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MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer

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Posted on October 29, 2016 at 06:05:47
bullethead
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I am 38, about 6 figure HH income. I bought an Auralic Aries, will these MQA guys allow firmware updates to software players or commit self immolation? I am not buying anything else yo!






 

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RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 07:04:55
SpotcheckBilly12345
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How in hell can you listen to that shit?

SB

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 07:07:16
bullethead
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That's what I am talking about, ....

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 08:44:46
Jim Austin
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If it's possible for a non-MQA machine to decode MQA with only a software update, and if the company wants to, it surely will be allowed. Anyway, let's say MQA becomes ubiquitous--every major streaming service adopts it, and all the major download companies offer it. Your Aries will still work fine. MQA files sound very good on a good, non-MQA DAC. (Yes, that's from experience.) And those download services will surely still offer other formats; unless demand declines, there's no reason for them not to.

 

MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 09:22:41
fmak
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Not true when comparing the 2L DXD files with the MQA ones.

You Stereophile associated posters need to get off your MQA horse by not just reporting what Bob Stuart and associates say, but consider the interests of consumers who have so far not been able to assess properly the pros and cons of the format.

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 09:51:29
Jim Austin
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You obviously misunderstood what I wrote. Since what I wrote wasn't complicated, I've got to assume you did so intentionally to support your intention of insulting Stereophile.

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 10:16:43
Isaak J. Garvey
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ooops!!!!

Will MQA support comes to AURALiC device?

MQA is still in pending status for AURALiC due to technical conflict with Lightning streaming platform.

AURALiC has done a live demo during CES 2016 for MQA on ARIES and ARIES MINI. It is however after MQA realized that ARIES does not have any DAC built-in and ARIES MINI has a digital output in parallel connection of its DAC I2S signal, they pulled it back immediately. They believe the MQA process is end to end and the DAC has to be optimized for MQA playback, so any digital output of fully decoded signal is unacceptable.

MQA may recently updated their specification which allows limited content to be delivered from digital output (Bluesound implement) but some signal process is still not allowed through MQA signal chain such as:

Customize and upgradeable DAC filter
DSD upsampling
Room correction
Cross fader
Mix down of various of input signal

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 10:17:53
Isaak J. Garvey
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Auralic facebook post.
It is unfortunately that MQA has decided to pull back the integration on ARIES/ARIES LE during CES as they have decided to make it an 'end to end' technology which means it will always requests a MQA certificated DAC to work.

ARIES ARIES LE, will be able to playback or stream music contains MQA format but will not listed MQA certificated device, to benefit from MQA, you will need a MQA certificated DAC and this is the only way.
We are sorry about the decision made by MQA.

Get me a hanky!!

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 10:19:22
Isaak J. Garvey
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You mean THIS kind of hype?

Takss of big time? Did I miss it?

 

What is there to misunderstand?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 11:14:57
fmak
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You made an unqualified statement!

You will gain a lot more credence if you and your associates stop posting torrents of self justification and consider the consumer instead of focussing on supporting what manufacturers say without sufficient analysis.

And oh, this business of posting in relay by colleagues just doesn't cut ice in the eyes of most inmates.

 

thanks for the info Isaak, posted on October 29, 2016 at 11:31:25
bullethead
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I saw the demo of Tidal MQA streaming on the equipment I already own on youtube and was ready to get on board. Spending about $6,000 up front for Auralic equipment after watching that video. Now it seems there is hardware authentication needed,

ok that clears it up for me at least.

They must be afraid of the linux guys, boo!

Only reason Apple iPods and fraunhofer mp3 took off was because of napster.

I got FLAC, and it is already high-res, and lossless. There's already an infrastructure around it. And it is already PCM.

Good luck gentlemen.

