MQA Finale: Both Anti- and Pro- Forces Have Their Successes and Failure

Because it almost entirely is :wink: Sometimes I stream 24/192 to a DAP (it’s an android monstrosity that Roon upsamples everything to 24/192 for “compatibility” without giving me a choice) over 2.4G to every bedroom of my house - through multiple drywalls, etc. Only in the farthest room does it very occasionally hiccup (with a minor click sound).

In todays modern network environment - from your streaming provider (e.g. Qobuz), to your ISP, to your LAN/WIFI, on to your device - MQA is irrelevant. Just about every other cheap commoditized solution, from upgrading your LAN/WAN/ISP to switching your streaming provider, is a far better solution than all the downsides to a rent seeking closed source black box “solution” like MQA. Talk about having/proposing/using the wrong tool for the job.

3 Likes

Thanks for your reply Mr. Leebens. I say this with a irenic smile but in all seriousness:

Your wrong and need a few scales removed because MQA is not a similar case :wink:

Your right about many things, not the least of which is that “The Middle Way”, where most things are in balance and have their place is the normal course of things, in audio no less than life. DSD and other sampling formats, MP3 and other compression encodings, SS and tubes, tone arms and digital, cables and treatments, the list goes on and on.

MQA is different - it is an outlier that actually offers nothing of worthwhile substance to anyone in the business/hobby. There are aspects, such as it’s clever folding algorithm or its slow roll off “minimum phase” (which in truth means out of phase as your late friend Charley Hansen was often pointing out) filtering scheme that are or could be useful in-of-themselves, but these are either available elsewhere or can not be stripped from the massive downside of MQA the product and encoding standard.

It is as you say, there is no single “right” way to do things. At the same time and just as true, is the important corollary that there are indeed wrong ways to do things. MQA is such an example.

2 Likes

Because it almost entirely is :wink: Sometimes I stream 24/192 to a DAP (it’s an android monstrosity that Roon upsamples everything to 24/192 for “compatibility” without giving me a choice) over 2.4G to every bedroom of my house - through multiple drywalls, etc. Only in the farthest room does it very occasionally hiccup (with a minor click sound).

6a0120a85dcdae970b0128776ff992970c-pi-2

Nonsense. To argue that WiFi throughput in 2021 might be a limiting factor supporting the case for MQA’s lossy compressed “solution” just holds no water. If you can watch Netflix in your house, then you can listen to Qobuz/FLAC at 192/24 via Roon. No problem needing solved.
And, if you can’t, buy a new (cheap) WiFi router that can, instead of spending the money (and more) on MQA tax on your DAC, and every step up the stream.
As stated by others, MQA is a rent-seeking and deeply flawed solution to a non-existent problem.

5 Likes

Yes, sadly I agree. I’ve been running Roon with both Tidal and Qobuz hi-res subscriptions, but I cancelled my Tidal subscription just last week for this very reason. Suddenly just about every track I played showed up Green-Light on my DAC, meaning the original 16/44 Redbook had been mauled by a lossy MQA encoder.

Tidal via MQA ≠ HiRes Lossless. RIP Tidal

5 Likes

I dislike MQA. No matter how much I want an album, if I only find in in MQA, I do without it. But, I argue that MQA is NOT irrelevant. Many think that MQA sounds better than any other way of listening to digital music. I don’t see how, but it’s true. That fact makes MQA as relevant as FLAC and DSD is to the rest of us.

2 Likes

Not exactly the same thing. I agree with you that if you prefer MQA, hey, more power to you. But there isn’t someone out there taking a regular plain ol’ redbook 16/44 FLAC, wrapping it in a DSD package and telling us it’s better by selling it as magic pixie dust that they license for a fee to everyone in the supply chain from artist to consumer.

This sounds far fetched, but it’s exactly what Tidal is doing currently by making everything in their catalogue that used to be 16/44 and putting it into an MQA container.

5 Likes

It doesn’t matter what is happening with MQA or not, whether it works as stated or not, whether it’s a scam or not…regardless of what anyone else thinks, to those that prefer the sound of MQA, MQA is 100% relevant.

