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How do YOU feel about MQA?

70.54.49.94

Posted on October 26, 2016 at 14:26:16
Doug Schneider
Reviewer

Posts: 420
Location: North America
Joined: April 16, 2005
Hello AA members,

MQA is a hot topic and I am writing this to ask YOUR opinion on it.

Just a touch of background: I knew about it from the outset, but my interest was really piqued following CES 2016 when a number of the members of the press raved about MQA, but, from everything I read about it and what I can find, they did so without properly comparing sources files with the MQA recordings that they were hearing. That compelled me to write the article below, which was probably my most-read editorial this year.

Since then, the MQA world has moved along and audiophiles have formed more opinions. As a result, I'd like to hear YOUR opinions with regards to what you think about it and if it is something that you think will be adopted. Or will it fade away, as many formats have? I know that many manufacturers would like these opinions, too.

So, have a go! ...

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!
www.soundstage.com

 

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RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 14:36:49
ahendler
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Unless they get a lot of content into our hands it will fail. Tidal streaming of MQA has been promised forever but still no confirmed date. The constant reporting from shows and the reviews of hardware is doing a real disservice to the customer. Meridian should be ashamed of themselves for this con game there pulling. I have a MQA dac and it sits doing nothing.
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 14:56:08
Isaak J. Garvey
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Hi Doug:

What you detail above, the over top, (to the point of absurdity), raving about MQA by the press, in show demos carefully controlled by Meridian, is what set off many in the online world on a negative trip. Now, we are hearing the same "wait a second, let's look behind the curtain" process from a member of the press, which is refreshing.

And, the constantly changing stories..for downloads and streaming, then just for streaming, for the remastering process, now no remastering needed, then we hear about thousands of albums from the Warner catalog batch converted on the fly.

The whole thing seems rather odd. And their a myriad of other concerns as well.

Take a look at the DSD hype from back in 2013..now that we know there will never be downloadable content, users are told they can upsample their PCM files with software to make that DSD light up on their DACs..the one they were told they HAD to upgrade to, or be left behind.

My bet is that there will be an MQA on the fly processor sooner than later to make the MQA light up..on that new DAC...

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 14:59:43
Isaak J. Garvey
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First question..why did you buy an MQA DAC?

Second, more of a comment...Tidal is not in great shape. 1.5 Million premium subs and a TWENTY EIGHT million dollar loss last year. Even billionaires do not like to bleed money. What if it fails? Is MQA then dead?

 

FWIW, I download DSD. (NT), posted on October 26, 2016 at 15:06:56
Kal Rubinson
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RE: FWIW, I download DSD. (NT), posted on October 26, 2016 at 15:13:58
Isaak J. Garvey
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Yes, if you are willing to pay $25-30 for classical DSD downloads, it is hog heaven. Since classical music is less than 1% of all music sales...well you know the rest. If you happen to listen to rock and pop, you have approximately 300 albums to choose from.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 19:04:28
ahendler
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I fell for the hype. Besides the Meridian Explorer2 is only $299. So far a total waste of money. If there is no streaming of MQA it will become another DSD. A small tiny fraction of the market
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 19:29:47
mlsstl
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I consider this another rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. It fails to address the real problem in audio reproduction -- bad recordings.

With the ordinary CD format, I can clearly hear vocals that were too closely miked (or a poor choice of mikes), bad mixing, overdone EQ and special effects, 15' wide pianos, drummers with the same arm-span, loudness wars casualties and so on.

I can also enjoy well done recordings where the engineers and producers concentrated on the music instead of getting wrapped up in the current recording fads.

There is nothing about a new storage format that will improve bad recordings. I have many CDs in my collection that are absolutely stunning to listen to as-is -- switching to a different file format is debating the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

As you can tell, I'm not impressed as it doesn't fix the real problem.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 26, 2016 at 23:55:10
fmak
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It is difficult to have 'feelings' as most of us can't hear it properly. What I did do was to download the 2L files and compared them to the native DXD recordings w/o a MQA dac. What I heard was not worth bothering about.

