Why do manufacturers support MQA?

We don’t actually know what Spotify is doing, right? Or did I miss something…

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Interesting. In one of PS Audio’s “Ask Paul” videos, he estimated that 70-80% of PS Audio customers like MQA and what it does for their music. Thus his company chose to support it, even though he personally doesn’t like it. I’m starting to think this anti-MQA crowd is very vocal minority of people and they care more about posting negative MQA content than the pro-MQA crowd cares about posting comments defending it.

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5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Comparison of PCM and MQA

We know they are going CD and/or lossless; and if they don’t embrace MQA, the marginal gain from that format will be close to nil.

I buy that to some degree, but I’d wager there are more of those non-audiophile people here than you think.

I remember the internal struggle we had for or against MQA very well. We ended up getting the software to extract/reapply the render data post-DSP. I also remember that when MQA was released, we had our largest sales month ever.

It’ll sting for sure, but I’d expect them to hang around going after niches.

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But don’t forget that:

  • you said it yourself that there was pent-up demand for MQA in Roon back then; and

  • Roon’s target market is made of audiophiles, for whom MQA was a relatively novel and potentially interesting idea at the time.

Yet most people here care for hires/lossless sources; and once Roon accepts to diversify such sources further, there will be less reason to stick to MQA - demand elasticity for the latter is extremely high.

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MQA in hardware doesn’t matter. Apart from the notion that the cost of adding MQA is transferred to the buyer, all MQA hardware I know of does the regular formats as well. MQA in software doesn’t matter. Again, the software does all other formats in addition to MQA. What matters is the music, and the fact that Tidal are now offering some tracks as MQA only. That is a direction which could be some cause for concern for what ever reason, be they genuine or of the ‘foil hat’ variety. But, those of us with MQA capable hardware and software are not overly concerned. We don’t care.

With regards to other streaming providers opting for ‘lossless’ offerings, consider the possibility of someone like Spotify doing lossy with MQA as their top tier, skipping a genuine lossless tier all together. Now THAT would be something to see!

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Hang on, don’t you think you should actually lay out your problems with it rather than leave that biggy hanging in your OP? I assume the author of the video could reply here.

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As many others have said (or suggested) I think the reason manufacturers support MQA is because it’s another box on the great spec sheet list that, were they not to tick, many punters would take their money elsewhere.

It’s a bit like supporting crazy high sample-rate audio up to 32bit 768kHz and DSD 512 etc: do we really need it? No. Do we want it? Yes, even despite the fact that the amount of music > 44.1/48 represents a small fraction of what’s out there and when you go beyond 192kHz there is hardly any at all.

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Would you, Mr. @danny, be so kind as to explainI why you combined just this movie, that doesn’t fit in any way, with this exactly business question - especially in the context of your bizarre ban…

It is a question asked in the video itself, there’s even a link to the time point. Most of your questions are addressed to some degree in the second post.

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But which manufacturers? Many mass-market, lifeslylish do not. Only audiophile gear, not even HiFi ( many, yea, but it is also tiny market). Mass-audio today is BT word (wireless I mean), multiroom/AI sound solutions, AV integrate things and of course cans universe. MQA? Useless, costly, unnecessary quirk. Yes, we have now (and that’s marketing narrative) better quality boom in mass-market. So Spotify wants, Apple also thinks about that, Amazon have, Google have. Mass-market bluetooth products with better codecs, “HD” mark… you know - buy new, better than old (not so many times, or even so), buy, buy, buy, consume!

MQA is white elephant for me. Someone wants earn a lot of money from audiophiles, HiFi gears costumers, I think maybe 5% of global market, maybe even less. Big money? Not so for big ITs like Amazon, Google or Apple, Microsoft but for Bob and Co a lot. So, we have something completely unnecessary on market but on that tiny market… different story. Tidal, Qobuz (with MQA albums/tracks) are or wants to be only choice for audiophiles, HiFi customers because of market niche. No-one wants to do alternative proposition for niche. If you are only one (streaming service who offers MQA content) you have monopole. Tidal (first HiFi stream on market, that’s their key ad message, you remember?) have strategy from beginning and MQA is one of it.

Tidal is supported everywhere, on mass-market products also of course, but without MQA support. Its fully understandable for business reasons. When you fight for less cost, every cent, MQA licence is aberration. So, you stream Tidal for standard or even HiFi version with tidal’s software decode of MQA end of story. Tidal is also not big on streaming market, much smaller than Apple, Spotify, Google (with YouTube) or even Amazon. So, it’s reasonable decision to offer something different, niche, when you must run against bigger ones.

