Why do manufacturers support MQA?

This only works if you have two streaming services.
Tidal is gives you no choice, they convert everything they can to MQA.

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I just enjoyed listening to Bob Stuart interview-on the What Hi Fi virtual show where they discussed all things MQA. You can see why manufacturers are interested in MQA, it’s just obvious really.
Too many people seem to get hung up on the digital data when what’s important is the musical information stored within that data.
That information is what is delivered, clean of unwanted distortion via MQA and I think we can expect to hear more of it via TV, Radio and streaming in the future. Feel free to diss agree, but don’t beat me up about it.
Video has improved exponentially over time and consumers like it and want the quality, they won’t go back. Audio however, has stayed effectively static in that space except perhaps via Blu Ray disc. But we all know spinning discs is so last century now and like it or not, streaming is the future.
MQA seem to have plans here to overcome the bottle neck of Chromecast, Airplay, Bluetooth and the like. Teaser…
Spotify are being forced to consider CD quality as everyone else can deliver it and consumers want it. Even Amazon are at 30 year old CD technology. Who wants to be left behind, So a rising tide raises all ships. The future looks bright…

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6 posts were split to a new topic: Formats - Do they really ever die?

There are apps which do require an additional payment to use MQA. I would be curious as to the ratio of users of Tidal Master level with that app who do vs do not choose to buy the ability to use MQA.

They also own large percentages of streaming companies. It’s all a corporate design to milk money manufacturers and consumers, and limit payments to artists for the benefit of record labels.

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My planned obsolescence theory comes with the prediction of MQA++ or MQA 2.0 within the next twelve months. Or whenever it is sales ramp down again.

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This view is expressed well by the boys at Schiit audio:

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You’d think that the vocally anti MQA crowd are in a majority the way it is told. They aren’t though. They are a minority, the majority being silent and simply voting with their wallets. That ‘angry’ vocal minority don’t win hearts and minds. I doubt they’ve moved anyone from the other side of the barricade to theirs. And part of the problem is people simply don’t hear the issues laid out in that quote. My view is that while MQA haven’t done a great job at selling MQA to the masses (‘meh’ as Danny put it) the anti MQA crowd haven’t been any better at proving a lot of the counter claims. My feeling is that ultimately this goes around in circles and adoption in devices like mobile phones and portable players will be a much bigger factor in the success of MQA than anything said by either side here.

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There’s no data to support any of these assertions on either side, though, All we’ve got is our feelings or impressions based on whatever prism you view this through.

I personally couldn’t give two shiny pennies if someone prefers the sound of MQA. All power to their elbow. My own system is full of valves and produces distortions which are pleasing to me. I’m sure it measures objectively poorly.

What I am concerned about is:
a) technical claims that are untestable, or have been demonstrably shown to be false
and more importantly
b) Restriction of choice, which isn’t a factor yet in the wider streaming world, but is now when looked at through the lens of Roon because they only have two partners, one of whom is all-in on MQA.

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This is slightly off the topic of WHY manufacturers support MQA, but it does demonstrate that they do and they aren’t slowing down in that support.

We have some data:

First, we do know that after adding MQA support in Roon, the number of users using Roon continued to grow, not drop. In fact, they grew faster. While correlation is not causation, there was no exodus in protest of MQA.

Second, we know that in circumstances of having MQA capable DACs, rarely defeated MQA’s encoding so the DAC couldn’t decode it. I guess this makes sense as these people paid for an MQA capable DAC.

Third, we know that the vast majority of people using Roon that don’t have MQA DACs do indeed Core Decode instead of just passing MQA files to their DAC.

Fourth, we’ve seen no major trends in leaving TIDAL.

Fifth, the number of MQA DACs being used by Roon users continues to grow. Nearly all of the new Roon Ready and Roon Tested DACs are MQA capable. There are a few that can’t for some reason or not, but the number that have taken a stance to be anti-MQA can be counted on one hand (versus the hundreds who aren’t).

MQA is being successful in getting audio device manufacturer support. They need more content partners, but with the labels backing them, it may just be a matter of time.

To deny that the anti-MQA folks are a small minority is just fooling one’s self.

If MQA succeeds in getting more streaming services, this will happen. Maybe even just one big one.

Being anti-MQA vocally does help prevent this to some degree (bad marketing), but the audiophile needs and SQ related issues are not why the streaming services will choose to not use MQA. To prevent MQA from having a Dolby like monopoly, the other reasons must be understood. Remember, TIDAL doesn’t support redbook to cater to us. We are a small blip in their user count. …and Qobuz and others are too small to matter.

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I agree, much of the “anti” has been noise and chest-thumping. It was only because I bookmarked a bunch of useful posts on AS that I could recall a lot of useful information. I was considering how to assemble it into a video when GoldenOne basically said that he had already.

It has become something of a moot point regardless. Even if there is anything worthwhile to discuss about the concepts behind MQA, it has been lost by the actions of the company, desperate to get a return on their investment.

I do wonder how big the supposed “silent majority” are in reality. Most people don’t know about, nor would give two hoots about MQA.