What I do know is that Meridian has considerable expertise in processing 16 bit CD recordings with their Mastering processors. I own one of these and enjoyed Cds with adjustments of dither functions and depths. This made Red Book quite a bit more listenable to me.

Perhaps parts of MQA have been based on this, in the attempt to make the hardware and software into a commercially closed system to generate more revenue. Hence the secrecy and control that other companies had pioneered in the introduction of 'new' formats. The history of success in this regard has been chequered.

 

Yup. Old story. , posted on October 27, 2016 at 05:16:12
Kal Rubinson
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OTOH, there is a reasonably satisfying stream of classical DSD releases and, as yet, nothing significant from MQA.

 

Hope that's a typo, posted on October 27, 2016 at 05:45:48
Jim Austin
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They were $299 when first released. You can now find them cheaper.

 

Actually, posted on October 27, 2016 at 05:48:29
Jim Austin
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On the one hand, isn't it a bit silly to expect a new format of any kind to suddenly fix bad recordings? On the other hand, if a downloadable, streamable master-quality format were to become ubiquitous, it might actually encourage better recordings. Who knows?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 05:55:31
Jim Austin
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>>What you detail above, the over top, (to the point of absurdity), raving about MQA by the press, in show demos carefully controlled by Meridian, is what set off many in the online world on a negative trip. Now, we are hearing the same "wait a second, let's look behind the curtain" process from a member of the press, which is refreshing.<<

FWIW, Stereophile has been peaking behind the curtain for months. What a lot of people don't seem to like is that what they see seems to make sense.

>>And, the constantly changing stories..for downloads and streaming, then just for streaming, for the remastering process, now no remastering needed, then we hear about thousands of albums from the Warner catalog batch converted on the fly.<<

Most of the "changing stories" I've seen--and I've watched this unfold since the beginning--are misinformation on forums like this one. To a lesser extent, the problem has been with the audiophile press, some parts of which may have gotten a few things wrong. Some of that misinformation is on display here. For example: MQA has always been intended for downloads and streaming. You can put it on silver discs if you want to. For another, this "batch" and "on the fly" business just doesn't match up with my understanding of how the process works. Hopefully more information, clarifying this murky picture, will be available on the Stereophile website soon.

Jim Austin

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 05:56:29
Jim Austin
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>>What if [Tidal] fails? Is MQA then dead?<<

No. Stay tuned.

 

I feel that the name itself couldn't be worse., posted on October 27, 2016 at 06:14:29
Dave Pogue
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Okay, lots of things have silly names. And since I've never heard it, I don't have an opinion on the sonics. But come on, MASTER QUALITY AUTHENTICATED? Did they have a naming contest and nobody won?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:13:05
ahendler
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What good is listening to MQA without a mqa dac? Really
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:16:44
ahendler
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We have stayed tuned for about 2 years now and nothing changes. If you know something and won't tell us it just continues to muddy the water.
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:16:47
Isaak J. Garvey
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Well, at least you are only on the hook for $400. It is nice little DAC, MQA or not.

 

RE: Hope that's a typo, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:18:40
ahendler
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Yes, I have corrected it. Looked at the usual places that sell it and it is still going for $299
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:19:44
ahendler
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It was only bought for MQA. I have a much better dac.
Alan

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:19:48
Isaak J. Garvey
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I will agree with you, that with all things audiophile, there is some misinformation on the forums. But also thank you for acknowledging that some of the misinformation comes from the press, and Meridian/MAQ's garbled message is partly to blame. Even the editor of Stereophile got a massive fact wrong, that MAQ must be applied at mastering.

At one point they may have to come to terms with the fact that nobody wants, cares, or is willing to invest in MQA. If the market DOES react positively, than the naysayers will have to eat their hats.

