CDX2 vs streaming.

I have a 272 on demo and have had the chance to compare my bare CDX2 against both lossless CD rips and HIFI Tidal. The results have surprised me. Firstly I'm really surprised at the poor audio quality on tidal. I was expecting to hear beautiful lossless FLAC files flowing from the system. But the sound is a little flat. There's a loss of dynamics and everything sounds disappointingly dull. Switch to the CDX2 and music is flowing again and there's a smile on my face. Now the next comparison surprised me even more. After ripping a few discs to my laptop it was time to hear what lossless files streamed from here sounded like. It was fantastic. In fact I tried a few tracks and I couldn't hear the difference between CDX2 and streamed files. I'd didnt have time for an extended listen so I'll try it all again this evening, but i at the moment I can see why so many have fallen for the 272. 

Original Post

In theory streamed files from your local source (laptop of a NAS drive) should should better than a CD as they're error corrected when saved, rather than when played as with any CD player.

I have a NAC N-272 and really love it.  Plus I love the naim app, which is really rather cool. . .

I'm interested in your findings with Tidal. I think it sounds really ropey via my 272 and it baffles me how people can use it as their main source of music - they really are hobbling their system's potential. It's great for casual listening or checking out albums before buying them, but £240 a year is a lot to pay just for that. 

Anyway, I'm glad you are enjoying the 272. Some of the what you are hearing may be down to the superior preamp in the 272 compared to that in the Supernait, and your CDX2 into a 282 may well beat the 272. As to which route you go it's down to box count partly. If you go 282 then it's four boxes, excluding the napsc, and five if you add an XPS. With the 272 it's two, and three if you add the XPS. And with streaming there's something great about downloading albums and not having to buy the CD, and also being able to rip your existing CDs and shove them away in the loft. We had 2,000 CDs cluttering up the place and now we've got our walls back. Of course, you may miss the hands on experience, which some people like. With a 272 you get internet radio and BBC catch up too, all from the Naim app with no need to fire up the computer. 

There is no right way, so think it all through carefully.

I have heard Tidal a few times now and, like others above, cannot understand how something that sounds like poor AM radio with over-compression, can even remotely be contemplated as a source. One would be better off finding a YouTube video and let the visual distraction mitigate the poor sound quality, if the only use is of trying out new music.  

Finkfan posted:

I've done just that. I could not decern any difference between nearly £5500 of CDX2 and TQ black diamond DIN into 272 and streamed lossless files from my £500 laptop. 

That's another nice thing about the 272/250: apart from the speaker cables it only needs one wire to link it together. It's one of the reasons I went that way rather than NDX/SN2. 

Interesting, WAV from a Synology NAS into my NDX (into olives/B&W804s) sounds significantly better than Tidal which is a bit flat and compressed in comparison, but nowhere near as bad as being experienced by other people. The vast majority of my listening is done via the turntable and local streaming, but if I want to listen to something I don't happen to own (or the cat won't let me get up to go to the turntable) I'm quite happy with  acceptable sound quality from Tidal. I don't think I'd live with Tidal as my only source, but I can certainly enjoy music through it when I want to hear something, indeed that's why I bought the NDX, otherwise the HDX would still be my main digital source.

It could be down to the quality of the Internet connection, I'm lucky enough to have a good Infinty connection which seems to offer lots of bandwidth with reasonable latency and jitter. Or it could be as simple as the flatness of the Tidal sound being partly compensated by the 82/135 amps. Or it might just be my tolerance level for the lack of dynamics is higher than others.

Nick from Suffolk posted:

I have heard Tidal a few times now and, like others above, cannot understand how something that sounds like poor AM radio with over-compression, can even remotely be contemplated as a source. One would be better off finding a YouTube video and let the visual distraction mitigate the poor sound quality, if the only use is of trying out new music.  

When Tidal integration first arrived, it was widely praised on this forum as sounding pretty good, with many users saying it was very close to the standard of local streaming from a NAS/server. I'm curious as to why, over the course of time, some have been less complimentary about it? My own findings are that at its best (and it's quality can be inconsistent) Tidal is not really very much worse than a local CD rip. I have certainly never heard it sounding anywhere near as bad as YouTube.

