MQA Tidal to launch MQA Hi-Res audio streaming in 2016

Thank you for sharing that info. I did a search, read a bit, and I have corrected my perception of the bandwidth size required for MQA. 'preciate it.

Still, it seems like it would be a big benefit when streaming MQA over 4G, 5G networks. Until I start to think about where I’d be doing such a thing (mobile, driving, etc. not at home with a broadband connection) and whether the device I used to stream MQA at 4G/5G would be resolving enough. Oh, so many variables.

Most of us stream 4K Video from Netflix - I see no issues streaming Hi Res audio from TIDAL or like service - I think and I hope it is a matter of time we move to Hi Res audio formats much like video where there are no issues whether it’s MQA or something else - but something more than what we have now.

The concept of MQA, as far as I can tell, is that it would always stream the same stream regardless. When TIDAL spoke about it they said that an advantage was to always stream the same file regardless.

But all streaming services can do adaptive streaming, meaning that the streaming bitrate gets adjusted on the server side based on the available bandwidth to the player. From a high-res standpoint, what would make more sense to me is to store one file, eg a 24/96 file, and downsample on the fly to the available bandwidth and player resolution. This would optimize streaming without being forced to stream one and only one file, as well as simplify host storage by keeping only one file on the server.

Without knowing a whole lot about the technology, that’s the concept I thought of as well after reading up on it. Why clog up the network with unused data, right?

Adaptive streaming won’t work with MQA.

Precisely my point. From a streaming standpoint I can think of many better ways to do it. All of these already exist in the various streaming services, they just need to max bandwidth to be increased from 16/44 to 24/96 or similar.

Hmm. Bandwidth like that is beyond many users.

A lot of users these have unlimited bandwidth deals with suppliers allowing us to stream 4K video from Netflix - I am sure most of us are ready for Hi Res audio streams - here’s to hoping for me in this space

24bit/96KHz x 2 channels requires 4.6mbps. If you consider lossless compression of about 2x then you need 2.3mbps. Many users have this kind of bandwidth. I have 300mbps in NYC, 10mbps at my home off the coast of Long Island. Cellular would be definitely enough though most data plans have data limits.

And as I said, many don’t. Contention between users in those areas slows them down even further.

If Tidal want to provide a stutter-free service to those users they need to address these problems, not just consider those lucky enough to live in areas with high connectivity and bandwidth.

First world problems…

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Do you think that this will be an issue in the long term? I can see why rural users may have a longer term issue with this, but combine it with target audience and I suspect that it won’t be a big factor. These users may struggle to stream Flac as it is.


Of course not. However there are few streaming companies at present with the funds available to think that far ahead. Apple, yes. Tidal, probably not.

It’s not just rural users, even in London I find getting a reasonably stable 4G mobile signal can be difficult. Contention could be as much a problem as availability of masts.

The other aspect not considered is the cost to Tidal of streaming hirez versus lossy. Bandwidth = cost as far as Tidal are concerned, yet streaming hirez is also a key differentiator in Tidal’s offering. Tidal need as many subscribers as possible taking their premium services at as low a cost to the business as possible.

I’ve no idea what Tidal’s streaming cost of their bandwidth is per customer, perhaps someone in the know might comment on this aspect. If they can get two subscribers using MQA for the same cost of bandwidth that other providers spend trying to stream hirez to one customer (assuming the content cost is the same) it strikes me that it’s probably worth doing (depending upon the cost of licensing MQA of course).

I agree with your points and on a large scale there may be some significant cost benefits. There are lots of potential factors to consider.(bandwidth, subscription costs, MQA take up, storage, royalties, caching, bit torrent style sharing).


Precisely why adaptive streaming makes the most sense in terms of streaming costs.

Streaming costs, possibly. However Tidal can’t ignore all the other costs such as some of the ones gmt mentioned in the post immediately above mine: storage, caching, etc.

It’s hard to see why they would sign up to MQA if they believed the overall benefit to their business wasn’t likely to be positive.

Not sure why it doesn’t work with adaptive streaming. As long the streaming is bit perfect, it should… The large buffering at Roon should take care of steady stream to the DAC.

Adaptive means that a stream gets downsampled if the bandwidth available cannot accomodate the original size. So it is not bit perfect.

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The buffering is useful to cope with latencies and momentary decreases in bandwidth but if bandwidth is permanently too low for the original content then buffering cannot deal with it. What you’re talking about is downloading the file for offline playing, which spotify and tidal allow you to do only in their native apps (for good reasons). That is indeed bit perfect but is akin to downloading and not streaming.

One way to do adaptive streaming is MPEG-4 SLS, which is done similar way as DTS MA (and DTS 96/24 before that). In SLS there’s the basic lossy AAC beneath, plus extra layer that adds lossless capabilities on top - IOW, encodes the parts removed by AAC and bundles it together with the original AAC stream. This also makes it compatible with AAC capable decoders that cannot deal with SLS extensions.

You mean Tidal streaming is not 100% (depending on available bandwidth) bit perfect even when it is streaming FLAC? I’m confused…