Archimago Musings: "Final" comments... Simply put, why I don't like MQA

A summary article by Archimago:


It looks like Archimago has shot a serious hole in MQA’s credibility. If MQA ever had any credibility!

Is this the real reason Roon developers have been so tardy in introducing MQA to Roon? They knew all along it was BS and were just holding out until the Roon Community started to agree with them?

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I’m afraid you’re most likely completely wrong about Roon’s position on MQA - as a company, it looks like they bought into it hook, line and sinker. If in doubt, listen to what Rob Darling had to say about it just a few months ago.

Let’s try not to forget that the decision to support MQA by any company for their software or devices is not a vote of implicit support for MQA, but a common sense business decision about supporting something a lot of people want and for which there is quite a lot of software out there. Even vocal MQA doubters Schiit have acknowledged they may need to take a hard look at its inclusion if the wind blows hard enough in that direction. What is most notable about this is the fact that the alternative to MQA is to do nothing. That takes a lot of nerve and absolute confidence that you are right. And while morally the anti MQA stance is understandable, morals don’t pay employees mortgages. High quality business decisions do.


Can you define a “high quality business decision”? Your post suggests you consider every “common sense business decision” high quality. What’s more, I get the impression that you consider a primitive run for the money a “high quality” business decision.

I think the global financial crisis we are still recovering from had nothing to do with “high quality business decisions”, but rather with psychotic, narcissistic CEO’s, trying to squeeze the maximum profit and bonus out of every low quality business decision they made. Such dramatically low quality decisions, that tax payers globally had to pay unimaginably high sums of taxes to save these “high quality” businesses.

I don’t want to compare the hifi industry to the financial industry. Nor do I want to say there’s something intrinsically wrong with making money. I do however object against the fact that you seem to confuse pragmatism with quality. I, for one, think it’s wise that Roon deliberately refrains from aspiring to be(come) a stock market noted enterprise. That’s what I’d call a high quality business decision.


I don’t believe so, but I do believe that the licensing arrangements negotiated by Roon were informed by technical considerations and the capacity for MQA to become another Dolby. It would be more accurate to say Roon held out in negotiations with MQA until they achieved a result that satisfied all parties.

A high quality business decision is one that ensures you continue to be able to pay the bills. That is totally apart from the moral discussions about MQA and as for quality of the product, do you think Roons quality will be compromised if/when it includes MQA? Will Roon be tainted? I would put it very simply one way. Roons inclusion of MQA would not result in people walking away from the product but the interest shown might suggest it may well bring in new customers.

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MQA is nothing more than yet another unnecessary cancer attacking audio fidelity in pursuit of commercial gain at the expense of the consumer. Bad enough there are so many buffoons behind the mastering desk doing their damnedest to squeeze the life out of anything that passes their way, now we have to deal with Bob’s crap too.


Cancer. Really? Who or what is it going to kill?

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Future innovation?

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I also left aside the moral discussion about MQA on purpose. I don’t know if your definition of “high quality business decision” (and its contextualization) is your own or a common corporate one. Either way, I think it’s nonsense to suggest that making as much money as possible has anything to do with quality.

Call it what it is: a high revenue business decision, a maximum profit business decision, etcetera. I oppose this opportunistic corporate misuse of quality exactly because of the following reasoning:

Good for them, but where’s the high quality in endangering entire economies for the mortgages of some CEO’s and have taxpayers clean up the mess? The term is extremely misleading in its misplaced context and just begging to be misused. Dangerously off topic now, plus I think you get my point, so I’ll leave it here. :wink:


Yes, we were talking about music files and suddenly we are putting to world to rights! To encapsulate my thoughts on MQA, I am largely ambivalent about it. I had a brief but interesting exchange with the designer of my DAC and he said MQA would be easy to implement on his designs but in taking it on he would have to give MQA Ltd intimate detail about his design and he didn’t want to give them what was essentially the secrets to his commercial success. We are talking about someone who has consulted on numerous high end designs as well as building his own mid and high end offerings. In this respect he is very much like the other DAC manufacturers who have avoided off the shelf chips and filters in favour of more individual designs, many of whom have been quite vocal in their opposition to MQA. This does touch on the point on innovation made earlier. The point is MQA will not change the way I listen. I don’t see it as something malignant to be feared or hated. It is just another way to listen and any threat it presents won’t affect my 48 years of (modest) music collecting. We will see what the future brings but I think MQA lends itself to mobile/portable systems. It will have little impact on us and a good DAC will always be just that. But fair play to those who took the decision to adopt early. The likes of Mytek have done well out of that decision and I certainly don’t think they have any case to answer for doing so. A sound business decision. Nothing more or less.


