Why do manufacturers support MQA?


This video has been posted a few times already, but I’m going to change the subject here a bit, since this part has not been addressed in those other topics. Sorry @Mediahound for taking over, but your post was about to get moderated as a duplicate anyway.

I’m not going to talk now about the audio/sound/compression/noise/etc quality of MQA (good or bad), but this section is a great description of a problem with MQA that gets little discussion.

Roon added MQA support because it was by far the #1 requested feature in Roon at the time. Many of you want it, and many fewer of you don’t. We went an extra step to make sure our DSP functionality was not destroyed by MQA streams if you wanted the “render”.

I do think the technical side of this video has many issues and incorrect assumptions and the many of the issues he’s showing are his own doing. The author does go into that. Unfortunately, he can’t defend or correct himself because he has been restricted in doing so.

Let’s try to keep this thread on topic, which has nothing to do with sound. Any discussion on the sound quality (good or bad) of MQA will be moderated as off-topic.


Customers want what they want. Manufactures can give them that, or let their competitors do it.

EDIT: I guess I don’t see the problem with this post. I think, to a large degree, it answers this question, " Why do manufacturers support MQA?"


The author of the video points out that’s not always true, and I happen to agree. Marketing often has a big role in you deciding what you want, no matter how immune you think you are to marketing.

Marketing works. That’s why the world revolves around it.

The thing is, MQA positive marketing seems meh at best, and the MQA negative content is huge.

What’s going on here?


I didn’t say why customers want what they want. Of course, marketing and advertising influences that.


Sorry, I read that as “exclusively” because of your next sentence. If you didn’t mean that, then you said nothing but a tautology.

Think about the problem and push forward the discussion. Snippets good for sound bites are not interesting.

I’d like to understand and find solutions to the quandary manufacturers have in adding MQA support (or any other similar technology).


All that the manufacturers are doing is satisfying demand for MQA. I’m sure many would love to forget about MQA and not implement it, but to do so would alienate potential buyers, driving them to brands that are supporting MQA. To brands like PS Audio and Schiit, it’s a necessary evil.

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Agreed. That’s what I said in a brief version.


There’s stuff you can’t buy, like an objectively positive opinion on what appear to be demonstrable untruths, especially if you appear to be working very hard to obfuscate what you’re actually doing and prevent truly independent analysis that would reveal your greatness to the world ?

That, and also things like Mike Jbarra’s attitude at RMAF. Even if I wanted to like MQA, the format, I’d end up distrustful of MQA, the company, from that alone. And if what you’re trying to do is win hearts and minds, that, as a company, leaves you with two to the heart, one to the mind as your only option, as MQA, Ltd, seems to have perfectly understood given the reaction that’s described by the author of the video.


MQA appears to be adding an unnecessary cost for consumers to enjoy music, with any additional profits not being shared appropriately with artists. In fact, MQA may even be creating additional costs for the artists as well.

Consumers can ignore extravagantly priced wire that some audiophiles convince themselves makes their music sound better, but that doesn’t impact me or the way I listen to music. With MQA, the danger comes from losing choices and flexibility, and everyone that enjoys music is impacted, if only indirectly.

Whether or not everything in the video or in the reverse-engineered exposures previously made available is perfectly explained, it is the reaction from MQA owners that is the most telling. Silencing dissent that offers validation while peddling obfuscation does not garner much consumer confidence.


Why do manufacturers support MQA?
As always, follow the money.
It is definitive not about the A, the way MQA is engineered and used is showing that.
Mass conversion turning other formats into MQA suspects it is about licensing and creating dependancy.
The first shot is free…


Let me fix that for you… Mass conversion turning other formats into MQA and removing the original formats altogether suspects it is about licensing and creating dependancy. :wink:


Isn’t this, like in many cases related to marketing, just plain ol’ FOBLO (Fear Of Being Left Out)?
So when consumers have this, and manufacturers as well, then you have your marketing dream. And it might be that in these cases it doesn’t actually matter if the marketing is negative or positive…

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As a user of both Meridian (founded by the same guy that was involved in the creation of MQA) equipment and MQA content, I couldn’t agree more that marketing has always been an extreme weak point for them. My perception is that they’ve always demonstrated a technologist’s view of 'if I build a better mousetrap . . .

In both cases, they’ve laid themselves bare to maximum FUD.

As to why the standard is supported by manufacturers, it’s probably been both a feature checklist item since so many content producers announced support (and, therefore, a pull from consumers), and a belief on the part of some manufacturers that they would be enhancing their products (i.e. a push) by doing so.

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The mere fact that they are getting it into so much gear, even when the manufacturer is not sold on it, seems to me to indicate that whatever they’re doing, it’s working. So what if they’re not out to convince people that it’s all roses and sunshine? The goal is to collect more and more license fees by getting more and more units to include it, and on the other side, get more and more music providers to use it, with the unified goal of enmeshing more and more of the world into an “MQA-required” stance. And they seem to be making progress on that goal. Marketing works, as you say.

I’m not sure about the revenue projections we’ve seen recently, either. Amazon lost money selling books for years, but in doing so they came to completely dominate the bookselling world. And developed industry-leading connections in other areas, as well. MQA, Ltd., through their contracts with music companies and gear companies, is doing the same kind of thing. Maybe they’re smart. God knows Bob Stuart has given every evidence of being smart, in the past.

Sometimes the money leads to a dead end. We pay MQA to let you “Core Decode” in Roon. We don’t make money directly on MQA, we lose it! However, we do gain customer satisfaction for those who wanted MQA, which is in itself a form of being paid.

It’s crazy how hard we try to stay “Switzerland” when it comes to audio religion, but it’s near impossible sometimes. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

I love the business dynamics of how the “masters” tier is free for TIDAL HiFi users. It’s brilliant. TIDAL gets to provide something other than CD quality for the same price (to the subscriber) and the subscriber can’t really complain about free, eh? Our vocal niche here is tiny. TIDAL is gigantic compared to Roon and the audiophile community. There are probably more people on TIDAL that wanted Beyonce’s Lemonade than there are people who know what a DAC is.

I wonder why TIDAL cares. Who were they competing with?


Worth bearing in mind that not all business decisions are well-reasoned. Some are just mistakes. Not saying that one necessarily is, but still… worth bearing in mind.

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I follow the explanation of Linn “MQA is Bad For Music”. Having Linn gear this seems to be a natural reaction :crazy_face:

No kidding, for me this concept seems to be a vendor lock in! I appreciate that Roon is supporting the decoding, because this is benefiting their customers and that is a good behavior. I personally do not like the concept of MQA!

Only my two cents


I think you hit the spot!

In the last few years before Covid 19, at the HighEnd shows in Munich (where I also listened to Bob Stuart’s presentation every time), I talked to many vendors of HighEnd DACs and asked why they offer MQA support. Almost everywhere the answer was: because many of our customers use TIDAL and to hear their “master files” in “best” quality, according to them, MQA is necessary to encode. So the demand is not directly on MQA, but on TIDAL.

Until recently, TIDAL was the only streaming provider in many markets with a CD quality offering, or even supposedly better quality with MQA. This has fueled the demand for MQA DACs among many “audiophiles”. The more and better alternatives to TIDAL in at least CD quality are available, the faster the desire for MQA support will decrease and many providers will gladly forego additional development effort and licensing costs.


Indeed. Especially now that Spotify is entering CD-quality territory and Qobuz is attacking new markets. In the absence of another elephant joining the MQA bandwagon (say, Apple or another major streaming provider), MQA will die a slow death.