MQA disappointing

(Chris ) #1547

That’s not true… Just sayin’

(Martin Kelly) #1548

Not true Chris.
MQA is lossy. Some digital data is dispensed with in MQA conversion. MQA is not lossless, unlike FLAC, ALAC etc

(Chris ) #1549

If you mean above 45Khz where you can’t even record it, let alone hear it and it’s influence on anything is nothing… then it’s lossy.
This isn’t MP3 in any way shape or form and so the Lossy emphasis is misleading at best.


I like this definition
" lossy



  1. having or involving the dissipation of electrical or electromagnetic energy.

(of data compression) in which unnecessary information is discarded."

Unnecessary meaning inaudible, hence lossy but no (relevant) information lost, no music lost

(Martin Kelly) #1551

Sorry Chris, but you’re fundamentally incorrect in your analysis.
Whilst MQA obviously doesn’t take the same brutal approach as MP3, it is a lossy format. It doesn’t technically matter ‘where’ the information is dispensed with, the fact is that MQA dispenses with some information on conversion, therefore it is lossy, not lossless.
This is not just my opinion, it is acknowledged and documented:

Please get your facts right on this Chris. There’s nothing worse than bad, or misinformation on such a thread as this

(Martin Kelly) #1552

But the fact remains that MQA is Lossy in a technical sense. Whether or not this is audibly relevant or not, is another matter! :roll_eyes:

(Chris ) #1553

Information that is phsychoacousticly irrelevant and cannot be recovered is the point.
I’d like someone to playback the missing information in MQA so we can all hear it. This has been done with MP3 files if my memory serves.

(Martin Kelly) #1554

Who are you to say whether the ‘information that is [lost] is phsychoacousticly irrelevant’ (or not!?). No-one. End of.
Everyone is different, and just because you are of the opinion that you don’t ‘miss’ this information, others may think otherwise.
MQA is technically accepted and recognised as ‘lossy’. There’s no debate about this at all.


This is pure pedantry, I don’t think there’s any doubt that it is “lossy” but the discarded information isn’t audible. So to be clear what do you think the consequences are? Less of the anti MQA mantra that repeats and repeats and a bit more of the… this means that…
Do you agree that it’s inaudibly lossy?

(Chris ) #1556

Again I say, if you can hear information above 45Khz which is I understand what we are talking about then great. The fact that we can’t even record such information shouldn’t get in the way.
But we are all free to choose how we listen and I haven’t seen MQA take over the world just yet.

(Martin Kelly) #1557

Whether or not what MQA ‘does’ to the high frequencies during it’s lossy conversion is a matter for debate.
But whether or not MQA is lossy is not debatable. It is ‘lossy’.


Why are you debating it then?

If you’re saying there’s an audible loss, then fine, debate that but what you’re writing really isn’t very clear. You bring up lossy and then say it’s not debatable.


I don’t think many dispute that MQA involves some loss of information. However, the pejorative use of the term ‘lossy’ by some in respect of their comments about MQA and any comparison to MP3 is in my opinion pedantic at best and deliberately provocative at worst.

I have just returned from holiday and haven’t been following this forum and so am not up to date with comments on the forum. In recent posts, you have repeatedly stated that MQA is ‘lossy’. Fine - but do you actually think that this matters? Would you choose to listen to MQA content if available, or would you choose not to under any circumstance?

Is it your opinion that the availability of MQA Masters on Tidal is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing or something about which you are completely ambivalent? Have your recent posts been made simply to clarify the fact that from a technical perspective MQA is as you say - ‘lossy’.

If you are opposed to MQA in general and the inclusion of MQA Masters on Tidal in particular, then why are you opposed to it? Is it because you believe (as do some others) that MQA is a stealthy way to introduce DRM, is it simply because you are opposed in principal to any format that does not completely conform to so called ‘Redbook’ standard, or is it because you have listened to and compared MQA with standard ‘Redbook’ files and to your ears and on your system(s) the ‘Redbook’ versions sound better.

If you find that for you MQA encoded files simply do not sound good or do not sound as good as ‘Redbook’ equivalents then I completely respect your opinion (as I would expect you and others to respect mine). However, I would point out that if this is the case then you are (in almost all cases) able to make a deliberate choice to listen to a non MQA version.

Those (like myself) who choose to listen to MQA versions of albums on Tidal can do so, and those who don’t can similarly choose not to do so. This is absolutely not directed at you, because I don’t know your stance on the matter, but I simply do not subscribe to the ‘world domination’ conspiracy theories propagated by some anti-MQA ‘zealots’.

I repeat my view of MQA and High Resolution audio in general. Most of my listening is done with standard ‘Redbook’ audio sources, and so the sound quality of these files on my system is of most importance to me, and some of my best sounding albums are standard 16bit 44.1kHz format.

