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Sir Sanders Zingmore

Archimago blog on MQA (guess what, he's not a fan )

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Interesting reading:

http://archimago.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/mqa-final-final-comment-simply-put-why.html

 

Quote

We have 2 options currently:

1. We simply downsample to 48kHz while maintaining 24-bit resolution and give up the ultrasonic frequencies above 24kHz = STANDARD downsampling. 
2. We sacrifice 24-bit depth to "typically 15.85 bits" (Bob Stuart's words), and encode the ultrasonic frequencies from 24-48kHz in a lossy fashion = MQA encoding & decoding. [Throw in some stuff about "de-blurring" while you do this of course and claim you can recover everything else you "need" back to the "original" 192kHz. Turn on a LED/indicator telling us MQA decoding is happening, that there's no error in the stream and it's the "original" resolution (meaningless, but that's fine).]

 

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This chap is not a fan either

 

the most excitement about MQA seems to be from perfectionist consumers who want that blue LED and sense of authentication, pressuring DA makers to send that licensing money to MQA and catch up with a demand invented by MQA.  A cynical marketing scheme to be kind about it

 

http://fairhedon.com/2017/11/05/an-interview-with-mastering-engineer-brian-lucey/

Edited by Sir Sanders Zingmore

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Same as anything else that makes "claims". Where are the measurements? Where are the controlled tests? Sure, I get "better sound" from some Tidal Masters with the Dragonfly I'm using on my PC, but that may simply be due to mastering, or some trick.

 

Maybe I've missed it, and there are loads of measurements and statistically significant DBT results out there proving the impulse response claims, deblurring techniques and so on. Anyone got links to show that?

 

My own listening suggests that a small number of Tidal Masters sound better than the equivalent HiFi recordings. But this is sighted, and slight. Blind, it's very hard to tell the difference, as Archimago's respondents found. If you actually look at the marketing, they seem to be talking about the difference between MQA and low res MP3 - but the difference could be as audible between low res MP3 and higher res MP3.

 

The fact that it is hard to tell the difference means that MQA is suitable for streaming higher bitrate files if you want them for some other reason (such as having a DAC that requires higher resolution to play back at its best - but would that then be a new model including the MQA codec?).

 

Where does one buy an MQA equipped ADC? Er...

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I am a fan of MQA because I consistently hear more natural sound from both Tidal masters and from MQA encoded computer files, even though the DACs I use (DEQX or Redgum) are not MQA ones - so it relies only on the initial time deblurring of the AD conversion by MQA.  For example Jackson Browne's 'Casino Nation' on Tidal continually blows me away every time I hear it with its greater dynamics but with ease and its superb imaging, particularly compared to my non-MQA file.

 

Here is a guy who is also a fan (a recording engineer of long standing) with better reasoning than mine:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12979369-post417.html

though the whole thread (of audio professionals, not audiophiles) does have mixed views:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/1171365-mqa-discussion-denver-rmaf.html

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14 minutes ago, legend said:

I am a fan of MQA because I consistently hear more natural sound from both Tidal masters and from MQA encoded computer files, even though the DACs I use (DEQX or Redgum) are not MQA ones - so it relies only on the initial time deblurring of the AD conversion by MQA.  For example Jackson Browne's 'Casino Nation' on Tidal continually blows me away every time I hear it with its greater dynamics but with ease and its superb imaging, particularly compared to my non-MQA file.

 

Here is a guy who is also a fan (a recording engineer of long standing) with better reasoning than mine:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12979369-post417.html

though the whole thread (of audio professionals, not audiophiles) does have mixed views:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/1171365-mqa-discussion-denver-rmaf.html

Thanks for those links. I'll take a listen to the Jackson Browne when I get the chance. After the latest Tidal update I'm hearing a bit more difference with some files, but they do sound like different mastering. I get different instrument placement with the first few minutes of  ELP's Trilogy album (listened to after a conversation about this subject) for one.

 

I get the feeling that a fair few professionals on both sides of the debate are listening with their wallets, which is a shame.

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I also think some (but not all) are letting their egos get in the way - and the tall poppy syndrome!

 

I met Bob Stuart a few times when working for Linn - Ivor wanted to do some collaboration with Meridian, using their electronic expertise combined with Linn's mechanical expertise.  Bob was one of the smartest guys I have met - and I came across some pretty smart people while in Oxford - so I would tend to back his knowledge/understanding in these matters.  And he was one of the nicest/least egotistical so doubt whether his interest in getting MQA off the ground is entirely mercenary/controlling as some seem to suggest. 