@wenger2015 the 272 has only been up and running since Friday and I have no idea how much burn in time is needed. You have to pop round for a listen and see what you think. I still have a lot to figure out. I don't know how to get the thumbnail images of my music to show up on the app. Just get a black box. I've not tried Spotify yet. Not sure if you need to sign up to a paid account for that to work? Or if I can send the free version over from my iPhone via Bluetooth? I've got a few weeks to have a play around. 

I'm sure it's not really that bad, but in my experience it's nothing like a CD rip and I've always said as much, right from when we started beta testing it. I've had three free trials and during that time I've listened to quite a few albums and always been disappointed. I've found it thin and weedy sounding, and as Finkfan noted, sort of flat. At least I've never had to pay for it. 

Finkfan posted:

@wenger2015 the 272 has only been up and running since Friday and I have no idea how much burn in time is needed. You have to pop round for a listen and see what you think. I still have a lot to figure out. I don't know how to get the thumbnail images of my music to show up on the app. Just get a black box. I've not tried Spotify yet. Not sure if you need to sign up to a paid account for that to work? Or if I can send the free version over from my iPhone via Bluetooth? I've got a few weeks to have a play around. 

I'm sure you will get some posts, that will offer some good advice 

Finkfan posted:

@wenger2015 the 272 has only been up and running since Friday and I have no idea how much burn in time is needed. You have to pop round for a listen and see what you think. I still have a lot to figure out. I don't know how to get the thumbnail images of my music to show up on the app. Just get a black box. I've not tried Spotify yet. Not sure if you need to sign up to a paid account for that to work? Or if I can send the free version over from my iPhone via Bluetooth? I've got a few weeks to have a play around. 

You can use the free version of Spotify over Bluetooth, but to use Spotify Connect with the Naim app, you need a paid Premium account. There's probably still a free trial for this.

As being into classical music, I strongly prefer Spotify because many albums are on Spotify. Spotify is for me mainly a directory which I use do discover new music and therefore I would never be able to see Tidal as a serious alternative. Once I like the performance / album / artist / composer, I go to e.g. Qobuz to buy the album and store the downloaded Wavs on my NAS. This gives me the best result. Either good downloads or good CD-rips. All in Wav.

Back to the original topic, a good CD player is something special. I switched on my old Cd5i (by far no CDX2) yesterday since some time and I liked it. It was magic. Music was painted for me in my living room.

ChrisSU posted:
Nick from Suffolk posted:

I have heard Tidal a few times now and, like others above, cannot understand how something that sounds like poor AM radio with over-compression, can even remotely be contemplated as a source. One would be better off finding a YouTube video and let the visual distraction mitigate the poor sound quality, if the only use is of trying out new music.  

When Tidal integration first arrived, it was widely praised on this forum as sounding pretty good, with many users saying it was very close to the standard of local streaming from a NAS/server. I'm curious as to why, over the course of time, some have been less complimentary about it? My own findings are that at its best (and it's quality can be inconsistent) Tidal is not really very much worse than a local CD rip. I have certainly never heard it sounding anywhere near as bad as YouTube.

i found tidal to be very close to local streaming, specially since i upgraded my network.But i prefer discovering music free on itunes , with my ipad, and then downloading on qobuz or highrez audio. 

Charlie posted:

In theory streamed files from your local source (laptop of a NAS drive) should should better than a CD as they're error corrected when saved, rather than when played as with any CD player.

I really don't get that at all. Unless the CD is damaged this is going to be the same whether ripped or played... that is the nature of Redbook, very advanced self correcting data structure for many low density errors. A fault in the CD read that is uncorrectable will result in a glitch in terms of a skip, a silent pause or click... 

Finkfan

i have Tidal with my 272,and I find that some recordings sound great,others not so much.I actually find that internet radio sounds much better than Tidal,I mainly listen to Naim's choice>Naim radio 320k,or Radio paradise 320k,Linn Jazz..these stations sound really good to my ears,although not as good as streamed files.I also just use USB thumb drives plugged directly into the front of the 272,it is quick and easy,and sound exceptional.

