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MQA beginning to see the light?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Werner, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

  2. Rodney gold

    Rodney gold Im just me...

    Werner , the whole mish mush has turned a lot of early adopters off , these are the guys that will add impetus to the uptake of MQA
    FAR too confusing at the moment and no content .. I think the MQA announcement was badly timed.. not a good portent for the new format.
    A case of premature ejaculation IMO
  3. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    To be clear: above links report on Bluesound's Node 2 outputting dual-rate signal on its SPDIF when sourcing single-rate MQA. In other words: the first stage of origami unfolding seems to be accessible. It can be inspected, and it can be processed.

    The question now is: is this a renegade action of Bluesound, or is it MQA caving in and allowing so?
  4. sls4321

    sls4321 pfm Member

    If I said I understood one word of that I would be lying.
  5. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    I take it this means we'll be able to analyse the so-called "temporal deblurring", which is (am I wrong?) the most controversial aspect of MQA.
  6. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    Could be good news or just an early accident like the early Pioneer DVD players with 96k spdif
  7. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    What previous MQA "announcements" are you referring to?
    All I've seen in the last few months are a shed load of negative conjecture, "guessing" about the final state of the solution, and typically from a negative perspective.

    We've put up links to Bob S' responses previously about software decoders. Whilst this absolutely confirms the capability, it was hardly unexpected.
  8. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    I think this thread could be renamed:

    "Werner beginning to see the light?"

  9. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    No, let's be nice.
    We could turn around and say "told you so", and whilst that might feel good, it's really not cool.

    The key point about this has been the length of time it's taken before hard confirmation of final capabilities have been released. Let's face it, there's still other questions out there that are to be clarified, e.g. the ability to conduct digital room correction prior to hitting the final DAC. Sure, Meridian have proven they can do it with an all Meridian system, but we've not seen it done elsewhere. This is particularly frustrating as Roon would be a perfect software unit to show off the capabilities to integrate room correction into a software decoder. As a group spun off from Meridian, surely the optimum action would be for them to at least say "yep, we will be doing this and out initial target release date is...."

    Now, whilst MQA might well be under commercial pressures to avoid finalising the capabilities by the music owners, it's again a classic example of the typical lack of information from Meridian, who have often sat on the side of under communication to allow over delivery, as against the other way around.

    I think the key point is to better understand the need for a bit of patience with confirmation on capabilities and potential limitations.
  10. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Here the first URL gave me a couple of postings out of context.

    The second gave me a page which didn't make clear what it meant. There was a link to another page that had more words, but still didn't fully clarify.

    I couldn't tell if it meant all the MQA data became fully available to *any* device. Or if the vendor's system could stream it over a dedicated link to other items in their range. Or what. Like other statements I've read, the wordings seemed a bit vague and ambiguous.

    I do keep getting the feeling that at present MQA is to some extent 'vapourware still being fiddled with' in various ways.

    The bottom line is for me fairly simple. Will the details of the MQA format be published so anyone can check any file or stream they purchase? Publishing would not prevent the IPR holders from requiring a license payment from users or makers of kit or requiring any use of an MQA logo, etc, to be approved.

    Either way, it doesn't actually change my view that we would benefit by having a different, fully open and free, alternative so people would have a free choice.
  11. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    I think the key element that Werner had spotted was the confirmation of the capability to "software decode" MQA in a separate device to the DAC. (Werner, please correct me if I'm wrong on that).
    Whilst Bob S alluded to the potential capability to do that, it has not previously been confirmed, potentially due to NDA agreements whilst negotiating the licensing for the music from their owners.
    It was a question that I'd previously asked on the Roon forums (and by asked, I mean asked June 2015) and we've been waiting for a confirmation ever since. So this is great news, as it means that it's almost certainly going to be a capability coming to other devices. For me, that's brill news, as I'm a Roon user.
  12. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    In the Bluesound setup that can now be done on the digital dual-rate output, i.e. after the origami unfolding. Of course, that would be the end of it: the subsequent DAC would be oblivious of MQA and would render the dual-rate stream just like any other dual-rate stream. But this is a beginning, and it likely carries the bulk of MQA's benefits (if any, to me this all remains unproven) so not too much will be lost.

    On the Bluesound forum they state that their (BS) strategy is to unpack MQA up to the limit of the digital interface (of course!). In case of a Node 2 that appears to be dual rate (TBC), which is convenient as it avoids the thorny question of what to do after the origami unfolding stage.
    Imagine BS implementing quad-rate SPDIF interfaces in the future, will they then upsample MQA after unpacking from dual to quad, and if so, what sort of filter will they use? A regular steep half-band (contrary to MQA philosophy), or a narrower filter working on the assumption that the external DAC itself will use half-band for all of its filters? Or could the user in the controlling app select from a number of wide-spread filter approaches?

    But the most interesting question remains: will Bluesound be allowed to get away with this?
  13. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    It is someone reporting that he played a 44.1k MQA file on an MQA-enabled Bluesound Node 2, via SPDIF to an external non-MQA DAC, with the digital signal arriving there as 88.2kHz.
  14. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    If those who control the IPR for MQA are happy to allow hardware makers to output the x2 rate 'unfolded' data over spdif that is clearly good news. As yet I don't know if they will.

    However for *users* a more basic point still applies. Unless the format and process details are freely released then there may be problems with being able to play the files/streams if you *don't* want to buy new hardware or pay someone to provide a 'closed source' player.

    That means you still have to pay to use it as well as buy the music. And you still can't check if the 'hidden' unfolding was being done correctly, or if there might be a way to improve it.

    So what the links say might be a step in the right direction, or they may not. And a step is not the entire journey.
  15. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Just to add something I've said elsewhere before.

    Personally I suspect any 'need' for MQA will evaporate over the next few years anyway. As data bandwidths and storage capacities rise, and more people get access to fast fibre, etc, the worries about 'high data rates', etc, will come to be seen as being as quaint as the way people adopted low rate mp3 because of the cost and size of storage on portable music players a decade or two ago.

    So in practice MQA may become just another along-the-way addon the music biz used for a while to get everyone to re-pay for the same old.

    That would suit the music biz, and shift boxes. But in the end people could have used flac anyway if they weren't being rushed.
  16. pocketkitchen

    pocketkitchen Registered User

    The Q&A which CA held with Bob Stuart answers most of these things. Clearly, a commercial organisation won't release information that will allow others to gain competitive advantage willingly. However, as mentioned in that Q&A, MQA is not a file format and, as such, a source which was recorded using MQA can be played either on existing equipment or MQA-enabled equipment. You don't have to pay extra to replay something you've already bought.
  17. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend


    I think it's way to early to conclude anything and I'm not trying to say "I told you so".

    I was just trying to say in good humour that some of the things MQA's ardent critics stated as facts may not be right.
  18. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    In equally good humour one could say that MQA have had time to study 18 months of critique and learn from it.
  19. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    Your point is already in place for many users. I already buy HD files and download them. Doesn't really matter for me how long they take or the amount of data used as I'm on an unlimited tariff with the bandwidth to support HD audio streaming.
    However, most businesses don't have contracts like that (well most that I've seen anyway). They typically pay by actual data used. Now imagine you're Tidal, and wish to stream 24 bit files. Full versions are what, 3-4 times bigger than an MQA equivalent. Saving 75% of your streaming costs for some of your user base would be a SIGNIFICANT saving for a streaming service like Tidal.
  20. Werner

    Werner pfm Member

    People on CA now report that the Node 2 SPDIF is capable of quad-rate SPDIF. The reason for the expansion to dual-rate is not clear. Could be a rights issue, could be a resource issue.

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