Provenance and MQA

This is an area where MQA steps – you get provenance with the authentication.


Actually, you don’t. MQA could start out with a 24/96 file, upsample it to 24/192, and then encoded it. It would decode to a 24/192 track even though it started out as a 24/96 track.

Well, the track you hear will be what was authenticated as an analog sound.
I don’t know why they would just upsample it for no reason.

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What does that even mean??? The track source could be analog or digital but certainly is digital in MQA format.

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That means, music is Analog at your ears, what ever created it, be it a violin or a computer/synth.

That analog sound is what MQA LTD state is preserved and transmitted via a digital pipeline and authenticated at the DAC wIth the MQA indicator.

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It was about provenance of a file and how Roon reports things. Very interesting too. As a side note I mentioned that MQA, with its Authentication assures provenance of the file you are listening to.
I consider this relevant and get fed up with people jumping up and down anytime MQA is mentioned.
Here is the news, like it or not, MQA is a thing and therefore I consider can be mentioned in threads. My rational is explained already.


The primary purpose of tracing the provenance of an object or entity is normally to provide contextual and circumstantial evidence for its original production or discovery, by establishing, as far as practicable, its later history, especially the sequences of its formal ownership, custody and places of storage. The practice has a particular value in helping authenticate objects. Comparative techniques, expert opinions and the results of scientific tests may also be used to these ends, but establishing provenance is essentially a matter of documentation.

Chris, I would argue that the above is not what properly authenticated MQA files offers to users. Rather it offers a subjective endorsement of said files. That is entirely separate from the technical ins and outs of how MQA is supposed to work and how it might assist in provenance. I am highly dubious of the notion you can conflate the two.


I’d argue it doesn’t even do that. Their ‘production line’ is to have someone at a label point their encoder at a directory tree and encode the audio contents, regardless.

People are tired of a lot of things and that’s possible, but I still assert my right to talk about MQA, MP3, DSD, FLAC or anything else if I think it is pertinent in some way to the topic.

If I am right or wrong has nothing to do with it and clearly, as Henry has shown, one can add to the discussion and lay out other views. This way we all learn or at least see another aspect to things that maybe we hadn’t thought of.


MQA talk a lot about provenance and that was the very pertinent to the original post that has now been answered. You don’t have to like MQA to understand that.

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And you don’t have to dislike it to understand that their reference to provenance is nothing but empty marketing.


While this is technically true, there is a bit more going on.

In the case of a FLAC at “hi-res”, you have no idea where that data came from at all or how it was changed along the way. For all you know, an intern at a music label manipulated it before sending it out to your streaming service. Mistakes are made after all.

In the case of a MQA file, there is a person or entity that has digitally signed the data at some point in time. If MQA authentication passes, you can be sure that the data has not been modified from the point of that signature to the point where it hits your DAC. Of course, what happens before that signature is still open to all kinds of changes. So, who is that signer? Hopefully it’s a trusted source, such as the artist or the label who mastered the content. Their signature is their word that the music is as they intended it to be. MQA authentication makes it possible to detect if anything has been done to the content from that point forward. That’s a better story than the case of FLAC hi-res. Is it fool proof? Of course not – it’s just some entity saying “yup, that’s right”.

Unfortunately, that “signer” is not known by Roon or any other player, because the repository of signers is unknown to anyone but MQA Ltd. I’m working hard to get that repository opened up and made verifiable, but as you can imagine, there is a lot of moving pieces here.

MQA authentication, right now, tells you if someone is saying “yup, that’s right”, but it doesn’t tell you who that someone is… yet.

It’s more than just endorsement. A digital signature gives a recipient very strong reason to believe that the message was created by a known sender, and that the message was not altered in transit.

This is why it’s important to know the signer’s identity in a verifiable manner.

One thing to make note of, is that I am hearing from labels and the MQA team (I have not nor can I verify it) is that more artists are wanting to deliver MQA encoded content to the labels, because they understand this exact issue. The labels are slowly working it into their established pipelines. It’s why you will find MQA content on Qobuz.


That’s an opinion you hold. See the post above that covers it well.

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Yes, Danny, I am aware. My point was that the signer could do whatever they wanted. They could upsample an 128kbps MP3 to a 24/192 MQA and sign it. They probably wouldn’t do that but they could. In other words, MQA is no panacea in this regard.

I don’t get my FLAC files from some unknown source so this really shouldn’t be an issue for me. Or, anyone else that gets their FLAC files legitimately or rips from CDs.

Bob Stuart says, “Provenance and technical standards are completely different things.” Yet, I cannot accept that provenance is established simply by a blue light. Unless a recording comes complete with definitive information about the release provenance is not established.

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This doesn’t help you either. You are assuming whoever and whatever what used to write that CD master didn’t screw you over.

Yes, but if that signer was an artist, you’d trust it more than an unknown source.

100% agreed. Provenance requires trust with an identity backing that trust. Imagine if Roon could provide information like ‘Rick Rubin’ signed off on this stream. I’d like MQA to provide that. I’m working on it.


Come on. Now you are drinking the koolaide. I don’t get your fascination with MQA. Roon users would be better served if you DIDN"T work on it…


Seriously? How else do you improve stuff? Bob Stuart is trying to improve this world end-to-end with his vision of the solution. I’m trying to do the same. You know there are people that think of Roon as the devil too… should we fold?

Do I agree with everything MQA does? Of course not – but the “A” in MQA is the most interesting possibility for me! But as @Martin_Webster said above, it’s not there yet. They have the data AND the means, they lack the system to present it.


I am all in favour of our knowledge about what we play being enhanced. My opinion is it would add more value to the Roon proposition.



Bob Stuart is trying to put money in his pocket. He is trying to sell something that no one but the studios need: a way to sell content in another format all over again…

At least your product is useful to consumers.