in transporting the data to your DAC or other, such that there are dropouts, then there is no difference.

Regards,
Shadders.
Normal Bluetooth always sounded worst as there are delays and jitter - which don’t necessarily result in dropouts.
 
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Stu18

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Oct 4, 2020
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You have a good CD player there with a Decent quality Woolfson DAC you will have a job bettering it without spending quite a bit of money, I have had a few Arcam CD players over the Years and find them to be excellent sounding players which can often be bagged for less that £100 on Ebay depending on the Model specs
 

Simon 13th note

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Jul 27, 2020
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The quality of streamers *can* be below CD quality into a DAC because the power supply, disc reading, DAC and output *can* be better optimised as a playback source. Among cheap streamers you've got issues with jitter and the effects of ethernet controllers and the noise over the network. Whether you hear all that depends on your ears and system.

If you are looking at the CXN I'd be looking at it from the DAC perspective as that often accounts why a digital source sounds better. dual mono CXN with twin dacs and your DAC is a stereo DAC, I suspect will yield something. I routed a bluesound node 2 into a Chord DAVE and it sounded terrific. But that DAC is £8k.

You don't need to spend a lot on streamers nowadays to get terrific sound and the DAC domain is ever important, prob more so, but it has to be in sink with the speakers and amps as no point spending on DACs without amps etc

There are other ways too and with those spendors I would be thinking of dynamic headroom which means better audio and detail, just like a DAC can achieve. If I wanted to get a sonic upgrade in your system personally I'd look at maybe adding another amp in a bi-amped set up if you can, and adding a cheaper dedicated streamer. You can get node 2is for £400 atm and they will be very good. The DAC wont be as important as the amplification in your system I think and I suspect those spendors will like a bit more power to give of best. If it were me and I had your hifi I suspect Id go for a streamer for functionality and amp upgrades for bigger sonic changes (obviously some time in future once you've enjoyed your amp). I was confused as to how you get Tidal into the HiFi as the CA isn't a streaming amp? that would effect the reckoning too.
 

amormusic

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Feb 24, 2016
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I have an Arcam DV79 for disc spinning (which I rarely do now), which was of its day was, I believe, well regarded and sounds decent to be fair. I stream Tidal most of the time and rarely spin a disc anymore.

I initially tried a Chromecast Audio, which for the 30 quid it costs is frankly the bargain of the century. This was not equal in SQ to CD playback. Then plumped for a CXN (V1, although both a V1 and V2 have the same dual Wolfson DACS onboard and there are only minor differences). The SQ of the CXN is very pleasing indeed. It really is a fantastic piece of kit. Compared to CD playback there was very little in it and I comfortably lived with this (and loved it) for about a year.

Then got a case of the "upgraditis" and sold the CXN and got the big brother 851N. Now this is a leap up, sounds amazing, and far exceeds CD quality - or certainly of my spinner anyway.

However, it comes down to cost. Its pos to pick a CXN up for somewhere from 350-450 used, whereas as 851N would be 800-900. The CXN would be a great addition to any system as they sound superb. The big brother though is in a different league altogether. There are many other streamers which will also sound awesome I'm sure. This is just my experience.

In short, what I'm saying is in my experience streaming can exceed CD, and by a big margin. If you pick up a decent streamer, you may find yourself very pleased indeed.

As for hi-res BT I cant comment on this. I did also previously try an Arcam rBlink bluetooth DAC, which whilst good was outdone by the Chromecast. This was not hi-res BT though.

A bit long winded reply but hope that's slightly helpful.
 
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Simon 13th note

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I have an Arcam DV79 for disc spinning (which I rarely do now), which was of its day was, I believe, well regarded and sounds decent to be fair. I stream Tidal most of the time and rarely spin a disc anymore.

I initially tried a Chromecast Audio, which for the 30 quid it costs is frankly the bargain of the century. This was not equal in SQ to CD playback. Then plumped for a CXN (V1, although both a V1 and V2 have the same dual Wolfson DACS onboard and there are only minor differences). The SQ of the CXN is very pleasing indeed. It really is a fantastic piece of kit. Compared to CD playback there was very little in it and I comfortably lived with this (and loved it) for about a year.

Then got a case of the "upgraditis" and sold the CXN and got the big brother 851N. Now this is a leap up, sounds amazing, and far exceeds CD quality - or certainly of my spinner anyway.

However, it comes down to cost. Its pos to pick a CXN up for somewhere from 350-450 used, whereas as 851N would be 800-900. The CXN would be a great addition to any system as they sound superb. The big brother though is in a different league altogether. There are many other streamers which will also sound awesome I'm sure. This is just my experience.

In short, what I'm saying is in my experience streaming can exceed CD, and by a big margin. If you pick up a decent streamer, you may find yourself very pleased indeed.

As for hi-res BT I cant comment on this. I did also previously try an Arcam rBlink bluetooth DAC, which whilst good was outdone by the Chromecast. This was not hi-res BT though.

A bit long winded reply but hope that's slightly helpful.
I reckon the improvement sonically comes from the DACs against your CD player, an older design. I tried Node 2 against CXN and difference wasn't massive. If you routed CCA into a better / great DAC it would be relatively marginal to better streamers like cxn, showing the capability of the DAC in streaming is most important. The streaming transport bit is much of a muchness on SQ but features are a consideration too!
 

amormusic

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Feb 24, 2016
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I reckon the improvement sonically comes from the DACs against your CD player, an older design. I tried Node 2 against CXN and difference wasn't massive. If you routed CCA into a better / great DAC it would be relatively marginal to better streamers like cxn, showing the capability of the DAC in streaming is most important. The streaming transport bit is much of a muchness on SQ but features are a consideration too!
Yes the internal DAC is important. I'm currently looking for a.used Jolida FX DAC, which I intend to plug into a Chromecast then have a shootout against my 851N.
 

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