Totally agreed. I’ve a quote from KR March 2018 Stereophile that can probably sum up what I think:

“Today, I’m less enthusiastic about MQA than I was. High-resolution streaming and downloads are now readily available …. MQA requires the purchase of compatible equipment, and holds the potential to eventually control all signal processing, such as room EQ. I don’t see a need for it, therefore, and I hope it doesn’t force the elimination of high-resolution, non-MQA downloads.” — Kalman Rubinson. “Multichannel MQA”, Stereophile, March 2018


Confession: I have a MQA hardware decoder (Mytek Brooklyn) however my purchase decision was based on a 50% off offer so the MQA bit was incidental. I don’t have it enabled as I use room correction convolution filters.

I’ve read far more than I should about MQA (incl. Archimago’s blog) and to me it is extremely clear that this is nothing more than a deeply cynical move by Meridian/MQA founders to work with the music/hifi industry to generate a revenue stream. That is all it is and offers zero benefit to us, y’know, the people who are at the receiving end of all this bullshit.

FLAC Redbook CD quality is all most of us need. Save your money, save your time, and get back to just listening to music.


I am perplexed at the strength of the anti MQA feeling. To me, MQA clearly sounds great. It doesn’t cost me anything more than I’m paying now and when I look at the discussions and expense people go to to add cables etc to just get the extra edge, you would think people would welcome the research.

Let’s face it, this topic has given people plenty to think about, argue about and analyse. This seems to be a very large part of the enjoyment in the audiophile world, perhaps more than just chilling with music. What would we talk about without it all. So we should at least be thanking MQA, a separate company from Meridian, for all of this fun.

As for an income stream? Why can’t people create an income stream? It’s how the world works, everybody does it.
The real news is, you can just have CD quality, if that’s what you want and thanks for deciding that for me.

All the points raised in the MQA discussions are valid of course, as is everyone’s opinion.
It saddens me that many people judge others motives with, what seems to me, the same cynical view they may personally hold and that just may not be true.

To quote an old joke, “Just because your paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get you” :joy:


Not when its immoral. The whole MQA bandwagon stinks of ‘Mr Mendelsohn’s Miraculous Hair Restorer Cream’. If there is a genuine latent demand in a market then I agree with you. But there isn’t an unmet need in the consumer audiophile world here - we already have FLAC CD quality streaming. Meridian/MQA have fabricated a need and, lo and behold, they have the answer. The reality is that MQA benefits the recording labels/publishers far more than it does the consumer (e.g. DRM, assured AV chain reproduction, etc.). Unfortunately for MQA they have to generate demand in the consumer space for the big publishers to go for it wholesale. And, to do that, they’re trying to convince us that MQA is better than lossless CD quality FLAC. It isn’t - I’ve listened to TIDAL MQA vs. TIDAL 16/44 through my system. There is a marginal difference in the sound but that does not equate to better sound quality. The key word there is ‘different’ not better.


Well, even Tidal add MQA streaming as part of the package, users still need to pay for a MQA DAC in order to get the best performance out of it. Others lesser implementations such like software only does decoding, not the full MQA effects.

Isn’t it the choice of the consumer? As for outlay, a $150 - 200 dac will give you mqa. Not much to try it out… if you don’t like it, sell the dac. If you do like it, great. There must be something I’m missing. I like choice.

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The problem is many of us invested hundred to thousands of dollars on a high-end DACs and not many are willing to part their DACs just for MQA. That’s why the closest one can get is to rely on software decoding, which does not incur any cost.

That’s the thing, you can have it all, perhaps half or non at all. That’s choice.