Why do manufacturers support MQA?

Nothing would ever be accomplished if it weren’t for people who didn’t know it was impossible!

That would be interesting to see. The book I referenced above makes it clear that one of the responsibilities of the product owner is to keep the essential supporters fat and happy, which would imply that MQA might even be paying TIDAL.

May our tribe increase! :slight_smile:

yah, but I have a feeling this wouldn’t happen. Even when explaining the general gist of our contract, I had a feeling of “uh… should I be doing this?”

Anyway, did you all hear about TIDAL offering new tiers? At face value (let’s stay on topic and avoid the SQ discussion here), it seems they are going from 1) lossy and 2) redbook/mqa/atmos to 3 options: 1) lossy, 2) redbook, 3) mqa/atmos

what was $10/$20 will now be $10/$15/$20

there is already debate about whether the middle tier will be “broken” MQA or actually “source” redbook, but let’s let that conversation happen elsewhere…

Is this a good move for TIDAL? I think so (it gives them a “high-res” offering and flexibility to compete with others.

Is it a good move for manufacturers? I think so, it will more clearly indicate whether their market wants MQA.

Is it a good move for MQA? I’m unsure – it could be brilliant or it could be a nail in the coffin. No more “can’t argue with free, eh?” argument.

Is it a good move for end-users? There will be people who are happy and people who are not. Not super interesting to discuss without understanding what is being offered.


Yeap, felt surprising that you did. No matter how little detail you gave, I don’t recall any of MQA’s other partners describing the relationship in that much detail, and that might explain why a few people don’t trust 'em.

The TIDAL app is just part of TIDAL, and TIDAL clearly is essential, Roon not so much, I’d say. After all, a software unfold is really just another manufacturer, and there are a lot of those, now, and the process is getting less expensive to incorporate (with the ESS chip and the XU216 firmware). Roon is certainly more influential than most, I’d think.

One of the points the book makes is that it’s important to keep your support coalition, your influentials and essentials, off-balance. To keep replacements for any disloyal members waiting in the wings, clearly visible. If Warner Music recants, for instance, they could go to UMG or Sony. If TIDAL recants, they could to to a different streaming service, or even start a new one. It’s not clear to me there’s a good replacement for Roon, but maybe JRiver or Plex would suddenly grow MQA capability.

This is all assuming MQA Ltd wants to dominate like Dolby, of course. Perhaps they don’t.

You don’t need to create alternatives to MQA, they were already here long before. One thing you can do (if you are really considering the Switzerland approach) is to give the users full control to the MQA from the streaming options to the direct payment for MQA (and you’ll probably end up doing it since Tidal is now separating the subscriptions).

There is an if and an or there…

My question was raised by your statement somewhere here that you are paying for MQA (core decode) and since the subscription is one for all it (still) looks (to me) like that cost comes my way no matter what.

The terms are complicated and not worth going into, but simply put: if you don’t core decode, we don’t pay.

When we introduced MQA support, we didn’t raise the price, so MQA has always been a cost center for us. If you core decode, we make less profit. If you don’t core decode, we make more profit. It’s almost that simple.

But it seems there is a better new way to avoid the tax… Just stop subscribing to TIDAL “HiFi+”. Drop to the new middle tier of “HiFi” and you won’t get MQA capabilities.


2 posts were split to a new topic: Is MQA code decoding happening by Roon?

Got it, thanks.

I don’t have Tidal at all (thanks to mqa), hence my confusion regarding roon/tidal/mqa love triangle and my hard worked money! :slight_smile:


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Roon have sponsored a Darko Tidal/Tidal connect video, promoting Tidal’s ‘CD quality’ streaming.

With considerable controversy surrounding the legitimacy of Tidal/MQA lossless streaming, the timing seems a little odd.

If I didn’t have a lifetime subscription, I would be seriously considering giving up Roon in protest.


I’m not sure if this has been posted before… but this is why one manufacturer supports MQA (ok Music supplier)


It’s good to see they offer the choice of mqa or lossless flac.


Manufacturers support MQA to drive their sales.

Consumers are, on the whole, gullible. Give them a ‘reason’ to spend their hard-earned-money on something new and shiny, and you’ll get takers. For example, does the average consumer really benefit/appreciate from 4K programming over 1080/HD? Does MQA sound that much better than MP3 via your smartphone on a noisy train? Of course not.

But then the ‘herd effect’ takes over, especially when mainstream publications like ‘What Hi-Fi’ push MQA as the new must-have. Suddenly, an idea has momentum, and consumers view something like MQA as absolutely essential in their next purchase, even though the vast majority probably won’t even use it.

MQA is just another way to extract money from people. Does it have any advantages for someone like me? Of course not. I stream High-Res from Qobuz. I don’t have a need for MQA.

MQA is just another way for manufacturers to try and differentiate themselves from the pack. And just another way to extract even more money from the gullible masses on the promise of something better.


[Off Topic]
For very well done 4K, and those shot using the latest high resolution professional grade camera (such as RED Digital Cinema), I assure you this is very apparent on a 65" TV. I always look at the blood vessels in the actors’ eye iris to check focus and sharpness (this is visible even without HDR).


While I’m not a fan of MQA, Roon currently only support two streaming services and one of them features MQA heavily. Plenty of users do like it and they’re Roon customers as well. Interestingly the setup advertised is an alternative to a Roon endpoint on a Pi. The new lossless services coming online this year would appear to make Roon’s and its supported services’ futures more precarious. I’m happy enough to see Roon pick up customers where it can.

Fair enough Chris, but they do take the “party line” when it comes to critically evaluating MQA:

Those of you who read audiophile forums and magazines may have heard some critical things about MQA. But for us all that really matters is what our ears tell us, and the emotional response we have to the music. Our ears give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

For those of us who like to understand WHY we like something/lack ear-thumbs…

Thanks Peter. But I bet your TV is an OLED, or something equally capable of realising the full benefits of 4K/HDR programming? :sunglasses:

A similar comparison can be drawn with MQA. Lumin has been MQA-capable for a long time, and is IMO one of the few manufacturers who are able to fully exploit any perceived benefits from this format, because your products are world-class.

BUT will the ‘average’ consumer investing in a $400 SMSL DAC really appreciate any benefit from MQA? I very much doubt it. In these such cases, MQA is just being used as marketing BS, to help shift more units and increase the prices of hardware.

I can think of millions of consumer products that do exactly this across every field of enterprise and I don’t hear much complaining. It’s the way of the world and how consumer society works. As far as MQA goes, to date it has cost me exactly nothing over and above what I would have paid anyway.
Youngsters buying MQA DACs on the promise of better sound will not be disappointed along with the whole industry as they learn to expect and appreciate more than the MP3 that has long outlived its usefulness in the main stream. A rising tide raises all ships. The constant harping and negativity is just tiring.