MQA hype or not : tidal masters

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maro73
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MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:21 am

Hello Folks
I have updated the Lumin U1 for mqa support
Some things to share :
My system for listening the mqa via tidal is as follows :
Lumin U1 is connected to Chord Dave via AES EBU . The U1 is connected to my internet box via RJ45 + network filter . The U1 is also connected to Melco N1A via Ethernet RJ45 + filter . The melco stores my music
The Lumin + Melco +DAVE are filtered via the excellent PLIXIR BAC (conditionner)
Listening is done via Focal Elear earphone via DAVE
Album tested is Marvin Gaye " What's going on "
44.1 flac, and 196 flac are stored on the Melco
Tidal streams 44.1 , and the 196 versions

Conclusions (FOR ME)
1. The flac in the Melco and the one from Tidal MQA , sounds the same (both 44.1 and 196)
2. The HD version sounds better to my ears than the CD version

I have been a MQA septic , because I like to buy my music
However , it's more practical to have Tidal (albeit being dependant on internet)
Lastly , I should state that LUMIN has been of tremendous support , and the Lumin app on IOS works really good
When I see the difficulty of having DSD files , and the easiness to have MQA high res files , I guess that mqa will be a good streaming format (even if there are loads of septics like me)
Cheers

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby SAP7 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:55 pm

I'm lost as I thought the chord dave isn't mqa compatible

So you can't listen to true mqa
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:04 pm

Hello
The Chord does not decode the MQA
The decoding is done in the Lumin U1
yes , you are right , it may not be true MQA
But , still , it sounds good , as good as the hard drive files
Forth a try
Cheers

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby SAP7 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:22 pm

Unless you have an MQA dac you can't listen to MQA at its full potential.

As it was explained to me...

Think of hi res audio folded up into a small square. You can play the small square or use a MQA dac to open it up to the full hi res.
If you use any other dac you just get the smaller square, which is often slightly larger than red book cd

So you do hear a slightly better res track on a normal dac, but you don't hear the full potential of what's possible.

So normal dacs can play MQA but not at what it is able to achieve. Most MQA folded files are still slightly better res than red book even when compressed and this is what a normal dac can pass.
MQA dacs play the same file but open it up to get the full glory.
CD XT sig / Aurender N100h  (Synology NAS) >  Chord Hugo TT > Mono X300 signatures > PMC 23
Sony PS 6750 > Pro-ject RS phono > Pro-ject RS pre and power
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:24 pm

Hello
May that explains why the mqa sounded like the flac

I searched for some instructions from Lumin : as follows
QUOTE FROM LUMIN
Lumin offers the most flexible MQA settings in the market. This post explains the Lumin MQA Settings. Currently this post applies to Lumin S1 / A1 / T1 / D1.

To understand MQA terminology, please read this first:
https://www.computeraudiophile.com/c...for-civilians/

MQA Analog Output Mode:
- This is case D in the article
- This is the default mode suitable for most users who use the Lumin analog outputs
- Lumin offers Hardware Full Decoding to analog outputs
- Digital output is disabled
- Lumin upsampling is disabled
- This mode will not be available for Lumin U1 because U1 does not have analog outputs

MQA Digital Output Mode:
- This is (usually) case B in the article
- If you use Lumin digital output to connect to an external DAC, this is the mode to be used
- Lumin does MQA Core decoding and outputs 24/96 or 24/88.2 to external DAC in this mode
- If used with an external DAC that is a MQA Renderer such as Berekeley Alpha Reference 2 with (announced) MQA upgrade, this becomes case C - please keep Lumin volume at 100, otherwise MQA Rendering will fail
- Note that in MQA Digital Output mode, the front panel and the app sample rate display refers to the MQA sample rate of the MQA music, not the actual sample rate of the digital output (either 96kHz or 88.2kHz)
- Analog outputs are disabled
- Lumin upsampling is disabled

MQA Passthrough Mode:
- This is case A (for Lumin) in the article.
- If you use Lumin digital output to an external DAC that is a MQA Full Decoder (case D), e.g. Mytek Brooklyn, this MQA Passthrough Mode allows Lumin to send raw MQA data to the external DAC to be fully MQA decoded.
- Note that in MQA Passthrough mode, the front panel and the app sample rate display refers to the MQA sample rate of the MQA music, not the actual sample rate of the digital output (either 48kHz or 44.1kHz).
- Analog outputs are disabled
- Lumin upsampling is disabled (otherwise subsequent MQA decoding will fail)
- Lumin digital volume is disabled (otherwise subsequent MQA decoding will fail)

Off Mode:
- This is case A in the article.
- Starting from Firmware 9.01, if MQA is set to Off, Lumin retrieves the 16/44.1kHz version of Tidal master instead of the 24-bit version for any MQA decoding.
- Lumin upsampling can be used. This is the mode to be used if users do not care about MQA decoding and would rather upsample Tidal Masters to DSD, or to lower the download bandwidth required

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby RichardLowe » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:02 am

Thank you for the article, it's very informative for an MQA newbie like me. However, your link didn't work for me, it should be https://www.computeraudiophile.com/ca/c ... civilians/

Having read it, and the description of your setup, you can't be using MQA analogue output mode, as you have the Lumin U1 and it has no DAC of its own, it's a transport only. Similarly, it can't be MQA passthrough mode as that requires an external MQA-aware DAC, which the DAVE isn't. That leaves MQA Off mode or MQA Digital Output. In Off mode your MQA stream is dropped, and the standard 16-bit 44.1 kHz version is streamed instead. In Digital Output mode the MQA stream goes through the first digital 'unfolding' process to 24-bit 88.2 kHz or 24-bit 96 kHz which any DAC can play, assuming it supports these bit depths and frequencies.