However, I also believe that in some cases (certainly not all), high resolution files (where equivalent masters exist) can sound subtly better and (to my ears) more natural and less fatiguing for long term listening than 16bit 44.1kHz versions. I find this to be the case with both ‘standard’ high resolution files and with MQA ‘high resolution’ files, and so whenever available (and unless I believea different mastering of the high resolution file to be detrimental to the music) then I will normally choose to listen to the high resolution version.

I don’t think that my view is particularly controversial or pedantic. However, I do find the views of some of those who oppose MQA to be both pedantic and overly aggressive.

(Martin Kelly) #1560

My response was to a post from Chris earlier, who maintained that no information is ‘lost’ during MQA conversion. The fact is, is that information is lost, which defines MQA as a ‘lossy’ format.
As I have previously stated, whether or not that ‘loss’ is audible, is indeed debatable. But lets’s get clear what is debatable, and what is fact.

I like MQA, and I like the sound it produces. I don’t generally tend to enagage in A/B comparisons, because I really can’t be bothered. I tend to just listen to the music instead. But your stance got me thinking. So I’ve just done an A/B comparison on the following album:


‘Through The Fire’ is a beautiful track, and show’s Chaka’s vocal talents superbly. I listened to and compared both the MQA stream from Tidal, and the 24/96 stream from Qobuz. And there was indeed a difference between the two streams. The high frequencies on the Qobuz lossless stream were far better portrayed, with more accuracy and ‘headroom’. The MQA stream, by comparison, was dull and lifeless, with muted and smeared high frequencies. So yes, in my system, with these particular streams, the diffference was indeed audible. To me, and me only. Other people might not hear it. But I did.

That’s not to say I don’t prefer the MQA ‘version’ with other recordings. I do. For example, I prefer to MQA stream of Paramore’s new(ish) album ‘After Laughter’ to the High-Res stream from Qobuz. I listened to both versions a few months ago, and the MQA version sounded more ‘holographic’, and got my foot tapping quicker!


But in this particular instance, with the Chaka Khan streams, I can discern a difference, and the MQA version loses IMO.
So I can state, that in this particular instance I can hear the truncating effect MQA has on the music. Others may ‘hear’ differently. And that’s OK. It’s completely debatable :+1:

And if you’re interested, the comparison was made using a Lumin A1, which is an authenticated MQA DAC/network player.

(Martin Kelly) #1561

The term ‘lossy’ is not perjorative at all. It is a factual description. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As to whether it ‘matters’ or not is completely up to the individual listener. Everyone is different. To some it will ‘matter’, to others it will not.
And I completely agree with you that some who obviously oppose MQA do indeed portray their bias in overtly aggressive and pedantic ways, in many cases without even listening to it.
However, I think that in a thread such as this, it’s important to get the facts right. Whether or not you ‘like’ or ‘prefer’ MQA is very much debatable.


I’ve had some streams (two specifically) from Tidal where there was awful distortion from the tweeters, I didn’t look to see if it was MQA, I thought it may have been a DSP effect. I didn’t investigate further. I can’t think it was MQA, it was too bad. I will try to recreate and further investigate. It does however open the possibility that there may be other factors involved in distortion. I’m not being disingenuous…


I do agree that the term ‘lossy’ in itself is not pejorative. However, the way it is used by some to dismiss MQA as worthless most certainly is.

To be pedantic, this particular thread is entitled ‘MQA disappointing’ and relates to the subjective sound quality of MQA sources rather than the factual technical details of MQA. I believe that an off-shoot of this thread relates to the question of ‘what constitutes high resolution audio’.

My main point is that I do not wish to dictate or restrict the listening options of others, but some of those who vigorously campaign (there really is no other way to describe their posts) against MQA and the inclusion of MQA Masters in Tidal certainly do want to restrict my listening options. This I find objectionable.

(Martin Kelly) #1564

There are many factors associated with ‘distortion’ (speaking about it in an all-encompassing, generic way).
I tend to think that MQA and/or any other type of source file doesn’t have a great deal to do with it, and in my own experience at least, it tends to be more ‘hardware’ related.

(Martin Kelly) #1565

I don’t disagree with you, on any of the points you have made.
There are many differing, often opposing opinions about MQA. Personally, I’m quite ambivalent towards it. I like what I hear with MQA. Sometimes. And that’s the key thrust of this thread - how MQA sounds.
However, I also think that it’s important to get our facts right about MQA. Otherwise it just becomes another exercise in ‘Fake News’.


I also don’t disagree with your position. Most of my MQA comparisons have been in respect of MQA vs standard 16bit 44.1 files on Tidal, and I find that in most cases the MQA versions sound subtly ‘better’ to my ears and on my systems.

My main interest has been in respect of the availability of ‘high resolution’ (my view but completely open to debate) music via the MQA Masters within Tidal and so haven’t carried out many comparisons of MQA vs ‘standard’ high definition files, but the small number of tests I have carried out lead to a similar conclusion to your own. I only possess 3 MQA album downloads, and have come to the conclusion that for a number of reasons whenever I decide to purchase a high resolution version of an album I will almost certainly choose to purchase the non MQA version.