Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

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Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby clive197 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:02 am

It's been reported on a HiFi+ Blog that MQA is badly flawed and is not a lossless format at all. Tests have been done by HiRez Audio that is said to prove that MQA is only 17bit and not 24bit. That puts the cat amongst the pigeons.

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby SAP7 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:45 pm

If it is...

How can they have missed it! There would be significant advertising legal issues.
I suspect this is mathematicians being clever and there is an argument to come!?
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby julianh » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:45 pm

One of the hi-res streaming companies has removed all of its MQA recordings for this reason. They tweeted about it but removed the tweet after Meridian got all arsey. IIRC they then asked Meridian for the maths to show that MQA was lossless but that information has not been forthcoming.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby Rune » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:13 pm

clive197 wrote:It's been reported on a HiFi+ Blog that MQA is badly flawed and is not a lossless format at all. Tests have been done by HiRez Audio that is said to prove that MQA is only 17bit and not 24bit. That puts the cat amongst the pigeons.

It has been known for a long time that MQA is not completely losses but those that insist on that MQA has to be losses else it is worthless are totally missed the point of why MQA is good thing.

Some important advantages of MQA are:
  • Gurantees best available Studion Master (no conversion from cd, vinyl, mp3 or upsampled) (read a few hdtrack threads on CU)
  • improves some Time Domain issues in PCM
  • Sounds better than red book CD quality
  • Is available from streaming services like Tidal
julianh wrote:One of the hi-res streaming companies has removed all of its MQA recordings for this reason. They tweeted about it but removed the tweet after Meridian got all arsey. IIRC they then asked Meridian for the maths to show that MQA was lossless but that information has not been forthcoming.

Or could it be that they have an interest in MQA not succeeding. after all why would you buy MQA files when you can stream it from Tidal. Given the price of HD content it will easily pay for your Tidal subscription.
And why is Linn agains MQA cound it be that their DACs does not have the necessary hardware to decode MQA or it hurt their hires download business?

I think it would be stupid just to discard MQA without hearing it on a DAC with native MQA support. Just because it is not theoretically lossless.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby julianh » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:06 pm

It seems to me that the major (only?) advantage of MQA is one of the size of the audio files. Whilst that might well be important for those who mostly stream their audio across a low bandwidth internet connection, for example to a mobile device, it does seem that getting the very best out of the audio files you already own in the home environment does not require MQA. And if MQA dictates rebuying albums you already own in one format or another then it seems to be an exercise of spending momey for the sake of it. Let alone having to buy a specialised DAC for the purpose of listening to the files.

I suspect whether or not MQA has a future in home audio is largely irrelevant. As the vast majority of listeners probably don't own what we would class as a decent system then MQA won't make any difference to them. It's streaming in the mobile market where the success of MQA will be determined. That's where small files matter most but it's also where sound quality is most compromised already and therefore any gains MQA provides will be minimised by the listening environment.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby Rune » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:04 pm

julianh wrote:It seems to me that the major (only?) advantage of MQA is one of the size of the audio files.

That is incorrect MQA files is bigger than 16bit 44Khz flac files and it is not about mobile devices. It is for listening on your main system.

I listed a few things that potentially makes MQA worth having.
  • Gurantees best available Studio Master (no conversion from cd, vinyl, mp3 or upsampled) (read a few hdtrack threads on CU)
  • improves some Time Domain issues in PCM
  • Sounds better than red book CD lossless quality
  • Is available from streaming services like Tidal

The pattern I see is that those that are most skeptical over MQA are also those that want to own music instead of streaming.
Then it gets expensive to re-buy your music in another format.

But if you like me have bought in on the idea of streaming instead of owning. Then it does not get expensive. then it is only £20 a month and now with MQA you can stream better than CD quality. So what's not to like?
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby crimsondonkey » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:22 pm

All except that it's not clear whether it does actually sound better than red book with an MQA enabled DAC. My concern is that too few people actually give a f&@k about this kind of thing and so it's got limited lifespan. Certainly wouldn't be confident enough to buy a compatible DAC at this point.

