MQA disappointing

To complement your observation, I read this about the Hegel H590 in a SoundStage! Hi-Fi review:
“This is Hegel’s first DAC to natively decode and render MQA. The lazy way to implement MQA would have been to route all incoming signals, including PCM and DSD, through the MQA engine. But because doing so is suboptimal for non-MQA content, Hegel’s new DAC has separate signal paths for MQA and non-MQA signals. Furthermore, unlike Hegel’s previous DACs, the H590 does not upsample the incoming signal.”

MQA doesn’t sound worse, it is another sound signature. People who like analog and vinyl will find this sounds good to the ears, it is just another ‘Sound preference’. This applies to those who like DSD recordings too.

People who don’t like this type of sound signature are those who listen exclusively PCM, and for them to switch to MQA is complete changeover. It is like listening to Vinyl vs CD.


Agree again…and how is this discussion of the subtle differences is audio presentation any different than the millions of observations about differences in speakers, electronics, cables, digital vs analog etc? It comes down to personal preference. MQA is just another ingredient in the mix that adds a subtle flavor…just like everything else. Some people don’t like MQA because of what it is and not how it sounds.


Vinyl is the analog sound people rave about and with MQA you have this in the digital world without all the drawbacks of vinyl and the costs and skills involved in a high end turntable solution.

I’m sorry Chris, but you can’t really compare vinyl to MQA.
Vinyl is completely analogue, with all the pros & cons that that medium brings. Mostly Cons IMO. Noise, rumble, and frequency limitations to name a few. Yet, it does remain musical.
MQA is digital, and NOT analogue in its technology.

Martin, it is digital as you cannot overcome the problem of streaming and delivery any other way, but the sound is very analog to my ears… instruments sound real.

An example; an acquaintance came to listen to my system and he runs pioneer studios, a small studio in my home town. (I had just sorted out their van)
He is very MQA un-aware (That’s a shame) but the first words out of his mouth when I played some MQA (He didn’t know what I was playing) was “Now that a kick drum”!
He was excited at the sound of my system, the body language said it all.

So when people state things like “All MQA sounds distorted” etc, I honestly have no idea what they are listening to or how they perceive music. I have to accept what they say in all honesty but I am perplexed as to how they find MQA so unlistenable.

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I don’t stream Tidal anymore, and just use Qobuz, but when I was streaming MQA, it certainly wasn’t distorted.
It’s just the usual anti-MQA brigade in full-swing!


I believe it wasn’t meant ‘All MQA sounds distorted’ otherwise it is not listenable! what it meant was it has some kind of distortion due to the used of leaky n weak MQA filters. It is designed so it can produces a more ‘analogue’ like sounding.
As I say before, people who like analog sounding, assuming you are one of them, will definitely like the sound of MQA. This is a preference liking but it doesn’t respresent anything, it is just another signature. Don’t assumed this is actually the original sounding of the recorded masters.

The whole thing is a farcical lie. How does bob explain the existence of MQA masters for masters destroyed in the Universal fire? Master quality authenticated…yeah right. If there’s karma out there I look forward to them going out of business.


That incident happened many years back (2008) before MQA came into existence (2014). There’s is no such thing as MQA masters, only PCM masters. MQA Ltd that does all the encoding from PCM masters, they can of course call MQA masters in their world🤣

I found this interesting as it makes me think that people could even train themselves to not like MQA sound based on ones philosophy… All in the ear of the beholder if you like…

Interesting quotes from Bob Stuart

MQA say that they go back to the best available master, what ever that is. If some thing is lost as in this case, it’s a tragedy and we now have to make the best of what they have.

At the rate they’ve created content only the gullible would give any credence to their claims of master quality authentication. There’s no provenance info available because there’s no regard for provenance, it’s akin to audiophile ethernet cable - a load of bull.


That’s a view I suppose… I’m really enjoying what I hear and so are many many more people. Each to their own view.

I have read a scientific paper that back that up claim that our time sensitivity is in the order of 10us in the context of our directional sense. (ie about 1 sample period at 96K which is the MQA encode source rate) If you consider that we can apparently resolve close to 1 degree on the horizontal, then that makes sense.

I have also done quite a lot of experimentation with hass-effect panning in music production - this is where you also apply micro-second resolution adjustable delay to re-enforce horizontal placement of sounds in a mix. This pretty much confirmed that we do indeed have excellent time sensitivity.

How this correlates into simple listening of a live stereo recording, I’m not sure as I cant think of any normal situations in digital playback where even a poor DAC would be having any random impact upon left / right timing to sufficient extent to blur a stereo image - even sampling and reconstructing at 44.1K is supposed to re-construct relative timing (ie waveform precedence effect) unless something bad is going on in the DAC in how the wave form in being reconstructed - quite what, I’m not sure.

Yes of course and this had already demonstrated back to the days when SACD (DSD) was supposedly the answer to PCM sharp cut off filter. MQA’s weak and leaky filter is supposedly help to improve the timing of PCM signals, but downside are images in ultrasonic range get reflected back to the audio range where our ears are most sensitive. This will ‘intermodulate’ to the audio signals and create new form of distortion not inherent in the first place. Put it another way, bad filter implementation.

Rob Watts focuses a lot on transients, in the design/performance of his DACs (and headphone amps). He had a public post the other day on Head-Fi forum that gave me a chuckle.

Note: I would personally prefer MQA go away but don’t have a problem with people enjoying it. Life is too short to get too worked up… I play lots of MQA content via Tidal all the time because I love Tidal’s overall catalogue (lots of stuff that I listen to is still missing on Qobuz but I’ll check Qobuz again next year).


Absolute classic! :rofl:

If you run a DAC without using filter, such as NOS DAC, you will be surprised it sounds very much like what you are listening even using 16 bit 44.1k Tidal streaming. I’ve a NOS DAC and I can say it sounds like analogue but of course with distortion :grin:

Funny, I can’t here this artefact on my DSPSE system which would reveal all if it were there. It just sounds like real instruments and voices to me. I was enjoying some lovely harmonies this morning on this track… Beautiful