This article explained really well the difference between vinyl and digital formats.
Basically, streaming really sucks due to compression. That's obvious even to my crappy ears. CD's are a big step up from streaming, but there is still a difference between CD's and vinyl. This article explains that really well. I think you'd need pretty good ears to hear the difference though (better ears than mine). The explanation blew my mind. CD's get sampled at 44KHz, which is fast enough to resolve all frequencies within human hearing range. The highest we can hear is about 20kHz. To resolve that frequency, you'd need to sample at >2X that frequency. So they picked 2X 20kHz, plus a 10% margin of error. Problem is, our ears can't resolve frequencies higher than 20kHz, but our neurons are capable of resolving *information* much faster than even 44kHz. In fact, we can tell when a sound hits one ear before the other (that's one way we can tell what direction a sound is coming from). That's on the order of 2 to 3 microseconds. So our brains are capable of resolving information from our ears every 2 to 3 microseconds, but a CD is only sampled once every 22 microseconds (1/44000 seconds). So there is still a tiny stair step squareness to the sound of a CD player that some people can detect.
TL;DR - You'd have to increase the sampling rate of a CD player by about 10X to make it impossible for any human to be able to tell the difference between a CD and a record.
Is Vinyl Better Than Digital?
Neil Young was a famous rock musician in the 1970s, specializing in live performance and weird acoustic spaces, like the echo-filled iron sawdust burner I once camped in as a kid. In a recent interview for The New York Times Magazine, he claimed that digital compression technology — CD, MP3, streaming — undermines human dignity. Of the thousands of comments in response, many readers denounced him as emotional, anti-scientific, a Luddite and even partly deaf. But might Young know something the rest of us don’t?
Put another way, if a sensitive, world-acclaimed innovator denounces his industry and its technology for undermining human dignity and brain function, something big is up. Who could be more qualified than a world expert — with loads of experience and no incentive to fib — to call the alarm about widespread technological damage?
Young isn’t the first to denounce digital and acclaim analog. Legions of self-proclaimed audiophiles have lamented the loss of vinyl LPs since digital CDs first appeared in the 1970s. Likewise, legions of people who grew up talking for hours on old-fashioned analog telephones hate talking on digital cellphones now. For decades, there has been a deep-set conflict between those who claim analog has some ineffable “presence” missing in digital versus those with technical know-how who can explain how analog and digital actually work. In essence, the producers of digital tech claim it is flawless, while the most sensitive consumers claim it is awful. They can’t both be right.