 

RE: What is there to misunderstand?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 11:40:59
Jim Austin
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My apologies. I thought you must have misunderstood intentionally. 'cause, really, it's pretty simple Quoting myself:

>>Anyway, let's say MQA becomes ubiquitous--every major streaming service adopts it, and all the major download companies offer it. Your Aries will still work fine. MQA files sound very good on a good, non-MQA DAC. (Yes, that's from experience.)<<

You responded:

>>Not true when comparing the 2L DXD files with the MQA ones.<<

I was very obviously--can't miss it really--talking about streaming. In that context, comparison to DXD is hardly relevant. You can see that, right? Do you know how big a DXD file is? Of course you do.

I then proceeded to address, separately, the issue of downloads, pointing out that anyone who wants to continue to download their preferred, non-MQA format is free to do so. For, while MQA is compelling for streaming, at least in much of the country, with downloads any decent broadband connection (and lots of patience) can put a DXD file on your SSD. So, unless MQA is such a huge success that all other options disappear, you'll still be able to download just as many DXD or DSD or 24/192 files as today.

Make sense?

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 11:48:27
Jim Austin
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>>You Stereophile associated posters need to get off your MQA horse by not just reporting what Bob Stuart and associates say, but consider the interests of consumers who have so far not been able to assess properly the pros and cons of the format.<<

My feeling is that we're dealing on these forums not with impartial consumers who lack information but with critics who have wet their minds set against MQA for whatever reason. No matter what information is provided, they'll remain firm in their positions.

But maybe I'm wrong at least in a few cases, perhaps in yours. So, please help me provide what you're looking for. How can we best serve "the interests of consumers who have so far not been able to assess properly the pros and cons of the format"? The goal of my interview--and the Stereophile piece posted today--was to do precisely that. What have we missed? What information or insight are you seeking that hasn't been provided?

 

very obviously, posted on October 29, 2016 at 12:04:08
fmak
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What is obvious about an unqualified statement? Is this what some reviewers assume?

 

RE: very obviously, posted on October 29, 2016 at 12:05:36
Jim Austin
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I was right the first time. You're being intentionally thick to make some kind of point I don't understand. Good day.

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 12:55:24
Kal Rubinson
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Also, although it may not be of concern to you, multichannel.

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 12:58:37
bullethead
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It seems ok in my book, damnit I need to buy more stuff.

Optimally we as consumers would be able to just stream DXD and call it a day. Time to scream at the Telcos.

 

A question for Isaac, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:12:25
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Isaac,
I noticed from your moniker that you are a Music Professional with UMG. Are you purely a skeptical audiophile or do you have a business interest in MQA failing (or succeeding)?

Regards
13DoW

 

Link?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:34:07
bullethead
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Do you have a link to that piece you mentioned?

Thanks.

 

RE: Link?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:37:52
Jim Austin
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.

 

RE: Link?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:44:45
bullethead
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Thanks a lot.

Very cool,

Interesting about what he said about CD Rips being sometimes the best archive, I am a very heavy bandcamp.com user myself as I usually don't usually partake in pop music. I think preserving whatever they got is good for the record.

I think the challenge is getting the heavy hitters to demand real high res archives of whatever they record moving forward, there are many acts that come and go.

 

RE: Link?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:47:39
Jim Austin
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>>I think the challenge is getting the heavy hitters to demand real high res archives of whatever they record moving forward, there are many acts that come and go. <<

I was interested to learn that their whole archive of digitized analog tape is 192/24. That, to my ear, is sufficient for transparency. That's been going on for a long time. It's no guarantee of recording quality, but they do seem committed to high resolution digital.

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 13:52:47
ahendler
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Jim, I have answered your question many times and I am really tired of the spinning going on. Give me a date when you expect streaming of MQA files will be available to me. Simple question. You can't answer because you don't know. I can't be any clearer than this
Alan

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:03:07
Isaak J. Garvey
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although not a concern to me personally, it is to others. there is far more multi channel program material than is widely known, and more being produced, especially with the recent remixes of much of the progressive rock canon, plus tons of BluRay.

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:07:33
Jim Austin
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I promise that as soon as that knowledge exists, I'll do my best to chase it down. If the knowledge doesn't exist, we can't report it. Some plans take time to mature. No spin here.

