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

I prefer wired, but have read from two to three “experts” that they considered WFi superior (of course they didn’t explain why).

Wifi better than wired? My two cents is “that’s crazy”. Why:

  1. Lower throughput
  2. More timing issues
  3. Susceptible to interference and fade that makes the above worse

Its just, IMO, not even remotely possible.

Wire it.


I agree. That’s one reason why I put expert in quotes (probably the most overused and misused word in the English language, imho!)


As a qualified engineer I can certainly hold my own with Fourier, Laplace, and Z transforms, but my understanding of signal processing doesn’t help me one bit with MQA.

It’s easy to sympathize with that. You may not be aware of audio dsp enough to realize that it’s specialized and that basic transform theory is just a start. MQA leans heavily into some specific areas:
lossless and lossy compression methods
buried data “hiding”
sampling theory and finite rate of innovation sampling
the range of filtering, dither, and noise shaping methods used in audio signal chains, which have a lot of subtleties.

If you have background in the above, MQA is not such a deep mystery. It still takes reading papers and patents.

In your system(s).

Not so in systems used by some others.


Agreed; in the end it’s the music that counts.

I’ve set up playlists that do much the same, and yet find myself liking even 44.1/16 MQA more than it’s Redbook sibling…timing and tunefulness are superior…what is so easy to tell for you?

Judgement by format alone? I still enjoy Internet radio, and often with bit rates that would make you squirm. I struggle to understand why Internet radio sounds so good, but should I not listen?

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I never mentioned any listening experience but my own.

Unless something sounds at least as good as Redbook, I no longer enjoy listening to it. As I result, I haven’t been able to listen to internet radio in at least 3-4 years unless it’s lossless. And, that eliminates the vast majority of them.

@robbi_burdeck, your response again perfectly illustrates @AndrMu’s points. I’m sure you’re right… The rest of us just aren’t smart enough to understand.

Fortunately it matters less and less every day. MQA has now been adequately exposed by the Golden Sound tests (approaching 300k views) and many others (another one is below), and Apple and others are providing true lossless, high res audio.

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I know I didn’t say “the rest of you aren’t smart enough”. I said, it takes background and then study, if you expect to have a technical understanding. The same thing is also true of MP3 and similar lossy codecs.

Did you happen to read the set of essays by Bill Leebens regarding goldensound and his attempts at testing?

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I love your sense of humour. But your typo was glaring; you omitted “In” before “adequately”.

yea, i must say i always prefer the MQA when there is an apples-to-apples, but i also only hear the first unfold since i’m not a fan of most MQA DACs (there are some incredibly good ones, yes). None of mine have the MQA chip.

First, as noted, i alwasy p[refer the remastered version if only for the dynamic range

Second, I find them a bit quieter (in a cant put your finger on it way) and slightly more detailed - even when the comparison is 16/44 to MQA no remaster

But the delta is tiny.

And my system is very, very revealing.

I cannot tell you how much time i spend buildng power supplies :-)’'later all.

You keep missing the point.

I do have understanding of MQA’s claims regarding folding higher frequency data into the dithered noise floor of lower frequency data, etc., etc. Unfortunately, that understanding is made irrelevant because it is limited by MQA’s refusal to publish their algorithms. At an algorithmic level, remains a self-imposed deep mystery.

In addition to that, what I don’t have, because no one else does either, is the ability to independently verify MQA’s claims.

And, you may ask, why are they not releasing their algorithms to independent scrutiny? It isn’t to protect their commercial art - they have their patents for that.

It is because MQA’s fraud would be exposed if they did.

The reason companies protect IP is because of competition. Patents are often not hard to bypass, leaving the inventor trying to recoup losses through patent litigation, which is expensive, time-consuming, not a guaranteed outcome, and the last thing any savvy company wants to deal with. I’d venture a guess that this is even more true in streaming, which is a hot area with well-heeled vertically integrated companies that can readily “borrow” IP when it suits them.

No one publishes their algorithms in detail, especially when they’re complex and required years of work.

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Again, you are missing the point. MQA can keep their algorithms secret for all I care, if they were to allow independent verification of their encoding-decoding process.

You know, something like: Hey, MQA, here is my source/master file, please encode and publish it for me, then let me transparently analyse the streamed and decoded output against my original.

But they won’t! They explicitly ban, remove and/or censor any attempt by independent third parties to run stock standard audio test signals through their process.

No one else does that! Not Apple, not Dolby, not Spotify, and certainly none of the open lossless or lossy compression formats (FLAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis).

