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In Reply to: RE: Agree with this sentiment posted by E-Stat on February 15, 2017 at 09:16:00
Which begs the question, if it could be solved, then why yet hasn't it been?
24/96 FLAC streams at around 2-2.5 Mb/s, which is comparable to high quality 1080p video. Given the millions and millions of people who stream HD video every day, high res streaming via FLAC cannot possibly be an undue burden on the internet. That is why it is a solution in search of a problem.
Thank you, Dave - interesting to know these numbers, and this is a useful reference. While, by and large, bandwidth keeps increasing (and costing less, just like disc space), I do feel like bandwidth may be groaning ...
AT&T wants my mobile plan, by default, to begin using their "streamsaver" feature - which dumbs down hi-res video to a lesser resolution. (Yes, you can shut this feature off.) Additionally, a number of my friends who stream hi-res video *do* complain of frequent drop-outs & freezes, etc. Ok, yeah, perhaps you gotta just pay for more bandwidth, but at least one of these people already has a monster bandwidth plan.
To me "video-hiccups" are annoying but dealable as long as they are not too bad. But in the audio realm ... personally, I can't stand "audio-hiccups," it just destroys the listening pleasure for me. So, I want *flawless* (or pretty darn close) audio streaming. Enabling hi-res with less bandwidth can certainly help with this.
MQA also promises "temporal de-blurring." I haven't heard it. But I have read many of the technical papers. I can believe this is a real feature. Though, yes, the proof must be in the pudding. We'll see.
In any event, I'm very happy to see hi-res music streaming. I confess I love Tidal; and Tidal Masters (as much as I've listened) sounds outstanding to me. Up to this point in my listening-life, I've wanted to own everything I like - whether LP, CD, SACD, or hi-res digital file -- and sometimes multiple copies in different formats (I'm not alone, here, you know who you are ;-) But I just *can't* keep it up! I'm out of space - and out of time - and out of the energy to corral it all together. And my music "likes" keep expanding ... ! It gets to the point where, if the quality is good enough (and for me, Tidal Masters seems pretty much there), I'm willing to "rent" my content. Of course, I still have a lot of homework to encode, for convenience, the physical media that I already have. And, I still buy some things that I *really* love - the need to *possess* is a strong obsession!
AT&T wants my mobile plan, by default, to begin using their "streamsaver" feature - which dumbs down hi-res video to a lesser resolution.
I'm also an AT&T mobile customer, but choose to watch hi-res video on either a 65" or 42" monitor at home with broadband access where such considerations are rendered moot since I get a terabyte of bandwidth per month. Do you watch video on your phone?
Of course, I still have a lot of homework to encode, for convenience, the physical media that I already have.
For those of us who have already ripped our entire audio and video collections, I find that to be the best answer! I can stream all the content that interests me across multiple audio and video systems.
I suspect that a key technical objective of MQA is being overlooked by some. From what I've gleaned, MQA sets a requirement and specification for a transient optimized chain - recording through playback. Such a requirement could absolutely be delivered via other high sample rate formats, however, there is no standard requirement. Transient optimization (minimizing transient blurring) is the primary performance objective of MQA.
MQA is currently being used as a compressed audio format to stream Warner titles that were previously mastered for a hi-res PCM release e.g. DVD-A or download. Universal is said to follow.
For existing recordings, MQA have claimed that if the ADC is known, its identity or characteristics can be encoded, and then the decoder can utilize that information to select a reconstruction filter. I guess you would have to assume the same ADC is used for all the tracks of a multi-track recording. But I haven't seen them discuss the details of this process publicly or give examples, so I don't know what to think about its potential benefits, if any. Also, given how quickly Warner encoded their catalog, I think there is a very high probability that the encoding was generic.
