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Interesting article on MQA...


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MQA must be the biggest rip off in audio history. It has nothing to do with sound quality and everything to do with proprietary control of  music which will make corporations more profitable at the ex

MQA can suck on my engorged bitrate. I only wish I could buy components optionally without MQA to not pay them a useless ransom. There are a few audio components I held off buying because I couldn't g

Interesting video released earlier today covering off some testing that's been done with mqa files.   https://youtu.be/pRjsu9-Vznc

26 minutes ago, musicbee said:

but this is a very interesting read and reinforces MQA is a con. 

MQA must be the biggest rip off in audio history. It has nothing to do with sound quality and everything to do with proprietary control of  music which will make corporations more profitable at the expense of the artists and consumers ( again ).

It is somewhat akin to Monsanto establishing plant (seed ) variety rights where corporate dominance of the market led to the demise of millions of independent and non agribusiness farming.

 

MQA is similarly designed and although nothing to do with agriculture, it has the same intent.

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MQA can suck on my engorged bitrate. I only wish I could buy components optionally without MQA to not pay them a useless ransom. There are a few audio components I held off buying because I couldn't get the MQA-unencumbered version.

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1 minute ago, Ittaku said:

MQA can suck on my engorged bitrate. I only wish I could buy components optionally without MQA to not pay them a useless ransom. There are a few audio components I held off buying because I couldn't get the MQA-unencumbered version.

IMO, I think a big issue is consumers don't understand (or have the inclination to research) the politics/money/control behind this MQA play. The majority of consumers seem to accept MQA as better, because they are told it is so. 

 

The more education & open discussion on the topic the better for everyone.

I think its an important discussion for Stereonet to have. 

 

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Just now, musicbee said:

IMO, I think a big issue is consumers don't understand (or have the inclination to research) the politics/money/control behind this MQA play. The majority of consumers seem to accept MQA as better, because they are told it is so. 

 

The more education & open discussion on the topic the better for everyone.

I think its an important discussion for Stereonet to have.

Absolutely. We have one about every 3 months on average, and it's time again (that article you posted is three years old by the way.)

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1 minute ago, Ittaku said:

Absolutely. We have one about every 3 months on average, and it's time again (that article you posted is three years old by the way.)

Understand, but it’s still very valid don’t you think? 

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Just now, musicbee said:

Understand, but it’s still very valid don’t you think? 

Indeed, I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I've spent thousands of hours with upscaling and code to do it so it's a topic close to my heart.

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We had a debate on MQA in 2017, at probably its height of popularity.  Things did get heated...  ?

Archimago followed up that blog with an article on Computer Audiophile, now called Audiophile Style (AS)

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/mqa-a-review-of-controversies-concerns-and-cautions-r701/

1 hour ago, musicbee said:

Darko's article was interesting but no where near the impact of what Archimago managed on AS.

 

I included the above links for those who have not followed the MQA story.

 

p/s not an MQA fan...

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14 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

We had a debate on MQA in 2017, at probably its height of popularity.  Things did get heated...  ?

There is no need for heat.

Light is always better and everyone should be enlightened about the nefarious intent of MQA.

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Can I tread some middle ground here?

 

I don’t oppose MQA, but I am yet to hear any benefit from MQA compared to redbook FLAC when streaming over Tidal.  I don’t need any special software as my Roon server does the first unfold at no additional expense.  My DAC does not do any unfolding.  As JD indicated as well, any audible differences may in fact be down to the re-mastering involved when making MQA.

 

So what can we possibly gain from MQA?  The main advantage in my view is a furthering of the discussion about quality recording, quality mastering and high-resolution music for streaming.  The propagation of this discussion has the potential to reverberate into mainstream culture and drive recording studios and audio engineers towards abandoning their disregard for quality recording (as evidenced by the “loudness wars”).

 

The more we, as audiophiles, support these principles, the more we all gain from the music we listen to.  The negative? Cost.... corporate control.... 

Edited by Stereophilus
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6 hours ago, musicbee said:

I believe MQA is a money and control grab, do you support MQA? 

 

I think MQA is an example of the vilest behaviour in the music industry. A blatant attempt to levy licensing fees at every possible opportunity while seeking to downgrade audio quality. Look at my post history and you'll find a more humorous attempt at conveying my opinion. 

