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.