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby Rune » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:56 pm

Maybe your are right but it is also not clear whether it sound worse which some choose to think without have first hand experience.
There are lots that claim there is a big difference. But I guess that goes for anything in our hobby.

I just choose to keep and open mind about MQA until I have head it. And I do hope that most of the claims are true, but it is not the end of the world if they are not. Time will tell.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby jobseeker » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:06 am

Blimey, I keep seeing such a fuss about MQA. Obsessing over whether it's technically 'lossless' is simply not what it's about. However, I think the contention would be that it's 'effectively lossless' in any way that matters. No one needs to buy a new anything if they're not interested in it - they can keep the equipment and recordings that they have now. What's more, that equipment will still play any MQA encoded tracks in any event. It isn't the work of Satan and won't bring about Armageddon. It will succeed or fail on it's own merits. There are some people who are determined to talk it down for various reasons. They are entitled to their opinions, though some are missing the whole point of the thing (and some are deliberately obfuscating the point). I'm not sure why they have to try so hard to convince others how terrible it all is. In fact, if it gets a more good quality masters out there it could be worthwhile just for that.

I'm not overly fussed either way, though I have just ordered a Merdian 218 preamp/DAC which is MQA capable and I have a Tidal subscription, so I'll get to make up my own mind soon enough.

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby davidf » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:28 am

Whenever those without a vested interest want to "spoil" things, they only need to start rumours or plant seeds of doubts in the minds of the public. And with forums what they are today, that sort of thing spreads quicker than a muck spreader in a field. Of course, it makes things a little easier for the trolls when the technicalities behind the format aren't being made public. Many see that as sinister, but once you make something public, it's open to be plagiarised by unscrupulous companies who know that costly court proceedings are beyond the capabilities of small (in the grand scheme of things) hi-fi companies.

Whether or not you're a fan of Meridian, we all know Bob Stuart isn't stupid. I don't know how it works, but he may possibly have compromised the audio signal in areas where it is less important (or even undetectable), but I doubt very much he would produce a format/process that he is hoping to be taken up on a global scale by making it sound worse than CD, tell everyone it's as good as hi-res, and hope everyone will believe him without question. Although, much of the time, many of those who are spreading all this around the internet haven't even heard MQA, so are in no position to comment on its quality.

As has been mentioned by Rune, probably one of the biggest benefits is the guarantee of the studio master being used, so from that base you're off to a promising start before you even begin.

I have no horse in this race as I prefer to buy music rather than stream it, but I do use streaming services for discovering new music, which is why I've never really moved away from my Sonos ZP90 which I've had for about 6 or 7 years. Since hearing MQA via TIDAL, I'm seriously thinking about swapping it out for a Node II, as MQA has impressed me so far.

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby Joe » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:14 pm

davidf wrote: he may possibly have compromised the audio signal in areas where it is less important (or even undetectable),

They said that about mp3. It's either lossless or it aint.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby Rune » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:56 pm

Joe wrote:
davidf wrote: he may possibly have compromised the audio signal in areas where it is less important (or even undetectable),

They said that about mp3. It's either lossless or it aint.

And what is your point?
Are you saying that because MQA is not 100% lossless it cannot be better than a CD?

MQA flac file are bigger than lossless 16bit 44KHz flac files and stores more information how can that be inferiour?

And why should we ignore the positive reports from those that have actually heard MQA?

Guess I already know the answer; Because it is not lossless.
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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby crimsondonkey » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:21 pm

Probably best to just go listen for yourself as there's as many negative reports as there are positive about MQA.

Whatever the technical advantages, or conspiracies, I'd rather judge it in my own system with the ability to A-B. However I'm just not convinced yet to give enough of a shit to go and organise it. Anyway, if I want to listen to something in high quality I put a record on ;)

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby MiniCoupeman » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:43 pm

Hear! Hear!.
Lot of guff about IF but has anyone done an A/B? Think an A/B may be a tiny bit more interesting/relevant/etc

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Re: Is this the beginning of the end for MQA?

Postby davidf » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:36 pm

Anyone with a Bluesound Node II (or indeed any Bluesound product) can quite easily compare MQA and non MQA files, just as I have done.


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