ChrisSU posted:
Finkfan posted:

@wenger2015 the 272 has only been up and running since Friday and I have no idea how much burn in time is needed. You have to pop round for a listen and see what you think. I still have a lot to figure out. I don't know how to get the thumbnail images of my music to show up on the app. Just get a black box. I've not tried Spotify yet. Not sure if you need to sign up to a paid account for that to work? Or if I can send the free version over from my iPhone via Bluetooth? I've got a few weeks to have a play around. 

You can use the free version of Spotify over Bluetooth, but to use Spotify Connect with the Naim app, you need a paid Premium account. There's probably still a free trial for this.

FYI - Only the Spotify paid subscription provides the 320kbp "extreme" bit rate (at least here in Canada.) I like it and use it a lot - For well recorded material it is rather good and has an excellent library. 

One of the best things about streaming is the availability of high resolution files. Listening to say Meet Me In London  (on Naim label) or Mavis Staples "One True Vine" is great. On the basis of "source first" then this also a cheap upgrade. A few hundred downloads compared to say $5000 on a cd player? 

My CD rips sound much better than playing the cd direct. I have a mediocre Marantz, so no surprise there. But having heard a CDx2, (which was great), I would be more inclined to upgrade streamers.

Yes there are plenty of albums that may work better on vinyl, but I won't go there again. Get the occasional yearning for an LP12 but rather than spend $5000 on a decent second hand one would improve the streamer.

The user experience with streaming is the best I have ever had. There is enough decent hi-res to keep me happy. 

Having heard the NDX and NDS I can see that it's possible to get real hifi in the digital world.

A 272 or beyond would be my next step

 

I'm really enjoying the 272. I didn't think streaming would be for me, but It sounds great. It's still early days but I'm starting to think about trading in the CDX2 and DIN cable. This would free up funds (and room) for something else like the uniti core or a power supply. I like the idea of the core. Put the disc in. Let it do its thing. Then press play. Brilliant. 

Finland, keep in mind  simple laptop or PC/Mac to rip CD to  a NAS.  Core is OK for ripping, but then what?  You start buying hidef (24 bit) downloads & its ripping function is doing nothing.   Cost & the flexibility of so many other features  of NAS win hands down & by a significant amount.  And the same is true of any & all of the CD rip machines.

No quarter posted:

Yes but Dupree just added a Core to his 272,he has a subject about it under Streaming,and says the sound is much better than through a NAS,or I assume laptop.One thing I know for sure,the 272 is much better with an XPS DR.

On a well implemented network there should be no difference between NAS and direct Serve playback.

Finkfan posted:

Good point Mike. It's all new to me. I want to keep things simple. At the moment I'm ripping to my laptop with wmp which is very easy. 

Yes it's easy with a Core/Serve & maybe a little easier than with a laptop.  But for goodness sake what is so hard about ripping with a laptop?  My concern with all the CD rippers is that once you have ripped all your CD's ,  then what. OK the Core is a good server & only the rip section becomes redundant, but it is now effectively a NAS that costs x4 a normal two bay NAS.  NAS has more flexibility in UPnP software selection & file management compared to what I found to be restrictive limitations of the UServe.      I'm not getting into which has the 'best' SQ other than say I have a friend who is convinced his new Qnap is better than his old US & one or two forum members agree.    Final point is you need to forget WMP (OK for laptops) & move to lossless such as .wav, .flac etc.. 

Finkfan posted:

I'm really enjoying the 272. I didn't think streaming would be for me, but It sounds great. It's still early days but I'm starting to think about trading in the CDX2 and DIN cable. This would free up funds (and room) for something else like the uniti core or a power supply. I like the idea of the core. Put the disc in. Let it do its thing. Then press play. Brilliant. 

I felt very much like that when I started with streaming. I bought a Unitiserve for precisely the reasons you mention. I'd probably have been too scared to do it otherwise. 

