Great MQA compare album

I just bought The Flaming Lip’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album in MQA from Onkyo Music, and am comparing it to a dbpoweramp verified cd rip.

Listening to track 11 (Approaching Pavonis Mons . . .) now, and am blown away by the difference in versions.

The MQA is razor sharp, integrated and ravishing. The cd rip sounds like mud in comparison. Where did all the beauty go?

Back to the MQA, and it’s there again.

Really startling

(As reference, I’m listing through a Meridian Prime (+PS) and Sennheiser 800’s)

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Have you ever compared the HDTracks 24/96 version to the CD? It too is superior to the CD.

Which master is used for each, CD, HDTracks and MQA? (rhetorical) I would bet the CD was created using a ‘lesser’ master compared to the others. Unless the same master is used one can’t really compare the different ‘containers’.


I have both the CD and DVD-A. They are different mixes, let alone different masterings. The HDtracks 24/96 download reportedly is a downmix from the DVD-A multichannel. The MQA probably is the same downmix.

In short, apples to oranges. Likely, a mastering comparison, not an MQA comparison.



I’m afraid I haven’t heard the 24/96 (non MQA) version.

Regarding whether this is a valid comparison given that the masters may not have been the same, this is a good point, but I believe there are a couple of higher level factors at work:

  1. Of the MQA albums I’ve heard on my own system , and demo’d on others, there are recurring improvements I’ve heard. I won’t list them as they’ve been discussed (and debated) ad-infinitum.
  2. Presumably, the master used for the MQA is the master that the artists choose for the MQA rendition (kind of a definitional thing).

Most importantly, the only thing that really matters is the music, and the MQA version of this album is glorious! It makes the CD version sound broken.

That is what MQA wants you to believe and failed to give prove (ask yourself: how could they get thousands of artist, many of them dead, to choose the right master for MQA in such a short time?).
Read this to hear what a real studio guy is thinking about MQA:

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For me, the bottom line is really simple:

Every MQA album I buy sounds more natural on my systems than the corresponding other formats.

Rostropovich once said that you have to listen with an open heart. To me, MQA encoded content sounds better. What’s not to love?


That’s all well and good, just know that MQA may have zero to do with why it sounds better.

What other formats apart from CD have you compared? That’s a bold statement.

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Anything’s possible, but the probability is lowering with each album I listen to that sounds better. No offense, but I’ll take the evidence of my ears.

I’ve got a wide range of formats (ripped CD’s, DVD-A, SACD, Hires downloads, and probably others that my old brain can’t remember). I’m not making bold statements. I’m just saying that to my ears, on my systems, the albums I’ve compared have sounded unmistakably better.

As reference, I found some of the LivingStereo SACD’s also dramatically better than the corresponding cd’s (and the vinyl in one case). I’m not a format advocate or bigot. I just love hearing music sound the way my ears expect it to sound. I grew up in a family of orchestral musicians (pianos, violins and a cellist), and did a lot of listening to them practice. I get a goosefleshy smile when I hear reproduced music sound like that. It’s rare, but it happens, and to my ears, MQA’s getting me closer.


I think a lot of people are buying into it that MQA sounds ‘better’. I’m wary about how this is being mastered in the first place. Many recordings are intentionally re-mastered by adding additional DSP to make it sounds ‘better’. This is something you have to look out for. It is something you want from a original recording(untouched) or something has been ‘sweetened’? We can’t take it literally from our ears, doing some research is still equally important.

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Heaven forbid we suffer music that ‘sounds better.’

There’s kind of an Occam’s razor thing here. If all the powers that be (i.e. whoever is running the conspiracy) had to do to sucker us into paying more was to add some sweetness (a bit of extra third harmonic distortion, perhaps) why didn’t they do it years ago?

Out of curiosity, I took an album for which there is almost certainly only one mix (Matthew Good’s Something Like a Storm), and compared the CD version to the MQA version. The differences are very apparent.

This thread was begun as a way to share the pleasure of what I was hearing. It has turned into another anti-MQA screed.


It has been done many years back since CD was still quite domain. Many of my CDs that I brought early on sound gorgeous but later re-issued or re-mastered and even compilations didn’t sound that good anymore, it seems there’s a ‘loudness wars’ and ‘sweet syrup’ added in. Many of the young gen prefer that kind of sound.

MQA is derived from original PCM master. If you compare the original PCM master and MQA, they sound different. So my question is are we listening to a sweetened ‘syrup’ or the original performance of the recording?

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Yes it has to be anything but the elimination of temporal blurring or anything like that. It is different masters, it is sweetening syrup, it is beautification filters as others have described it, it is different volume levels or it’s just people hearing what they want in some sort of placebo effect. It’s anything but a real improvement. It s really all just a conspiracy to get me to pay more for nothing.

I’m just happy it costs me nothing to get versions of my music that I enjoy more. So much so I’m spending time enjoying listening rather than arguing about it.


This comes at cost of using ‘weak’ filters which allows aliasing to happen. This gets reflected back to the audio range and manifests itself as distortion. This is known issue here.


Fixed for accuracy.

Thanks for everyone’s concern that I’m falling prey to some sort of conspiracy.

That said, I’ll continue listening to what sounds good to me. We should all do the same, even if that takes us down different paths.


Trust your ears.