Streaming vs Hi Res or DSD downloads

Now that I have my Eversolo a6 I have the ability to enter the world of downloads. Never considered that until now. So far I’m all LPs, CDs, and streaming and I’m pretty happy with that. Makes me wonder why anyone would pay for downloads given how great hi res streaming sounds. I get the argument that you own a download but, in my experience, once an album is available for streaming on Qobuz the chances of it being dropped later is pretty low.
Also, I would have to think that availability is higher for hi res compared DSD. Haven’t looked into cost but seems like that would be an advantage for hi res as well.
My only experience with DSD has been with SACD and I can’t say I was bowled over with that. Education me. Is DSD head and shoulders better? Is it just another niche format? Should I even care?

The probability of a streaming service dropping a track (or a whole album) may be low, but it’s far from impossible. I’ve created over 20 “audiophile” playlists of my own in Qobuz over the last few years, and in the time between creation and now, most of them have at least one track that’s no longer available for streaming.

Now, I would never suggest that everyone should buy all (or any of) the stuff they stream, but keep in mind that if you don’t, all you’re doing is borrowing it from a library, and it’s a library over which you have no control whatsoever. The only absolutely certain thing you can say about that library is that at some point, its contents, or some portion of it, is going to vanish. I recall an article I read once about team sponsorships in professional cycling. Once a sponsor is obtained, the writer said, the only 100% sure prediction about the relationship is that it will end. For that reason, if I find an album I really like on a streaming service, I’ll usually buy and download it.


Unless the download sounds better the only advantage, I can see, is not having to find a space to store whatever physical media you’re investing in. That and shipping costs if you’re not buying from a brick and mortar store. A advantage of going the physical media route is you can sell it in the future if you want.

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fine sound can come from all formats…depends mostly on mixing choices by engineers/marketers and personal tastes

DSD can be great, but mostly disappointing to me. Often all sound comes from a center chair. That said, I have several DSDs and listen to many hi-res streams that are wonderful.

I am amazed most often by following good SQ rather than ‘good’ format, often impressed to see 44.1 on my streamer and dac having super staging and performer separation.

Furthermore, DSD format is quite limiting, ie the greatest performers almost never are represented on DSD.


I purchased files from Qobuz and downloaded them into AIFF files. I stored them in an external SSD drive (I like Samsung T7) because my current streamer does not have internal SSD anymore.

In the past I could not tell the SQ difference of these files from the same streaming albums, but ever since I changed the stock USB cable to a Nosdost Fry 2 c to a USB cable, the SQ is better from local files now.

Some of the DSD256 files sound great, and I like the downloads from HDTT. They are clean and detailed yet sounding more analog than other formats.


That Nordost cable costs almost as much as the Eversolo A6!

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In US you can get some discount from TMR. But I am looking from the SQ improvement point of view that OP was asking.

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The Qobuz streaming service only offered 16/44 until about 2016, after then it started to stream high-res PCM files. So before then some of us used to purchase high-res downloads. Qobuz made it worthwhile by offering them at about half price to top tier members.

Also in the early days there was quite a lot that was not in Qobuz, so you had to buy it anyway.

Nowadays they sell a negligible amount of downloads of stuff you can stream.

In 10 years with Qobuz not one file in my library has ceased to be available. To the contrary, files that were only available in 16/44 are now available in HD.

I never tried SACD and have been singularly unimpressed with DSD. Recording quality is far more important, then a nice clean digital signal path.

There are barely 2,000 pure DSD albums available, compared to millions in PCM. For me recordings captured and mastered in 24/96 PCM and output down to 16/44 PCM are perfectly fine. High resolution bandwidth is important to recording and editing, but not for playback.



and, almost all of the best in music is non-DSD

I do appreciate analog recordings coming available in DXD/DSD lately (e.g. through NativeDSD) and believe this has an added value compared with lower res formats. Perhaps this is just because of my relatively modest rig, if I may trust what Al says

DSD was developed by Sony as an archiving format, so releasing pure analogue transferred to DSD makes sense. @Rushton reviews a lot of these from a guy in the UK who transfers lots of old classical master tapes.

DXD is 32/384 or 32/392 PCM. It’s used for plenty of high res recordings and for editing DSD captures.

My impression is that on Qobuz the great majority of high-res files are 24/96 or lower, and 24/192 is fairly uncommon.

Personally with an Eversolo A6 I would use the optical output. It is by definition galvanically isolated and will be completely noise fee. No need for expensive usb cables. I presume it can be set to limit the output to 24/96, or else you can limit in Qobuz.

My perspective is that new closed audio formats are developed primarily to sell new hardware, with the promise of improved audio quality that may or not be true. 16/44 PCM was formulated as a standard and developed by Philips and Sony to sell CD machines, and was a great success. SACD was developed, again by Philips and Sony, to sell multi-channel audio hardware and was a complete failure. (SACD was developed to enable multi-channel 16/44 PCM, not 2-channel DSD.) MQA was developed as a closed system to sell MQA recoders and recoding licences, another complete disaster.

I have not tried Eversolo A6 so I can not say.

The Nordost USB c/a is actually used between the external SSD to the streamer to play files. I agree the quality of recording is more important than formats.


Some of my favorite recordings, I have it in just about every format, not because I like to waste money on the same recording over and over again, but because I wanted the best sound available on that recording, digital wise anyway. Analog is in another catagory. I find that when I go from an CD to a SACD, I get a slightly more detailed sound from the same recording, and now on up to DSD256 of the same recording, which just to me sounds in a different league as far as resolution and liveness is concern. Just for example “Waltz for Debby”. from Bill Evans, the DSD256 version can almost compete with my 45rpm version, which is really saying something! Lower format digital or streaming, forget it. Sounds too digital in the worst sense of that word to me. The harmonics leans out and cause the sound to sound on the sharp side, and the 3D separation and space suffers a bit with the lower formats.


The Eversolo A6 has the option of installing a $150 internal 2TB SSD drive, so external drives are not necessary. One of the great features, same as the Auralic Aries Mini.

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Tried a generic Toslink cable with my A6 and it wasn’t nearly on the same level of SQ as my AudioQuest carbon USB cable. USB out of my A6 really makes my Benchmark DAC sound better than it ever has before. Must be some kind of synergy going on.

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Then problem sorted. Some devices like Innuos and Auralic do usb very well. I used usb for years, with a cable that cost me $7. It’s still pretty cheap. I did spend about $100 on a Wireworld glass optical Toslink cable.

The DSD256 “Waltz for Debby” sounded amazingly better than my gold CD on the same album too.


Not all, but some of those new releases from HDTT and others are mastered from 2 track 15ips tape to DSD256 and are eye openers. It’s that good.


Is that an analog transfer? The only DSD that impressed me was Bill Evans’ “Some Other Time”, which was an analog transfer, and I was using DSD64.