Those are just practical issues though. My real complaint about MQA is theoretical. In their AES paper, Stuart and Craven proposed a Gaussian as an ideal system impulse response. In image processing, a Gaussian filter is also known as a blur filter or unsharpen filter. It is used to reduce sharpness or to artistically blur images. It will have the same result on a music waveform, smoothing over transients and blunting attack. How is that transient optimized? In the paper, Stuart & Craven note their ideal is equivalent to "only" 30m of air. Why is 30 meters ideal and not zero meters? From an engineer's POV, their idea just seems dumb.
Gaussian filters provides smooth rather than abrupt transitions, both in the frequency and the time domains. It provides a ripple free frequency response, while simultaneously exhibiting an aperiodic (non-ringing) impulse response. It's the aperiodic impulse response that MQA apparently values.
I'm not as familiar with image processing applications, and unsure this is directly comparable to pixel smoothing within an image. Possibly, image processing utilizes Gaussian filters for their natural Guassian shaped frequency domain properties, while MQA utilizes them for their natural Gaussian shaped time domain properties mentioned above.
The narrow channel bandwidth relative to the information bandwidth of CD necessitates the well known SINC function brickwall bandlimiting anti-alias and anti-image filters associated with it. It seems to me that MQA uses a much wider channel bandwidth, not for any musically significant ultrasonic content, but to enable utilization of relatively slow sloped aperiodic filters, such as the Gaussian, without incurring aliasing.
As for the audibility of MQA's time domain optimization, that's the key question for we audiophiles. MQA's strategy seems to be to offer performance benefits to music consumers so that they pull the format, while offering distribution management and cost savings to the music industry so that they push the format. If MQA delivers the promise of a compellingly better sounding digital listening experience combined with lower vendor cost, it has a chance of success. The key words are: compellingly better. Of course, fear of a new format, some of it rational, some of it irrational, is also playing it's usual and expected role.
Have you heard MQA? Just asking
So far, I have listened to a handful of Warner's MQA releases on Tidal using the Tidal app's software decoding. I picked ones that I already had on CD and DVD-A or high res download, and where I felt there was a pretty big difference between the CD and DVD-A. Selections were from:
Buena Vista Social Club
Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Yes Close to the Edge
Grateful Dead American Beauty
Phil Collins Face Value
Chris Thile Bach Sonatas
The MQA files sounded a lot like the DVD-A rips/hi-res downloads. I'm pretty sure they were made from the same master files as the DVD-A or download, and not the CD master. I would have to do more careful listening to say whether the MQA files are as good as the DVD-A rips, but they are at least close.
As a compression algorithm, I think MQA is pretty novel, but I don't think it is necessary given the near-ubiquity of high bandwidth broadband connections. Thanks to the demand for streaming HD video, we have the bandwidth we need to stream hi-res audio using a lossless, open standard like FLAC.
As a technology that aims to control the whole end-to-end chain from recording to playback, I think MQA is bad. Digital audio and computer-based audio are thriving because of open standards. MQA is a power grab that would change the landscape into something much more label friendly and not consumer friendly. And on top of that, their choice of system impulse response is just wrong.
What does MQA do that studios who have been recording in high resolution for decades doesn't?
As for me, I won't be junking my current DAC until enough MQA enabled software is available in what titles I listen to - which is not primarily "classic rock" from the WB catalog.
Here's my view of what MQA offers of value - via the below URL.
it's like The Emperor's New Clothes given the dearth of available content.
That doesn't seem an apt analogy. All successful new technologies weren't widely adopted, until they were. New things have to crawl before they walk. The commercial success of MQA will likely depend on just two factors. Whether it results in compellingly increased consumer sales (due to greater convenience or greater listening satisfaction), and/or whether it compellingly lowers industry distribution cost.
Success will depend on whether or not the masses perceive the "new" as a meaningful improvement over the current version.
Vinyl to CD
VHS to DVD
Cassette to MP3
Tube to Flat Screen
All succeeded because the masses could immediately grasp the difference, and felt that the difference was a meaningful improvement.
CD to DVDa or SACD
Flat Screen to 3D
Were incremental improvements that appealed to a small segment of the market. And failed.
Jury is still out on MP3 or CD to HiRez. So far the masses are barely aware of the availability of HiRez and so far are satisfied by no more than CD quality.
