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In Reply to: RE: MQA is a 'lossy' codec... posted by Ivan303 on January 22, 2020 at 12:32:46
Here are the bitrates which I saw for a sample of MQA songs streamed from Tidal.
Peter Gabriel So 24 96
The Rolling Stones Let it Bleed 24 88.2
The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesties Request 24 176.4
Eric Clapton Slowhand 24 192
And, from the Tidal website;
What is Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology?
While HiFi audio is a superior sound, it is still limited in its resolution —44.1 kHz /16 bit. TIDAL has partnered with MQA to deliver audio in an authenticated and unbroken version (typically 96 kHz / 24 bit) with the highest possible resolution—as flawless as it sounded in the mastering suite and precisely as the artist intended. TIDAL is one of the only services to render 24-bit master files streamable on portable devices as it uses a state-of-the-art MQA compression process.
Here you can learn more about Master quality audio at TIDAL, and here about how the MQA technology works.
Edits: 01/23/20Follow Ups:
#1) Bottom line: MQA is a proprietary lossy format that requires proprietary licensed technology, processes, and equipment to encode and decode to near lossless quality.
#2) MQA is a solution to a problem that does not exist.
#3) No one truly understands what's going on behind the proprietary smoke and mirrors.
#4) It's an unnecessary assault and money grab on high-end audio with proprietary lock-in and licensing royalties to the creators. I think it will eventually die on the vine and fizzle out.
There's more but that sums it up for me. #2 is the big one in my mind
what recording professionals think of it? I linked to Brian Lucey's comments here .
"If I want that distortion in the master I would've put it there in the first place...
MQA has been targeting the weakest players in our world, the audiophiles. And they're targeting those most dependent on pimping new tech, the audiophile press...
I'm most concerned about the bogus claims that MQA is fixing approved masters. Not possible, and a rude assertion to trillions of hours of hard work by teams of people making records for decades. Pure marketing hyperbole...
MQA has no future in the world of serious engineers in my view, it's a corporate money scheme at this point..."
Thanks for linking back to the article. If you read some of the comments below the article you'll see this one about MQA Authentication from mastering engineer Brian Lucey.:
Warren Mc says:
your comment about authentication leads to the broader question of provenance. What level of documentation is going to be required, to support the blue light? It's easy to set a bit of metadata on a file to say it's authentic, but who authorises the engineer to mark the art as authentic, and what proof of the production chain integrity do they need? We had all this already with the Chesky HD Tracks up sampling debacle, except in that case the fudged output was observable with tools. How would we do that with a proprietary lossy process?
Brian Lucey says:
I have authenticated nothing here, and my work is on Tidal as MQA. Nuff said.
Maybe That's why he wasn't contacted for Authentication.
"Does Brian Lucey Own the recordings he's made?"
I don't know.
" Maybe That's why he wasn't contacted for Authentication."
If he was the creator but wasn't contacted for authentication (perhaps because he no longer owns the rights to his own work) then who "Authenticates" it? Anyone who says it's authentic?
In my opinion:
- MQA is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
- MQA is a smoke and mirrors process for the purpose of generating licensing revenue for its creator. Fold, fold, unfold, unfold. Why?
- MQA is deep in proprietary technology (wear your high water boots) but in the end offers no sonic advantages it purports to offer.
- MQA offers no technical advantages over plain unadulterated hi-res files for downloads or streaming.
I didn't follow the Q&A below the article proper.
MQA is first and foremost a revenue model.
you do not understand how the lossy signal is processed and later "padded" to appear 24 bit.
Would you explain please?
It's very clear how the signal immediately becomes lossy.
I started reading the post in the link.
"There is no question that MQA degrades the quality of the audio for users who do not have an MQA decoder."
Not a particularly scientific point. Like saying your car will not run well without wheels.
It sets a poor tone for the article. I hope it gets better although the author seems to have an axe to grind rather than presenting a scientific case for his position.
Before we get too far into this, please allow me to state my position.
1. I have a turntable and and rather nice cartridge and phono pre. My preference is for analog over ANY digital source I am aware of so this discussion is for what will be the second tier for my system.
2. I work in electronics/electromagnetic compatibility but I do not have a complete understanding of digitization.
3. About 1 person out of 10,000 or so actually understands the Nyquist Theorem.
4. I have Tidal, a Mytek Brooklyn DAC +, a Meridian Explorer 2 and an Onkyo DP-X1a all of which support MQA.
5. If I get to a point where I can discern that MQA adversely affects sound quality more than other digitization/digital storage/streaming schemes adversely affect sound quality, I would abandon MQA.
About 1 person out of 10,000 or so actually understands the Nyquist Theorem.
What does that have to do with the established fact that MQA is a lossy format?
Pick you own poison. I choose lossless in this modern age of inexpensive storage. Why throw away anything from the original recording?
I mention Nyquest in an attempt to bound the discussion to reality. Inevitably someone will come along and say "Well Nyquest says...." and proceed to incorrectly cite Nyquist.
ALL digitization schemes lose some of the original audio content and the overwhelming majority of discussions of digital music are blind to this fact. The terms "lossless" and "lossy" are misleading. NO digitizing method records 100% of the original music.
In my work I use a 10 Gs/sec digitizing O'scope to look at 1 MHz waveforms. That is 4 orders of magnitude greater than the original waveform. I find it to be sufficient for my work even though some portions of the original waveforms are lost. To compare that to audio, the harmonics of some instruments can extend high 10's of kilohertz. Ignoring the mixing that will occur, to sample 4 orders of magnitude higher than 100 kHz would require a 1 Gs/sec sampling rate. I am not aware of any digitization method used for audio files that high.
Am I asserting that MQA is "good", or "sufficient" or excellent"? Nope. I am asking questions and participating in a discussion and appreciate your input.
The terms "lossless" and "lossy" are misleading.
Perhaps to you. It simply means you cannot return the recording to the originally captured signal.
I am asking questions and participating in a discussion and appreciate your input.
Lossy formats were useful ten years ago. I stream 192/24 losslessly via Qobuz and store similar formats on my NAS. Further, all the signal processing in the MQA chain changes the tonal balance.
I share mastering engineer Brian Lucey's opinion :
"Let's just sell the 24 bit files at the mastering session sample rate, not higher and not lower, and call it a day?"
Yes, the original recording cannot be completely recreated from a digital file, be it "lossy" or "lossless".
using bit perfect codecs.
MQA cannot even approach that dithering 24 bit content to 17. Why choose to arbitrarily throw away anything ?
To each his own I guess. My approach is the diametric opposite - my system building steps have been to retain as much information found in recordings as possible.
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