Authentication: The need for MQA or other similar idea?

I used to think the same, but soon came to realize that “studio masters” don’t really exist. OTOH, final mix tapes do, and the mastering process can and does make material changes to the end result. I think what all “audiophiles” would like is a full white glove re-mix and re-mastering, but that is simply not going to happen en masse.

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I think the idea is that studios find the best available source they have, be it analog or digital, released or unreleased. The decision on how to process is up to them, but there are surely a lot of considerations. Like the age and state of the source, whether it was processed on poor equipment to start with (which was the case with some of the white glove albums described on the MQA website), and the fact that remastering is expensive.

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Sure they do…unless they got burned up in a fire or have been lost or otherwise destroyed. Very rarely do we get new releases that are remixes (e.g., Steve Wilson remixes). The master tapes are what are used to make the masterings we get on CD, vinyl, SACD, and hi-res releases. When a new mastering (not a remix) comes out, it is made from the original master tapes or from copies of those tapes.

Spend some time over on the Steve Hoffman forum and you get to read about this stuff from people that do the remastering.

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No, in many cases the output of the mastering process itself is the 16/44 CD master. There is no “pre-CD” master.

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I am talking about stuff that was recorded and mixed on analog equipment…and I suppose recordings made in the 20th century mostly.


Probably a more complicated picture, especially today with object based processing. Mixes can be given to mastering engineers as stems rather than complete mixes. With streaming being the primary distribution method, mastering engineers have to prepare a dozen or more versions of tracks suited for the requirements of different streaming services and mediums, including disc. Are they all made from the same master tape? You’d probably need to survey the workflows and archiving choices of various mastering engineers to document this.

Some mixed views. Good.

If we can say that pre MQA mastered content are different to say new MQA versions that are coming out. If MQA is used from the get go, I think the “A” can be done with ease and is important.

Batch processing, well, if it wasn’t mastered on good quality equipment and the idea of MQA giving a white glove treatment is controversial. Compare the poorly mastered version to the MQA version. Down to the listener to chose I suppose.

If the studios releasing MQA versions decided to stop releasing a CD quality (e.g. Deezer) versions or more commonly referred to FLAC hi-res (e.g. Qobuz) versions I think we may all have a different view, probably the same view.

MP3, lossy formats, yes do have there place. However I’m referring to folks like us who want quality over convenience.

It was easy to add that certificate with a freely acailable bit of software. It was just a tag.

True dat. As I said - I had a dreamer-list of what could be done to rectify the situation - improve a tarnished reputation and make mqa more palatable, transparent and accountable.

One of the other things on my wish list that I missed out: to not have any mqa processing done on non mqa formats by DACs. The recommendation that mqa has for DAC manufacturers to have this happen in order to smooth DAC performance when switching between formats is deeply flawed and has the ability to impact non mqa formats. The fact that there are an unknown amount of mqa licensed DACs out there performing mqa upsampling on non mqa material is of huge concern. One might think that by not subscribing to Tidal that you’re immune to the impacts of mqa and that is not the case when such DACs perform the actions recommended by mqa ltd on non mqa material.

Why would DACs perform MQA upsampling on non-MQA tracks?

It’s apparently an mqa ltd recommendation.

The claim is that it helps to stop pops/clicks on the DAC when swapping between mqa and non mqa formats.

Another reason why MQA is stupid……

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Well there are flaws for sure. I was really hopeful with new material and the end-to-end benefits picture they painted. But there are shortcomings in too many areas and this particular deficiency has the ability to impact in areas it should not.

It’s understandable why the scepticism is so high when things like this come out of the woodwork.

There are manufacturers who have said they choose to use the MQA filters for all upsampling because they think they sound best, better than the chip-based upsampling filters found in most DACs.

It’s up to DAC companies to make these decisions and they are perfectly capable of deciding on their own implementations. MQA just provide a recommendation.

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For Bob to get his paycheck? :rofl:


Cool. Which ones? Would be very keen to see your source.

Considering that MQA is a solution to a non-existent problem and comes with additional cost, I don’t think anything can make it more palatable.

Measurements of different up-sampling filters should reveal their nature. Anyway, I avoid DACs with MQA support, not because of this concern (which I didn’t know about), but because I don’t want to endorse MQA.

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Having seen rumours of streaming services possibly not delivering the quality of music they should have, gives me reason to think a solution to authenticate is needed. My rose tinted view is that as soon as the mastered high quality lossless recording is done and approved by the artist and mastering engineer it is then locked, authenticated as such.

Some may want a lossy version, which is cool by the way. My rose tinted method would prevent those getting lossy versions and upsampling them to pass of as lossless versions.

Please leave the controversial views aside in regards MQA.

I also like the idea that the current MQA songs can be played on non-MQA equipment.

This is cool by the way and I fully understand your view. It was a tough one for me, but I wanted a way to try MQA via Tidal (and any other legal means) and this was my decision to by an MQA DAC and also subscribe to Roon to help in the process.

I love being cynical, but could I ask that we don’t have these comments in this thread. Thanks.

Whether we agree or disagree to the current standing of MQA, I do personally feel that those who crave the best quality music possible need to know it’s the true article. If the music is a constant, it’ll only be our systems that’ll be a factor in end reproduction. Just my thoughts and views.

Let me reiterate that there are established authentication methods out there that can be applied to music. The only thing missing is standardization (i.e. a uniform way to embed digital signatures in various containers). No need to reinvent the wheel. But then again, it seems to me the need is not there for authentication that would justify a standardization effort.

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Yes, that’s your view point. Time to move on.

My needs, like a few others are to have quality over substance. Having been listening to Amazon Music today (due to convenience). I couldn’t believe the difference in quality as soon I was able to use Roon/DAC on the same system as I was listening to Amazon Music. I was using something I regret buying, an Echo Link (the wife can use it freely without me being there).

I streamed several albums I had been listening to earlier and both Qobuz and Tidal sounded immediately better, and I’m talking about “CD” quality from Amazon Music. Tidal edged it slightly on a few (MQA 16/44.1). Considering I was more anti-MQA than pro, I can see some benefits (if not a placebo).

If I said I was starting a new music streaming service and guaranteed customers individual tracks were authenticated (artist/mastering engineer), and with technology that captures every element of a recording’s resolution and timing, with either a blue light confirms this (MQA) or other means (as per my thoughts to start this thread), and didn’t tinker with them, as tinkering would be highlighted by no blue light or other means. No DRM, and this content didn’t need new equipment, as it was all in the song file that current equipment could play.

Who would be interested?

This is kinda what I want. The best.

What if I said all music streaming services had to supply this same quality music.

Soon, god knows when, Spotify is going to stream CD quality. Even if this is just regular CD-FLAC, in theory all services offering CD quality should all sound the same. My view is, Deezer, Amazon, Apple, Qobuz and Tidal all sound different. But why?

In theory, all gas/petrol stations sell the same standard fuel. Why do we have so many brands (Shell, BP etc) of gas/fuel stations? Not sure if this is a good analogy.

The competition comes from app layouts and recommendation algorithms.