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But the same can be said for the “Pro MQA crowd”, couldn’t it? I suppose most people couldn’t care less as long as their Taylor Swift album plays back just fine through their Bluetooth speakers…
(Not dismissing Ms Swifts latest efforts, just an example of mass consumption)

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There is also this datapoint from Paul at PS Audio where he estimates that 70-80% of PS Audio customers like MQA. It’s anecdotal, but it supports the notion that many people like MQA despite what you might think from reading forums such as this one.

He makes the point around 8:29:

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So there are two things to note here…

First, the “Taylor Swift and bluetooth” person is a logical fallacy. You say they don’t care, but if you ask them in a survey if they would prefer the best Taylor Swift experience, that person would absolutely say yes. They don’t care about the brand of MQA. The marketing is all that matters. TIDAL gets to offer the Swiftie “the best” with MQA which others don’t. In fact, TIDAL doesn’t market it as MQA, but instead as “masters”. MQA helps sell.

Second, a vocal “pro-MQA” person tends to be rare. The rest vote with their dollars. Those people are “pro-MQA” as well. That’s how you win the war.

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There is one place I am pretty sure there are lots of eyes on. Topping have produced their D90 DAC in MQA and none MQA forms and I’d love to see the sales split between the two. We know that given options some will buy the more expensive of the two on the not unfamiliar HiFi assumption that costing more makes it better. But it would be interesting to see who is opting to pay an extra $100 just to have MQA decoding on board. Or maybe more accurately the people choosing not to have MQA.

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Some observations on this:

I would consider this a null data point. As long as MQA is not force fed, an exodus is unlikely. Since Roon was (and still is) gathering visibility the growth is not necessarily linked.

I don’t really know what to make of your first sentence. Assuming it means that users with MQA capable DACs effectively use MQA decoding, well, no surprise there. If you’ve got it, you might as well try it.

This might be because they don’t realize you actually have to turn off the decoding. It took me a few days until the bulb lit up.

Erm… It’s not as if we have objective usage data.

Again, correlation does not equal causality. Most new DACs in the mid-to-high-priced product range offer MQA. This is where most Roon users shop if this forum reflects the user base. It’s not because a DAC/streamer offers MQA that this feature was a deciding factor in acquisition.

On the other hand, some the major players in music reproduction equipment (see how I cleverly avoided the use of hifi?), ignore MQA. I don’t see Denon/Marantz and Yamaha putting the MQA logo on their stuff.

As for the thread title: manufacturers support MQA because they feel they have no choice. If they don’t they lose sales to competitors. This does not however reflect a success factor for MQA. AFAIK, Spotify still rules the roost.

No MQA there.

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You misunderstood me… I’m saying that the DACs with MQA support grow, not the sales of units. The number of MQA supporting DAC models continues to rise in count.

And why would this not apply to the services? If Square/TIDAL can make an argument against others, what’s to stop the same arms race in the streaming side?

It’s naive to think about the future with your eyes on the present. It can change at any time.

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‘We’ (users) - no, but Roon core and the associated cloud Roon services most likely do and I expect that such metrics are probably collected and aggregated in an anonymized manner, so I expect Roon staff have very precise and up to date data from all Roon subscribers. I would expect they know far more about my listening habits than I do :slight_smile:

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Seems like this has just become another MQA thread.

Seem pretty obvious that the manufacturers support MQA to give buyers as much choice as they can. For software companies, I’m still shocked HQPlayer doesn’t support ALAC. That’s the reason I got roon in the first place.

The few companies that don’t offer MQA like Chord, are not willing to with not sacrificing their custom processing just to get more customers. MQA goes against their design philosophy. I’m sure there other companies that don’t offer it as well due to licensing cost.

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It’s always a good idea to look to the past, especially when it comes to audio. Many proprietary formats have come. Almost all are gone. Those that were mainstream from the start survive. I’ll leave out the lossy formats. Flat records were brand independent, all cylinder recordings were brand specific and died out. Flat records as we know them evolved and still exist. Reel-to-reel tape was brand independent and still exists. Philips was smart not to close the cassette format and what do you know… it’s making a comeback. Sony and Philips were smart enough to agree on the music CD format and to not make it a closed format. It still exists.

Philips and Sony agreed on the SACD format and were stupid enough to make it a closed format. It is as good as extinct.

Redbook is still the main encoding format for lossless music. High resolution is stiĺl a niche market.

I’m not convinced there is an arms race in the streaming market with regard to formats. The largest part of consumers doesn’t give a fig about sound quality. They happily stream lossy stuff.

I surely don’t expect to see Apple, Google, Youtube and Amazon being willing to pay for MQA licencing. Spotify has announced a lossless tier and seeing as how they chose the free ogg vorbis for streaming lossily, I highly doubt they’ll pay for MQA.

As for MQA CD, well I think a comparison to SACD is reasonable: it’s useless without extra ultra expensive (for the average consumer) hardware. Referring to what the past has shown, I wouldn’t recommend betting on that horse.

If there is an arms race, it’s fought in the smallest nested niche of audio.

It’s all speculation anyway, though as long as consumers can walk away from closed formats they will as history proves.

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