 

It is my hope that somebody eventually takes the time to reverse-engineer the encoding before we see music released only in MQA.

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40 minutes ago, PCOWandre said:

while seeking to downgrade audio quality.

Could you explain this statement a bit further?  I have not so far encountered this perspective in my reading of MQA.

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21 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

Could you explain this statement a bit further?  I have not so far encountered this perspective in my reading of MQA.

The way MQA encoding works is to rob bits from the stream to superimpose a lossy-encoded component on top. So if you don't have an MQA-enabled setup (for example, you didn't buy a new DAC with MQA support), you take a quality hit compared to a plain-old 44.1Khz FLAC.

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12 hours ago, PCOWandre said:

The way MQA encoding works is to rob bits from the stream to superimpose a lossy-encoded component on top. So if you don't have an MQA-enabled setup (for example, you didn't buy a new DAC with MQA support), you take a quality hit compared to a plain-old 44.1Khz FLAC.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have any MQA enabled components in my chain, yet I hear an increase in quality, not a decrease as you suggest.

 

I don’t know about the politics surrounding the issue, nor care. The way a lot of people go on you’d think it was a life or death situation. 

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Roon + Qobuz is considered equal I think.  Tidal and Qobuz can be streamed through other software, such as Squeezelite, but it is not as well integrated IME.  Also, SQ with Roon seems to be better than the other choices currently.

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2 hours ago, Esoterica said:

I’m pretty sure I don’t have any MQA enabled components in my chain, yet I hear an increase in quality, not a decrease as you suggest.

 

I don’t know about the politics surrounding the issue, nor care. The way a lot of people go on you’d think it was a life or death situation. 

 

This is the fun thing about HiFi as a passtime -- nobody ever agrees, so there's always plenty of spirited debate.

 

SNA isn't a place for life or death situations. SNA is a place for lively conjecture, opinions and a bit of written jousting as the local sport. I think some strongly held opinions make everything a little more entertaining.

 

Anyway, the concern that I (and I assume quite a few others) have is the day when one purchases a CD that is MQA-encoded with no option to avoid the MQA encoding. Streaming services can do whatever they want as far as I'm concerned since the only streaming service I use is the one I run for myself, but I don't want to be in a situation where one can't just buy the CD to get a quality, unmolested copy of an album. 

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I think one of the things that MQA has done is addressed a business need.
 

Bandwidth and/or amount of data you share costs X amount of money. 

 

A certain level of Y audio quality is enjoyed by people. Yet people ask for Y+Z because they find that to them it sounds better. Maybe people didn't care about that extra quality but you market it as an advantage?

 

Instead of costing X*Y it now costs X*(Y+Z) to supply the audio that people ask for or that you market as an advantage. 
 

What if people don't want to pay the extra costs and you want to keep a profit margin as high as you can? How do you reduce costs? Somehow that Z needs to be smaller like Z/2. 
 

So MQA comes in and says I can give you higher quality audio that is smaller in size but people will still like. It will be cheaper to supply. We'll take a cut but you still make a profit. Plus we'll try and make a profit on the side with some licensing from playback solutions.

 

So in short it's trying to make supply of higher quality audio cheaper.

 

Similar to mp3, it's trying to give you something within a limited system. As infrastructure improves and data sharing costs decrease there will be less advantage to compression in audio.

 

I don't like MQA. I understand the business case. 

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3 hours ago, Esoterica said:

I’m pretty sure I don’t have any MQA enabled components in my chain, yet I hear an increase in quality, not a decrease as you suggest.

 

I don’t know about the politics surrounding the issue, nor care. The way a lot of people go on you’d think it was a life or death situation. 

Read 

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2017/01/comparison-tidal-mqa-music-high.html?m=1

And 

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2016/01/measurements-mqa-master-quality.html

 

This should help explain what’s going on. 
 

 

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28 minutes ago, gwurb said:

I think one of the things that MQA has done is addressed a business need.
 

Bandwidth and/or amount of data you share costs X amount of money. 

 

A certain level of Y audio quality is enjoyed by people. Yet people ask for Y+Z because they find that to them it sounds better. Maybe people didn't care about that extra quality but you market it as an advantage?