MQA protects their false claims by eliminating independent scrutiny, and they then reap royalties from the publisher, the DAC manufacturer and, ultimately, the consumer for the privilege.

MQA is not lossless. MQA is a fraud.



Someone posted here in the last few weeks showing his analysis of his original music files and the MQA encoded versions he received back for submission to sales sources. What he didn’t try to do is embed a lot of test signals into the file, in violation of numerous licensing agreements and throwing the encoder into failure. If you look around there are undoubtedly numerous other examples. You can also run analysis on 2L testbench files (as one example).

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Give me a break. The only reason “test signals” are in violation is because they disprove the false claims.

Horse / water. Prosecution rests.

It’s pretty easy to independently verify MQA. Just find something that has non-MQA and MQA versions and play + record the output from a DAC and compare the recordings.

It took me ~8 minutes to download the 2L-125 samples from the 2L HiRes test bench (24/352.8 + MQA original resolution), play them on an MQA DAC*, record the output from the DAC, and throw the recordings into the DeltaWave Audio Null Comparator.

Here’s the spectrum of the two recordings overlaid on each other. The blue line is the PCM track and the peach line is MQA:

You can see the full report here [2].

My results line up with the results published in Stereophile and this test by archimago.

Regarding the difference in the ultrasonics, it’s most likely a result of the MQA encoder determining that this content was not related to the signal and discarding it as noise. MQA uses the “triangle” concept to explain this publicly.

If you’re interested in learning more about how MQA works I recommend reading patents filled by MQA ltd., Peter Craven, and Bob Stuart. This AES paper summarizes things at a higher level.

I agree with you that MQA is not lossless. It’s actually a ridiculous concept when you think about it, MQA boasts about how their DSP improves the listening experience… of course it isn’t lossless! To say nothing of the “triangle” concept and discarding noise…

Anyway, the MQA encoder was designed to efficiently compress music, not test tones. Putting test tones through it would be like consumer reports determining their ratings for a Camry by off-roading it.

It’s odd to me that this is a controversial topic, specialized encoders are commonplace for things like image compression. From the JPEG wiki:

The JPEG compression algorithm operates at its best on photographs and paintings of realistic scenes with smooth variations of tone and color… JPEG is not well suited for line drawings and other textual or iconic graphics, where the sharp contrasts between adjacent pixels can cause noticeable artifacts.

I wouldn’t draw conclusions on JPEGs performance with real photographs by throwing text-in-an-image at it, it’s not what it was designed to do.

[1] Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, used FRLP filter for PCM playback, MQA filter for MQA playback
[2] Recording was done at 24/96 kHz using ADI-2 Pro FS.


MQA’s business plan was to monopolise HD streaming when it was a new market and many people were unable to stream 24/192 effectively. Not only did internet speeds rapidly increase, but HD audio never gained widespread acceptable, being limited to a few audiophiles. So MQA never had a chance and the benefit of compression became technically redundant soon after the format was launched.

Disruptive business from Amazon to Uber succeed by taking market share and high revenues whilst generating large losses, kill the opposition and then reap profits. You need a great, game-changing product or service in the first place. MQA never had that and never generated any significant revenues. Their reported income is laughably pathetic.

The technical mumbo jumbo and sound quality arguments are just a diversion to maintain investor interest and further loans from its private VC owners.

I’ve never listened to an MQA file, never used Tidal and never purchased an MQA enabled product. I have no interest. So far as sound quality is concerned, Neil Young summed it up perfectly.


An excerpt from “Neil Young” biography

“‘Everything recorded between 1981 and say, 2010 will be known as the dark ages of recorded sound,’ said Young, who had many reasons for disliking the CD. Apart from anything else, with the advent of the programming button, people could change and adapt an album to suit their own theme – anathema to a musician so concerned with controlling his art. There was also the small problem of him finding digital sound the equivalent of ‘sensory deprivation’.

‘It’s almost like torture,’ he explained. ‘Digital makes you think that you’re hearing it better than you heart it before [but] you’re hearing a facsimile of it, you’re only hearing the surface of it.’ With the coming in the 80’s of the CD, he said, people had ‘stopped listening the way they used to listen’ – that obsessive, head-between-the-speakers repeated listening – because all they were listening to was ‘binary numbers being spat out of a digital converter that recreate the sound of music…You hear a CD once and you’ve heard it. You’re not going to go deeper because there’s nowhere to go.’”