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1 hour ago, legend said:

For example Jackson Browne's 'Casino Nation' on Tidal continually blows me away every time I hear it with its greater dynamics but with ease and its superb imaging, particularly compared to my non-MQA file.

Are you sure they are from the same master? I wouldn't think so.

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46 minutes ago, legend said:

I also think some (but not all) are letting their egos get in the way - and the tall poppy syndrome!

 

I met Bob Stuart a few times when working for Linn - Ivor wanted to do some collaboration with Meridian, using their electronic expertise combined with Linn's mechanical expertise.  Bob was one of the smartest guys I have met - and I came across some pretty smart people while in Oxford - so I would tend to back his knowledge/understanding in these matters.  And he was one of the nicest/least egotistical so doubt whether his interest in getting MQA off the ground is entirely mercenary/controlling as some seem to suggest. 

I would like to see some proper DBTs from MQA around this

 

But independent of the results of these tests, I don't really like the philosophy behind MQA.

 

As this article states, it's really DRM dressed up in sheep's clothing

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

I would like to see some proper DBTs from MQA around this

 

But independent of the results of these tests, I don't really like the philosophy behind MQA.

 

As this article states, it's really DRM dressed up in sheep's clothing

 

 

 

I'll get my head bitten off AGAIN for repeating this, but no. It's not DRM. You can own and play a copy of the file, or if streaming it's just another included format. It's payment on patents for the technology. The patents will expire and then anyone can use the technology freely. That's assuming the patent is enforceable, and some claim it isn't. I daresay any DAC is likely to contain products covered by a range of other patents.

 

The point about the blue light (that doesn't light up when playing a real copy of the actual master), the marketing, I agree that that is a problem.

Edited by Eggcup The Daft

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Far too many times MQA will not allow direct comparisons of an MQA encoded file and non-MQA file using the same master file as the source. 

Blind tests are out if the “blue” light comes on for MQA.

when I hear a lot of reviews with the above issues removed I might take more notice.  Bandwidth isn’t an issue going forward. 

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I agree with eggcup that it cannot be DRM if there are alternative routes around it.

 

Even if it were DRM then why should not we have to pay for the property of musicians (& others) produced by intellectual work – we have to pay for physical property and its distribution that no one seems to object to.  And as we try to reduce our physical consumption to produce a more sustainable planet then these issues will become more important.

 

When I last looked about 6 months ago the MQA patents had been given an unfavourable International Search Report (ISR) because they were deemed not novel or inventive relative to prior art (knowledge) some of which was their own previously published work.  However this is not necessarily fatal because Patent Examiners in each country (as I once was in a previous life) have to make their own assessment.

 

Finally I personally don’t need to have double-blind listening tests to asses the merit or otherwise of a new component in the audio chain – I do it all the time when developing loudspeakers – but then others may disagree with me!

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13 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

I would like to see some proper DBTs from MQA around this

 

But independent of the results of these tests, I don't really like the philosophy behind MQA.

 

As this article states, it's really DRM dressed up in sheep's clothing

 

 

 

same opinion here, why not create woodoo algorithm (nobody knows exactly what's behind it except people from Meridian) and let everyone pay for it?

simple explanation why it won't be any better than original master explained in many articles already (including here), I can imagine the advantages of easier (lossy) distribution but I think main point here is different .... pay me bitc..s

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43 minutes ago, legend said:

Finally I personally don’t need to have double-blind listening tests to asses the merit or otherwise of a new component in the audio chain – I do it all the time when developing loudspeakers – but then others may disagree with me!

This admission is probably causing a significant population of SNA members heart palpitations. Do you not care about your reputation or sales?  The sky might fall in. ? 

Edited by frankn

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1 hour ago, legend said:

Finally I personally don’t need to have double-blind listening tests to asses the merit or otherwise of a new component in the audio chain – I do it all the time when developing loudspeakers – but then others may disagree with me!

Wow 

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1 hour ago, legend said:

Finally I personally don’t need to have double-blind listening tests to asses the merit or otherwise of a new component in the audio chain – I do it all the time when developing loudspeakers – but then others may disagree with me!

Why should anyone be surprised by this statement...

When was the last time you so a successful HiFi product...

Developed by a committee...

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Its like any faculty - the more you use it the better you get at it!  And I have been doing it for 30+ years.

 

Besides if I have to DBT every change (value or type) in component in development of a loudspeaker it would take forever.

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1 hour ago, Rob181 said:

Why should anyone be surprised by this statement...

When was the last time you so a successful HiFi product...

Developed by a committee...

