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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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