 

Instead of costing X*Y it now costs X*(Y+Z) to supply the audio that people ask for or that you market as an advantage. 
 

What if people don't want to pay the extra costs and you want to keep a profit margin as high as you can? How do you reduce costs? Somehow that Z needs to be smaller like Z/2. 
 

So MQA comes in and says I can give you higher quality audio that is smaller in size but people will still like. It will be cheaper to supply. We'll take a cut but you still make a profit. Plus we'll try and make a profit on the side with some licensing from playback solutions.

 

So in short it's trying to make supply of higher quality audio cheaper.

 

Similar to mp3, it's trying to give you something within a limited system. As infrastructure improves and data sharing costs decrease there will be less advantage to compression in audio.

 

I don't like MQA. I understand the business case. 

MQA has very little to do with compression standards. 
 

if MQA was open source and a free compression standard, there wouldn’t be a debate. 

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46 minutes ago, musicbee said:

MQA has very little to do with compression standards. 
 

if MQA was open source and a free compression standard, there wouldn’t be a debate. 

Well, they do want to make some money for their work. I would prefer that it would be a free standard but then arguably they would make less money. I think they would prefer to make more money.

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5 minutes ago, gwurb said:

Well, they do want to make some money for their work. I would prefer that it would be a free standard but then arguably they would make less money. I think they would prefer to make more money.

There is a free standard -- FLAC. Absolutely free. You put all sorts of sampling rates and bit depths in there and it works rather nicely. 

 

The content industry has a habit of not being able to look at digital formats without thinking of how to lock them down, encrypt them, patent them and add licensing fees. If I can sell you an MQA-encrypted CD today, when MQA isn't cool in a few years, I can sell you a new CD with a different encoding. 

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7 minutes ago, PCOWandre said:

There is a free standard -- FLAC. Absolutely free. You put all sorts of sampling rates and bit depths in there and it works rather nicely. 

 

The content industry has a habit of not being able to look at digital formats without thinking of how to lock them down, encrypt them, patent them and add licensing fees. If I can sell you an MQA-encrypted CD today, when MQA isn't cool in a few years, I can sell you a new CD with a different encoding. 

This is very true... just look at SACD.

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So I've been using Tidal with my PS Audio DAC with bridge 2 that supports MQA. 

I've been listening to a few albums I have in FLAC and MQA. No real difference....... Until today. 

I just added the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 into my system and A. WOW what a difference to my system and B. MQA actually sounds a LOT better than FLAC for some reason.  I am using the I2S port from the Matrix to the PS Audio DAC (DirectStream) 

The sound stage is wider, the vocal are clearer and bass has a tad more authority. 

So I was alll 'meh' re MQA until today. I'll play around with it all more. But there is a difference (and yet not MQA on the DAC so converted to PCM) 

I also added a AQ Coffee HDMI but, FLAC to MQA that sounded the same prior is odd to me. 

Anyway just my 2 cents and I'll be sure to do more A/B comparisons and advise 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, DSD_Fan said:

So I've been using Tidal with my PS Audio DAC with bridge 2 that supports MQA. 

I've been listening to a few albums I have in FLAC and MQA. No real difference....... Until today. 

I just added the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 into my system and A. WOW what a difference to my system and B. MQA actually sounds a LOT better than FLAC for some reason.  I am using the I2S port from the Matrix to the PS Audio DAC (DirectStream) 

The sound stage is wider, the vocal are clearer and bass has a tad more authority. 

So I was alll 'meh' re MQA until today. I'll play around with it all more. But there is a difference (and yet not MQA on the DAC so converted to PCM) 

I also added a AQ Coffee HDMI but, FLAC to MQA that sounded the same prior is odd to me. 

Anyway just my 2 cents and I'll be sure to do more A/B comparisons and advise 

 

 

@DSD_Fan - good to hear mate! 
 

Now you need to have a play with HQPlayer. Between the matrix & HQPlayer I’ve gained the biggest leap in SQ I’ve had in a long time - the last time I got this much of a boost in SQ it cost me 10k.. ;) 
 

If you need a hand setting it up, give me a call. The learning curve is steep initially but I think I’m on top of it now. 

