MQA disappointing


My point exactly.


A good place to test different format is 2L test bench:

Here you can listen to DXD, DSD and Hi-Res PCM, MQA and CD quality. Your PCM filters setting in most DACs can also change the SQ. Two class of PCM filters; Linear phase sharp and slow roll off and the other is Minimum phase sharp and slow roll off.

I prefer Linear phase sharp cut off filter because it is good for imaging better spatial reproduction. Music fall in this are mostly Rock, Pop and orchestra that have lot of energy in the upper range.

For Jazz, Vocals and Opera I prefer Minimum phase slow roll off, it brings out the thickness and body of the vocals and it is more forward than lay back experience.

I also tried on no filter as my DAC supports NOS, it sounds totally different from with filters.


Yes, but there’s something VERY wrong with claiming that each playback format has its own (reliably identifiable) “sound”.

I think @hwz1970’s point/question was: HOW do you compare such formats in a way that you can be sure there really ARE the sonic differences you’re describing. You haven’t answered that question at all…

If you change your listening position by a couple of inches or just move your head a little, you’re no longer comparing what you’re trying to compare… The effects can be DRAMATIC - at least in comparison to any format-related differences…

(Henry) #345

Which I did go on to explain in less confrontational language! If you apply my caveats they can claim anything they like. That doesn’t mean that is what you or I hear, and because we don’t hear it that doesn’t make us or our setups flawed in some way! :joy:


I’ve already answered the question. Look, go to 2L and download all the available formats and start comparing them on your system. All 2L recordings are mastered on DXD 24/352.8k and this is converted to all the available formats. Then come to post your subjective listening results here. If you don’t know how to do a AB comparison then I can’t help you.

(Jeremy) #347

Good description. This is because minimum phase adds phase distortion which tends to reduce spatial imaging and detail - especially at higher frequencies which are delayed with respect to lower frequencies. Since many DACs don’t do a great job in the upper frequencies to begin with (lots of digital glare) then it is hardly surprising that some folks prefer MQA or similar minimum phase type filters where the added distortion may give better resemblance to analog.

What is amazing is that nobody ever debated the use of Linear Phase filters in D to A until very recently. It was a given that you had to use linear phase in order to mathematically preserve the original waveform. No audio engineer or anyone who understands the physics would question that. Minimum phase filters have their place and are a necessity in mixing multi-track audio in studios - especially when using high Q filters on a single track and primarily because those filters often have very sharp edges within the audible range and therefore create audible ringing particularly with high pass filters (as opposed to D to A low pass brick wall filters above 20 KHz that do not create audible ringing and where linear phase is by far the best choice to preserve the original shape of the analog waveform)

(Music and Shawarma Lover) #348

And Trump says he’s never had an affair


True. He took advice on it from Bill Clinton. :grinning:

(Jeremy) #350

Yes and No.

I absolutely agree that there should be no difference in any lossless playback format like PCM or FLAC or upsampled versions of these files to DSD. (Same original file)

However in practice DACs are so poorly designed that some do sound different merely because of the sample rate!! DSD is also inherently noisy so true DSD conversion at the 1 bit level is unlikely to be as good as a 5 or 6 bit PCM DS converter (SN will be higher for DSD and only super high DSD like 1024 or 2048 may eventually start to compete again with PCM converters because they push all that extremely high noise to such high frequencies that they can be filtered out completely)

Now let’s talk about minimum phase vs linear phase - of course there MUST be a difference as minimum phase mucks up the phase and changes the waveform whereas linear phase preserves the original waveform perfectly. Also slow roll off filters necessarily affect passband and may also allow image foldback. Image foldback is a common problem with smooth slow roll off Apodizing Filters. So choices of filter other than a sharp linear phase with complete image foldback suppression can and will affect audible sound in a characteristic way. MQA seems to be using apodizing as well as minimum phase filters so it most definitely has an audible characteristic due to the kind of distortion and massaging of the audio that the MQA processing does (specific poor choices of filter). So unlike other lossless formats - lossy MQA definitely has a characteristic sound.

(Martin Webster) #351

Ditto. Alas Traffic from Paradise isn’t available on MQA over here. :frowning:


He’s a politician, he lies as soon as he opens his mouth. mqa’s bs lines about provenance, lossless etc. were equally truthful. Glad you clarified that for us though.

(Stefan) #353

The influences of most poeple’s equipment surely have a much larger impact but what MQA does. Since so I wouldn’t argue much about it sounding better or worse, it might give some different taste.

In the end it’s more a personal principle if one wants to spend a lossless payment into a lossy thing. I can’t remember any lossy fileformat which entitled me to re-encode this into the state of the art fileformat, and since these change from time to time I keep myself wasting money into such things. I spent too many bucks multiple times for the same music since I was given only a subset instead of of the full blown one in the past.

(K J) #354

MQA CD is compatible, but resolution is downgraded to 13 bits, if MQA decoder is absent.
Oh, and “regular” MQA is compatible with PCM, but again, resolution is degraded below CD standard/quality.

(Henry) #355

That is common knowledge isn’t it? No one is claiming it is full resolution unprocessed.


I am still deciding whether or not to limit my choices for a new DAC to one that supports MQA.
For streaming I guess it makes sense, but can’t help thinking there are much better DACs than the limited choice offering MQA.
With Roon already doing the first unfold and passing 88.2/96 streams, I am tempted to pass on an MQA DAC completely and go with a Qutest for connecting to my main listening amp.


Since both MSB and dCS offer MQA DAC’s in my opinion the answer is no there are no better DAC’s offering MQA.

(Jeff) #358

You can have Roon apply upsampling filters similar to what an MQA DAC does. Get the best sounding DAC you can afford don’t compromise.


Out of my price range.
Really my choice is more like Mytek Liberty vs Chord Qutest… That kind of range.


Interesting - so Roon can do the first unfold plus enhance MQA and send to DAC? Did not know that.

(Martin Webster) #361

You are reaching the same conclusion I made in January. I bought the Chord 2Qute just before the Qutest was available (with a heavy discount to boot) and I am very happy. I remain unconvinced about the benefits of MQA as a technology, but with Roon I’ll take the first unfold along with other available releases on TIDAL. Indeed Chord do something pretty special with their DACs–especially Red Book–and say (of course) that “MQA is inferior to what they are doing.”