Jump to content

Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, wklie said:

All Lumin products only feed MQA music to MQA decoder.  Non-MQA music does not go through the MQA decoder.

 

I'll tell you this, Peter, you have just put the Lumin T2 back into my list of possible upgrades. I have said before that your contributions are an absolute treasure - thank you.

 

I enjoyed the T2 a great deal when I heard it first time a few months ago. Again, when I tested it along with the Vega G2.1, a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge and my own RME ADI-2 FS all in one afternoon a few weeks ago, it was a fine performer. As much as I loved my brief flirt with the Auralic Vega G2.1 and money-no-object, it would be my choice, but the fact is that it is 4 grand more than the T2.

 

My only real nagging doubt with the T2 (and why I thought the extra 4k could be justified for the Vega) was nothing more than the uncertainty that others are having now: what will various MQA DACs do with non-MQA streams? The biggest fear is having lossless hi-res PCM being throttled by nefarious means through an alternative decoder and I am not alone in this suspicion. I have seen that there have been unsubstantiated(?) rumours that MQA are seeking a way to ensure that all streams, not just MQA, go through the MQA decoding path as part of a DAC manufacturer gaining MQA certification at some point in the future; anecdotally this is to avoid some of the distracting relay clicks from DACs being heard when moving between MQA and non-MQA material - I think many sceptics might suggest that it is just a cover story for hobbling PCM in order to tilt the balance of preference back towards the MQA ecosystem.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 566
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I received my occassional post from Dr AIX which I thought would be worth a bit of a follow up.  On the train this morning I listened to part of the youtube interview and thought it was worth posting

At the risk of repeating an opinion which I have previously posted, MQA is not and never has been, anything to do with enhanced sound quality for the music consumer. Its aims are purely to enhanc

My plan; - transfer my Tidal music to Qobuz - list all the albums that qobuz doesn’t have - buy those albums - cancel Tidal 

On the strength of the commentary here, I have 'downgraded' my Tidal to HiFi.

I will consider Qobuz as a fallback position should there be any further MQA-related revelations.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. I am trying to follow this but am having trouble understanding. If I want same  output from Tidal to  files at the same res say from qobuz 44.1, Is that possible?
  2. If so what do I need to do to achieve that , my dac is not mqa capable and I use ROon?
Edited by frednork
Link to post
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, frednork said:

If I want non modified output from Tidal to non MQA files at the same res say from qobuz, Is that possible?

 

Based on initial tests, it does not seem that you will get anything other than a hobbled MQA stream (high sample/bit rates will be throttled). Where Tidal has nothing but MQA versions of a track/album (and that is increasing with time along with the removal of PCM simultaneously), you'll mostly get a 44.1/16 MQA stream, I believe.

 

I may be oversimplifying, but this is bloody complex and hard to keep up with.

 

I think there is only one way to guarantee streaming lossless PCM (standard and hi-res) in Australia without resorting to VPN tricks, and that's to go to Qobuz.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, El Tel said:

what will various MQA DACs do with non-MQA streams?

 

This depends on the brand, and in some cases, firmware version.  Some brands pass non-MQA to MQA decoder, Lumin does not.  There is a well documented case in a Stereophile review of a certain USB DAC.

 

I recognized really early on that some customers would not want everything pass through MQA decoder, so we checked a stream is MQA before passing it to the MQA decoder.

  • Love 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, frednork said:
  1. I am trying to follow this but am having trouble understanding. If I want same  output from Tidal to  files at the same res say from qobuz 44.1, Is that possible?

 

If Tidal offers the same non-MQA version of the album as Qobuz, then yes.

 

If your particular album is available only as MQA (Tidal master or MQA CD) on Tidal, then no.  If you use Roon, check the different versions.

Edited by wklie
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, El Tel said:

 

Based on initial tests, it does not seem that you will get anything other than a hobbled MQA stream (high sample/bit rates will be throttled). Where Tidal has nothing but MQA versions of a track/album (and that is increasing with time along with the removal of PCM simultaneously), you'll mostly get a 44.1/16 MQA stream, I believe.

 

I may be oversimplifying, but this is bloody complex and hard to keep up with.

 

I think there is only one way to guarantee streaming lossless PCM (standard and hi-res) in Australia without resorting to VPN tricks, and that's to go to Qobuz.

 

Well once everybody stops paying extra for MQA for this Australian trial they'll have to make a choice.

