Provenance and MQA

I’m not digging anywhere - apart from through all the BS in various threads! :rofl:


I have a question about what specifically the business value of provenance is. Forget MQA for a second, just focus on provenance.

Let’s say a studio recording is mastered at 24/96. The record company decides to sell a 24/96 download at $15, a 24/192 upsampled download at $19, and a DSD resample at $30. (These are pretty close to real examples I’ve seen at various big-name download sites.)

If the provenance would prove to me that the original recording was at 24/96, I’d know I could save money by skipping the 24/192 and the DSD.

Is my understanding correct? If the provenance were trustworthy, is this the business value it provides?

(Given the overall tone of many posts in the thread, I want to say, I’m not asking a rhetorical question to prove a point. I’m honestly asking, because I want to understand what the benefit of provenance is, no matter how it’s provided.)


Real provenance would embed the number of joints smoked during the recording of Exile on Main Street.


Happy New Year to you, too, Chris!

Let me first say I can’t believe this thread is still going on.

With reference to the article you pointed to, I think Bob Stuart’s comment is well-written and informative, though I’d hesitate to call it interesting. Of course because of his financial stake, he’s obligated to put everything in the best possible light – legally obligated, probably. He’s not a disinterested party making comments there.

More to the point is the comment a bit further down by Mark Waldrep, a professor of music at CSU-something, and head of another company, AIX Music Group (which has a charmingly never-used Web site, which somewhat to my alarm means I trust him more!):

The very best "masters"we can hope for are files obtained from the original 2-channel mixed master digitized at 96/24-bit PCM using state-of-the-art analog tape machines and ADCs and delivered without ANY additional processing of any kind — this includes MQA.

So, is he right? Well, maybe. Take a look at AIX Records:

Welcome to AIX Records, home to a unique collection of new high-resolution albums. Every title in this shop was recorded and produced at 96 kHz/24-bits. Additionally, there was no equalization, artificial reverberation, dynamics processing, or mastering applied. The only processes used during post production were levels and panning. Each title includes a traditional stereo mix and two individual 5.1 surround mixes. Most have a complete video of the session.

“A complete video of the session”! Now that’s provenance.

But really, these are two guys grinding their own axes, and the real lesson is that it’s foolish to attempt to learn truth by reading comments on a poorly written blog post.

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Not at all foolish, these guys are the people who know and if you lack any trust in their integrity, that’s your issue.
The original untouched master are not practically deliverable to everyone so a method must be used and MQA seems to me to be a good one. I have listened to a lot of MQA as well as CD since all this began. CD can and does sound amazing on my Meridian DSP SE system. Part of this is due to the quality of the system and the fix Meridian use to eliminate pre ringing. (Their Apodising algorithms)
The MQA, to my ears sounds sublime some of the best recordings I have ever heard, which tells me all I need to know as far as all the dubious claims about being lossy etc.
It can be a sublime experience and if that’s lossy by detractors definitions, then bring it on. I am happy to accept and believe that it’s not lossy in analog terms.
And yes, I did find the article interesting and informative. 2020 is looking to be a great year for me for live music, my reference to what sounds good and original, so I’ll keep listening and enjoying it all.

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Actually, it’s the opposite. They both have a fiduciary responsibility to their companies, and so they’re both bound to push the point of view which favors the tack their companies are taking. To do otherwise would require a lack of integrity. I’m just saying you can’t learn much from people who are thusly constrained.

The thing is, the two things can and are often are one and the same. You have a good product, you know it’s good and you talk honestly about it.

Sure. But conversely, you can have a bad product and be unable to stop pushing it. Looks the same from the outside. All I’m saying is, get your facts from disinterested outsiders, not financially involved insiders.

I take your point but in this case I have all I need from listening to the results and knowledge of the people over time based on there track record of achievement.

You have it right…that’s what a logical choice would be for a consumer. That individual choice might not be in the best short-term financial interest of the producers and might explain why the provenance has been so difficult to obtain.

On the other hand, if we knew more about the different masters/remasters that exist for a given album customers might buy different versions of the same album. But better yet, a customer might find they like a particular mastering engineer and buy more albums done by them that they otherwise would never have discovered. Example: when I discovered an original album and master by Steven Wilson I learned what an exceptional mastering engineer/artist he is and since looked specifically at remasters he did for bands like Jethro Tull, Yes, and others and purchased all those new digital releases. Money. That’s the business case really…discovery. Long-term this is beneficial to the industry, artists, and consumers.


I love Steven’s 5.1 remasters of Yes and Tull. I think we have provenance and artistry here.

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That makes a lot of sense; I hadn’t considered the more “positive” aspects of it. Thanks.

We know many Roon users prefer to upsample. It doesn’t seem like a bad business plan to offer upsampled files considering many people prefer it anyway, regardless of provenance.

If they like to upsample, they most likely prefer the sound of a particular filter and/or modulator.

That choice is taken away if it’s upsampled already.

This. I want the file in the resolution it was captured in.


IMHO, each person should rightfully enjoy music as they desire. With respect to MQA’s codec, however, this, as a matter of fact, is lossy.

One of the best videos on this topic is from Paul McGowan from PS Audio. You can view here: Or research the topic independently on many other sites on the web.

I personally have no desire to run a lossy format through a high end upsampling DAC, but to each their own. I also don’t understand the need for a lossy music “standard” in world of greatly expanding bandwidth and increasing network speeds. IMHO all of the hype/resources around MQA would be better redirected to high definition, lossless streams.


The idea of MQA being lossy in any meaningful way to the sounds we actually hear and experience is ludicrous to me and my system proves it.
I had a friend around just the other day confused a little about MQA and so rather than continue the debate, I just played him some tunes.
We were playing Supertramp, Crime 0f the century when he expressed… Wow, that’s the best I have ever heard that track… and so we went on to enjoying Ashley McBryde and Shelby Lyn, a bit of classic Bowie and on and on…
The debate was over for us…
So, if you read the blogs and hear from all the detractors telling you it’s lossy etc, my advice is, listen on a good system with an open mind and decide for your self. It’s your life and your music anyway, I’d hate you to miss out because of the opinions of others.