Chord products and MQA

I suppose it helps support someone’s decision to own a Chord dac.

But yeah about whether you should avoid MQA with a Chord dac and if can’t, should you unfold wasn’t addressed.

But the topic of whether MQA is better in general would get out of control and already have a few threads covering that. And those seem to have the same 2 or 3 people going back and forth.

I have listen to dCS stack(s) that support MQA but I couldn’t hear benefits in MQAs favor compared to highres material, in many cases the the contrary. I do think there could be clear benefits that are more studio and mixing related than format related on some releases. But I was not impressed (or technically I’m quite impressed since it’s compression without most of the bad aspects of compression). Also I’m yet to become a DSD fan so right now the Chord ideal suits me. I moved from MSB dacs that are less rigid about what they like or doesn’t like. Also great dacs!

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I finally switch back to Tidal because was still finding holes in my library with Qobuz. I also found very little difference between hires and cd quality files when played thru the Mscaler.

So now I’m able to test MQA with my Mscaler/Dave combo. First, the non-MQA cd files do sound the best. Better soundstage and more transparent sound. But if non-MQA files are not available, I’m finding the folded version sounds better. The MQA first unfold does something weird with the soundstage. It’s sounds artificially 3D. Like that 3D effect they used on movies that weren’t shot in 3D. The folded version still sounds too smooth compared to the non-MQA but at least soundstage is very close. And with Mscaler/Dave combo it’s still a great listen.

So the trade off with Tidal is now have access to a lot of albums I didn’t have before but stuck with 30 or more MQA only albums in my favorites. But I’d rather have access to more music.

Just tested to see if any truth to Qobuz cd files sounding better than Tidal. They sound the same.


I ended up going back to Qobuz. There were a lot more MQA only albums than I originally thought. Also found several albums in AAC. And when I tested Qobuz hires to the CD file, I did notice enough difference to want the better sound quality of the hires file.

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Peter, how about the option in Tidal settings to select CD lossless only stream from Tidal…is this truly CD quality or something impacted by the MQA process in any way?

I was interested in this as well and read somewhere on here it’s still MQA but downsampled. For most MQA on Tidal, there is no FLAC counterpart left. Most were replaced with MQA and the FLAC removed.

However, on some releases, you can still find one FLAC and one MQA. They’ll probably remove those in with time.

Ok. Thank you. I’m in Canada and don’t have Qobuz…so no option but Tidal. I have the TT2+MScaler…thought maybe the HiFi option stripped all the MQA filtering away to feed the MScaler the best non-filteres material to do it’s thing.

There is a way to get Qobuz in Canada but can be tedious. Some succeeded. Involves a VPN and Paypal I believe.

Alternatively, if you have someone in the states or another country with cheap Q subscriptions, you can ask them to set you up and maybe pay for the year. I don’t think it’s going to work with a Canadian bank card so you may have to transfer the monies to them :slight_smile:

Yes, I know there is a work around. I tried it before and got annoyed with the hassle of it all. When they excluded Canada from their last expansion I decided to just give up and continue to bear with Tidal’s shortcomings and heavy skew/pushing of HipHop and Pop to my inbox. My great hope was that some how Roon would’ve added Apple Music and/or Deezer by now…however no such luck.

I’m not certain the HiFi option in Tidal has any MQA coloration…but I’m no expert here.

I’ve got both Tidal and Qobuz and to be honest, can’t tell a difference in sound quality.

Tidal’s app (the UI) is infinitely better. I prefer it to all others.

The excessive Hip Hop releases I just ignore and they do not bother me.

As for Qobuz still not being available in Canada - I find this mind boggling.

I highly doubt Apple and Spotify will ever be implemented in Roon and as for Deezer, there were some reports long time ago about the deal being close to completion… but this was long time ago :slight_smile:

“ I’m not certain the HiFi option in Tidal has any MQA coloration…but I’m no expert here.”

Did not see this :slight_smile: There is a thread on here about Tidal Australia where they’re trialling a HiFi only tier and someone did some testing and I believe found it was still MQA to some extent.

@wklie is extremely knowledgeable and was part of that conversation I believe.

Pity…Deezer is my favorite. their algorithm is the smartest in my experience…they just “get me” :slight_smile: All their suggested mixes are excellent.

I trialled it for a bit and remember to have liked it. Did not renew as I have already two active music streaming subscriptions :see_no_evil:

Yes…@wklie says it I believe it. I’ve been following his inputs since my first Lumin player purchase decision process.

lol…I dropped only because no roon. I now only have Tidal and Youtude music (which is also pretty smart I have to say) because it comes with the premium Youtube.

Here it is… I think :slight_smile:

Look forward to that. I don’t really have an issue with MQA…I’m more interest in maximizing the MScaler…seems reasonable to me that MQA filtering my not be the best for the MScaler to perform ultimately.