Unless the masses come to believe that MQA is a meaningful improvement it is doomed to fail on merit- unless it is force fed to us.
My opinion is MQA is designed to impose industry control over streaming by imposing a new level of licensing fees to be paid before a streaming service can become involved. Streaming services and digital distribution companies control flow of music. The industry did not like it when Apple iTunes become so successful that Apple could dictate terms to the industry -and- impose Apple specific restrictions on ownership and playback. MQA is an attempt at an end run around Apple and anyone with similar intent.
As for me, I am a "buy it, I own it" consumer who takes a very dim view of having to pay a fee to access what I have purchased. And I HATE the migration from single purchase to ongoing subscription models.
The commercial success of MQA will likely depend on just two factors.
Greater convenience? Than exactly what?
Lower distribution cost? A two minute download vs a three minute download?
I'm not holding my breath. :)
In my view, the main performamce goal, by far, of MQA is to establish a transient optimized standard from recording through playback. This is all predicated on their conclusion that transient blurring is the greatest remaining hurdle to realizing non-fatiguing digital sound. While such transient optimization is certainly technically possibly via other high sample rate formats, there is no set requirement and specification for that. MQA sets such a requirement and specification.
I'm not familiar with the details of the music industry's cost structure, however, I do know that the cost of managing distribution isn't simply that of inventory storage cost, but also includes inventory managment and sales management cost. With MQA, the number of catalog items could be cut in half, or even by two-thirds in some cases, versus having CD resolution and 96kHz resolution and even a 192kHz resolution version. Not to mention the 88.2kHz and the 176.4kHz resolution versions sometimes carried. Resolution meaning; transient resolution.
With MQA, the number of catalog items could be cut in half, or even by two-thirds in some cases, versus having CD resolution and 96kHz resolution and even a 192kHz resolution version.
Why do you believe that? Do you understand that MQA is a 24 bit format? It certainly could not replace the 16 bit Redbook version.
It would be yet another 24 bit format - this time requiring all *new* hardware to exploit!
MQA can also be encoded to fit a 16-bit Redbook container for distribution via CD, while still holding high-rez information, and is not restricted to 24-bits. The technical consequence is increased quantization noise.
1. The full deal lossy encoded and unfolded in 24 bits (sounds like a Waffle House hash brown order)
2. A halfway lossy encoded 24 bit approach
3. A dumbed down 16 bit lossy version with additional noise
Yeah, that third flavor surely must sound better than Redbook.
Sounds simple to me! :)
Why is this such a big deal? If you don't like or want MQA then ignore it. Like DSD, I ignore it because It does not give me any real improvement in sound but does require me to pay a premium
First, its all about streaming. Then it will "simply the catalog". Then it can be delivered on a CD.
You're one of the few buying this concept. How's the oldies rock and blues content working for you?
Look, just because you disagree with certain answers/assessments doesn't render them BS. Perhaps, you disagree due to your own personal bias and not because of the answers themselves, who knows. At any rate, baselessly insulting characterizations are not appreciated.
Are you kidding?
Look, just because you disagree with certain answers/assessments doesn't render them BS. .
Sorry, but I pay attention to what others post. Let's review some of what you've said:
With MQA, the number of catalog items could be cut in half, or even by two-thirds in some cases... .
As we've seen, that speculation has no basis in fact. Next!
You opined that MQA might provide:
...compellingly increased consumer sales (due to greater convenience or greater listening satisfaction), and/or whether it compellingly lowers industry distribution cost.
When I challenged the notion of "convenience" and "lower cost", you folded. Obviously since neither applies in today's world of inexpensive internet bandwidth cost.
I've observed that there is an utter dearth of downloadable titles. When I've challenged PAR with that reality, he retracted. "That takes further time"
I've observed based upon an in depth analysis of another poster that the 500 odd titles available on Tidal are largely classic rock and soul/blues.
Do you have any data that refutes any of those facts?