 

RE: Hope that's a typo, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:24:49
Jim Austin
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Most places, yeah, but:

https://www.amazon.com/Meridian-Explorer2-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B00Q6VQGS2

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:25:33
Jim Austin
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I'm working on clarifying things. Hopefully it will be out soon.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:33:11
Isaak J. Garvey
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ell, there is always the $24000 Meridian flagship DAC....

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 07:34:47
Isaak J. Garvey
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Thank you.

 

It doesn't exist enough for me to have feelings about it, posted on October 27, 2016 at 09:20:25
trav
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In some ways, I am probably the typical target customer for something like this. I'm 40, and I've got feet in both the audiophile and music lover camps, with a small but growing music collection I am actively adding to at least monthly, often weekly.

That said, it is doubtful I would ever bother with MQA unless it literally became an industry standard. The reason I started paying attention to audio gear was to get better sound from the recordings I already owned or planned on buying. Period. I never purchased an SACD hybrid because of SACD. I did end up with some because I wanted to have some decent Rolling Stones cds.

There is also the software problem. The idea of "everything" being converted over to a new format is laughable. The idea it will all be done well even more so. I only have about 3000 lps and 1000 cds (with some overlap, say 25%), but that covers everything from 1920s jazz and blues up through new releases from this year. I have recordings on vinyl that are difficult or impossible to get on cd, and cds with recordings I'll never own on vinyl or shellac. In some cases it's because they were never originally issued that way.

The real kicker here for MQA is I have no interest in purchasing any of this stuff again. Even if they were to transfer over the catalogs of Yazoo, Norton, Daptone, and other labels I enjoy the copies I already own are good enough. I would rather spend my money on things I don't have, since my want list is bigger than my collection.

 

Just a curiosity, posted on October 27, 2016 at 09:30:00
E-Stat
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Reminds me of the $3995 ql Signal Completion Stage device from a few years back.

"Instead of 'adding' a host of processing techniques intended to create 'effects,' we have simply found a way to extract information already present in recordings, but otherwise hidden in conventional reproduction. Our technology enables complete capture, transmission, and reproduction of such information, including elements that, until now, have remained hidden and buried in electronics, and unavailable to the listener. The result is an audio experience with fullness and richness beyond comparison and one which carries essentially all the dynamic, tonal, and spatial content of a real sonic event. . . "

Claims sound familiar? ;)

 

Whatever happened to HDCD? (nt), posted on October 27, 2016 at 10:51:55
mkuller
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(nt)

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 10:55:12
Jim Treanor
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Jim
http://jimtranr.com

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 11:06:40
Mercman
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Doesn't interest me. Perhaps some of you will find this interesting including the video:

 

And we all know what happened to the ql Signal Completion Stage..., posted on October 27, 2016 at 11:17:52
Steve O
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...that was heavily promoted by TAS.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 12:07:25
Peter Breuninger
Reviewer

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I believe it is fantastic for Internet radio streaming. I don't see a need for it in highend audio though, except for streaming or downloading large files into smaller packets for downloads.

It's a compression-decompression algorithm that is simply elegant for streaming.

PB.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 12:53:41
Isaak J. Garvey
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Do you really think that there is an issue with "large files" Peter? Millions of consumers stream Netfilx and Amazon Prime 1080p videos with ordinary connections without a hitch. My iPhone 7 can stream large videos with not a single issue..over wifi.

So, again. a solution looking for a problem.

 

Larger files -- a problem?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 13:04:37
Doug Schneider
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I decided to interject when I saw this because this is something I've been talking about for the longest time.

Right now, people stream movies, music, news videos, what have you, and somehow noncompressed music is an issue? For data on phones, perhaps, but elsewhere? I don't think so.

Also, there was a lot of misinformation about MQA files being the same size as CD-resolution files. They're not. CD resolution is 16-bit/44.1kHz, while MQA is 24/44.1 or 24/48. At minimum, they're 50% larger.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

Exacatacaly!, posted on October 27, 2016 at 13:28:06
E-Stat
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RE: Larger files -- a problem?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 13:32:37
Peter Breuninger
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Thanks for the clarification Doug... I was really referring to Sirius radio delivery for the car. I should have been more clear.