According to the SNA mafia you cannot properly assess a change without a blind or preferably double-blind comparison. 

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5 hours ago, legend said:

Finally I personally don’t need to have double-blind listening tests to asses the merit or otherwise of a new component in the audio chain – I do it all the time when developing loudspeakers – but then others may disagree with me!

It's understandable, but I'm pretty sure you use a microphone to develop speakers.

Perhaps one could use a microphone to compare MQA to plain straight PCM.

Edited by Satanica

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Yes I both listen & measure - as all sensible designers do!

 

I think the most important difference between MQA and PCM should be in the time domain due to the 'temporal deblurring' and I doubt whether my microphones would be sensitive enough to determine a difference - even assuming I had test tracks in each that were suitable eg impulse responses.

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10 minutes ago, legend said:

Yes I both listen & measure - as all sensible designers do!

 

I think the most important difference between MQA and PCM should be in the time domain due to the 'temporal deblurring' and I doubt whether my microphones would be sensitive enough to determine a difference - even assuming I had test tracks in each that were suitable eg impulse responses.

Is your hearing really more sensitive than your measuring instruments ?

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42 minutes ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

Is your hearing really more sensitive than your measuring instruments ?

Where did this question come from...

What is the relevance to the thread...

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On 11/17/2017 at 12:55 PM, Eggcup The Daft said:

Where are the measurements?

 

See:

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/ca/ca-academy/A-Comprehensive-Q-A-With-MQA-s-Bob-Stuart/

 

Have a look at some of the figures that show extensive measurements eg the noise floor of decoded MQA is below the thermal limit except for about the first 1k, so is not an issue - unless of course you think you can hear below the thermal limit of electrical devices?   Actually I have read that, strangely, some people can - but they would seem to be rare - and certainly I don't think if you are below that it's really a worry.  How to they do it with just 17 bits and not 24 - they are tight lipped - but use tricks that usually are not used like subtractive dither that is much better than normal dither.

 

Regarding impulse response the claim is made about a Dirac pulse .  Dirac pulses are a mathematical abstraction and do not exist - the plots they give are theoretical calculations based on what they do.   Is that a valid way to do such things - decide for yourself - but really its all that can be done - material containing Dirac pulses do not exist.

 

Look, the issue with MQA is the same as all such things in audio - some go gaga over it - some go - blah.   Its very individual.  I think it sounds a bit thin and too clean personally - but still rather like it - others have a different view.

 

So simply go listen for yourself.   An explorer 2 DAC is dirt cheap (a little under $350.00):

http://www.noisymotel.com/product.asp?ProductID=866

 

If you like MQA - do a post - if you don't - do a post and we will soon get to the bottom of it.

 

I have said what I think - ie a little thin and a bit too clean - but still like it.  I have sat with others that don't.  Only by finding the consensus of a lot of people can a real appraisal be made.   Others have also made that comment - a little thin and too clean:

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/33766-upsampling-mqa-files-to-original-resolution-with-sox-will-sound-like-the-original-resolution/

'Full MQA decoding is no longer master quality but a polished version. Brian Lucey has already stated that MQA sounds thinner than the original, and with more distortion.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12548751-post460.html
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12551196-post482.html

This is logical: the post-ringing energy in the tail that MQA tries to get rid of, needs to be distributed to some other place in the waveform, causing distortion such as aliasing and HF noise. MQA created a solution for a non-existing problem.'
 

Me, the above article, and a few of my friends is not really much to go on.

 

BTW I do not agree with a lot pf the things Lucy says - but wont go into it in detail.  Suffice to say -  he/she is both right and wrong.

 

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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20 hours ago, Eggcup The Daft said:

I'll get my head bitten off AGAIN for repeating this, but no. It's not DRM

 

It certainly isn't.

 

Its just a way for the Meridian spin-off to generate royalties.

 

Considering the constantly increasing MQA stuff on Tidal it looks like their marketing spin, whether right or wrong, has worked and those royalties are coming in.

 

Thaks

Bill

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1 hour ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

Is your hearing really more sensitive than your measuring instruments ?

 

What measures better does not always sound better.

 

We have had this argument (not with you necessarily - but with a plethora of others) many many times.  One guy even wanted to define his way out of the issue by defining Hi Fi as the accurate reproduction of music - the unstated assumption being accurate is what measurements show is accurate.

 

What Hi Fi is, is an illusion with a brain in the middle interpreting what the ears hear.  It is that that says - this sound better or not - not a measuring instrument - and it varies from person to person.

 

Thanks

Bill

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