MQA and Digital Rights Management

I came to think of the tactics of drug dealers. They have a “product” that everyone knows is bad for You, but to get “users” they offer their drugs for free, initially, later there’s a premium.
Same tactics used by MQA
By the way once You’re into drugs it’s hard to get out, much like a proprietary format

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It’s really not at all like that. In the event that Tidal start charging extra for access to their MQA Masters library, I will simply move to another streaming service that satisfies my musical tastes. Neither MQA hi-res or standard hi-res files are essentials for me but they are nice to have because generally they sound subtly better than their 16bit equivalents. As was mentioned by Tim Jordan in his post above, MQA content is a freebie on Tidal, and as long as it continues to be so I will take advantage of it because on my systems and to my ears it sounds pretty good.

I just can’t understand why some people are so obsessed about the need to oppose MQA in any form. I can sort of get the issue related to DRM, although I personally don’t see this as huge issue. What I just cannot understand is the insistence by some people that it is simply impossible for MQA encoded material to sound good - a point of view with which I cannot agree.

Some people insist blind that modern DACs sound exactly the same, and won’t be convinced that this is most certainly not the case. I have heard people claim that if an expensive DAC sounds better than cheaper DACs it is almost certainly because the expensive DAC has been deliberately made less accurate than the cheaper DACs. Others (just look at some other forums) are convinced that all amplifiers sound the same. My experience and subjective opinion is that amplifiers can sound very different. You may have an opposing opinion.

So many aspects of music and music replay are subjective. Modern audio replay system nowadays are often no more than a fashion accessory, or like Sonus are purchased because of their convenience. However, those few people who buy decent audio replay systems don’t care too much about out and out specifications. Most people want to know and hear how a system sounds before they purchase it.

Many of the Tidal MQA masters sound subtly better than their 16bit equivalents (where identical masters are used) to me on my systems. It’s not rocket science and its neither a religion nor an addiction!


While I’d agree with you here, you aren’t buying the MQA content, so there is no ‘stuck’.

If you bought & downloaded MQA tracks, you could possibly make the argument you have. Then you’d be stuck paying for MQA capable DACs for all future purchases, to get the value out of that premium you paid for the “hi-res” data locked into the MQA format.

However, it’s my understanding that most are just renting the MQA content from TIDAL, this won’t be the case.

However, if MQA dominates the world of hi-res, then the fear is spot-on. A world in which all content higher resolution than 44.1/16 is encoded in MQA is bad for the future of audio. No company should have power like that.


MQA: Most of the music in the world is digital. And one day, we will do the encoding.



Brilliant, on so many levels… :rofl:

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If I were a rock band, I’d make my music downloadable, press CDs (in the garage). Where does this taking the world over paranoia come from? Hysterical anti MQA campaign, fear mongering.

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The goal is for audio in the studio to be recorded in MQA. Therefore no non-MQA version of the audio will ever exist. Even of each stem/track used to mix the recording. There will be no non-MQA version.

On one-hand this gives MQA a great opportunity to improve quality. On the other hand, it provides MQA with huge power of lock-in, and of the ability to control the quality in differing playback circumstances - ie. DRM (even though MQA deny this, the platform as describe 100% does offer them the opportunity to “digitally manage rights”)

However, if MQA dominates the world of hi-res, then the fear is spot-on. A world in which all content higher resolution than 44.1/16 is encoded in MQA is bad for the future of audio. No company should have power like that.


MQA say there’s no intention of “DRM” … but you only have to read the MQA patent in detail to see that the opportunity to implement very effective DRM is right there.

They will need to achieve a certain gravity before they can start throwing their weight around, of course. It’s a long play (pun not intended).

I suspect I’ll be dead by then…
These sorts of concerns may be valid if MQA take off in a big way. In the meantime this paranoia seems like just part of the kill in in the cradle campaign. The data monopolists will be controlling what we do by then anyway, so it’s a bit moot.

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if MQA take off in a big way.

Remember, the MQA plan to “take off” does not require consumers cooperation… It require the cooperation of the producers/studios/artists.

The data monopolists will be controlling what we do

A system of distributing audio, where a 3rd party has control over the playback quality … and could potentially alter the playback quality in real time, based on any number of circumstances … sounds like the perfect tool.

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I began to be concerned about MQA and DRM when Spencer Chrislu referred to recording companies releasing 192 kHz files as “giving away the Crown Jewels”. I hope that we never see MQA only releases.


I’m not sure where you got this from? It would require a MQA A/D converter that doesn’t seem to exist as of right now. The impossible part would be getting the DAW and 3rd party VST/AU etc DSP plugin companies to quit working in PCM and start paying MQA for the privilege of rewriting all their code for zero gain and a loss of processing headroom and dynamic range.

There’s a perfectly good MQA batch converter that can be used instead.

How to debate a nihilist ad hominem statement? “You are all paranoid and why would it matter because some day the earth will end.”

By that logic, nobody should say or do anything about anything. And anyone who does is inherently paranoid or gullible.

Voicing concerns about MQA is a form of resistance to the data monopolists. I’m not saying we’re Rosa Parks or anything, but there is no reason to take non-substantive pot shots at people having a serious discussion and not even be funny about it. At least be funny.


But we have already. Even more problematic they were not identified as such.

The Nonesuch Records CD Steve Reich: Pulse / Quartet arrived with its sonic bonus unheralded. With no MQA designation on the album cover or disc, few would have known of its MQA provenance had not posts appeared on Facebook that, when inserted in a player capable of decoding MQA, it can deliver high-resolution MQA. from (

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All this talk of MQA taking over the world of digital music, in whatever form - streamed, downloaded and during recording, seems just a little on the paranoid side. Right now the only streaming service even offering MQA is Tidal and Tidal is a very minor player in the world of streaming music. While it’s hard to find up to date figures on Tidal’s share of the streaming market I would not be too far off to say that if Tidal tops out at even 5% that would be amazing.

So right now I would be not all that concerned. If and when a smart phone is available with full MQA decoding built in then I might start to worry, but my guess is that we are at 5 years away from that happening, if ever.

Here is one … but I still don’t think you have to worry…

Oh no, time to worry!!! :rofl:


Phones, which 99.9(99999?)% of the time are <256kbs compressed sources, as a hi res source?

Still, if it becomes even a part of the market, then MQA (or real hi res) would have arrived…

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Well said. Thanks.

8 posts were merged into an existing topic: Prefer Tidal FLAC over MQA option