Tidal streaming vs Nuc i3 (ROCK) internal HDD ripped music (using XLD), Tidal seems better

I took up the offer for Tidal for 12 days. My first foray into Tidal

Interesting for me Tidal on most album tracks (flac 44.1) sounds better against the corresponding same album tracks ripped on my hard drive (the rips are done on my Imac using XLD, accurateRip). Sure my rips are not the same since I don’t have the same source file (a CD in my case) but nevertheless Tidal sounds better (more relaxing).

The Tidal tracks have a quieter background and more separation between the instruments especially in terms of depth and better timing. It’s not massive though. It seems my ripped music has more bass but not as tight and controlled and the music in general is slightly muddled (this is what I mean by timing) compared to Tidal.

My system: Modem/Router -> cat 6a -> Nuc i3 (with SBooster 19V+ 750GB Western Digital Red HHD, ROCK) -> Ghent Audio Lan cable -> SOtM SMS 200 --> Singxer F1 usb to spdif --> Dac -> etc …

Btw, I’m using Roon for local Nuc i3 internal HDD music and Tidal streaming. Note also I’ve bridged the Lan ports (or correctly separate sub-nets) on the Nuc i3.

Question: When streaming from Tidal, I presume Roon doesn’t use the internal HDD in the Nuc i3, is that correct?

Question: If so, I was a curious when playing from the internal Nuc i3 HDD drive if the next track is read from the HDD drive all at once and buffered in the SSD m2 drive or continually read from the HDD?

I ask since I’m wondering if the internal HDD drive of the Nuc i3 could be replaced by a SSD drive for a better sound, closer to the Tidal tracks? My internal Nuc i3 HDD is quite noisy.

Alternatively, it could be that my ripped tracks with XLD using Imac are simply not good as the corresponding Tidal Flac files?

Yeah, I know there are a lot of variables here. I’m just trying to ascertain if possibly a change from HDD to SSD may make for better music.

I was planning to run a NUC with Roon and a similar setup as yours thinking it would be better than Tidal. After reading your post I will hold off a little. I am very interested how you test develops.

On my non NuC system they sound the same. They sounded the same when I used a non SSD and before that my Nas. Just my experience though ymmv

This can actually be quite an important factor in differences you may be hearing though - i.e. potentially different masterings…

Years ago when I was mastering a recording session so it could be pressed on CD. When the CD’s came in they did not sound as good as the mastering recording that was sent to the factory so they went back. Second batch sounded a bit better but still not as good as the master version on harddrive, same bitdepth and samplerate. That was the time (16 years ago) I lost my faith in CD as a medium and started to use computer audio solely at home as well.

The answer is no, not read in all at once. Roon is designed to feed many different streams at the same time, among other things. So it reads in data as it needs it. I don’t know if its bit by bit, but it isn’t whole tracks at a time. That would require a lot of extra overhead.