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In Reply to: RE: Sorry, wrong nomenclature posted by Charles Hansen on June 06, 2017 at 22:19:11
You might also find amusing some brief back and forth on the SOS forum,
between the author Hugh Robjons and readers. Compare his approach with the evangelical tone stuck here by Sphile staff. Quite a stark comparison. Kind of reminds of the difference between the research and sell side on Wall St.
"I read a whinging article from someone who works for Linn Records about it the other day, basically complaining that it was a money-making machine, extracting royalties and licensing fees from almost every step of the chain, from music producer, through distributor and on to end consumer.
That's certainly true -- but that's what businesses try to do! The music industry is on its uppers and this is a scheme which is trying to find a new source of revenue."
Why work with lossy, proprietary formats at all?
"Ideally it would not be a proprietary format, but they have invested money developing the technology and they wouldn't have done so without expecting a return."
"Why work with lossy, proprietary formats at all?"
"It is certainly proprietary, and that obviously brings 'issues' of the viability of widespread support. But I think calling it 'lossy' is misleading. All of the actual audio information is stored loss-lessly. The only lossy aspect is employed in reducing the sample rate for rates over 96kHz.
I detect some scepticism for the format... and I can understand that! I'm less than convinced that it will become a mainstream format, despite the interesting technical aspects that underpin it."
"This format has not been shown to sound better in any meaningful or statistically significant way."
"Can't argue with that..."
Edits: 06/07/17Follow Ups:
Hugh Robjohn wrote: "It is certainly proprietary, and that obviously brings 'issues' of the viability of widespread support. But I think calling it 'lossy' is misleading. All of the actual audio information is stored loss-lessly. The only lossy aspect is employed in reducing the sample rate for rates over 96kHz."
This is not accurate. While it is true that lossy compression techniques (similar to MP3) are used for sample rates over 96kHz, a different form of lossy compression is used by MQA for all of the audio, regardless of sample rate. Specifically the bit depth is reduced via dithering from 24 bits to ~17 bits.
That is a fact. The only place that opinion comes in is the degree of audibility of this reduction in resolution. I have noticed a distinct loss of resolution in the MQA version of The Doors song "Riders on the Storm", especially on the whispered vocal overdub (which is likely due to this reduction of bit depth), and that is of concern to me.
As always, my opinion only and not necessarily that of my employer or personal masseuse.
You know what is really funny?
I specifically did not mention that in my post because I knew you would be all over it if you clicked the link. And of course, you did not disappoint:)
To be fair to Robjohn, this article was prepared for publication a year ago, before many had looked behind the MQA curtain.
> > To be fair to Robjohn, this article was prepared for publication a year ago, before many had looked behind the MQA curtain. < <
Thanks for that extra information. Now it makes perfect sense. It is relatively easy for a "credentialed authority" in a given field to pull the wool over the eyes of a non-expert. I think it only fair to give a free pass to those who have been misled. Even today it is hard for most to get accurate technical information regarding MQA - it requires a lot of digging. Like any technology MQA offers advantages and disadvantages that may or may not be suitable for specific situations. But I think it is safe to say that it is not probably not true that (as one "reviewer" claimed) "MQA's dramatic superiority made the original high-resolution file sound like a pale imitation of the performance".
However it doesn't require a rocket surgeon to follow the basic maxim of "follow the money", as folks like Linn and Schiit seem to have done. Similarly anyone who thought that either Sony (with SACD) or Toshiba (with DVD-Audio) only had the best interests of audiophiles in mind were not looking very hard. The bottom line is both were simply blatant attempts to try to take over the revenue stream the CD format had generated once those patents expired. Even at only $0.07 per disc the total was ~$1 billion per year - nothing to sniff at, even for the corporate giants.
As always, solely my personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer or evil twin.
His jaw dropped, too. Not to mention that "the difference between [the 96kHz/24-bit The Koln Concert and the MQA file] was so stark, and so different from that of any listening comparisons I've heard previously, that it requires a new vocabulary to describe."
I find that hard to fathom. Charles and Isaak seem to be getting by with existing vocabulary.
I'm a little disappointed with the "reviewer".
Perhaps you are referring to this buffoon?
How anybody can take this nonsense seriously is beyond me, but it is good for a laugh.
Interesting how he concludes with:
"I believe that MQA will usher in a new era in sound quality..."
Stunningly similar to Mr. Atkinson who said
"In almost 40 years of attending audio press events, only rarely have I come away feeling that I was present at the birth of a new world."
And by the way, when Mr. Atkinson bends down to find the socks that were blown off in the demo, as reports, he can help pick up Mr. Harley's jaw.
Let's not forget JVS,
"I literally laughed at the difference when the MQA version began. Not only did it feel as though a veil had been lifted, with far more color to the sound, but instruments also possessed more body."
Veils are lifted, jaws are dropped, socks are blown off, etc. The usual suspects strike again!
Are readers so stupid that they keep falling for this regurgitated bullshit, review after review, year after year?