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When people are dropping thousands on cables, lifters and little bell shaped things that calm the audio environment then I don’t think MQA is bad value, even if I’m indifferent to it. Manufacturers will produce what people will buy and salesmen and advertising will convince some people they want/need it…badly.

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I find it interesting that proprietary MQA creates so much discussion in the audio world where Dolby Digital, DTS, and their successor systems merit nary a peep in the HT/video world. Says more about the market than the tech? Dunno.

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I’d like to offer a charitable explanation for why manufacturers support MQA, one that does not come down exclusively to money or to allegedly misguided “shiny object” market demand. With new technologies came a proliferation of media formats. This potentially creates customer confusion about which format to choose if they want the most faithful rendering. Rightly or wrongly, MQA claims to deliver what the artist and studio intended (within the constraints of a listener’s equipment, room, and ears). So it seems to me, some manufacturers may believe that by supporting MQA, they build confidence in a rather complex, confusing, and often expensive set of products.

In other words, the MQA imprimatur in a front panel display delivers (or claims to deliver) much the same thing as Roon’s little purple “lossless” indicator. Reassurance.

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I suspect most of subscribers to tidal aren’t bothered in the slightest. Let’s face it itunes lasted years at a very low bit rate and nobody noticed the difference except ‘audiophiles’. Why should anyone with various Wi-fi zone speakers even give it a second thought? Convenience I guess is most people’s major concern.

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MQA’s whole business model is based on […] getting it on Tidal where most consumers won’t even care it’s there, then say: ‘See? Our usage numbers are high!’.

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Isn’t the entire question of why manufacturers support a format a bit rhetorical? Since digital formats began, players have always had to support existing formats whether or not the manufacturer deemed them good. Why does every high end server/player/whatever have to support MP3, AAC, Ogg, and other formats that will hardly be used, or DSD via conversion to PCM, or multiple redundant lossless codecs? Because they exist and their hardware needs to be broadly useful. In the old days, these were called ‘universal players’; today everyone does it.

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Companies here in the UK have to publish their annual accounts. This can be found at Get information about a company - GOV.UK and then search for “mqa ltd”

According to their published accounts (all values in UK sterling):

2016 loss: £8.58 million

2017 loss: £7.11 million

2018 loss: £4.6 million

2019 loss: £4.2 million

So that’s a published accounts loss of £24.5 million so far.

Turnover: 2016: £30k

Turnover 2017: £149k

Turnover 2018: £376k

Turnover 2019: £492k

So a cumulative £1.05million turnover on the back of £24.5 million loss

The new accounts say that they have received funding approval for another £10 million – £5 million in January 2021 and £5 million in first half of 2022

No, I don’t understand it either but I am not an accountant.

In terms of shareholding, according to my non-accountant reading of the records at companies house:

Sony has 837 shares, universal music has 1069 shares, warner has 1087 shares,
Bob stuart has 710 and peter craven has 649
Malcolm law has 1000
Muse holdings sarl has 3999
Reinet has 3476
Plus a smattering of smaller share allocations (probably key staff)

So three major record companies (sony, universal and warner) have at least a notional interest in MQA

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This post was about to be deleted as a duplicate post because the video was already posted 4+ times.

I decided to link to a part of it that was not about the other SQ related conversations and allow this post to live, but only if it didn’t become another SQ discussion. Before I did this, I checked to see if there was already a discussion here about the business of why manufacturers use MQA. There was not.

Please read my post after the first one, which explains all this. Also watch the video where I linked it, to understand the context of why SQ would be off-topic. The author of the video brought up an interesting concept that often gets overlooked, and that concept has nothing to do with SQ.

And turn this thread into every other MQA thread? I can easily have some self restraint here.

I will say that the major glaring issue one is one the author brings up himself about the white noise. It would have been nice to have the results with tests not made to destroy the codec’s abilities. I can create a file that makes the FLAC encoder create a file larger than the original wav, but that wouldn’t be a fair evaluation of FLAC. He tried to tweak his tests, but got shut down.

When I say “his own doing”, the above is what I mean and I even suffixed that with “[he] does go into that”.

If the author failed to do those tests when given the opportunity to do so, then he’d be at fault, however he was not given that opportunity. This is actually my main issue with MQA (mine, not the company’s).

I believe all manufacturers have a dilemma when I comes to MQA. But the buyers have voted with their dollars, thus the steer to discuss that.

This is super interesting take, but there isnt there a catch-22 here? How to convince TIDAL?

It did, but the battle was lost. No more innovation in multi-channel audio unless Dolby does it. This is what happens when non-open codecs win.

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