Difference Between Multiple Master Versions of Same Title in Tidal?

I’ve noticed an uptick in overall number of Master titles, but there seems to be multiple versions of the same title in Tidal and Bluesound, I can’t bring them up in Roon through the Tidal tab, so I can’t play them both to see if there are resolution differences. Has anyone been able to play these multiple versions, just about every artist with more than one Master title has multiple versions of at least one of them.

It’s confusing. In general, the studios are supposed to choose the best master for an album. But consider the two Masters releases of Cookin’ by The Miles Davis Quintet:

This one is MQA.192. It would seem to be an MQA-encode using the original analogue master.

This one is MQA.44. It would seem to be an MQA-encode using the Rudy Van Gelder remaster, which presumably was digitized at 44.1k.

They are basically different albums, but you need to hover over the details to get the full titles.

Note: there may be genuine anomalies.

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Pet Sounds (mono) 96kHz
Pet Sounds (mono) 192kHz

Getting multiple MQA versions of an album just like this example is getting more common.

Without any knowledge I usually take the 192kHz version.

Yeah, seems no excuse for that one.

What, you mean nobody is individually selecting and curating MQA to be the one-and-only best release? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you.


I have enquired about these examples.

The labels are preparing a 192k and then a down-sampled 96k to cater for download sales for folks that may not want or be able to use the 192k version.

That they are all getting pushed over to Tidal and not sorted is just a reflection on the general need for Tidal to manage the MQA content in a much better way.

If in doubt and you can utilise the 192 cut then that is the one to take.

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I know that’s what you’ve been told Nick, but I don’t buy it. All MQA files are supplied at 1x sample rate and are unfolded (or not) to the maximum capability of the system. “May not want” is possible I suppose, but I think that MQA has some education to do.

@anon55914447 Mark, I don’t think that your statement necessarily follows if, as Nick has stated, the studios are down-sampling and encoding the selected master, as well as encoding the unaltered master itself. That said, it’s possible that anything and everything is being encoded. I hope not, but I don’t think we have any evidence at this point; if you do, please post.

I know. It’s a bit odd as the system could just unfold the max file to the rate that the system is capable of.

I understand that they (label/studios etc) are encoding both a full 192k file and a 96k file. For the download sales market I would expect a tiered pricing just as you see today on sites like HDT etc.

I assume people choose to buy 96k rather than 192k for valid reasons and they might want to buy a MQA96k version for the same reason.

Hopefully when either Tidal/Roon/MQA/all of the above get the presentation of MQA sorted out properly it will be a non-issue.

I thought, correct me if wrong, that the idea was that the Artist/Studio encoded MQA as their absolute definitive best endeavours for all those Artistic Integrity ReasonsTM, then local playback systems would handle or decide or limit the actual playback fidelity depending on what hardware you had splashed out on.

As it is, this looks like either just lazy batch encoding, or perhaps more cynically a chance to create even more pricing tiers for the poor saps that have bought into it.

Not sure about “lazy batch encoding” – could be true, but might not be – but I agree with pretty much everything else you said. There are definitely going to be labels and sub-labels who are not “on message”.

Edit: the generous possibility is that these different MQA encodings are of different re-masterings, but the labelling that we see via TIDAL is just useless.

Agree but not always. For example the 20+ RVG remasters which are at 44.1 vs the 192k of the standard master are clearly labelled as such. it is only a few but it can be done.

I have shared this thread with some folks that need to be aware.

FYI: When I prepared my spreadsheet of Tidal Masters albums, I removed about 400 duplicate albums with same Title but different Tidal album ID / URL.

I hope all these new MQA masters in Tidal means Roon is getting close to release MQA first unfold in the roon server. :unamused:

Take a look at the Rush catalog in Tidal. The latest additions are from the Universal catalog and there are two MQA versions for each of the older albums. One unfolds to 96 kHz and the other to 192 kHz.

Sadly, I think the label just encoded existing hi-res masters created for digital distribution and purchase (e.g., HDTracks). In the digital purchase/download model they offer the same master sampled at different rates with higher rates demanding higher prices. Clearly, in dealing with Tidal they did not adjust to what should be the MQA model which is ONE master encoded in MQA where the playback decoding unfolds to the highest rate capable by the user DAC and instead they encoded both versions of the same master. Why, anyone’s guess though it seem ignorance. Not that it matters financially because with the Tidal subscription model it doesn’t matter but it does result in a messy discography in Tidal.

The “white glove” treatment for such a massive catalog would never be practical and it was clear the vignettes MQA Ltd was using were just a “reference” to what was possible. That said, so far I’m finding the MQA albums on Tidal generally are better than the Hi-Fi versions (less “hot”, more dynamic range, smoother, etc.) So, despite the mess I’m happy enjoying better sound quality on the music I like.

Me too; I’m spending more time in the Tidal app than Roon lately…

Seem a lot of the Mercury releases have both 96 and 192 versions - New York Dolls and Rod Stewart.

Kinda makes me think they are simply just batch converting all their 24bit catalog including multiple sample rates (which makes no sense at all) to MQA and being super lazy about it, and not at all the original intent MQA claims to be… also making Tidal super messy and you have know idea what’s what in their app.