My bad.

This is where MQA may have an application.

 

MQA is what Redbook should have been..., posted on October 27, 2016 at 15:42:29
tketcham
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Hi, Doug,

From what I've read, 24/44.1 is what CDs should have been all along. Unfortunately, it's probably too late to reissue thousands of titles on compact disc. Unless there's a CD resurgence like the vinyl phenomenon. Doubtful, but who knows.

Regards,
Tom

 

I seriously doubt..., posted on October 27, 2016 at 16:32:12
mlsstl
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... that any storage format would motivate anyone to improve recording quality if they weren't already of a mind to do so. We've had improvements in recording formats and equipment for years and years that have done nothing to improve the bulk of recordings.

In fact, the limitations of the LP format (side length, bass limits, overall modulation levels, etc.) actually forced engineers to pay extra attention to recording quality. We didn't have the loudness wars until some industry types figured out that the CD would support continuous max volume. Hence, the advantages of the CD actually enabled the loudness wars.

 

... and Stereophile are the new Chumps! nt, posted on October 27, 2016 at 16:39:19
bjh
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.


 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 18:41:27
I feel fine about MQA Doug, but thanks for asking.

As I explained to you in Munich, among the source files at CES, some were from Peter McGrath. Peter was present at the CES demos so the idea that there's any question of properly comparing source files is what we would call a red herring.

Since you are still banging on this drum, you must have forgotten our conversation. It's no wonder, what with all the hoopla of audio shows.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 19:51:01
Doug Schneider
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Hi Mike,

I really have no idea what you're referring to exactly. I know we talked in Munich, but I don't recall anything about Peter McGrath's recordings.

In any event, I don't feel too bad about beating any drum because it's important to ask some questions. If you read my editorial from earlier this year, I asked a lot of questions about MQA and, also, exactly what writers at CES 2016 were actually listening to. I believe it's pretty clear that proper comparisons weren't really done back then. As far as my questions go, I never got very good answers, either. And in the time since, I've had many more come to mind, as have others.

Shouldn't someone be asking these questions? Surely, you can see on the forum, that there are a lot of people who have similar questions and concerns.

I think the biggest thing, though, is the lack of proper comparisons. From what I can tell, they're just not being done. And when I talk to manufacturers who have explored it, they're finding the same. It's on the folks at MQA, not us, to provide that.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 19:56:13
Hey Doug,

"I believe it's pretty clear that proper comparisons weren't really done back then."

Are you hard of hearing? ;-)

We had this conversation in Munich in the atrium with Jeff sitting at the same table. In any event, your 'proper comparison' theory has been addressed in any number of reviews and show reports. I realize the appeal of the "I wasn't there" approach, but you have to admit that someone like John Atkinson listening to his own recordings pre- and post-MQA is fairly compelling. No?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 19:59:07
Isaak J. Garvey
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What he is trying to say, and I think it is pretty clear if you WANT to listen, is that you and other were raving about MQA PRIOR to any comparisons every being offered. Capice?????

He, and the rest of us understand, that later, direct comparisons were done by specific people, some with their own files (Atkinson, McGrath) and some with well known music (Doors, etc).

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:01:00
Please point me to where I was raving about MQA prior to listening, Isaak.

When you fail to produce said link, I won't accept your apology.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:01:02
Doug Schneider
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>>>> In any event, your 'proper comparison' theory has been addressed in any number of reviews and show reports.

Really? Show me where.

>>>>but you have to admit that someone like John Atkinson listening to his own recordings pre- and post-MQA is fairly compelling. No?

As I wrote to John on a thread that's presumably way, way down, obviously doing what he did is what needs to be done. However, I also noted that in his pseudo-blind test he said he identified MQA 5 out of 8 times. To me, that's not very impressive, particularly with your own recordings. Statistically, someone can score 50% just by guessing. If it was 7 or 8 of 8, I'd be more convinced.

