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RE: MQA vs HDCD

This should probably be posted in the Digital forum.
HDCD was a way to get 20 bit sound out of a redbook CD. It had be encoded during recording, and to get the full benefits, played on a player with a HDCD filter. See the link below for a better, more detailed explanation.

MQA is a lossy codec that takes 24/192 or 24/176 and takes all the data above 16/44 and folds it in to the unused bits above the 16. It then uses two unfolds, at this time, one using software, as Tidal does, the second unfold is done in the DAC and requires their proprietary filter. Although PS Audio will be releasing a firmware update that will do both unfolds but not the unbluring in their Bridge II. And only because their customers wanted it. They are dead set in not allowing it in their DACs.

One obvious difference is that HDCD was part of the recording process while MQA can be applied to previously recorded music. While HDCD was subtle MQA can seem to be a big improvement. Trouble is nobody I am aware of has made available any before and after files. We are always stuck comparing apples and oranges. I personally believe that a true hi-rez file say 24/192 will be better than the MQA version. There is lots of info out there with much better explanations of what MQA is claimed to be and how it works.

The two are very different, and even though they are still releasing HDCDs it is getting harder to find DACs or CD players that have the Microsonic 100 or 200 filters. I know the older Oppos had them, but I have no idea if they still do. If you have a lot of HDCDs you might want to obtain a player or DAC that will decode them. I always found HDCD very subtle.


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