Also, would you care to share with us your top 3 MQA titles? What content justified the additional cost to use one of few MQA compatible DACs?
You've fully revealed your irrational hostility toward this subject. Thank you, as I now know not to waste any more of my time attempting to have a rational discussion with you.
Pardon if you confuse discussing facts "hostile". BTW, earlier you opined:
Then it can be delivered on a CD.
That was my conjecture at one point as well, but was corrected by John Marks on that point.
In a Bob Stewart interview he said it can be put on a CD
"It is practical to make MQA CDs which are 100% backward compatible, sound great as a Redbook CD and decode to much more."
"Practical" from exactly who's standpoint? Even Stuart told John Atkinson "that would depend upon the level of the recording's analog noise floor ".
Even the MQA website promotes only streaming or downloading.
Maybe we'll see brand new and improved CDs in time, right? Just what Millennials are looking for. :)
Your evident prejudice and hostility toward a subject about which you are so obviously ignorant is quite astounding. Be aware, that the more you write the more you reveal your ignorance. No, I'm not going to spend the time necessary to educate you. You're not seeking to learn, you're seeking to defend your preconceptions.
For the record, I've not advocated for MQA. I've merely attempted to also discuss some of it's potential advantages. I'm only an audio hobbyist with some technical education. I have no agenda, pro or con, regarding MQA aside from an general audiophile interest in obtaining better subjective digital replay. I've not yet heard MQA, and so, have not formed any opinion on the sound offered.
which you are so obviously ignorant is quite astounding
over your past seven posts, you've failed to demonstrate anything that I've said that is incorrect. OTOH, we both shared the same misconception about the ability to use the CD format. :)
but have no agenda, pro or con, regarding MQA.
Nor do I. Just the facts, M'am!
...over your past seven posts, you've failed to demonstrate anything that I've said that is incorrect. OTOH, we both shared the same misconception about the ability to use the CD.
That makes a good example for me to use. You misunderstood what Marks wrote, probably because you are predisposed to misunderstanding it. An legacy CD player cannot DECODE MQA in to it's high resolution versions, but CAN still play an MQA encoded track as Redbook PCM. The undecoded MQA specific content simply acts as strong dither. This ability is fundamental to MQA, which is something so basic that the fact you don't know it helps reveal your ignorance about MQA. While ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of, hostile belligerent ignorance is.
but CAN still play an MQA encoded track as Redbook PCM.
Then it's no longer MQA!!! Why would anyone press a CD with content that is never playable? Is that what you want folks to believe? Really?
This ability is fundamental to MQA, which is something so basic that the fact you don't know it helps reveal your ignorance about MQA
Your ability to demonstrate that anything I've said is incorrect remains zero.
Do you have difficulty discussing facts?
I knew I shouldn't have attempted to help you understand any of this. My own fault for trying.
I learned from my days in IT: Never be an early adopter!
what we find is vaporware . The Emperor truly is naked.
Allegedly, the entire Warner Brothers catalog is MQA enabled. It's just that you can't buy it anywhere. Oh.
This is like a Kickstarter project. :)
First, if MQA does not sound noticeably superior to standard lossless 16/44 or higher recordings then what is the point? Storage and bandwidth for audiophile are not really an issue. I have been listening to MQA Tidal (with a high end but not an MQA enabled DAC) and some recordings sound great, some sound bad so overall I am somewhat ambivalent as to the value of any sonic improvements. Call it a tie.
Secondly, I have an inherent dislike of any proprietary product that will capture entire music catalogues. I don't like all my eggs in one basket. Negative.
Thirdly, as I understand MQA, it is lossy in some sense although the parts that are lost can be easily be argued to be sonically invisible. Negative.
Finally, the MQA chain could be used as some form of DRM if desired. Not saying it will but it certainly has the ability built in. Negative.
So overall, I don't see this as some revolutionary advance and it possibly could become a big pain in the ass. I would be perfectly happy with well recorded lossless 24/96 or higher PCM.
LOL! Yes, software is particularly notorious in that regard.