Don't forget, this is being touted by some as a "breakthrough" and beyond anything we've heard before.

Doug

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:04:06
Isaak J. Garvey
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You are being argumentative and really disingenuous.

I NEVER said you or anyone else raved without LISTENING. I said there was unusual enthusiasm PRIOR to comparisons. NOT before hearing it.

Is that CRYSTAL CLEAR?

I too have sat in on MQA demos. With no comparisons offered. With most of the same files you probably heard early on. Ella, etc.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:05:35
Really? Show you where?

You are making the claims, Doug. I'd think you'd have the appropriate research to substantiate them. No?

Your reference to JA's "pseudo-blind test" is yet another red herring, Doug. While I understand your desire to shift the subject, the fact remains that JA listened to his own recordings pre- and post-MQA. Your point was no one heard a proper comparison.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:09:09
OK. Point to where I was unusually enthusiastic prior to a comparison.

When you fail to produce a link, I won't accept your apology.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:09:38
Doug Schneider
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Hi Mike,

You're putting up straw-man arguments. Sorry.

My point when I wrote that article was that proper comparisons weren't done. From what I can tell, I was right.

As far as doing my research, I did. Read that article. I read all the articles I could find on MQA and even read the patents. Sorry, no comparisons I could find. That's why I say "show me."

As for JA, yes, finally, someone did. But then he did and scored 5 of 8. I explained why that didn't impress. However, I'm all for more comparisons! But like I said, it's on the ones making the claims.

Doug Schneider
SoundStage!

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:13:14
"A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent."

I beg to differ, Doug. I am refuting your claim that proper comparisons were not done. Get it?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:14:41
Doug Schneider
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Yes Mike, I get it. Now pony up -- show me all those comparisons...

Doug

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:17:55
Pony up? Get along little doggie ;-)

The CES comparisons with Peter McGrath's files. John Atkinson's comparisons with his own files. My comparisons which I detailed in my MQA review.

Are those enough ponies for you, Doug?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:21:01
Isaak J. Garvey
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"While I'm still attached to the original LP, for any number of reasons, this MQA version is among the most extraordinary sounding digital I've heard. There was a uncanny soft naturalness to Jim Morrison's voice that belied both the digitalness of the format and the relatively modest system in use. Every other musical aspect of "Riders On The Storm" was given the same natural, or perhaps better stated as you-are-there, sound. Stunning."

So Mike, CES report..where is the direct comparison?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:21:33
Doug Schneider
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Wow, so that's what's in your deck?

Ok, I'll just move along, thanks. We don't have to discuss it anymore.

Doug

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:25:05
My deck?

I can see why you'd like get along, little doggie but let's talk about people like Morten Lindberg of 2L. He's gung ho on MQA -- based on his own recordings.

Care to explain the lack of rigor in his comparisons, Doug?

My deck seems to be fuller than yours but please do press the issue.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:27:33
Doug Schneider
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I thought you'd be able to direct me to much more. Frankly Mike, it's OK to just let this go in this particular part of the thread.

Doug

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:29:02
How much more do you need, Doug?

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:30:52
Doug Schneider
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Quite a bit more than that. If you're hanging your raves on those items, go for it. Like I said, let's drop for this part unless there's more.

Doug

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:33:35
Nice, Isaak.

So...you hold no value in listening to a recording for decades in every format. For more than 30 years.

Wow. you got me. I did not directly compare The Doors' "Riders On The Storm" in MQA with the LP, cassette, CD, CD-rip, or high res download that I've been listening to since the '70s.

You drive a hard bargain, Isaak. A silly, nonsensical bargain, but it sure is hard ;-)

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:37:45
Isaak J. Garvey
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Joined: January 7, 2016
If it makes you feel better, you ain't the only sinner..a number of your colleagues were just as "enthusiastic" prior to any direct comparisons.

