Are you willing to say MQA definitely sounds better than Redbook 16/44 Rips?

Is there anyone out there that is willing to say that MQA definitely sounds better than PCM?

Tidal’s had material out there for weeks. Lots of people have MQA ready DACs. Someone’s got to be doing A/B comparisons, and/or long-term listening. Can anyone weigh in on this?

And if anyone can/does say, “Yes! It’s definitely better”, it would be wonderful if you could also share what kind of system you have that can resolve that difference. Even better, to also let us know what it is that you hear that makes it better. For I’m happy to believe that it sounds different. It’s evidence - from the audio community - that it’s better that I’m seeking.


What does “better” mean ?

1 Like

Well I just enjoy music and my experience is MQA even undecoded sounds better to me than CD. On a par with 96/24 material. More real if you like. Listen to tambourines on The Monkies Last Train to Clarksville.
I had a long MQA session on MQA tracks via Meridian Explorer and going back to CD it sounded harsher.
I have Meridian MS200 and Explorer2 into G61R processor and then Trifield to Meridian M60 and `M33 active speakers.

My G61R already upsamples and apodises to remove pre ringing and so I am familiar with a smooth cultured sound.

I listen to a lot of live music as I volunteer at a live music venue where we pride ourselves on high quality sound via our Mackie digital system. So I feel I know what real music sounds like.

An example of our work Don Gallardo this sounds great too, it’s properly mixed.

1 Like

Seriously? Short of providing a link to Merriam Webster’s definition, I think it’s obvious that I’m asking is subjectively better sounding to you.

[quote=“Chrislayeruk, post:3, topic:21308”]
Well I just enjoy music and my experience is MQA even undecoded sounds better to me than CD
[/quote]Thanks for sharing Chris. Good commentary. Would love to hear from more, if they are out there.

I’m definitely willing to say that MQA sounds better to me. This shouldn’t be a surprise. There has been a lot of focus on MQA’s bitrate efficiency, but MQA also includes technology that makes the timing of captured sound more precise.

As reference, I’m basing my listening impressions on:

  • Early demos at Audio High in California
  • Downloaded files played though a Meridian Prime headphone amp
1 Like

Yes, seriously. :nerd:

For some, “better” / best is a clean signal, through a pure path, warts and all.
Others prefer squishing their pristine digital source through a ton of filters & gizmos to tune the sound to their liking.
Others might only listen to digital source files through a tube amp.

Better is subjective & individual, so it’s a good idea to be specific when you pose a question like that, otherwise you’ll get people giving opposite opinions yet hearing the same thing…just sayin’… :wink:

1 Like

OK, You make a good point. However, I’m inviting that problem.

I’m looking for the purely subjective. If you think it sounds better, then great. But why? THAT can lead us to an understanding of how MQA is being experienced (subjectively) by people listening to it.


An admirable approach to this kind of question! After all, we listen primarily for enjoyment. On the other hand, accuracy is the only way to have a reference so that the art/science can move forward in a productive direction.

That out of the way, when I listen to my MQA files, I hear:

  • A kind of crispness that I rarely hear with normal files
  • A kind of physical presence that I never hear with normal files. I come from a family f orchestral musicians, and had the experience of listening to them practice just feet away. MQA gets me closer to hearing that kind of “real” sound than any other files or other media I have.
  • Lack of digital “glare”
1 Like

I’m going to be really pedantic and say categorically no, since MQA IS PCM.

I have heard MQA on a highly resolving system (Meridian DSP8kSEs) and I have to say the soundstage and separation I heard was phenominal, however I had no opportunity to compare like-for-like.

I do have a Prime headphone amp that allows a full decode of MQA but as yet I haven’t had enough time to spend with comparison pieces to judge.

I glossed over that point. I liked when Bob Stuart said that, so it cannot be blocked…

If Linn and the like could block it I believe they would and present loads of reasons as to why to justify their position. But, they can’t and so listeners will be able to make their own minds up on at least the undecoded experience.

Hi Steve
I’ve taken the liberty of changing the title of this thread to “…compared to Redbook 16/44”

I think most people know what you meant anyway…but just for the sake of clarity

Obviously, if you wish, you can change it back again :slight_smile:

1 Like

I listen to some sample encoded wih MQA on a Pionner DAP…I was not able to detect any timing improvment.
And MQA is a PCM signal…so no news there.
You may listen to the Nadac Merging DAC to hear a real sonic improvement.

Can we make this thread an acronym free thread, so no PCM. DSD, flac, DRM etc

The OP is asking about the “sound”.

Quite simply

Do you think it sounds better (the same or worse)?
How do you describe these differences?
What equipment do you use?

It isn’t a trick question trying to get you to change your audio religion.



Maybe I’m wrong but I wonder if a lot of people know what to listen for in MQA? It is hard to define but I think it’s that real ness of the music. Also the fact that the fatigue is just not present over time either.
It’s when I look up and think something/someone is in the room.
This doesn’t mean Music of lower quality cannot be enjoyed because it certainly can be.
My system sounds good now anyway and new listeners to Hi Fi are gobsmacked by the quality but MQA at any level seems to add to the experience.
Saying this, after the initial flurry of excitment I listen to what I want to listen to at the time and would love more MQA content.
A lot of my music from less known artists may never be available in MQA or not for a long time. Also I would love an MQA plugin to be able to encode our www.littlerabbitbarn back catalog of authorised bootleg recordings. That’s the dream anyways… Chris

cd’s are audibly transparant (as is aac256/mp3 320) and everything else…it’s about old content parading in new containers.


I don’t understand what you mean by audibly transparent?
My window is transparent but it ain’t a lens of quality, In fact it’s poor really. If I take a picture through it and a corresponding picture outside I can tell the differance. The window cleaner helps but it’s not enough.

Decent audio should sound like the musician are in the room. On that scale MP3 certainly won’t deliver. Yes I can hear the tune and know what it is, but that’s all

1 Like

I’ve read that there is quite a range in quality in the material that’s been converted to MQA so far.

Folks with no apparent bias are reporting that on some albums they hear a huge difference, while on others they hear little to no difference.

This suggests that you need to listen to a variety of albums before coming to a conclusion (i.e. false negatives are pretty easy in this limited source material phase we’re currently in).

Clearly there will be differences between recordings as the quality of the recording has nothing to do with MQA.
MQA just brings you the master, whatever that is. It could be a wax cylinder, CD rip, cassette or whatever is deemed to be the best master available.
So, so much is, as always, down to the skill used in capturing the original performance. The MQA process should assure us that we are receiving this to the ability of our home systems.
I’d love to hear some of the classic Frank Sinatra recordings in MQA as they are really well done.
Thoughts, Chris

1 Like

Frank Capital’s recordings are under UMG, as per the Label list I posted the other day…so hopefully Capital / UMG will do them as part of what they’ve committed to