PS Audio Talks MQA

Continuing the discussion from MQA General Discussion:

Here’s the word from PS Audio’s Paul McGowan on their tests of MQA with their DirectStream DAC:

"So far MQA decoding has only been worse and that has not changed. We suspect (as do they) that it’s because the tricks they’re using with filters to try and make the sound better (closer to the original source material in their parlance) screws with our own in the DAC. They then suggest they need to tune their decoder to our filters for best results.

If that’s all true then we’re out. As you’ve seen with Torreys, Ted and the engineers continue to improve the state of the art with digital filters on a regular basis – and one of the whole reasons we went to an FPGA based DAC in the first place was the freedom to improve the product’s performance over time. If we were restricted in what we could to future developments, held back because everything in the USB chain had to be “fixed” by the MQA engineers first… that would be nuts.

They’ve never said that has to be so and I am merely speculating as we wait for an answer.

I too wish they’d just release this as software so the compressed file could be decoded and leave the DAC design to us."

I agree, let the software player “unfold” the proprietary lossy format so I’m not forced to buy a DAC w/ MQA support. This would make it much easier for them to get some traction with streaming services. I’m simply not paying for hi-res MQA streaming or downloads that require me to own an MQA DAC for as long as I want to listen to that content in hi-res. Returning to a proprietary format would be a serious step backwards for hi-res music content adoption.

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For the last 18 months or so I’ve enjoyed one of Paul’s DirectStream DACs, and have also enjoyed the fact that PS Audio provides significant firmware improvements for download from their website; I have taken advantage of all of them to date. I enjoy some hi-res (192/24) AIFF files, but most of my content is 44.1/16, either AIFF or Tidal streaming, and the sound quality of the PS Audio DAC is really enjoyable.

I’ve been fascinated by the design and potential for MQA, the idea that major industry players like Tidal and Warner Music will be adopting the technology is encouraging.

But if I’ll need to purchase a new DAC to enjoy any of the benefit MQA offers, in the near future that would be a “non-starter” for me. It seems, from what I’m reading that FPGA based DACs are not particularly suited to be adapted to decode MQA “natively”. So that would bring me to mrvco’s comment, that if there was a software decoder built into Tidal and/or Roon, one that would do the “unfolding” into a hi-res PCM format, I would suspect that more people would be interested in MQA, including me.