MQA explanations wanted - fundamentalists need not apply

(Henry) #61

The race is never over. But you have to be in it to win it and MQA is in it. Love it or loath it, there are no rivals and little in the way of alternative strategy other than to leave things as they are. Which is a dependency on streaming CD resolution and less, and no safeguards against piracy.

(Chris ) #62

Perhaps I should have used the term approved sound over Studio sound, meaning the sound the artists wish you to experience aurally.
Now if that is a mix one doesn’t enjoy… well, that’s tough.
If one feels the need to change it, then the hobby has a long way to go with that, as it’s never ending…

(danny2) #63

MQA is also not what the “artists wish” you to hear. It’s already been documented by “artists” that at least some of the MQA “approvals” are done by record company functionaries, and not by a performer, producer, mastering engineer, etc. who actually could be considered a credible authority. MQA engage in much “exaggeration” in their PR which could, if being uncharitable, simply be called “lying”. This isn’t the only example.
Liking MQA is fine. Swallowing their PR uncritically isn’t.

(Chris ) #64

Strong words, lying. I appreciate artists have never had the final say once under contract. Not with MQA or CD, Vinyl, cassette et al.
MQA is however, the best authentication we are ever likely to get as regards authenticity of a specific file.
It’s been signed off, it isn’t just upsampled and sold as something it’s not. This doesn’t mean anyone doesn’t prefer another version. Enjoy.

(Kenneth Jonge) #65

For starters MQA’s marketing spew is hovering round high technical quality (high dynamics, wide frequency range) and then to issue an album sporting a frequency range Hz 20-12550 and a dynamic range of about 72 dB
Come on… either stick with quality or face up to the fact that You are a moneymaking sc(he)ame

In Your later post You write about authentication, is it the embedded flag, that “authenticates” even though the actual audio has been downsampled, You were thinking of ? (see computeraudiophile)

Don’t support the schemers, support the musiclovers

(Henry) #66

You pick a single example out of how many thousands of MQA encoded records? You can’t characterise an entire product on the basis of a single highly unusual release. People who are interested in MQA, or even just ambivalent about it are no less music lovers than those of you who would see it gone. That is why we are all here. Regardless of our stance on MQA or any other music format we are interested in the final product which is music.

(simon arnold) #67

Considering the majority of new releases seem to be 44.1/24 on Qobuz for HiRes release I would say they are derived from the same master as MQA files on Tidal. At least you get the benefit of getting it higher with MQA which you won’t withou.

(Jeremy) #68

Has anyone found examples of MQA albums or tracks that definitely sound better than the non-MQA version? Examples please?

Everything I have heard on Tidal’s MQA selection seems to have phase distortion (the highest harmonic overtones are out of phase with the fundamental). Maybe it is just my ears (I very much doubt) or my phase accurate setup (active speakers) which makes this all fairly obvious to hear?

Subjectively the phase distortion could be misconstrued as sharper transients similar to how loudness wars compression has created a punchy distorted sound. It sounds slightly dissonant compared to a non MQA file on everything above about 3KHz to my ears. Of course not much fundamental music in this range but a lot of transient and timbre information resides above 3KHz. The basic audio below 3KHz sounds pretty much the same as far as I can tell - no big differences there.

Alternatively, does anyone have a graph of the MQA phase response or group delay? Minimum phase filters are notorious for mucking up phase, however, the sharpness of the filter will play a big factor in how much phase change is added. Very low levels of phase shift would not be audible. High levels of phase shift could completely invert the phase of overtones with respect to their fundamental.


I think all depends on your subjective bias. I, for example, have a stance against MQA (read the Collins paper).
People with my bias tend to find flaws in MQA music reproduction.
Others, people here who favor MQA, find the musical representation more pleasant applying MQA.
Thats how our biases work.
Whatever you like, is best for you. That is the way how you are “wired”.
I try to be objective: MQA is not better or worse than other digital formats.

(Chris ) #70

I just hear music. Perhaps I don’t analyse it, I wouldn’t know how to. So I can only go by my exposure to good live music and my past experiences of listening on decent Meridian systems along with vast experience of terrible systems. I stream MQA and CD and either way consider such great sound a miracle of the modern age. Gregory Porter in MQA astonishes me and thoughts of phase distortion or whatever else don’t jump to mind.

(Henry) #71

@Rhythmatist I think Chris has a point. We don’t know how to identify the problems you describe aurally. Most have us don’t have the expertise or experience. To be able to do what you do we would need:

  1. To measure.
  2. To know how a measurement affects sound.
  3. To listen and identify that impact.
  4. To know the original.
    Is this a reasonable expectation of someone who’s hobby is music reproduction on home oriented equipment? Especially when you consider how flawed commercial copies of recordings often are/were?

(simon arnold) #72

Some sound better some don’t. Listening to the Doors LA Women in MQA it grates and i find unlistenable smart goes for Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake. I can hear what could be described as phasing or it sounds a bit wobbly. However other newer titles sound awesome.

(Jeremy) #73

Can you provide a link to the Collins paper?

I understand what you mean about subjective bias. Distortion may be subjectively an improvement especially if an expectation is set. The MQA marketing team seem to have set expectations to match the characteristic phase distortion of their minimum phase filter.


You can find it in the Linn forum. I cant provide you a link right now because their forum is closed atm.

But it should also be available on the Computer Audiophile forum.


Yes both Hi-Res PCM and MQA is derived from the same master but what you getting Hi-Res PCM is actually the master copy!

I’ve both Qobuz and Tidal Hi-Fi subscription given the same albums, the Qobuz Hi-Res sounds better than Tidal Master. The sound described as very ‘studio sound’, devoid of any characters, the word is called transparency. MQA tends to sound coloured; with some sweetness and smooth sound.
In my opinion, I prefer transparency over coloured sound; you are getting the original recording intended.


Of course you’re not. The (digital) master is monitored through an analogue reproduction chain, including a DAC, with all of the chain’s sonic profile.

(simon arnold) #77

They are both the same 44.1/24 on Tidal and qobuz. And I hear a difference with the MQA decoding on it sounds better than the Qobuz 44.1/24. If I turn off MQA decoding it sound the same.

(Jeremy) #78

Oh yes I agree about just hearing the music. Great music is still great music even on a small radio. MQA doesn’t ruin it - just a slightly different presentation as the distortion is rather subtle. It affects the presence region mostly - probably due to the phase shift of harmonic overtones from that region. Far from de-blurring, it actually appears that MQA has the opposite effect.


So you mean the professional analogue playback (monitor) is not accurate assessment to the final recording? Professional monitoring is virtually transparent and its purpose is to detect any flaws in the recording. This is not something in the home Hi-Fi setup and environment.


Did you actually compare Qobuz Hi-Res vs Tidal Master or just making a statement? When you said turning off MQA decoding (undecoded state) sound like original master streaming from Qobuz then something is seriously wrong here.

If you said they sound different due to sonic signatures (to your liking) then it is fair comparison. You argument seems to point that the original master is bad and by using additional processing (MQA), it will actually enhanced it?