I bet I can leave us in agreement about one thing..if I understood you correctly, the MQA version was, in your opinion, the best digital version you have heard, but you can't tell me that a pristine, mint vinyl copy, or the recent AP AAA remaster is bettered by MQA or any thing else, aside from the master tape.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:37:49
My raves?

That is exactly where you cross the line of reason, Doug. But please do stick your guns and promote the "If Doug hasn't heard it, it doesn't exist." thing. Just don't count on me to be a cheerleader.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 27, 2016 at 20:41:40
A few minutes after The Doors, I went a few doors down and heard direct comparisons. But I can see why you'd want to bypass this fact -- it doesn't fit your story.

I can tell you this -- you and I speak very different languages when it comes to the enjoyment of music.

 

I don't care....just another way....., posted on October 28, 2016 at 13:46:01
StevieRay
Audiophile

Posts: 303
Location: Virginia
Joined: September 7, 2000
....for record companies to sell their back catalog to audiophiles again. And sell more DACs. It's funny how people will dream up shit to sell to consumers. I applaud smart men (much smarter than me) and entrepreneurs (sp) who invent things, but frankly we don't need all this new shit. Dream up things to help mankind, or the world, or our broken political system.

I have and listen to hi-rez files, and see no need to fiddle with MQA; storage is cheap.

I did subscribe to Tidal for awhile, but it's like the cable bill: just another expense that I'll never use that much. MQA may help sound when streaming, but otherwise I have no use for it.

I suppose everyone believes that in the future all we will do is "stream". Bullshit. Just wait till that grid breaks down.

 

AMEN (nt), posted on October 28, 2016 at 13:48:37
StevieRay
Audiophile

Posts: 303
Location: Virginia
Joined: September 7, 2000
(nt)

 

RE: Hope that's a typo, posted on October 28, 2016 at 21:54:35
ahendler
Audiophile

Posts: 4858
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Joined: January 24, 2003
Contributor
  Since:
January 14, 2010
I find it interesting that in the description of the product there is no mention of MQA. In the questions they mention that a firmware upgrade is required. These may be part of the early releases of the Explorer2 because newer versions had the firmware update built in
Alan

 

RE: MQA is what Redbook should have been...Remaster, posted on October 29, 2016 at 05:47:02
fmak
Audiophile

Posts: 12757
Joined: June 1, 2002
Actually, poor sounding CDs can , with patience, be remastered by using editing software such as Audition.

With quite a few albums, there is TV monitor breakthrough at around 15kHz which can be killed using an FFT filter. SQ can also be altered thru various automated or manual filters (30 point Graphic adjustment). Resampling to 176.4k 24 or 32 bit also helps.

So, there is really no need in many cases for inmates to buy a new music library or to spend $24000 to 98000 for a top of the range MQA dac.

 

RE: MQA is what Redbook should have been...Remaster, posted on October 29, 2016 at 08:29:32
tketcham
Audiophile

Posts: 4905
Location: East of the 100th meridian
Joined: March 21, 2005
Contributor
  Since:
October 1, 2005
Hi, fmak,

I'm sure that certain CD releases could be improved with some clever digital editing. But I have so much (enjoyable) CD and vinyl music that it's not worth the time and trouble for me to fix crappy CD releases. Plus, my system is fairly forgiving of mediocre CDs.

That said, if MQA does revitalize the CD market I'd be more than willing to purchase a MQA enabled transport/DAC and re-purchase music that I really love. I do that with cherished vinyl releases so doing something similar with CD releases isn't a concern of mine.

Regards,
Tom

 

An example, posted on October 30, 2016 at 03:23:00
fmak
Audiophile

Posts: 12757
Joined: June 1, 2002
I enjoy Nana Mouskouri music a lot on vinyl. However, the CDs all sound terrible. A severe remastering can be done to make them listenable but it would seem that no DSP magic is going to make it sound as good as black plastic.

