MQA disappointing

Has anyone tried to see if they can hear the difference between 192k vs 96k MQA tracks?

Looks like I still have a few days left on my Tidal subscription, so I could try this test with my ifi idsd micro doing the rendering.

I’ve done this with Qobuz hires files listening to Beck’s Sea Change album and can hear a slight bit more air and depth. Very subtle.

This is the thing, MQA is about the analog sound and there are many digital ways to get there. So, we have 44.1 MQA up to the very highest sample rates. To the end result, it’s not relevant. It’s the analog sound to your ears and perception that counts.

But the same can be said for hires. There are 44/24 files available. That’s same masters you’re getting for the 44k MQA. For the most part MQA is using the exact same masters as hires for the starting point. So I assume that’s also true for 192k albums.

But on a real 192/24 file there is a lot more data available than the 96/24 file. How much improvement that makes is subjective. In my setup I can hear minor improvements. But with a MQA files, if the most info you are getting is 96/17 and the rest is upsampling then what would be the real difference between 192k MQA and 96k? Just that ones converted from downsampled master and the other isn’t. There is no additional data in the output.

The argument about MQA being all about the analog output is same idea that different dac manufacturers talk about such a Chord and Schitt. They believe they can achieve that sound from the original cd file using their unique upsampling techniques with no loss of data. There is no need to manipulate and compress the file before it arrives at the dac.

MQA is just using minimum phase upsampling techniques to achieve their sound. They’re starting with the same source files. Some people really like this sound. For me, I find Chord’s technique sounds more like the real thing especially in terms of soundstage and detail.

Think I’m done with this thread but wanted to add this. I believe the real advantage of MQA and hires files is that a lot of them are using better masters than the cd release. That’s more important that being higher bit rate.

Chord sounds great with cd quality but some of the hires sounds better due to the different master. That’s true for MQA as well.

Some hires albums are specifically mastered for that output knowing it’s going to be listened on audiophile equipment vs mass use for regular cd. Someone posted link to a Tom Petty engineer talking about this in some thread.

This thread was visited some times by me. I’m wondering what you guys are complainig about. Maybe some of you know the ATR Mustercut recordings. I know, due to my job, the original analoge master, the first digital masters, from some records I still own the test pressings ( As well as the first re-issues from TBM done by RTI).
Through all the generations, I’ve figured out that the intire record, cd of files are louder in total, or in particular parts of the record. This is right also with SACD. Even SACD can be louder without degrading the quality, the relation within the SACD are also different from the original analoge master.
so, talking about SQ at this late point seems to be strange, who know, what generation the master is and from what scource. So let people enjoy what they want, even it is not the latest or it is the latest hype, technologie or weirdest music


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Here’s the link to the article by Tom Petty’s producer for anyone interested.

Right - an already well known philosophy and practice repackaged into an “end to end” DRM scheme.

Anyone who likes the sound of MQA can get it elsewhere in a myriad of different ways and products without being locked in personally or contributing to a lock in effort of the market (I’m looking at you Roon :face_with_raised_eyebrow: ).

MQA was never about SQ. MQA begins and ends with DRM…


Just tell us when the “FIRST” occurrence of DRM is used [Moderated].

Unfortunately I don’t have a renderer so I can’t comment on the SQ. I believe there’s a subtle difference when applying the final MQA filter at the DAC side. Again, there’s no such thing as 192k or higher MQA track; it is just telling you the authentication info, not the actual sample rate that feed to the DAC chip. Everything get decoded at 96k max regardless the masters is 192k or above.

There is no DRM with MQA. Period.

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Agreed, it’s about taking over the world.

As Robert Harley (editor of The Absolute Sound) told us a few years back in his “View” piece, MQA is about protecting (Managing) the “crown jewels” (the Rights) of the labels, through an IP protected software instance (via Digital means) designed to be a tiered, “freemium” product . What does that add up to? DRM. Period.


That may be the intent but they are not using DRM to achieve it. So you can period all you want and still be wrong.

What is “wrong” is DRM = strong copy protection. That’s not what DRM is…


Do you think they care about DRM if the same exact albums are available in hires elsewhere? Think they’ve learned from Apple in the past that DRM did not go over well with the public. And pirating I believe has gone down since streaming took off.

Yes, they care. For example (there are many others), “they” (i.e. major labels) mention piracy as a very significant problem on just about every investor call to shareholders. They look to the DRMing of video with envy. Check out Robert Harley’s (editor of TAS) “crown jewels” reasoning, or Jim Austin’s (recently promoted to editor of Stereophile)…


But how do this work if they are offering hires versions? Seems would only make sense if MQA was the only offering.

And what am I still posting in this thread for? I said I was done :pensive:

I agree, and when it comes to titles that have already been released in Hi Res obviously the answer is “it’s complicated”…but moving forward DRM and MQA (or something like it) would certainly be progress from their point of view.

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MQA is lossy, unauthenticated, DSPier format with mega tones BS, but - and that’s good - slowly, but divinely, MQA go away.

So, MQA is worse than any uncompressed music, worse than every very high Q lossless files (hi-res >24/96) cos only 17/96 max. resolution & lossy, even worse than many standard flac red-book files (PCM, near 1411kbps).

No Master. No Studio. Lossy, needless, only for $ form licences.


Do I need this? Take it up with MQA Ltd