MQA disappointing


Sorry you’re going to have to be a little clearer? But probably.


This depends on your definition of “subjective”. If people can’t prove they hear a difference, but keep telling others that the difference is “ever so obvious”, the whole thing is no longer merely a “matter of opinion”, is it?


Please explain. I’m a bit thick?

(Martin Kelly) #1352

‘Subjective’ is generally defined as ‘Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.’ It is the opposite of ‘Objective’.
Hence, an individual’s opinion of, say the SQ of MQA is subjective. And it always will be. This also applies to an individual’s opinion of the SQ of say, ‘High-Res’ audio, etc, etc. Some people maintain that RB is indistinguishable from 24-bit audio. Hence, subjectivity is at play here, and not objectivity.
MQA Ltd. cannot unequivocally state that MQA sounds better than ‘High-Res’ audio. It just cannot. And this is where I have my own problems with MQA. It depends on the listener, equipment etc.
It may sound better. And it may not. It depends. It’s for the individual to reach their own conclusions and opinions, and NOT MQA Ltd.


How do you know what “most people” can or can’t hear? @HWZ has done scientific listening tests with hundreds of people and has arrived at a very different conclusion…


Yes, but if people who can’t prove they can hear a difference, tell others the difference is very obvious, this is no longer a matter of “taste” or “feelings” etc.

(Martin Kelly) #1355

No one has to prove anything in this game. It’s their own personal opinion. It remains subjective, and it will always be.


Yes and no. People’s personal preferences are, of course, subjective. However, the question of whether or not a listener can hear what he claims he can isn’t “subjective” at all…

(Martin Kelly) #1357

Baudrillard would fundamentally disagree with you there.
As do I.


Unlike Baudrillard, you defined “subjectivity” as the opposite of “objectivity”, a simplistic dualism that Baudrillard wanted to get rid of. I was referring to YOUR definition. Whether somebody can hear what he says he can isn’t a question Baudrillard (or other thinkers like him) would consider “unanswerable” or even “irrelevant”…

(Jeremy) #1359

Please provide a link to your paper with the methodology and results. Depending on what music samples were selected I could easily generate a test that people would fail. It isn’t obvious all the time on all tracks. You really need to know specifically what to listen for. Small differences are only obvious when you understand what to listen for.

For example, if I conducted the test with minimum phase filtering default on the DAC then the differences between MQA and non-MQA become much smaller because EVERYTHING played through the DAC will have similar phase distortion.

I am also quite prepared to believe that most people can’t hear a difference reliably partly because of comparison methodology, equipment and very little time invested in trying to understand the character of differences. They could learn to hear it but it takes more effort than the majority are willing to expend. It took me about a year to reach definitive conclusions comparing normal files, MQA 1st unfold, and complete unfold - in order to completely grasp the character of the audible difference. I believe most of the audible difference is from the minimum phase filter distortion and the other piece is the apodizing filter (another form of distortion). I guess it is forums like this that demonstrate that the majority are not rigorous in their approach to high fidelity. Most folks take what a marketing department or a PHD guru says for granted.

(Martin Kelly) #1360

I don’t disagree with you. Baudrillard railed against such crude, binary, diametrically-opposed definitives. And they’re not my definitions - they’re commonly-accepted definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary. That doen’t make them any more acceptable, philosophically speaking.
However, in a hermeneutic framework, as a society we need to distil and simplify our ‘understanding’ of pure subjectivity and ephemerality to the lowest common denominator. So unfortunately we’re left with two very crude, unsatisfactory definitions of what we regard to define subjectivity, and conversely what is accepted to be objective.
However, if we eschew these crude definitions for a moment, what someone ‘hears’, in an existentialist sense, remains completely indescribable and unclassifiable. If two people ‘hear’ exactly the same sound, they might have fundamentally different interpretations of the same waveform hitting their respective tympanic membranes. To return to our lowest common dominator, a certain thing may sound ‘pleasing’ and acceptable to one person, yet might ‘sound’ (or more accurately, ‘mean’) something completely different to someone else. Hence, what we can justifiably say, is that an appreciation of sound, or of any other sensory stimulus such as visual art, remains subjective. We may choose as individuals to regard our own ‘opinion’ as ‘objective’, but it remains objective only to that person, and to that person only.
Hence, it becomes philosophically impossible for rigid objectives to exist which relate to the ‘quality’ of sound, or lack of it. Appreciation of such things is ultimately subjective, and cannot be anything else.
Therefore, to return to the subject of our thread, MQA might sound ‘good’ to some, yet ‘bad’ to others. But that’s where the definitives start and finish - with that person, and that person only.

(Martin Kelly) #1361

You can’t presuppose the outcome of a supposedly ‘scientific’ endeavour - that would be totalitarianism!
And anyway, it’s been done before, sort-of:

Interesting reading…


Breaking news: a designer and peddler of MQA-licensed DACs says he loves MQA.

Also breaking: “I spent x thousands on hi-fi ‘upgrades’ but don’t like the sound” said no one ever.

Thanks for the revelation!

(crenca) #1363

Well shucks Martin_Kelly! After criticizing the often crude subjective/objective divide, what follows this sentance is a good explication of radical subjectivism, the very thing (along with a real but much less represented radical or “scientific” objectivism, at least in audiophiledom) that what makes this “hobby” so eccentric. It takes what are essentially consumer electronics and makes it an ‘art and wine’ phenomena. It also fundamentally confuses fidelity with musical taste.

