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RE: Thanks...

>> it would be VERY interesting to do some digital archiving with it and and then compare it an "MQA" processed version. The results would be very revealing, in a number of ways. <<

It seems to me that there is a big long chain that starts with the microphone in the recording venue and ends with the speakers in your listening venue. Improving anything at all along the chain improves the sound. Using a better sounding A/D converter would improve the sound for all customers, regardless of their playback system.

Unfortunately there don't seem to be as many "audiophiles" on the recording side as on the playback side. It isn't that easy to compare most pro equipment. Microphones are typically selected for known results ("desired colorations") in specific circumstances. Most gear isn't even compared - can you imagine trying to compare the sound quality of two different 128-channel mixing consoles? Occasionally a studio will re-wire everything with some "audiophile" cabling, but I'm unsure as to how they select which cable to use. It seems that endorsements from highly visible engineers count for as much as anything in the "pro" world.

Every time I have seen a "pro" audio guy evaluate gear, they will set it up in their system so that they can do rapid A/B switching. I have never seen anyone listen for more than 5 or 10 seconds before switching. This is very unfortunate as that type of listening test is extremely sensitive for only one subjective experience - frequency response. It is an exquisitely sensitive way to tell if two DUTs have different frequency responses. It is far, far less sensitive to other "audiophile" parameters such as imaging, soundstage depth, resolution, coherency, and so forth. And it is essentially useless for letting one know which DUT creates a greater sense of emotional connection with the recording artist.

I don't think there's much mystery about the sound quality of MQA. They always start with a high-resolution digital file. Then three processes are applied. One is to reduce the bit depth to ~17 bits with noise-shaped dither. This can never improve the perceived resolution. (NB: Various noise-shaping curves can introduce various sonic signatures. I am told that Sony/Philips listened to many choices before selecting the 7th-order filter used for DSD, and many have noted a similarity in the high-frequency characteristics of all DSD recordings, where the highs tend to sound soft, delicate, and airy, regardless of the program material - I remember having phono cartridges with similar colorations.)

The second process compresses quad-rate audio with lossy techniques, discarding further information. The third process is to add a (digital) filter to filter out some of the artifacts of the original A/D converter. This is also removing information contained in the original file. (It is easy enough to do this without the need for a proprietary system, as first demonstrated by Wadia in the late 1980s.) What sort of differences would you expect to hear from the type of processing that MQA performs?

As always, my posts are strictly my personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer or voice coach.


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  • RE: Thanks... - Charles Hansen 23:28:23 05/28/17 (1)

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