MQA disappointing

(Randy Hatcher) #241

I guess I just don’t take this stuff seriously enough. This has been my hobby for over 50 years and the ONLY criteria I ever applied to music reproduction was whether or not it sounded good. I came to these conclusions based upon my listening experience. I cared little about the method used to produce the sound that I liked. More and more as I read these forums (particularly related to digital audio) it seems that listening tests are relatively unimportant and the results of these listening evaluations are often marginalized. Go figure. In any case my personal listening experience (for whats worth) with MQA is that some is very good, some is indistinguishable from the regular files and I have yet to hear a MQA selection than was worse than the original. MQA may be the cubic zirconia of hi-rez audio and I may be a superficial, unprincipled mercenary audiophile, easily distracted by bright, shiny objects…but so be it, I’m having fun.


Well put Randy and I agree completely.

( Glen Rasmussen) #243

You need to do a ABX comparison of your DAC vrs. a MQA compatible DAC, there is something missing with out the final Render from the DAC

(Henry) #244

Well I just listened to the MQA 96K master of Fleetwood Mac (Deluxe), first unfold and my customary conversion to DSD128 and do you know what? It sounds really nice. Sit here and listen all night kind of nice.


Chris, I own a Holo Spring R2R NOS DAC which is hooked up to Roon ROCK via USB. I always enabled NOS mode (Non over-sampling with no filter) in my Spring DAC while I either select up or no sampling in Roon.

  1. 16/44.1 CD quality > No up-sampling in Roon, sound ‘sweet’ in the highs, ‘lush’ and ‘thick’ in the mid, very suit to vocals such as Jazz music.

  2. 16/44.1 CD quality > up-sampling to 352.4k with Roon ‘smooth minimum phase filter’, still able to sound ‘sweetness’ and ‘lush’, overall a very slight tone down.

  3. 16/44.1 CD quality > up sampling to 352.4k with Roon ‘fast linear filter’ sound very ‘tight’, ‘brighter’ and ‘clean’ sounding with some ‘glare’ on the top. Overall very ‘digital’ sounding.

For music contents 88.2/96k and above, I normally don’t enable up-sampling in Roon. There’s a review recently by Stereophile, which the author favoured running in NOS in his review:é-tuned-edition-level-3-da-processor

Another DAC I’ve listen but not own is Metrum Acoustics NOS DAC, the ‘Amber’ is specially designed for Roon endpoint. Please note Metrum Acoustic NOS DACs only support PCM, no DSD like Holo Spring R2R DAC as these are strictly R2R ladder type. Metrum Acoustics also support add-in MQA module too.

NOS DACs give users more flexibility and take control on your music.

(Doug Hannah) #246

I’m not able to enlighten you. I feel similarly. Been listening to several Tidal Masters, new recordings and old on a pair of HD 800 S headphones plugged into a Magni 3 with an Audioquest Dragonfly Red DAC and I just can’t hear much of a difference between these albums and the regular 16/44.1 versions.

I wouldn’t be willing to invest hundreds or thousands more on the off chance a new DAC or amp would be more revealing. I guess I’ll consider myself lucky that good ol Redbook spec seems to be good enough for my 50 year old ears.

The MQA versions do sound nice, though. I like seeing the lights and the “Enhanced” label in Roon. So there’s that.

( Glen Rasmussen) #247

Just getting a new set of Headphones, Aiwa Arc1, have to pick them up in the next few days. So have not done Headphone ABX comparisons of formats. Even without the final mqa unfold, when I am mobile on my Boat stereo, I find the MQA versions have more soundstage. At home I have a Bluesound Node, and a Pair of Klipschorns, rear channel Paradigm’s MQA tracks show improvement on most music, particularly old analogue classics.


I find on some of my systems where the DAC is older (musical fidelity from 7 years ago) or dragonfly for my older headphones - I can barely tell the difference between MQA and FLAC file on my NAS drive. But when I go up on the quality chain of the DACs I own (even a Devialet which is non-MQA) Roon’s magic of first unfold sounds better to me than both SACD / FLAC files in terms of sound being “sweeter” as described by Chrislayeruk here above - to me the difference is more pronounced on better quality DAC/ Amp. The same goes for my headphones - I notice the improved sound quality on my Audeze LCD-4 headphones off a Mojo Chord non MQA DAC for travelling as apposed to a MQA capable dragonfly - the first unfold from Roon is sufficient for me to enjoy MQA streaming (of course totally dependent on the original recordings) -

In my experience generally on my newer DACs/ Headphones MQA streaming via Roon sounds (non MQA hardware) better than my SACDs/ DVD - Audio rips on my server for the same files (don’t even try using the hardware for these formats as the sound quality drops another notch) Hey I am not technical sound engineer, but in my setup MQA is a winner with newer DACs with Roon doing the first unfold.