 

Qobuz suddenly has the best premium business model - 'No MQA'!!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, tripitaka said:

 

Well once everybody stops paying extra for MQA for this Australian trial they'll have to make a choice.

 

Qobuz suddenly has the best premium business model - 'No MQA'!!

There are many factors to choosing a streaming service, I agree that Qobuz is non MQA and pays its artists more, but for me Qobuz doesn’t have all the music content I want so unfortunately I’m forced to have both at the moment to get better than mp3 SQ and the music I want, it sucks actually.

I’ll just have to buy half a record less each month to afford Qobuz and Tidal.

Edited by awayward
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Ittaku said:

Right about now I can smugly say I'm glad I've always bought my own high-res audio files and not succumbed to the temptation to stream.

I understand your perspective, but I disagree with the sentiment.  I would much rather have access to a (virtually) unlimited supply of lo-res music in preference to a very limited supply of hi-res music.  The sound quality trade-off is not bad enough to justify limiting the experience of new and different music IMO.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

I understand your perspective, but I disagree with the sentiment.  I would much rather have access to a (virtually) unlimited supply of lo-res music in preference to a very limited supply of hi-res music.  The sound quality trade-off is not bad enough to justify limiting the experience of new and different music IMO.

Thankfully the options aren’t mutually exclusive. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, PKay said:

Thankfully the options aren’t mutually exclusive. 

No, I agree, but the quote I was replying to implied one approach at the expense of the other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Stereophilus said:

I understand your perspective, but I disagree with the sentiment.  I would much rather have access to a (virtually) unlimited supply of lo-res music in preference to a very limited supply of hi-res music.  The sound quality trade-off is not bad enough to justify limiting the experience of new and different music IMO.

 

46 minutes ago, PKay said:

Thankfully the options aren’t mutually exclusive. 

 

There should be a third options: unlimited supply of lo-res but very well recorded and mastered music. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

No, I agree, but the quote I was replying to implied one approach at the expense of the other.

Apologies, my comment was tongue in cheek.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Eggcup the Dafter
12 minutes ago, metal beat said:

WOW.  digital and BS.  who would have thought  :emot-bang:😂

Don’t gloat for too long. Just as PCM is at the cutting lathe now, so will MQA be. And MQA wants everything from the mic onwards. No hiding place!

Link to post
Share on other sites

one day, full bandwidth will be available.  imagine that  9_9

 

in the meantime, I will continue to play full bandwidth vinyl.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Eggcup the Dafter
1 minute ago, metal beat said:

one day, full bandwidth will be available.  imagine that  9_9

 

in the meantime, I will continue to play full bandwidth vinyl.

Full bandwidth? Explain. Pretty sure the digital I listen to is full bandwidth. And I’m pretty sure most modern vinyl is cut from 16/44.1. The cutting heads don’t like ultrasonic noise either!

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Eggcup the Dafter said:

Full bandwidth? Explain. Pretty sure the digital I listen to is full bandwidth. And I’m pretty sure most modern vinyl is cut from 16/44.1. The cutting heads don’t like ultrasonic noise either!

 

24/96 most likely.    as you know analog mastering takes a lot more skill and the results are generally superior.   

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, metal beat said:

 

24/96 most likely.    as you know analog mastering takes a lot more skill and the results are generally superior.   

MQA is supposed to deliver the digital mastering that rivals analog. I assume those were Bob Stuart's original intention with MQA. He and Meridian know a thing or two from the early days about making digital sound acceptable to those who ears were trained on vinyl.

 

https://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/285meridian

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, LHC said:

MQA is supposed to deliver the digital mastering that rivals analog. I assume those were Bob Stuart's original intention with MQA. He and Meridian know a thing or two from the early days about making digital sound acceptable to those who ears were trained on vinyl.

 

https://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/285meridian

 

Bob's had many trys at making digital sound like analog.   remember DVD-A?

 

the guy is more about $$ than sound.

 

Pass.

Edited by metal beat
  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Eggcup the Dafter
9 hours ago, metal beat said:

 

Bob's had many trys at making digital sound like analog.   remember DVD-A?

 

the guy is more about $$ than sound.

 

Pass.

Actually he seems to have lost his and other people’ money to the time of over $100m US chasing this dream. I suspect that he’s now prisoner to his investors and the bulk processing into MQA is on now because with the automated process it’s a comparatively cheap step.. 