I'm just so tired of reading this garbage that it's beginning to drive me to violence. How about strangling one of them with his veil, breaking his dropping jaw, then shoving his socks up his ass?
I was in a good mood this morning until this topic came up ;-)
woah. As much as I think the self indulgent drivel spewed out by the self appointed golden ears is comical, no violence neccesary. Readers simply quetioning their credibility is sufficient!
Perhaps a gentle appeal to JA to make liberal use of the editing pen, so no more jaws dropped or socks blown off, terms more reminiscent of the comics than a magazine intended to be taken seriously.
Somewhat tangentially, I wonder if JA realizes that "[knocked my|blew my]socks off" sounds silly? Stereophile writers use that phrase a _lot_. Maybe he'd see it if he substituted "[knocked my|blew my]pants off".
Well so many have written on the topic of lossy/lossless concerning MQA:
"Some critics have complained that the limited word length used to encode data above the baseband Nyquist frequency of 22.05kHz or 24kHz is equivalent to lossy compression of those data. But as I explained in my 2014 website article, if you look at the spectra of music recordings, they all follow a self-similar characteristic with respect to increasing frequency, the content decreasing in amplitude up to 60kHz or so, when it blends into the analog noise floor. So if you remove the baseband data, the remaining ultrasonic content can be encoded with fewer bits. Only if you then decode the limited-word-length data at the full-scale baseband level could you consider the encoding lossy. But if the peak amplitude of the limited-word-length ultrasonic data is reduced to that in the original recording, you do preserve those data's full resolution above the original analog noise floor.
Case proved for the music origami aspect of MQA.."
Live link below
another article here:
> > "But if the peak amplitude of the limited-word-length ultrasonic data is reduced to that in the original recording, you do preserve those data's full resolution above the original analog noise floor." < <
It seems to me that this statement implies that it is impossible for the human ear/brain to extract information below the "analog noise floor" (however *that* is defined). I disagree with this premise. That seems tantamount to saying that the human ear/brain cannot hear below the ambient noise level in the room, or that the dynamic range of LP is only ~60 dB - significantly worse than digital.
The overwhelming experiential evidence of millions of people is that the resolution of a good LP playback system is *extremely* difficult to match, even with 24-bit digital systems. And literally billions of people have experienced the "cocktail party effect" where a listener can discern a quiet conversation even in a crowded, noisy environment - effectively hearing well *below* the "noise floor" in both cases.
MQA's graphs are only given in "noise per root Hz" or other apparently arbitrary and non-standard methods of measurement. This has the result of obscuring the loss of resolution that results from the MQA encode/decode process. The main debate seems to be centered around the degree to which this is audible. Is there a perfect 1:1 correlation between the measured "noise floor" in "noise per root Hz" and human ear/brain audibility thresholds? Not as far as I am aware. (If there were, perhaps MP3 would be indistinguishable from Redbook CD quality digital audio.)
Furthermore I personally have heard a noticeable loss of resolution with MQA-processed files. Perhaps the most notable example of this is the "whisper" overdub on Jim Morrison's lead vocal in The Doors track "Riders on the Storm". In my system the whisper is clearly audible in the original high-res 96/24 file, yet difficult to make out in the MQA version (tested with both the Meridian Explorer2 and Mytek Brooklyn D/A converters, both of which provide full hardware decoding of MQA files).
For me personally MQA holds little appeal. I believe that others have created digital filters with audible performance equal to or better than the MQA digital filter. For the truly hard-core, try using a filterless ("NOS") D/A converter or stick with DSD, both of which can take the concepts promoted by MQA to the next level.
Yet I also recognize that others audiophiles will have other priorities. Perhaps they primarily listen to streaming and don't have the bandwidth required to stream true high-res (such as offered by Qobuz Sublime+). Or perhaps they prefer the MQA digital filter to the one built into their current D/A converter and are willing to buy a new D/A converter to gain access to the MQA digital filter. There is no "right" or "wrong" here.
As a designer of hardware, I believe that Mike Moffat of Schiit has the wisest perspective - content is king. The reason to design, manufacture, or purchase hardware should be based on it supporting the formats which have the content you enjoy. For example, if one is a big fan of obscure music prior to the era of the LP, it would probably be wise to own a turntable capable of replaying 78s, as only the most popular music of that era has been transferred to either LP or digital formats.
Conversely if there ever is a large demand for MQA-equipped products, a hardware manufacturer would not be wise to ignore this. Obviously those companies that have developed custom digital filter solutions and simple methods of firmware upgrades will have an advantage here, as AudioQuest has demonstrated with their latest DragonFly Black and Red USB DACs. Without knowing more details of their internal architecture, I would assume that manufacturers such as dCS, Playback Design, PS Audio, and many others would have the same advantage that Ayre has - there appears to be little impediment to easily adding MQA decoding as part of a simple firmware update.
As always, only my own personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer or fellow employees.
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