Comparison of PCM and MQA

A while ago I read a comparison of pcm and mqa on the quite biased ‘mqa development’ facebook page. The author wrote a full page about how he did his test. Doing level matching etc. to make it an honest test. And in the end mqa sounded better to him (“less fatiguing” etc).
All people there liked his post and it was “wonderfull”, and “good job” etc…

I didn’t see him mentioning what filter he actually used when playing the pcms, and so I asked him if he also used a minimizing slow roll off filter because that’s the kind of filter mqa uses. Those kind of filters remove pre ringing and reduce post ringing. This is quite important, as most dacs default to a linear fast roll off filter for pcm, which doesn’t remove any ringing at all !

And he admitted he forgot about this quite important setting of his dac.
He had been listening to pcm using a fast linear filter during the comparison.
Making his full page of listening results completely useless.

He redid the test and guess what… he admitted the pcm now also sounded “less fatiguing” etc…

And that ladies and gentleman is how mqa can sound different. The filter has the most impact.

Some people (especially the mqa fans) like the use of such minimizing filters. They are responsible for the more bassy sound, but they also mess up (blur) the higher frequencies so details get lost there.
It’s quite strange these people call it more “natural” because it certainly is not. Those higher frequencies were not blurred when it was recorded and you can hear it when you play the original pcms using a linear filter, something you cannot with an mqa because the filter is baked into the format.

It’s okay for people to like mqa, but it’s not okay to say it’s “better”. It is not. It is different.


I’m surprised he was honest enough to admit that, especially on such a public forum as Facebook.

Was there any blow back or just crickets? (I don’t have and never will have a Facebook subscription).

Loudness War 2.0. Welcome back to the 1990‘s.


If you can’t say it’s better then surely you can’t say it’s worse either, as you state, just different.

What a perfect compromise to the argument, can we leave it there please?


No, I said it is not better and that it’s different.
Different means not original. So if it’s not original… then it’s worse.

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Being different doesn’t prove that it’s worse surely?


The higher frequencies are blurred with mqa. That makes it different but also worse doesn’t it?

I remember mqas being on Tidal from Neil Young having that “studio dot” when playing.
Quite funny as Neil himself was not aware they replaced his pcm masters with compressed mqas.
And we all know what happened then: N.Y. left the ship and made a statement that it was NOT sounding like it was when it was recorded. Yet there was a studio dot.

So a question to you: That studio dot, is that a randomizer function in the mqa encoder? :slight_smile:
B.T.W. I compared both original pcms and those mqas and Neil was right.
P.S. I’m not a fan on Neil Young but I appreciate his honesty about mqa.


That’s OK, @garye loves him enough for the both of you :slight_smile:

I have no axe to grind about sound quality. If I did I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t throw away all my vinyl that wasn’t recorded with RIAA as that’s what my phono amp reads, all of the 70s oil crisis wafer thin vinyl, delete and replace all music bought off iTunes and delete all the cassettes that I have recorded.
To me if I play music on random I can’t tell the difference when an MQA comes on when I could always tell when an HDCD came on and can tell the difference when a 24/96 recording of my vinyl comes on with some exceptions like crass and chaotic dischord that were probably recorded in a front room.
One thing that does bug me about tidal and MQA is that it’s taking away my freedom of choice but I guess I could walk away if I was that bothered.
Anyway, if science proves it’s worse so be it, until I can tell it’s worse and be prepared to bet my house on recognising the next track then I’m not going to get bothered by it.

Haha, I have ‘special earphones’ for him. No treble.

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Fair enough. I’m not going to tell you what you have to like or not like.

Here is a graph how “lossless” mqa is

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Is it possible to let go of this dreary subject and quit recycling through the endless repetitions of why MQA is not really (a) good or (b) audible or © better?

Formats of all types, once they are in consumer hands, are subject to the differences in replay systems and their noise and distortion levels. As well as preferences, experience, expectation bias, listening skill and such. Relatively solid discrimination and characterization can be established, in a statistical sense, in controlled listening tests, and the closer to studio conditions, the better.

If I listed all the contradictory descriptions I’ve heard from audiophiles over the years about what SACD sounds like and what’s wrong with it (rolled off highs! poor bass! worse resolution! no its better resolution and more lifelike!, great highs!) I’d avoid it forever.

If MQA doesn’t sound good to you, fine. No need to blather on about it. Let others enjoy it when it sounds better on their systems.


My apologies for boring you with my musings.

I didn’t create this thread, it was created by moderators.

Any to be honest if I didn’t want to see blather about MQA and PCM I wouldn’t open it as it’s pretty obvious what’s in it.


That is correct, your post and the subsequent replies were off topic and thus split out to its own topic.
I considered merging it into an existing MQA topic but the forum software would not allow.

Companies House in Uk holds their published accounts for MQA Ltd

2016 loss: £8.58 million

2017 loss: £7.11 million

2018 loss: £4.6 million

2019 loss: £4.2 million

So that’s an accounts loss of £24.5 million

Turnover: 2016: £30k

Turnover 2017: £149k

Turnover 2018: £376k

Turnover 2019: £492k

So £1.05million turnover on the back of £24.5 million loss

The new accounts say that they have received funding approval for another £10 million – £5 million in January 2021 and £5 million in first half of 2022

(i am not an accountant)


You’d certainly need to be to make that look like a sound proposition :wink:

No, it is not. As long as the format is forced on us it won’t stop. If we were given the option to choose, the discussion would go away by it self.


This thread is off-topic already. Just another extended anti-MQA rant!