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To the degree that MQA changes the sound...

To the degree that MQA changes the sound of an existing digital file only depends on two things - the digital filters used and the dither algorithm used. Both of these have direct audible consequences on digital replay.

Assuming that the same D/A converter was used to replay both files (anything else would make for a completely invalid comparison), the only valid conclusion reached is that you preferred the sound of the MQA digital filter to the "standard" digital filter in the D/A converter used.

This does not surprise me, as MQA's digital filter hews very closely to the principles used in Ayre's digital filters since 2009 (see link below). And there is more than one way to skin a cat. JA was extremely impressed with the sound of the digital filter in his recent review of the Chord DAVE, which takes a diametrically opposite approach to that used by MQA and Ayre.

The bottom line is that it does not require a closed, proprietary solution with mandatory royalty fees to employ better sounding digital filters, either in the D/A converter (or the A/D converter, which MQA does *not* address). Designers have been creating custom digital filters with improved sonic performance since the late 1980s, starting with Wadia and Theta.

As always, strictly my own opinion and not necessarily those of my employer or clone.

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