Radical subjectivism is “radical” because it ignores the fact that human beings are far more similiar than different (we all share the same DNA, the same universe, the same biology, the same handful of cultures, etc.). Only in the last 2 or 3 generations has it become the norm to believe (at least in intellectual circles) that beauty, art, and the like are radically subjective.

All that however might be beside the point because with things like MQA we actually know alot about what fidelity is, and what people subjectively like in relation to it. With digital sampling and encodings, it’s an even better understood domain because it is all digital, software, mathematics, etc.

I like a little and particular type of distortion with my music - I run a tube pre-amp part of the time for example. That is an widely ackowledged phenomena however, if not entirely without controversy. In what way is MQA leveraging distortion to affect taste one way or another (such as many designers, such as Nelson Pass explicitly admit they do)? They don’t say, and when they do they contradict themselves with technobabble about “blurr” and the like. Throw in differing masterings (and listeners who don’t know the difference) and what you have is an astroturfing dream of gullible audiophiledom.

No, we can ask the hard questions because what MQA is - it’s a piece of digital software, not an painting or a musical composition.


My point(s) exactly!

I wasn’t trying to sell this as a revelation. My “surprise, surprise” was meant ironically…:joy:


That’s hairsplitting. I wrote “YOUR” definition, because YOU introduced it here. In this sense, it’s irrelevant that you looked it up in a dictionary.

I didn’t contradict those statements in any way. All I am saying is that the difference is not as easily audible as some people claim it is…


If I have to “really train my ears” to hear (and appreciate) the “benefits” of MQA then the format has already lost me. Additionally, at that point I’m no longer enjoying the music because I’m too busy trying to analyze it, concentrating on finding the difference that MQA is offering me per the marketing brochure… At some point I may well tell myself yes, there is a difference. I sure as hell will come to that conclusion on my own if I’ve already spent dollars on a MQA DAC & streaming MQA files.

MQA in a nutshell:


Add one part music industry – an industry whose holy grail is content control, consequences be damned. If they cared about audiophools we’d be up to our ears in SACD/DVD-A content.

Next, add one part hi-fi industry – an industry not exactly synonymous with honesty.

Take an influential hi-fi company from within hi-fi industry. Said company works with music industry to develop a lossy, proprietary, DRM-enabled file format that no one from within the hi-fi industry asked for.

Said format further delights music industry with its much smaller file size. Less bandwidth needed to stream content! Music industry can barely contain itself.

Hi-Fi company & music industry (beginning with Warner Music) make contract. Contract spells out the future for hi-fi makers: “…no ‘hi-res’ stickers & pretty blue lights allowed on the boxes you sell to audiophools unless you licence MQA”.

Hi-Fi gear makers wanna continue being hi-fi gear makers.

Advertising campaigns begin and MQA benefits showcased to us all. MQA special sauce gooood!
Standard uncompressed audio with too many bits baaad! Ability to share these files very baaad!

Cue all the purchase confirmations (you know who you are).

Cue additional backdoor dealings with streaming services that have everything to gain by using a compressed format with missing bits. Dollars saved on bandwidth costs makes them do jumps for joy!

Audiophools start to wake up.

Advertising campaigns begin and MQA benefits showcased to us all. MQA special sauce gooood!
Standard uncompressed audio with too many bits baaad! Ability to share these files very baaad!

Audiophool forums inundated with MQA protagonists. "If I just spent thousands on my MQA DAC it MUST be better (you know who you are)!

Audiophools begin to argue amongst each other.

Audiophools begin advocating the merits of using a lossy, proprietary, DRM-enabled audio format – the total antithesis of their once beloved religion.


Computers become self aware.

Computers immune to MQA advertising.

Computers partake in blind A/B test of uncompressed audio vs MQA.
Computers pick uncompressed audio 100% of the time.

Audiophools say computers stupid. Audiophools instruct computers to train their ears to listen, no, really lsiten for benefits of MQA.
Computers still fail to hear benefits of MQA – pick uncompressed audio 100% of the time.

Audiophools instruct computers to spend thousands of their own money on MQA boxes. Audiophools emphasize advantages of boxes with MQA blue light & ‘hi-res’ sticker.

Computers conduct further A/B tests.
Computers begin to hear the amazing soundstage of MQA.

Computers begin to argue on internet forums.


Computers that make computers become self aware.

Computers that make computers immune to MQA advertising.

Computers that make computers partake in blind A/B test of uncompressed audio vs MQA.
Computers that make computers pick uncompressed audio 100% of the time.

Computers say computers that make computers stupid. Computers instruct computers that make computers to train their ears to listen, no, really lsiten for benefits of MQA.
Computers that make computers still fail to hear benefits of MQA – pick uncompressed audio 100% of the time.

Computers instruct computers that make computers to spend thousands of their own money on MQA boxes. Computers emphasize advantages of boxes with MQA blue light & ‘hi-res’ sticker.

Computers that make computers conduct further A/B tests.
Computers that make computers begin to hear the amazing soundstage of MQA.

Computers that make computers begin to argue on internet forums.


Sounds good though…

(Chris ) #1368

Skimmed through all this, then played Michael Bublé’s latest in 48khz MQA an Wow!!! Just sayin’…