But two years later, with the albums all ripped, the Serve was just an expensive box. Out of interest I tried streaming direct from my backup Nas and found the sound to be better. So I sold the Serve. 

When I rip CDs now I use dbpoweramp, which gives total control of the album art and metadata in a way that the Serve never did. Four years down the line I'm still finding albums with very poor album art, and occasional misnamed tracks, which were ripped by the Serve. There really is nothing special about it, other than convenience, and the same goes for the Core. On the other hand, as mentioned above, the XPSDR really does make a large improvement over the bare 272.

 

Finkfan posted:

I'm really enjoying the 272. I didn't think streaming would be for me, but It sounds great. It's still early days but I'm starting to think about trading in the CDX2 and DIN cable. This would free up funds (and room) for something else like the uniti core or a power supply. I like the idea of the core. Put the disc in. Let it do its thing. Then press play. Brilliant. 

And I fully understand how you feel @Finkfan.

I bought my UnitiServe for exactly the same reasons.  Several years later (and 4 UnitiServes on), with a fully implemented NAS, I still would not imagine my network without a convenience of the UnitiServe. If and when I dies, I will simply buy the Core.

Regardles of the solution you decide (Core or NAS)  - streaming on a local network, be it CD rips or high-resolution files, is a joy to use. 

Finkfan posted:

I'm really enjoying the 272. I didn't think streaming would be for me, but It sounds great. It's still early days but I'm starting to think about trading in the CDX2 and DIN cable. This would free up funds (and room) for something else like the uniti core or a power supply. I like the idea of the core. Put the disc in. Let it do its thing. Then press play. Brilliant. 

If you're considering a Core, and see this upgrade process as a straight replacement of your CD player, I would consider trying the much vaunted SPDIF output of the Core into an NDAC, which I suspect would give you better sound quality for less cash. You'd have the same PSU upgrade options as you have with the CDX2 or 272. (Plenty of other DACs that you could choose from, too.)

Nick from Suffolk posted:

I have heard Tidal a few times now and, like others above, cannot understand how something that sounds like poor AM radio with over-compression, can even remotely be contemplated as a source. One would be better off finding a YouTube video and let the visual distraction mitigate the poor sound quality, if the only use is of trying out new music.  

I completely agree with Chris and a number of others who have replied to your post.

Tidal sound quality sounds pretty good to me. It's maybe not quite as good as local 16 bit CD rips, but there isn't a huge difference, and the sound quality is significantly better than that of Spotify Premium to which I used to subscribe.

Nick, if you have truly found that Tidal sounds like poor AM radio with over-compression, then either something is badly wrong with your setup or with your implementation of Tidal. It sounds absolutely nothing like AM radio at all, and contrary to your observation it most certainly can be contemplated as a decent source.

Of course, I access Tidal via Linn on one of my systems, and via Lumin/BubbleuPnP on the other and not via Naim Audio. However, I did at one time use a Naim ND5XS/Hugo streaming setup, and Tidal sounded perfectly reasonable on that, so I don't think a poor Naim implementation of Tidal can be blamed for your findings. Indeed, I recollect that when I attended a Naim Statement demo last year (using an NDS/555 streaming combo), some of the demonstration tracks were played sourced from Tidal. Hardly something that Naim would have contemplated if it sounded no better than AM radio.     

ChrisSU posted:
Finkfan posted:

I'm really enjoying the 272. I didn't think streaming would be for me, but It sounds great. It's still early days but I'm starting to think about trading in the CDX2 and DIN cable. This would free up funds (and room) for something else like the uniti core or a power supply. I like the idea of the core. Put the disc in. Let it do its thing. Then press play. Brilliant. 

If you're considering a Core, and see this upgrade process as a straight replacement of your CD player, I would consider trying the much vaunted SPDIF output of the Core into an NDAC, which I suspect would give you better sound quality for less cash. You'd have the same PSU upgrade options as you have with the CDX2 or 272. (Plenty of other DACs that you could choose from, too.)

In that scenario the SU would still ultimately need replacing, and the OP would get no internet radio or Tidal, or the option for the very good FM module. It's certainly an option to consider though. 

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