 

MQa’s developers will probably be set to work on producing demonstration recordings and trying to do the “from the mic” stage of the process, while the big investors who know how to fleece us get on wth the rest.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quit Tidal just now, with reason: "Tidal pushing MQA".  Maybe more people should be explicit when quitting....

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

Quit Tidal just now, with reason: "Tidal pushing MQA".  Maybe more people should be explicit when quitting....

Good work.

 

When I quit, I gave the reason "MQA is crap and I am not giving Dorsey any of my money" (it was the day that Square announced their buy-in).

 

Now don't forget to write to their customer services and request they delete all personal data. They will ask for identity confirmation to make you jump through a hoop or two, but do it anyway.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 01/05/2021 at 8:50 AM, Eggcup the Dafter said:

Actually he seems to have lost his and other people’ money to the time of over $100m US chasing this dream. I suspect that he’s now prisoner to his investors and the bulk processing into MQA is on now because with the automated process it’s a comparatively cheap step.. 

 

MQa’s developers will probably be set to work on producing demonstration recordings and trying to do the “from the mic” stage of the process, while the big investors who know how to fleece us get on wth the rest.

You hit the nail on the head - this is the elephant in the room.

 

These appears to be the facts:

  • MQA developers are indeed capable of producing great sounding recordings like the Adele demonstrating recording that Marc heard. "From the mic" stage is where the work needs to happen to produce fantastic masters (that have great dynamic range for a start). Authenticating those true masters would indeed be a great leap in audio quality. To be able to influence all music labels and studios to adapt this is the 'promised land' potential of MQA. The potential for improved audio performance here is real.
  • No other streaming companies are interested in producing quality recordings, not Qobuz, not Amazon, not Apple, not Spotify. We saw that Qobuz offered a recent hi-res 24/48 track that has a poor DR score of 5. They are interested in selling people a lossless hi-res format; but less interested in the quality of the content within. So only Tidal/MQA has the potential to achieve this sonic improvement at the moment.
  • The practical reality of scaling the above sonic improvement to large music catalogues and archives is probably prohibitive for a profitable business. They might be able to solve that in the future through automation, but at the moment it is not profitable. Just imagine if they could automate that 'white glove' process ...
  • So now MQA have the three major labels onboard, the low hanging fruit is a mass dump of their catalogues onto a MQA format, without regard to improving the quality of recordings. It is a cheap step for short term profit, and people's criticism of them are valid.

If the dot points are correct then quitting Tidal/MQA is not necessarily going to make things better. Seeing MQA fail and go bust won't improve the quality of recordings as they are uniquely positioned to induce that paradigm shift. MQA is indeed our last hope.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, LHC said:

You hit the nail on the head - this is the elephant in the room.

 

These appears to be the facts:

  • MQA developers are indeed capable of producing great sounding recordings like the Adele demonstrating recording that Marc heard. "From the mic" stage is where the work needs to happen to produce fantastic masters (that have great dynamic range for a start). Authenticating those true masters would indeed be a great leap in audio quality. To be able to influence all music labels and studios to adapt this is the 'promised land' potential of MQA. The potential for improved audio performance here is real.
  • No other streaming companies are interested in producing quality recordings, not Qobuz, not Amazon, not Apple, not Spotify. We saw that Qobuz offered a recent hi-res 24/48 track that has a poor DR score of 5. They are interested in selling people a lossless hi-res format; but less interested in the quality of the content within. So only Tidal/MQA has the potential to achieve this sonic improvement at the moment.
  • The practical reality of scaling the above sonic improvement to large music catalogues and archives is probably prohibitive for a profitable business. They might be able to solve that in the future through automation, but at the moment it is not profitable. Just imagine if they could automate that 'white glove' process ...
  • So now MQA have the three major labels onboard, the low hanging fruit is a mass dump of their catalogues onto a MQA format, without regard to improving the quality of recordings. It is a cheap step for short term profit, and people's criticism of them are valid.

If the dot points are correct then quitting Tidal/MQA is not necessarily going to make things better. Seeing MQA fail and go bust won't improve the quality of recordings as they are uniquely positioned to induce that paradigm shift. MQA is indeed our last hope.