I've always loved the old software vendor joke; "It's not a bug, it's a feature!"
" What does MQA do that studios who have been recording in high resolution for decades doesn't?"
It seems from this question that you don't actually understand what MQA is. The answer is nothing regarding recording, in respect of which they offer no claims as it is not a recording medium. They do, however, offer a novel implementation of the distribution of high resolution PCM files.
BTW you don't actually need MQA enabled hardware to appreciate some of the benefits of MQA (in fact the greater part). If anyone wants to go further for " full effect" then that is up to them. Nothing becomes redundant. Keep your DAC and still have fun with MQA with streamed files up to 24/96 resolution ( assuming that your DAC accepts this data rate - I would be surprised if it doesn't).
when available content reaches 0.01% of the musical catalog (~40,000 titles)
There was an earlier post about what's available on Tidal - pretty slim pickings indeed - and I noticed that Iron Butterfly was on the list, but not "In A Gadda Da Vida". Are you kidding me?
Honestly, I don't spend much time listening to classic rock any more even though I grew up with it. Got some ELP? Renaissance? Genesis?
As far as I am aware from various sources the entire Warners catalogue has been MQA encoded and Sony and UMG estimate that their entire catalogues will be MQA encoded by Spring. Note: entire catalogues.
Of course the encoding does not equal supply to to Tidal and loading onto their servers. That takes further time.
direct me to where the entire WB catalog is available in downloadable form.
I'll ask the same question about Universal in a few months.
I have already partially provided the answer to your quesion " Of course the encoding does not equal supply to to Tidal and loading onto their servers. That takes further time." But it is, of course, not downloadable. You are introducing something that I have not suggested in any way and you are then asking me to justify it (this is what is called a "man of straw" argument). As I have kept on repeating, MQA is fundamentally about streaming and the distribution of high-rez files via this medium.
You are introducing something that I have not suggested in any way
Fine. So the *entire* catalog is encoded somewhere but totally inaccessible. That's totally useless.
As I have kept on repeating, MQA is fundamentally about streaming and the distribution of high-rez files via this medium.
That's not at all the impression I've gotten from your contributions to this thread. What do we find?
charging inflated premium rates for anything above CD resolution with the concomitant long download times ?...
They do, however, offer a novel implementation of the distribution of high resolution PCM files.
As for me, I regularly download true high resolution files from hdtracks.com in a couple of minutes. And?
Only now do you acknowledge that this is all about streamed content over the internet.
If you only listen to silver disc or even hi-rez downloads then it is not relevant.
Exactly my point. I have no intention of *renting* my music indefinitely. That is a revenue model, not a high resolution music model.
Virtually all of us will be getting our new music in a few years time only via the internet in one form or another.
I count on that! Downloading content once and not being forced to pay for it each and every month. Each and every month. I am a collector of music, not shiny plastic discs in a box. Do you perpetually lease your vehicles? I don't. Do you rent your living space every month? I don't.
As was reported in the original text, MQA is all about revenue generation, not high resolution music.
Can't help thinking MQA's window of opportunity is limited. And certainly dwindling, albeit slowly. Essentially, a clever bit of 'non-DRM' DRM.
However, I think it is building in format obsolescence in ways (IT) we may regret in the future, rather like HDCD (nice as that was - but where is it now?).
"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."
" HDCD (nice as that was - but where is it now?)."
The answer as best as I can recall is that it is with Microsoft who bought Pacific Microsonics and then just warehoused the technology.
I like your analogy and just as HDCDs can still be played on standard CD players ( albeit without the additional information being extracted), MQA files can still be played on non-MQA equipment.
Will MQA succeed? I have expressed my doubts before and am happy to repeat them. In fact I think that their chance of success is now even less than two years ago. I just do not think that hi-rez streaming will ever reach a tipping point with subscriber numbers so as to become economically viable. And no hi-rez streaming = no MQA.
All very sad as I love my Qobuz subscription ( a new desktop player available from today with advantages including what is apparently a revised sound engine with JAS approval - I will install it tomorrow).
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