Edited by Jhsg
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Formats, cables, digital/vinyl. 
 

Do what pleases oneself. 
 

I actually don’t understand how these debates are continually tolerated. 

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1 minute ago, Sime said:

I actually don’t understand how these debates are continually tolerated. 

 

Because they provide entertainment for the participants? This one has been nicely fenced away in an obviously titled thread to provide ample space for industry skeptics to piss on the idea of MQA, and others to disagree in a polite yet engaged manner. 

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On 16/08/2020 at 10:31 PM, Sime said:

Formats, cables, digital/vinyl. 
 

Do what pleases oneself. 
 

I actually don’t understand how these debates are continually tolerated. 

Because it's fun.,?

 

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On 15/08/2020 at 3:00 PM, musicbee said:

I believe MQA is a money and control grab, do you support MQA? 

No.

It's good technology to optimise/control sound quality ..... but it is being positioned where it could be used for "BadThingsTM".

On 15/08/2020 at 4:12 PM, musicbee said:

IMO, I think a big issue is consumers don't understand (or have the inclination to research) the politics/money/control behind this MQA play.

100%

On 15/08/2020 at 4:12 PM, musicbee said:

The majority of consumers seem to accept MQA as better, because they are told it is so. 

It is possible that MQA is "better" (it depends, as to whether or not this is the case in practise).

 

The approach to tell people "MQA is not better" (technically, for SQ) .... is not the right approach.   Because this potentially (as I said, it depends) wrong.

On 15/08/2020 at 4:12 PM, musicbee said:

The more education & open discussion on the topic the better for everyone.

Yes, people need to understand what the MQA play "really" is (or what potential it has, when fully implemented).

 

1.  Give "The MQA Corporation" a switch which lets them deprive you of "full quality".   The idea is this will apply to both audio producers and listeners.   Right now the "low quality" version is stupposed to be CD-quality.... but there is no rule which says it has to remain that way in the future.     The "non-MQA-decoded" version could easily be radio-quality.... or potato-quality....  in the future.

 

2.   Give "The MQA Corporation" a dial where they can increase and decrease the audio quality based on "certain circumstances" (this could be basically anything you can imagine).

 

3.   Everyone contributes to the licensing costs of the technology.

 

People often argue that "full quality" in #2 can not be higher quality than <insert highres format here>.   This is not necessarily true.   Taking control of the full audio-playback chain can potentially result in higher quality.

 

The issues are.... that is can potentially result in intentional lower quality (see #1 and #2 above) .... and it can also result in different quality (they can make it "sound different"). 

 

 

Consumers are just the pawns/sheep here.    My belief is that MQA have promised/offerred these features to audio rights-owners (which they need, or think they need, and can't figure out by thmselves):

 

#1   The ability to effectively stream "high-res" audio over variable speed networks.

#2    The ability to "police" piracy.

 

MQA really offers neithr of these things in its initial incarnation...... but that is what the technology allows for, when fully implemented.

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On 16/08/2020 at 10:31 PM, Sime said:

Formats, cables, digital/vinyl. 

Do what pleases oneself. 

I actually don’t understand how these debates are continually tolerated. 

I guess people are fearful that one day you won't have much of a choice.

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As I see it, the MQA promise to consumers is two factors:

 

  1. By invading the entire process from recording to mastering to release, they will enforce magical quality standards.
  2. They can pack 'HD' quality into a 44.1Khz stream.

 

The first promise is obviously hollow, because the bulk of the material with a shiny MQA logo was recorded and mastered before MQA happened.

 

The latter is pretty much null at this point since we have network bandwidth that can easily cope with streaming HD/4K video for Netflix et al. 

 

So there is no consumer advantage, only lock-in and control. The market tends to route around lock-in and control, though, so I'm pretty sure we'll end up with a reverse engineered solution to de-MQA content. Although given they're obviously OK with bit-robbing, we might end up with a Cinavia-type solution with watermark individual fingerprints into each stream. 

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On 16/08/2020 at 10:01 PM, Sime said:

Formats, cables, digital/vinyl. 
 

Do what pleases oneself. 
 

I actually don’t understand how these debates are continually tolerated. 

I would question the point of the forum if we can't discuss and debate things Sime?

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