 

The dynamic range example could easily be explained. What is the recording in question? Was the DR greater on CD release material? Does it pre-date digital and had been remastered during the loudness wars? I have numerous 60's, 70's and 80's pre-digital era vinyl releases that are referenced on https://dr.loudness-war.info/ showing DR scores of 12-15 alongside references to corresponding remaster releases on CD issued in later decades with a DR of 6-10. If Qobuz took the remasters from this era, then there is an indicator of why.

 

If MQA is a genuine attempt to make things better, then the cash-grab of converting back catalogues through batch processing was not the way to win the war.

 

I have no doubt on the potential of the technology when used end-to-end. It's plausible and relatively easy to understand. The way to win the war would have been to do it this way:

  • Use MQA end-to-end on new recordings and releases to showcase the capabilities. This starts the revenue stream.
  • Leave all back catalogues where the original analogue masters are unavailable as they are.
  • Leave loudness war era remasters alone too.
  • Go back to analogue masters as a long term project and slowly work the halfway house black magic on those in order of likely popularity (play ratings on streaming services will give the approx. order of work). Clearly you can't do end-to-end magic on these but using the earliest verifiable master is probably a good starting point. This set of steps will undoubtedly become a recognised mastering skill that is unlikely being done right now due to the cold batch conversion process that is ongoing.
  • Do not have Tidal remove PCM versions once properly treated MQA remasters are available. Leave consumer choice in play.

If your third bullet point (below) which lines-up with my forth bullet (above) ends-up going into the "too hard" pile, and all we have is back catalogues of mangled, batch processed crap, what then?

36 minutes ago, LHC said:

The practical reality of scaling the above sonic improvement to large music catalogues and archives is probably prohibitive for a profitable business. They might be able to solve that in the future through automation, but at the moment it is not profitable. Just imagine if they could automate that 'white glove' process ...

This is my single biggest worry - I would estimate 60-70% of my listening was written in a time that pre-dates digital. If MQA take-up becomes pervasive amongst streaming services and back catalogues are replaced with batch processed MQA with no quality assurance or care as has largely happened to-date, well....

 

No wonder people see MQA as a huge land-grab to own the audio chain and rinse it for profits.

Edited by El Tel
Punchu.. punktoo.. puntchoowashu. Spelling.
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, El Tel said:

 

The dynamic range example could easily be explained. What is the recording in question? Was the DR greater on CD release material? ...

Hi El Tel 

 

As well as your excellent points on recording compression, DR Score jumps up and down with:-

  • The music itself. I reckon some music would score a 1 or 2 even with a perfect uncompressed recording, or if it were possible, even measured directly off the live microphone feed. 
     
  • Making mastering adjustments that have nothing to do with the dynamic range or use of compression. I once saw a video by recording engineer Ian Shepherd, where he took one of his own masters and mixed some of the bass to mono (a la LP mastering), and the DR Score jumped up by six. 
     

Anyway, a bit off the main point. I agree with you about the quality of the recording and mastering. MQA could have built huge credibility by standing firm on high standards for the whole recording chain. They could have changed our world. 
 

cheers

Grant

 

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Grant Slack said:

DR Score jumps up and down with:-

 

Bang on. That's why I pointed towards https://dr.loudness-war.info/ - on the entries with many submissions, you can find the year of issue for a vinyl recording (initial releases, represses, reissues, remasters etc) and see the remastering differences in the later CD/streaming releases too. It's an eye-opener.

 

Some component items will screw with the overall DR scores/averages due to deliberate "art" preciousness of silent tracks. e.g. Sigur Rós on Von - "18 sekúndur fyrir sólarupprás" (18 Seconds before Sunrise). It still gets a DR score of 6 even though it is 18 seconds of silence.... Go figure!?

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Eggcup the Dafter
1 hour ago, Grant Slack said:

Hi El Tel 

 

As well as your excellent points on recording compression, DR Score jumps up and down with:-

  • The music itself. I reckon some music would score a 1 or 2 even with a perfect uncompressed recording, or if it were possible, even measured directly off the live microphone feed. 
     
  • Making mastering adjustments that have nothing to do with the dynamic range or use of compression. I once saw a video by recording engineer Ian Shepherd, where he took one of his own masters and mixed some of the bass to mono (a la LP mastering), and the DR Score jumped up by six. 
     

Anyway, a bit off the main point. I agree with you about the quality of the recording and mastering. MQA could have built huge credibility by standing firm on high standards for the whole recording chain. They could have changed our world. 
 

cheers

Grant

 

That point about bass is interesting and tends to confirm my suspicion that DR score has come down on a lot of digital remasters because the bass is being "restored" to what was originally intended. It also suggests we can't compare LP and PCM DR scores as some do to push the idea of LP superiority in that regard.

