Audio Quality

I am just curious if I can get an answer to what may be unanswerable.    I have a WD Live Plus that I use mostly as a music file server.   I have ripped all my CDs in flac format and they are on a directly connected Seagate terabyte drive.   The WD is connected via HDMI to an Integra 30.5 receiver and I use B&W 683 speakers.   This is a new system and in setting up the receiver and speakers a freind who is a high end audioholic brought over a Meridian server with both High Def and standard CD music on it and we connected it to the receiver using a high quality coaxial digital cable.    We used the Meridian until we felt that we had optimized speaker placement and receiver settings, then switched to the WD.

There is a very noticeable degradation in audio quality using the WD.   We experimented a little and found that it was best when using the HDMI direct setting on the WD rather than the stereo setting but it is still significanly worse than the Meridian reference.   Note that the best sound quality through the receiver is obtained using the music direct option rather than a 5.1 setting of any sort.    The music quality is good using the WD but given the quality using the Meridian, it is clearly not what it could be.   Granted, the Meridian is a 4-5 thousand dollar piece but we are just talking digital data streaming.

Does anyone have any insight into this and is there any further tweaking of the WD that can be accomplished?    Are the chip sets in the later WD devices likely to be better?   The WD product line has many virtues and it is about the only device that I know of that is reasonably priced that is usable to stream music from an external drive.     I also have a Sonos Connect in the system but it is not nearly as good as the WD and I use it mostly for the great user interface.

I don’t think there’s much you can do other than setting the audio to pass-through. The audio processor on the Live/Plus is quite basic and just enough to decode audio but not even HD audio.