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MQA bad for Music?

Discussion in 'audio' started by kenniGT, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. johnhunt

    johnhunt pfm Member

  2. kenniGT

    kenniGT pfm Member

    This is the very reason why I started the topic. I read on other forum, one streamer producer mentioned it might cost a bit to have hardware support and certification...
    Have a look once again how many streamer producers support this format. 10? Well I could sign more if I have format like MQA in my pocket.

    Tidal is indeed still 20
    Your MQA dac - you do not know licencing cost, how much profit they take form producer.

    I am thinking about mytek brooklyn for my second system
  3. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    The undecoded MQA gives something between 14 and 16 bit at 48k, the LSBs are carrying the HF part and simulate noise.
    The Tidal PC App appears to decode the MQA stream as well as hardware decoders, but not available for Linux based streamers
  4. radamel

    radamel pfm Member

    Appears to decode? Could you please elaborate?
  5. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    Some thoughts:
    - audioqueste recently announced that their dragonfly dac will be updated via firmware. So clearly it doesn't require dedicated hardware
    - bearing in mind the cost of the dragonfly, it's reasonable to assume that the licensing costs are not huge for the manufacturer
    - how is this any different to Sony licensing said and BD, or Dolby and dts with a variety of audio formats? I assume you probably a BD player. Did you kick.off about licensing then?
    - it's not that you're obliged to buy it. Happy with flac and cd, stick with them
  6. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    When so configured the desktop version of Tidal does the first unfolding, and thus for a 48k input it outputs a 96k signal to the DAC. This is partially-decoded MQA, although in MQA newspeak this signal is named 'decoded'; the job left undone is named the 'render' job.

    That is not correct. The Dragonflies lack the hardware to perform the first unfolding. What they will get in that firmware update is the functionality to act as a renderer, relying on the decoding (first unfolding) to be done in the system upstream (i.e. Tidal, or a Bluesound Node 2).
    The rendering task so far seems to be upsampling with a choice of (leaky) filters, informed by subcodes in the decoded 96k signal. While the patents and some older MQA documentation foresees a second level of unfolding (of 48kHz to 96kHz information that was buried in the decoded 24kHz to 48kHz information, if you can follow), it is clear that a Dragonfly once more would lack the resources to do so.

    That is relative. It may be peanuts for some manufacturers, and totally insurmountable for the manufacturers of donationware open-source streamers.

    The differences are that DVD, BD, ... were new and as such needed in order to progress. MQA is PCM. There is no need to replace PCM with PCM-reliant-on-something-at-the-end-of-the-chain. The MQA marketing wants you to believe the opposite.

    Also, Dolby and DTS inclusion was the result of a standardisation action, with the industry sitting down and agreeing on using these formats for multichannel distribution. Plus, the decoders were public. Anyone can decode AC3 or DTS at home and then manipulate the output signals at wish.

    That is more or less correct. As long as some music providers don't start using MQA as the sole distribution format, be it CDs or downloads, tacitly or not. This scenario must look attractive to them, since it keeps the true masters away from the buying public.
  7. beammeup

    beammeup pfm Member

    I guess it's down to this, does MQA sound better? Yes or No?

    If it does - then MQA is just fine.
  8. radamel

    radamel pfm Member

    Fully decoded MQA through a Mytek Brooklyn DAC sounds bloody great.

    To my ears when it unfolds to 24/352.8 it's on par with DXD or DSD 256.

    Tidal's MQA is the first streaming service that IMO sounds at least as good as local Redbook files via USB asynchronous (and in many cases even better).
  9. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    Have you had a chance to compare recordings where you *know* the source material of the MQA and non-MQA versions are exactly the same?
  10. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    It was in comment to " I'd also be surprised if Tidal tried to increase fees as their upside is more members". Meridian/MQA wants their licensing fees. Either Tidal has to charge extra for the MQA version, or people who don't want or need MQA end up subsidizing the MQA users.
  11. radamel

    radamel pfm Member

    I compared most of what is available for free download in 2L's website. I guess that at least some of those should have the same mastering.