The whole business makes judging format differences a lot harder. Without provenance, we have no idea what we are comparing on different formats or streaming services!

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Eggcup the Dafter said:

That point about bass is interesting and tends to confirm my suspicion that DR score has come down on a lot of digital remasters because the bass is being "restored" to what was originally intended.

 

You're probably spot-on there. Due to physical limitations of representing low frequencies on vinyl, the bass would need to be altered to go onto digital formats otherwise it wouldn't be heard.

 

The DR scores for vinyl on the website I linked to are post-phono-stage. As some will know, part of the phono-stage's job is to apply the RIAA (or alternatives) equalisation curve to the output before amplification. This gets around physical limitations of cutting proper bass frequencies on vinyl.

 

The job of remastering is to take the levels at post phono-stage and mirror them in the digital realm so they sound the same. The problem was that new recordings in the digital age and even those recorded in analogue and mastered in digital for CD were usually subject to over-zealous mastering where all frequency bands were boosted into the loudest section of the full frequency range of the track - "the loudness wars". This spilled-over into digital remastering of old analogue catalogues.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, El Tel said:

The job of remastering is to take the levels at post phono-stage and mirror them in the digital realm so they sound the same.

We know that an equalisation curve is involved in the cutting and an inverse curve  is involved in the playing back.  However, over and above that, the bass may need to be throttled back to avoid playing time or trackability issues in a vinyl disc played by a consumer in their home.  That "additional manipulation" is a fact of life that must be accepted for practical reasons.

 

So I would have thought that the job of remastering for digital would be to reflect the original mix (whether it was analogue on open reel tape, or digital), not to try to recreate the "same sound" of the playback of a vinyl pressing, including the "additional manipulation" I have just referred to.  Of course if the original recording mix has been lost, all that can be done is to use a pressing and it may be difficult to restore the bass in those circumstances.

 

I'd agree with the observation that the DR figure for a digital version being less than a vinyl version could sometimes be due to heavy bass of the original mix being retained/restored for the digital version.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit off-topic, but this is an example of when a company (Apple in this case) abuses its market position for anticompetitive plays, they get called out by the authorities (EU in this case). This is how things ought to work. 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting response from Hans...

 

He argues that all that matters is what people hear (he likes it!) and Bob Stewart and people at the company should be given the benefit of the doubt because of their previous scientific endeavour.

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

He argues that all that matters is what people hear (he likes it!) and Bob Stewart and people at the company should be given the benefit of the doubt because of their previous scientific endeavour.

 

To me the whole video is 13 minutes of being vague and not saying anything likely to change one's mind or shed any new light on the debate.

 

Surely we deserve better than  it must be good because Bob Stuart is a legend and some dude who is an expert in astral telescopes, both know their schit and have your best interests at heart. Just trust us, go away and don't ask questions.

 

The thing is what do they know that the rest of the industry does not ?

 

Also this video by Hans manages to completely avoid any mention of using MQA as an anti competitive plan to force manufacturers and buyers to accept an attempt to sanction a monopoly proprietary format .

 

The anti MQA debate is much less to do with sound quality than it is to do with anti competitive practices and gaining control of music releases.

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree 100% @rantan.

 

I generally quite like(d) Hans's videos though always thought there was a tendency towards fence sitting and hedging of bets. This latest one really takes the cake as it's completely vague and a non-statement. Given the track record of indipendent opinion -  I (foolishly) expected something of value would be said in either direction. Not to be. Have promptly unsubscribed as I feel this really is a topic not to be taken lightly given the anti competitive aspects of the issue very likelyu unfollding before our eyes and ears.

 

And I don't even stream. Nothing - no QoBuz no Tidal no Spotify ------ nada!

So don't really have skin in the game. However can easily recognise thhe weight and size of potential implications of this unfolding (pun effin intended) situation.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, rantan said:

Also this video by Hans manages to completely avoid any mention of using MQA as an anti competitive plan to force manufacturers and buyers to accept an attempt to sanction a monopoly proprietary format .

 

The anti MQA debate is much less to do with sound quality than it is to do with anti competitive practices and gaining control of music releases.

 

This is the guts of it really for me.

I keep thinking it's more "greed and ego", than "master & quality"

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...