Are most MQA tracks really just 44.1/ 24 ? I thought it was higher bitrate?

Roon Core Machine

Macbook air M2

Networking Gear & Setup Details

na

Connected Audio Devices

Schiit

Number of Tracks in Library

50k

Description of Issue

Are most MQA tracks really just 44.1/ 24 ?? I thought it was higher bitrate?

Are you talking about the tracks before or after MQA decoding?

I think some are. Others are higher, compressed to 44.1 or 48. The MQA decoding will decompress them to 88.2 or 96.

You mean the sample rates? Hi-res MQA encodes are always stored as 24/44 or 24/48 regardless of the source/starting sample rate which is shown in Roon’s signal path under Authentication. As mentioned above, core decoding always yields 88 or 96. Rendering further upsamples the encoding (I think to the DAC’s max supported sample rate).

Tidal has a lot of CD quality (44.1 kHz/16 bit) albums/tracks that have been ‘MQAed’ for no reason other than trying to convince users they are ‘authentic’, whatever that means.

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IME it just depends on the recording you choose. I will say i see more 16\44.1 than any other bit rate. Roon also detects an MQA component in the bitstream if you set it to decode. You can see it in the signal path


Whether the MQA encoding is actually providing any benefit is the question. I cant answer it, or if a single decode and no rendering is somehow “better than CD quality” (MQA asserts this, not me)

Don’t bother with or worry about MQA

It’s a codec designed to be lossy, add noise, reduce quality and add rights management to tracks.

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I seem to remember that in the early days of MQA on Tidal, most (all?) MQA tracks were hi-res (above 16/44).
But they’ve been gradually replacing even 16/44 tracks with MQA.

Of the 494 Tidal MQA albums in my library, 73 are 16 bit [ie CD quality] and 493 are 24 bit

I have 1482 Tidal albums of which 933 are MQA, 663 24 bit and 270 16 bit. Most of the 24 bit are 96 and 192. I think all of the 16 bit are 44.1. The 549 non-MQA are all 16/44.1 except 13 AAC. I guess I don’t know the difference between MQA 44.1 versus non-MQA 44.1, if any??

MQA stands for “master quality authenticated” By default then it cannot be higher than the orginal master. Its not fake high resolution

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Of my 494 Tidal MQA albums, 397 are 24/96 or higher [with a few being as high as 352] One difference between MQA 44.1 versus non-MQA 44.1 would be the latter being larger files either to stream or to save to a device for offline listening.

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Regardless of 16/24 bit length or sample rate, any PCM based music that has gone through the MQA process also has A/D conversion ringing artifacts reduced also known as temporal blur. This explanation goes in to some DSP detail on what ringing is and how it is measured.

I believe this is what makes MQA music sound more “natural” to my ears but YMMV.

Also, there is plenty of content on Tidal that is sampled at 192kHz and higher. My understanding is MQA does not upsample but rather unfolds/uncompresses to the original sample rate of the digital source if you have a DAC that can fully decode and render.

Alan

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My home stereo system and my DAP both do a full unfold; I have the Tidal version in my library as well as the 2L master and they’re both pretty amazing

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To be fair, the CD and Qobuz releases are pretty spectacular, too. When recordings and mastering are this good, the media is much less relevant.

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I believe they’re all 24 bit depth recordings, which IMO is a key variable