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on October 30, 2016 at 06:14:03
josh358
Industry Professional

Posts: 9619
Joined: February 9, 2010
Contributor
  Since:
February 3, 2012
I wasn't at RMAF so haven't had a chance to hear it. But based on what I've read, there's some very solid engineering here.

The idea of correcting the time domain performance of DAC filters for specific DACs is a good one. (I wonder if it will someday be possible to correct, based on a statistical analysis, for systematic errors such as nonlinearity and even the missing codes that afflicted some early converters. Also, the added time domain information brings to mind some other possibilities -- not just accurate level settings -- how can one speak of "fidelity" when one is guessing at the volume control? -- but compression control so that those with good equipment can decompress the commercial release -- and also so that meaningful loudness compensation can be applied when listening at lower levels.)

They also appear to have done a good job of folding the higher frequency information into the lower order bits in a compatible way. This will no doubt be useful for streaming. However, here is where some doubts creep in. The very widest dynamic range material, played at natural levels in the best circumstances, does need most of those bits, though arguably these conditions almost never prevail in commercial releases given that most recordings have a narrower dynamic range, are compressed, and are played at less than natural levels. (In this context, it has also to be remembered that the analog noise floor isn't a hard barrier -- we can hear about 10 dB down into it.)

Another concern I have is that there can be significant signal levels above 20 kHz, e.g.,

http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~boyk/spectra/fig1a.gif

What they are doing is apparently the equivalent of preemphasis and without more information it's impossible to know whether and when ultrasonic information will be discarded, or whether it even matters in light of psychoacoustic masking. (Masking was mentioned n one of the articles -- I wonder whether they are using a DCT compression scheme on the ultrasonics. It's an idea I'd toyed with many years ago, but in Red Book days there wasn't enough room to fit the extra signal in.)

Anyway, this has all to be seen in the light of practicality. I hope that time domain information (and other "Rosetta tone" information as well) will be appended to lossless files for downloads. For streaming, for now, MQA can only be an improvement and while I see a lot of understandable cynicism here, given the record of high definition audio protocols that went nowhere, the fact that Warner is encoding their catalog and that Tidal is speaking of adoption is positive -- though given the low cost of Internet bandwidth and the fact that most of us don't stream over cellular, I have to wonder whether a straightforward lossless high resolution scheme with the time domain correction appended wouldn't be a better approach for all but cellular streaming.

Which being said, in my experience, engineering is less of an obstacle to good sound than the difficulty of establishing high quality standards and practices. Formats that offer what from the general public's perspective are sonic improvements too subtle to care about are typically commercial failures. It's crucially important to get compatibility and economics right. MQA seems to have been very well thought out from both the perspectives of engineering and commercial practicality, and I hope it succeeds.

 

RE: Whatever happened to HDCD?, posted on January 2, 2017 at 02:42:20
whitedragem
Audiophile

Posts: 1
Location: Western Australia
Joined: January 2, 2017
Microsoft killed it (aquired the tech to make a 'better' file compression format (vs apples compression format and mp3 etc).

True, when WMA used this feature, at 64kbits per second it was nearly twice the sound quality of the market equivalents (at the time), but due to diminishing returns, the increase was ameliorated at higher bitrates (@320kbits there wasn't much in it).

What we DID get?
a light saying HDCD that would come on in media player.
Microsoft didn't want the feature to exist in the open and to benefit the market; no markets continued to use it and 'software' (audio CDs etc) dried up.

To use the feature in media player a user would have to dig deep into the options menu and 'enable' a high quality formats tickbox.
I loved HDCD (owning various Rotel and Parasound products that supported it, and bought a LOT of media used the feature), and have seldom turned the feature on in Windows being archaic and silly to HAVE to.. (and no real benefit for Audio from my PC; when the high qual stereo is in the family room... / yes, using a $500 sound card)...

 

RE: How do YOU feel about MQA?, posted on January 2, 2017 at 10:05:33
Inmate51
Audiophile

Posts: 9212
Joined: July 6, 2005
Betamax.

You read it here first.

:)

 

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