I assume you select the MQA mode on the Lumin, so which did you use, Off mode or Digital Output? In Off mode you get standard CD playback, in Digital Output mode you get, according to the article you linked, 90% of the benefit of full MQA. If that were truly the case I would expect you should notice a significant improvement in sound quality.
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby SAP7 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:31 pm

When I play Tidal masters to my hugo tt, via Aurender, I can see it comes out at a (usually) slightly better rate than cd quality. Not a lot better.
The mqa standard isn't possible without an mqa dac.
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby callen24 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:12 pm

are we talking minor differences here?
is it a difference the casual listener would notice, or do you have to actively listen to tell them apart?
do you need hedphones to notice?
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby SAP7 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:36 pm

For non mqa dacs the difference isn't discernible to me. The real time bit rate improvement isn't much.
I'd pick the mqa version on Tidal, but I can't really tell it apart from the normal one on there as well.
No idea on the proper mqa as I've never heard the real thing with the right kit.
CD XT sig / Aurender N100h  (Synology NAS) >  Chord Hugo TT > Mono X300 signatures > PMC 23
Sony PS 6750 > Pro-ject RS phono > Pro-ject RS pre and power
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Real name = Steve

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:59 pm

Hello folks
I have a tweaked firmware from Lumin (in beta form)(Lumin service exceptionnal by the way)
I see that the mqa is noted as the bit rate on tidal
The thing is that I hear no difference between mqa high res files , and the same files in high res (bought from HD tracks) on the melco .. (Marvin Gaye Album)
Better : no
But not bad ..
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:09 am

Hello Folks
Answer from LUMIN

In a Lumin U1 + Chord (or any other non-MQA DAC) configuration, Lumin U1 performs the MQA Core decoding to 96 or 88.2kHz so you get Hi-Res musical content. The lack of MQA in Chord means that you do not get the DAC-side deblurring offered by MQA. This is case B in this article:
https://www.computeraudiophile.com/ca/c ... civilians/

With a MQA Full Decoder to analog outputs, i.e. Lumin S1 / A1 / T1 / D1, MQA is fully decoded and DAC-side deblurring is applied. This is case D in the above article.

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby SAP7 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:51 am

Exactly.

You get a higher res than cd. But it's not much and not really significant when you look at the real time bit uplift.
You don't get the highest res that is proper mqa.

Whatever your set up you have to get an mqa dac, and there is an exhaustive list on the website.

Chord aren't going to ever go mqa...
CD XT sig / Aurender N100h  (Synology NAS) >  Chord Hugo TT > Mono X300 signatures > PMC 23
Sony PS 6750 > Pro-ject RS phono > Pro-ject RS pre and power
Grado GS1000e / 325e
Real name = Steve

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby maro73 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:31 pm

SAP7 wrote:Exactly.

You get a higher res than cd. But it's not much and not really significant when you look at the real time bit uplift.
You don't get the highest res that is proper mqa.

Whatever your set up you have to get an mqa dac, and there is an exhaustive list on the website.

Chord aren't going to ever go mqa...


Yeah you're right
We are the guys who are going to pay for all those eternal promises ...
In the past years
1. DSD promises ...
2. HD tracks , high res : how many of them are available
3. now mqa
4. J river vs Roon ...
5. mqa DACS now
6. Ravena protocol enabled DACs in the future

By this time , we'll be deaf (lol)

More to come to take our money

There is really streaming at a fair price (19 euros for tidal masters , 30 quids for qobuz .. albeit being cd quality at the end)
Last edited by maro73 on Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby Rune » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:04 am

The fact that you find that streaming MQA from Tidal equal to highres download shows that a Tidal subscription is good value.

I think that you and ZAP7 is forgetting the most requirements of MQA which is not about bit rate or the deblurring.

It is that it is encoded from the guarantied best master which also explains why MQA sounds better than normal loudness war CD quality.
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Re: MQA hype or not : tidal masters

Postby davidf » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:57 pm

My MQA listening has been pretty positive so far - comparing The Doors' L.A. Woman album sounds better than the hi-res remaster, albeit quite a lot smoother, maybe a tad too smooth for my preference. My listening earlier in the year to numerous albums that I'm pretty familiar with and/or use for demo fairly regularly all seemed to allow me to hear extra detail in the mix. I haven't followed that up yet, but it is the reason why I bought Kraftwerk's live The Catalogue on Bluray rather than CD.


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