If hi-res FLAC already on Tidal/Qobuz, what's the point of ripping my CDs?

This isn’t really a theoretical question, but more practical, really.

I mean, yeah, I get that it’s nice to have a physical copy, and then it feels good to have the digital file on a NAS or whatever, so I’m thinking about the practical act of burning these CD’s one-by-one to FLAC files to store.

I use Roon with Tidal/Qobuz to play the same music I already have on CD. I don’t use a CD transport at this point, but I have re-ripped a chunk of my collection as FLAC files to my NAS, and they show up in my Roon library along with the many exact same albums that are already available on T/Q. (Previously I’d had nearly everything ripped as AAC, but as I’m listening on better equipment, and comparing it to the hi-res streams that sound really good, I don’t even bother playing those iTunes-ripped lossy files anymore.)

But is it worth it to rip a thousand CD’s that are already on Tidal/Qobuz? It’s growing wicked tiresome. (Sure if I have a CD that’s not on those services, yes. Ripping makes perfect sense.) I still listen to vinyl, but I don’t needle-drop at this point, so we’re really just talking about the process of ripping CD’s that already exist on those services.

Any thoughts, philosophies, soapboxes on the topic?

I’ll hang up and listen.

I’ve not tried Quboz, but in general I find that a CD ripped to AIFF locally sounds better than Tidal. I only use Tidal for things I don’t have locally.


because of one day tidal or quboz or both go away you will have no access to your music…

I went through this a few years ago. Sometimes your CD copy is better than the online version/master, sometimes it’s the opposite. I also like having my own local copy for music that’s important to me. Who knows where Tidal or Qobuz will be in a few years? Or what do you listen to when you don’t have internet access?

In general, I listen to music from my own local library and use Tidal to search / listen to new music. If it’s good, I’ll purchase my own copy of the best master I can find. (Sometimes this means buying the CD and ripping it.)

The exercise is also a good litmus test. I found that many old CD’s are not worth the effort. “Do I really want to spend 10 minutes ripping Enya’s Orinoco Flow from 1987???” And, depending on your age, at least half your CD’s were purchased for one or two particular songs so you don’t have to rip the entire album - think of it as making your last mix tape.


This is true. I ripped all of my CD’s several years back to non-upsampled FLAC via JRiver. My ripped CD’s sound better than even MQA files from Tidal.

Just think of how many hundreds or thousands of miles those Tidal files have to travel before they reach your system vs how many tens of feet your personally ripped FLAC files have to travel from your NAS to your system via your home network.

No, this really has nothing to do with it. More likely is that the online service has a different master than your local ripped version.

I don’t know, because similar results can be said about watching a Blu-Ray locally vs streaming the same movie through the same unit.

This is true - in the case of video streaming, this requires much more bandwidth than even hi-res audio, and the video streaming service will down-res the video to something your internet connection can handle.

Good responses.

Whether there’s an audible difference, that’s probably the biggest reason.

Also a good point to ask whether one day Tidal/Qobuz (and Roon) won’t be around.

But other services will take their place, connections will be faster, streams will be more reliable, streamed files will be better quality and hopefully there will be services to import our (Roon) library databases.

I simply can’t buy every album i’ve found that I really, really like – albums i discovered with Roon & T/Q. I mean, i’ve probably added 1000 albums to my Roon library that I didn’t own, just in the last couple of months. I mean, sure, I COULD buy them, and maybe I will over time. But that’s 10’s of thousands of dollars, and I’d be swimming in CD’s I’d have to rip!

I guess the thing is that I’m not hearing a difference between my ripped files and the hi-res stream. (At least on my modest system.) Tough, too, to swap quickly between sources to accurately hear any subtle differences. The files are the same, right? (For the majority, it’s FLAC 44.1/16.)

I think it’s simply a cost-benefit analysis thing, right? I have the CD’s, so I can rip them whenever. I guess it all boils down to me not NEEDING to do it if I can’t discern a difference, but I’m doing it because “it’s the right thing to do”.

Yes, the Tidal album is the same as your album ripped from CD if:

  1. You have the Tidal hifi plan that streams lossless CD quality and you are ripping your CD’s into a lossless format.
  2. The lineage / master of the Tidal album is the same as your CD.
  1. yes

  2. Usually, although i’ve found MQA files (and Qobuz highest-res files) can be made from different masters than what was ever on CD.

See: Are MQA versions sometimes different recordings?

Yes, I consider MQA to always be a different master even from the normal PCM version that is also available on Tidal.

always? (not being snarky… really wondering!)

Yes, I do. Maybe not quite a different ‘master’ but certainly a different version - one that’s been put through the MQA toolset to produce a 2nd MQA-encoded PCM 24/48 file. Now, whether you can tell a difference is a different story and would qualify as thread-crapping :wink:

ah, gotcha

" "

My most consistent, superior sound quality remains ripped or downloaded files served up via JRiver Media Center (JRMC) via Wi-Fi (from my iMac) to a router and then via Ethernet to the DS Sr. (w/ Bridge II). I use JRemote to surf, select and play. “Hi-Res” files of great recordings via Roon 1.6 (w/ Qobuz and Tidal libraries) are a close second.

I have not been able to convince myself that Roon can best JRMC. So I use the subscriptions to enjoy new music exploration and to listen to things I don’t yet own. Once I find a new favorite, I buy the CD or SACD and rip to my hard drive. I like to own physical copies of my music.


PS: My AIFF files via JRMC even best spinning CD’s on my Denon DVD 2900 and feeding the DS Sr. the digital (coax) output.

Definitely worth ripping your collection if you have some great recordings…my AIFF files via Bridge II and DS Sr. DAC sound better than playing the discs directly. YMMV depending on the quality of your spinner and DAC.

[Edit: I should have added “all things being equal” in there somewhere - meaning, that files of the same resolution tend to sound better streamed from my iMac than they do via Roon.]

I’m all in on streaming. I have been for a few years now. I have ripped all 1000+ of my CDs in FLAC and it is very rare that I purchase CDs anymore. The last few CDs I bought was because I couldn’t find them on Tidal or via HDTracks, etc. I have no worries that Tidal will go away. If it does I just start using a different service.

Now regarding sound difference, yes I have found some ripped versions sound better and some sound worse. I have also found this with Qobuz (beta tester). When I have multiple versions I just pick the one I like better and make that one my primary version.

Last check my Roon library was upwards of 3000+ albums. Without streaming I would not have purchased the 2000 additional CDs just to rip them to storage.

I’m about halfway through ripping my CDs as FLAC right now. I don’t use Tidal, but my concern is that whatever they have may be at a reduced dynamic range compared to my CDs from the 80s, 90s, and 00s.

Normally I listen to Qobuz. During 2 days earlier this week a hub failure meant I had no Internet, and I fell back onto FLACs stored on NAS. Overall the experience was subtly less satisfactory. I think that this is because the NAS contains predominantly ripped CDs, whereas on Qobuz I listen to a high proportion of hi-res. I have found the streaming experience so good that I rarely buy and rip CDs nowadays.