The Miriam-Webster definition on relevant: “having significant and demonstrated bearing on the matter at hand”. Taking that into consideration, and knowing that millions of people prefer MQA, it is totally illogical to think that MQA is not relevant. Maybe it isn’t relevant to YOU, or to ME, but that does not make it in any way irrelevant in the total scheme of things. To argue any other way totally discounts the importance of the opinions of the pro-MQA side.

1 Like

Don’t take it personal man, the very first line in my response what me agreeing with you on the enjoyment portion. It’s your comparison that’s flawed and flawed comparisons does nothing but muddy the waters for people that are looking for actual reasons to help them make a choice instead relying on just subjective or emotional reasons. Assalamu alaikum. :pray:

My comparison is 100% flawless. I love FLAC and DSD, but hate MQA. But to those that prefer MQA, it is every bit as relevant to them as FLAC and DSD is to me. How in the world is there even one flaw in that comparison, knowing the definition of relevant? The short answer? There isn’t! And, it makes no sense to exclude any reason as to why any of us prefers what we prefer. That is very flawed reasoning.

1 Like

Nonsense. To argue that WiFi throughput in 2021 might be a limiting factor supporting the case for MQA’s lossy compressed “solution” just holds no water.

I’ve been involved with consumer networked audio streaming since 2016. I stand by my statement that WiFi issues are just as (if not more) likely the cause of playback issues than WAN speeds from the modem. If you want to paint me as a liar that’s your prerogative.

And, if you can’t, buy a new (cheap) WiFi router that can

In urban environments getting a new router isn’t going always to fix the issue. Users often have to upgrade to mesh systems and get physically closer to an AP to simply overcome the noise on the 2.4GHz band or resort to things like MOCA or Powerline adapters.

Instead of spending the money (and more) on MQA tax on your DAC, and every step up the stream.

Neither Tidal or Nugs.net increased prices when they added MQA. Since they both include the MQA Core Decoder, this was equivalent to getting up to 24/96 audio without having to spend anything extra.

Obviously nothing is free and there have been recent developments in the streaming area in regards to pricing, so we’ll see how this plays out.

I do find it funny that everyone losses their minds over this “MQA tax” concept when they have no issues paying the Dolby tax on every TV or receiver they purchase and to all of the streaming video providers. Why don’t you all grandstand and demand that they stream their content in multichannel ogg or FLAC?

9 Likes

For goodness sake.

5 Likes

I wish to keep discourse as respectful as possible and also want to reply to the aforementioned question.

Respectfully, it’s quite simple @john: Because Dolby doesn’t blatantly lie about their product.

5 Likes

From Dolby.com:

It starts with the artist. Dolby Atmos technology lets them place each voice, instrument, or sound in its own space. Wherever you hear it, you’re in the center.

Feel exactly what the creators wanted: Dolby Atmos is intense. It lets you experience exactly what the artists wanted.

Now lets see what’s really going on (via Lefsetz letter):

I just want to try and alert you to the potential seismic scam happening with this Atmos roll out. Atmos catalog remixing is being done by the truckload in a handful of Nashville, LA, and NYC rooms right now and has been for a couple of years, and almost none of it is being overseen or approved by the artist or original producer or mixer.

In the rush to make content for Apple, labels are jamming this crap out with little QC and -again- almost no input from artists.

3 Likes

Thanks for sharing this information @john.

Based on your post, I’d like to clarify my prior statement:

Any time a company is lying or deceiving the public this is fraud, and it should be exposed and punished. If Dolby is also doing so, they deserve exactly the same treatment as MQA.

I simply do not know enough about what Dolby is doing to comment, whereas with MQA the fraud is very clear.

3 Likes

The Dolby comparison with MQA is actually useful, as long one remembers it’s not a strict analogy. Mike Moffat of Schiit here explains in his over the top way:

@John [Moderated] asks why “we” don’t complain of this particular monopoly and tax. Well we do, but this is the Roon community and this thread is about MQA. Monopolies are very hard to break within consumer markets, almost always requiring government intervention - THX and the rest have been unable to break Dolby just as Moffat points out.