I have not been able to play much with my M-Scaler and Chord TT2 due to the pandemic and being immunocompromised without going into the reasons. But what little I have heard is MQA is a bit leaner, starker, but seems more transparent, like a veil has been removed. It also sounds perhaps a bit contrived and ‘metallic’. Non-MQA sounds fuller, richer, warmer, and natural - but not as transparent - a bit veiled. When I have demoed it to others it was mixed which was better. I preferred MQA. Understand what MQA does. It introduces a slow roll-off filter above about 20kz so at 48khz it can chuck away samples greater than 96k and the aliasing products created by doing that are below the noise floor. The bits it aliases into are removed as part of the MQA processing (it is replaced by MQA compressed HF information) so the aliasing is of no concern. Basically, it is a trick so that ‘ringing’ aliasing filters are not necessary and time smear is kept under 10ms. What you lose by filtering above 20kz (which should be inaudible anyway - but we all know in Hi Fi you can often hear things that are supposed to be inaudible) to get a better time smear.

I’ve been playing Tidal MQA via an SOtM Trifecta to a Chord Hugo 2 whilst ‘at work’. Roon does the first unfold, and part of me thought, given the discussions about PCM vs MQA, PCM would have been preferable, especially with Chord equipment.
There is so much ‘noise’ about what is wrong with MQA, it is difficult to keep an open mind. But with Chord Hugo, and also with Devialet Amps, I found I preferred the Roon unfolded MQA versions for their ‘PRAT’ and ‘tunefulness’. I still do; it is more satisfying musically…for me.
Others will disagree and may have a graph to tell me why I am wrong :wink:


Just for reference, here is what is MQA does:

First, the hi-res file is passed through a shallow filter that takes effect at about 20kz and is about 10db down at 50k. Since it is above 20khz, it is inaudible. Now have a look at figure 7 for the triangle of essential information from examining thousands of recordings. That is what needs to be reproduced - not everything in the hi-res recording. But it still needs to be hi-res to reduce time smear. To do this, the high res recording is resampled to 96k using a triangle function. That acts as the filter I mentioned before and produces a tiny time smear - about 20us. But any frequencies above 48k are ‘reflected’ back into the 48k region that a 96k recording reproduces. This is called aliasing. However, as can be seen, this is virtually nothing but noise, so who cares, except the recording is now noisier in the lower bits. But, because of the shallow filter above 20kz, when it is reflected, it is below the noise floor of the recording, so it causes no issues. MQA eventually chops off the bottom 8 bits where it resides, so it is not even present. It then applies a filter at 24kz and subtracts it from the now 96k music stream to give two streams at 48k - one 0-24 kHz and another 24-48 kHz. One way of doing this is in one stream simply add samples next to each other, and in the other subtract them. It then compresses the 24-48khz stream and puts the compressed data into the bottom 8 bits of the 0-24kz stream. That’s how the bottom 8 bits is ‘chopped off’. Note this constitutes subtractive dither and increases the effective resolution to 20 bits instead of 16 bits. I will let you investigate dithering and how it works. When Roon or whatever you use to play it back does the first unfold, it decompresses the 24-48kz from the bottom 8 bits and adds it to the 0-24kz stream to get 48kz back. How do you increase it back to whatever sample rate you started with? Easy. Since it is all noise, it doesn’t matter what value you use as long as it is about the same as what was there. So you simply linearly interpolate. This is a simple version of MQA - in practice, more sophisticated functions than triangles and linear interpolation are used - they are called splines. However, the principle is the same. That way, all the benefits of a high-resolution recording are restored as far as the time smear goes. Note this is a lossy process. But the audible 0-20khz information is not changed. That part is lossless. This is where the lossless controversy comes from. It is lossless in the 0-20khz region, the region you can hear. But otherwise, it is lossy. Each side of the debate is using lossy in a different sense. Like all debates about semantics, it is both annoying and pointless. But some get their jollies off on it. To each their own, I suppose. Which sounds better? As I said, some prefer MQA, others straight PCM. There is no right or wrong - just what floats your boat. Now we come to the vexed question of how the upsampling from 96k is done. The Bessel functions used are called minimal phase filters. What the M-Scaler uses is a highly accurate linear phase sync filter. Sync filters ring like crazy when fed with a short impulse - minimal phase filters do not. So you may think using the M-Scaler to upscale is a bad thing. Not so fast - short impulses are never fed into the M-Scaler from MQA - only real-world stuff band limited to 96k. This causes minor or no issues so is not a concern. It may however account for the reason why some prefer straight PCM with the M-Scaler. The ringing may not measurably be of much concern for real-world recordings, as we all know audio is funny and to some, it may sound not so good. Besides Rob clams, correctly, due to Shannon’s sampling theroem, using the ringing sync filter exactly reconstructs the bandlimited signal so the ringing is no concern anyway.