If one correctly configures the unique redbook audio sample offset per computer optical drive before making an EAC rip, then you will get identical music data off the disc between different drives - unless there are read errors that are not detected when ripping. It is hard to make an error-containing rip when properly using the tools, as C1/C2 error data can be gathered, and aggressive re-reads performed in "secure" mode until accurate audio data is extracted. The extracted file checksum can be verified using the online database, and additionally, the resulting wav files can be compared by other checksum tools such as md5sum. You will get the same digital audio as was mastered to the disc, regardless of drive, when there are no problems. One does not need to do a listening comparison test to see the data is identical between drives. Then the question is whether the CD player would still provide better audio. The standalone audio CD player does not do aggressive re-reads when encountering disc read errors, and instead uses masking techniques that can audibly change the audio when the read errors are significant enough - but without otherwise providing indication of these playback errors - so "live" music played back from a CD transport is not as trustworthy as that which has been digitally extracted. The quality of the player's built-in DAC vs external DAC or soundcard is not mentioned above. Certainly the choice of digital-to-analog converter will affect the sound, but we can expect the same audio output whether it is digital from the optical output of the CD deck or the same digital audio from computer-based playback that is sent through the same DAC unit.