Audio consumers are wise (or simply self interested) to point to this aspect of MQA’s design and strategery, that is its ambition to be a closed source monopolistic standard.

3 Likes

You’re misattributing my comments about the bandwidth saving of MQA as being about saving time and frustration for our support team.

My initial post in this thread was a reply to this statement you made:

I replied that my experience is that there’s a not insignificant number of scenarios and environments where throughput can be limited and suggested that a higher efficiency format could theoretically be desirable in such cases.

I stated my opinion that your comment “hurts the discourse” for a few reasons:

A) It’s an unfounded claim that directly contradicts my sizable experience dealing with related issues.
B) Its dismissive of people who either don’t have the ability or capacity to improve their networking circumstances.
C) It entirely ignores the other benefits of higher efficiency compression like space savings when caching locally or reduced transmission costs.

If I felt you were truly unaware of these things I wouldn’t opine that your comments were “damaging to the discourse”. However, I think that you are aware of these things but instead choose ignore them because they don’t advance your argument.

I wouldn’t take an issue if you had instead chose the following wording:

“It’s clever folding scheme is in fact “lossy” and irrelevant to people with suitable connections for streaming high resolution music and have sizable amounts of local storage if they wish to play the files locally.”

2 Likes

Funny, I don’t see where @john has demanded for moderators, but I do see where you have.

5 Likes

I suppose I am dismissive of your claims about your experience, folks “networking circumstances”, and the like. I have 20 years of Corp. America network networking management experience (MCSE, CCNA, blah blah blah), though I own and run a medical practice now. Your magnifying edge cases (i.e. those whose network circumstances truly limit them to < 16/44, or < 18/48, or some such audio streaming). As I and others have pointed out, these edge cases can be solved in other less intrusive ways. For example they could troubleshoot and upgrade, or they could be satisfied with 320Mp3/AAC. There is no reason 99% the market should adjust, by adopting a monopolistic closed source end-to-end rent seeking encoding no less, for the 1% who for whatever reason are not taking advantage of readily available solutions. Such a cure is far far worse than the disease.

Good luck supporting these folks - really I get it it’s tough! Now go start your own thread about this idiosyncrasy because your derailing this one.

2 Likes

This is the case more often than you would think. I understand your hesitation to believe this coming from your background, but there’s a few extra variables in this world (as I’m sure there is in enterprise) that add additional confounds. The endpoint audio devices often feature atrocious WiFi hardware and software stacks. Various combinations of low gain antennas, poor RF engineering, subpar drivers, and idiosyncratic buffering techniques plague the industry. Things are slowly getting better, but existing devices aren’t going anywhere for the time being.

To back up my claims about urban environments, I’ve attached a speedtest I ran on my Amazon Fire Tablet using the 2.4GHz network. I’m about ~30ft from the router and there’s two walls blocking LOS but both doors are open:

Fast enough to stream high-res FLAC? Yes. But what happens when someone else in the household decides to fire up a 1080P Netflix or YouTube stream @ 6 mbps? Or what happens when you use Roon, which decodes all audio to raw PCM before transmitting over the network? That’s 6 mbps for a 24/96 stream, this connection would choke for 24/192 RAAT.

What if you want to do multizone streaming? Now you need to double the bandwidth requirements for each device.

The next question may be why don’t you just stream the CD quality audio or take in the hi-res and downsample?

Hosting multiple different formats of the same content is confusing, leads to extra complexity in the UI, and increases storage requirements.

Downsampling on device takes extra CPU horsepower and can’t be relied upon in a multi-vendor situation. It adds latency, is frowned upon by people who care about sound quality, and adds an extra layer of complexity.

Unfortunately, none of this is as easy as it seems.

For example they could troubleshoot and upgrade, or they could be satisfied with 320Mp3/AAC.

You’re right, they could. MQA is betting that there’s enough people out there who would rather not do either of those things that it will help drive adoption for them. Time will tell.

3 Likes