I recently began to understand (at least I hope so) a few more correlations in this context than before.
It certainly all depends on the effort taken to reduce noise in a transport or streamer/server.
But assumed a transport plays from cache and not from disc and otherwise similar effort is taken to suppress or avoid noise as well as for power supplies etc. as in the compared streamer/server, the transport must logically beat the streamer/server, as the latter, by having more processing work to do, possibly an SSD with an add. processor or a HDD with add. spinning discs inside and having to deal with an incoming network connection, has worse preconditions. Ok you can say as long as the disc drive inside the transport still spins while the unit is playing from cache, there’s a similar source for noise inside, but anyway I think its preconditions are better if the same anti noise effort is taken around it. A transport which first reads the whole disc into cache and then switches the drive off and plays from memory might be the best theoretical solution, as it’s somehow like a comparable streamer without external network connection
All this assumed one doesn’t stream online but from own storage and doesn’t use Flac or other non native PCM Format, but AIF or Wav, otherwise the streamer has another disadvantage.
But what’s the streaming advantage? That with a transport one can only play the limited availability of SACD‘‘s as hires, but one has to play most of all available music as CD format, which is otherwise to a large extent available as hires for streaming. Certainly a big disadvantage…not so relevant for those who mainly want to play their already existing CD collection.
Finally I personally think the remaining quality differences between a drive and a streamer, designed with similar care for anti noise measures nowadays are smaller, than the sound quality benefit of tons of hires by streaming vs. CD quality from a spinner.
Another matter I’d love to go more in detail with people who are into the comparison processes and experience all this. So far most just obtain information to scratch the surface and take false conclusions.
As nowadays still quite a lot happens around anti noise measures and things are not fully experienced yet even among experts, I’d say, the later released unit with the newer technology currently by trend beats the one released before, no matter if drive or streamer.