Agreed - recording companies are driven by profit and I see nothing wrong with that if it also brings increased focused on quality recordings - back to 70s (80s was a disaster with digital recordings on computers) - bring back the tapes :smile: (my son did not even know what tape recorder was let alone he just worked out we have a CD collection - his expression was why do you have this when I can stream - then I pointed out that Vinyl existed before cassette tapes, poor boy was confused!!

(John Hill) #250

Sorry to break into your MQA bashing party, but I just got an LG V30+ which can decode MQA and the files sound great! This confirms what I have listened to at home with my Project S2. MQA files do sound better, at least IMHO. No, I have not done blind listening tests, but I have most of the MQA files also in HD 24 bit and have most of the MFSL etc, also. The MQA files, to my ears, do sound better than regular CD - very close to the HD files.

(Martin Webster) #251

That’s not my experience wit this master. I have original UK releases for Out of Time and Automatic For the People and dynamic range is 5 and 7 respectively. The MQA releases (with no unfolding through DigiOne/ 2Qute) are an improvement over those CDs.

Interestingly, playing with the first unfold performed by Roon is not so good. I guess I like what Chord does. Nonetheless, I’ll give the TIDAL Master a spin and if I like what I hear that release takes precedence in my collection.

(Andrew J Shepherd) #252

Nope. The dynamic range algorithm that Roon uses may be fine for volume leveling, but it is very poor for identifying/comparing original masterings and loudness war remasterings. And I already linked the DR meter reading for the 1991 CD release of “Out of Time.” It is DR 11.

What was wrong with the original masterings of albums? They were made in the early 1990s, roughly a decade into the CD era. Ostensibly, those albums were released on CD exactly as intended, no compromises necessary.

But you appear to be into revisionism. Any changes made could be for the better. That is akin to colorizing black and white films and updating special effects with CGI – because those will be improvements.


(Henry) #253

I have original CD pressings which are big on DR but actually sound quite poor. The reason is it is possible to go too far in either direction. That is why listening for the one that sounds best to you is better for some than just looking at the numbers. If you want something as it was originally released on principle then that is perfectly OK, that is what you need to do. But pop music can benefit from some processing and when they got that balance wrong in the early days of CD, later remixes could and did sound subjectively better.

(Martin Webster) #254

Largely irrelevant … numbers don’t change a thing. My experience remains the same and I prefer the 25th anniversary releases. Dynamic range doesn’t mean poor mastering and I don’t think these releases have a loudness issue.

Nothing. Why should the anniversary release mimic the original? I’m sure the objective was to craft a better or different release from the original analogue tapes.

Not at all. How do you come to that conclusion? As I’ve said, I choose with my ears. And I’m ambivalent about MQA and certainly have no intention of trading in my Chord DACs.

As I’ve already said elsewhere, I believe the improvement we often, but not exclusively, hear is from better recording not because MQA is superior. Indeed the one area where MQA could excel seems to be neglected. I’d like to see more reporting about the provenance of a release–specifically what masters are used.

Nonetheless, you are a detractor and it really make little sense to argue. Listen to Joni Mitchell’s Blue 2016 remastering in MQA and tell me that this isn’t an improvement over the 1984 (pre-loudness) CD or the 2000 remaster.

(Michael Fanning) #255

This is interesting: an MQA naysayer – Doug Schneider of Soundstage! – says the implementation of MQA by Hegel (its first foray into MQA) in its flagship H590 integrated amplifier/streamer is done correctly. Here is his summary: Thankfully, Hegel has implemented MQA the right way. Unlike DACs that run all digital signals through the MQA digital filter, which I see as possibly being a compromise, Hegel says that in the H590 the MQA digital path is separate from the PCM and DSD paths – PCM and DSD signals are not altered or (possibly) compromised at all. Check it out at this link.

(Peter Lufrano) #256

Despite the naysayers on the forums, I trust my ears. And my ears tell me that MQA encoded albums sound fantastic

(Chris ) #257

Just listened to Bob Marley Kaya in MQA it sounds amazing just first unfold via Roon in my Meridian G61r with Trifield…

(Henry) #258

I listened to it earlier. It is a nice mix.


It’s a bit louder?

(Chris ) #260

I don’t know, it just sounded great… SWMBO was dancing…