What produces better sound quality, streaming high def or playing downloaded hi def flac files via the roon server?

I currently buy hi-def albums and run Roon Server on a dedicated Windows 10 machine.

Do I get the same sound quality if I stream from a service like Tidal or Qobuz or better?

Sign up for a trial account and try it yourself. No one can decide for you.

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I’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference TBH - streaming from Tidal sounds fantastic, every bit as good as CD rips or downloads (redbook or hi-res) to my ears. You are more likely to run into issues where what is available on a streaming service may not be the same master as what you buy as a download or rip from a CD. That may or may not matter to you, but for me that’s a small inconvenience compared with having essentially unlimited music a couple of clicks away for less than a bottle of wine a month. But as @ged_hickman1 said, you should only believe your own ears!

If the two files (streamed and downloaded) are identical* (and consequently are made of the same master), then there is no difference in sound quality.
From a technical point of view, the option of using the downloaded file is much less prone to technical problems (network problems, unavailability of the streaming service etc.).

  • NOTE: “Identical” also means the same format: normal FLAC or MQA.

It all depends of the recording quality… a recording made with great care can even as a mp3 (320 kb/s) be of fantastic sound quality. And most important of all are room acoustics, this affects sound for more than 50%!

My preference for the best sound is 1- cd player 2- hi res files -3 tidal. I’ve compared this a few times between meridan 506 cd player -nas -node2/zen stream going into gustard x16,cd is more fuller /better bass /more resolution,nas is pretty close but I can still hear the diffrence and my hearing ain’t to good aswell,last is tidal,dosent sound bad by any means but I probaly use it different from most as I use it to discover music and buy the cd

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