    Unlike you I care mostly about how it sounds. So if fully decoded MQA music in part sounds as good as it does because of a different mastering it's just as well.
  12. simon g

    simon g Grumpy Old Man

    Interesting one this. There may be a cost saving benefit to Tidal due to reduced file storage and distribution costs perhaps? I suspect though that there will be another layer added to membership, so it'll be 'HiFi' or "HiFi +MQA".

    I've now listened a great deal to MQA through the analogue out of my BS Vault (so full 24/192 MQA) and via its digital output, so mostly at 96KHz. As you've pointed out, it's very difficult to know to what to compare. Some albums are really excellent (eg 'Kin' by Pat Metheny) and sounds, to me, clearly superior to my CD copy. This may be though that the MQA is a different master, to which I have no access other than through Tidal/MQA. Having said that, at present, it's no additional cost to me so I'll just listen to the MQA album. Would I pay for that? Maybe. Depends on cost and how extensive the MQA offering becomes and whether or not the albums that I want to listen to are available, plus whether they're any 'better' than versions I already own. It's not all good with MQA either; some albums are just strange, to my ears (compared to CD version), others are merely different. I was quite enthusiastic at first, but am now much more hesitant on this.

    Your posts on the technical side of this I've found very interesting, even if I can only follow them partly. It's very useful to have an objective counter to a subjective experience, albeit that I sit mostly in the subjective camp (close to the fence though!)
  13. radamel

    radamel pfm Member

    Not necessarily. It all depends on the number of additional subscribers MQA will attract (and existing subscribers it will help to retain).

    If the additional revenue is greater than the additional cost than MQA will end up subsidizing non MQA using subscribers.
  14. diybry

    diybry pfm Member

    I'm unsure whether MQA is a good or bad thing, however If you take at look at the Tidal app, The 'Masters' section is awkwardly placed within the 'Albums' section. Certainly not an elegant or user friendly solution.
    This leads me to believe that the 'Masters' position in the website is temporary, and will eventually migrate to a completely new category above the 'HI FI' section, access to which (I guess) will require an increased subscription.
    I forecast that this will happen when there is sufficient Tidal MQA content available, and more importantly, when sufficient individuals have bought MQA hardware and are committed to the format.
  15. Rodney gold

    Rodney gold Im just me...

    Albeit MQA sounds great.. there are really only 20 albums that appeal to me ..out of the 1200 or so in the wild.
    I would not rebuy those anyway..or in fact buy a dac to play em or subscribe to tidal for MQA (I subscribe for the smorgasbord of new music with no lossy compression)

    MQA HAS to be "free" to the consumer and the catalog has to be expanded way above what is currently on offer for it to be accepted wholesale.
    It would also help if there was less confusion as well .. the launch has been bungled IMO
  16. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    Unfortunately we are all just guessing about that,

    Of course I care about how it sounds, but I also want to understand why it sounds the way it sounds - is it due to technology, or marketing-led choice of material and processing?

    Except that in that case, we could get the same great quality using standard FLAC on our favorite equipment.
  17. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    Thanks - personally I have nothing against subjectivity in personal preferences, it is when it is used to make general claims that I feel the subjective impressions need to be verified in some objective way.
  18. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    That is assuming Tidal is making a profit on each additional subscribers.
  19. radamel

    radamel pfm Member

    If fully decoded MQA sounds as good as (or perhaps even better than) DXD or DSD 256 the file size would be considerably bigger for a comparable sound quality. Like it or not MQA allowed for Hires streaming. That's no small feat IMHO.
  20. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Yet it might well be the case that alternatives like bitstacking or noise shaping would do just as well to "allow highres streaming". With no need for any new player/decoding/DAC or for anyone to pay anything extra or divulge info about their DAC design, etc.

    The point here is that these alternatives have been known about for years. So why invent MQA as a closed, charged-for method?

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