 

RE: A question for Isaac, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:15:55
Isaak J. Garvey
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Hey Duke.:

I work in post production and I can tell you MQA has never ever been a point of discussion with the artists, producers, mastering engineers, or managers I have worked with. MQA is something would be discussed in the executive suite..

I have absolutely no stake in at all..my comments are as a consumer, period. Actually, thanks for asking.

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:20:22
Isaak J. Garvey
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Fair enough Jim. But on the flip side, what about the the repeated, immensely positive reporting on MQA by reviewers who have their mind set ON MQA. Does not it work both ways?

And the initial tide overwhelming positive write ups were based on carefully controlled show demos and later with a $300 portable DAC.

Can you at least understand the push back considering the reporting that was done on the so called "DSD 2.0" roll out?

 

RE: Link?, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:29:23
bullethead
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I stream 24/192 FLAC from my google drive cloud to my Auralic already no problem.

That's with 35/35mbps. Most of the country is capable of 100/100mbps and some guys already here have a gigabit.

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 14:52:05
Jim Austin
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Having seen what you've written elsewhere in this and in other threads, I'm skeptical of your intentions and don't expect this to go well, but I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

First, you need to understand that many of us are critical by nature. I certainly never embraced "DSD 2.0" or 1.0 for that matter. Frankly, I had technical concerns about DSD that I've since gotten over, it's something I think I was wrong about. I've owned SACD drives, and still have a fair number of SACDs in my collection that don't get played (they're in cardboard boxes, their redbook layer having been ripped to my homebrew server), but I always felt like, some SACDs sounded great, others not so great. For the record, I've felt the same way about high-rez generally; on average there was an advantage over CD, but it varies from one recording to the next. Some CDs sound fabulous to my ears.

So what about MQA? There's far more I'd need to write to be complete; I'm going to say this as briefly as I can because I've got stuff to do. There are several key points that need to be made. The first is that to my ear MQA made more--and more consistent--improvements (over CD) than either DSD or high-res PCM. This is a sort of indirect comparison, so not entirely rigorous but not, IMO, without value. Almost every MQA file I listened to sounded significantly better than the CD version, something I could never say for DSD or high-res PCM. (This was true through the $299 Meridian Explorer 2. I wrote that review in Stereophile. In the few direct comparisons that were available in those days--mainly 2L files--I found that MQA performed well. I didn't, and still haven't, done more than few comparisons of (eg) DXD with MQA, but MQA has always held up well.

So then you have to take a look at the technology. Is this some sort of scam? Does it make sense? I'm a physicist by training, with a PhD--so, pretty technical--and I've studied it. JA, who knows far more than I do about digital recording technology (and most things audio) has studied it--he too has a physics degree and is a very smart guy--and he too has concluded that the technology makes sense. There's a single insight--that the time domain matters more than people realized--combined with some clever digital engineering. It adds up to a compelling package.

And then there's the problem of buying digital music. I just set up a server for myself last winter. I spent the winter burning my CD collection. Why did I wait so long to go disc-less? Partly it was server software--Roon isn't perfect, but it's better than anything else I knew about. But the big thing for me--the reason I didn't do more high-res downloads--was uncertainty about provenance. I heard stories about HD Tracks and how high-res files would turn out to be (apparently) upsampled CDs. Anyway, file resolution means NOTHING. A bad recording at high resolution is still a bad recording. No one could be blamed because the provenance of the files being downloaded couldn't be established. Maybe the company hosting and charging for the downloads was responsible (see Stuart's comments on this point), but maybe not. Who knows? All I know is that I didn't want to pay $18 or more for some information--no physical object--that may or may not be what it purported to be. That kept me from buying. It still does. So this "authentication" aspect makes sense: There are still no guarantees, but the blue or green light is a sort of signature: The label, or the artist, or both, are saying, "this is what we want our music to sound like." That's important to me.

Finally, there's a problem to be solved--the Napster problem. Here I'm speaking for myself; I don't know whether these views are shared by others who support MQA. The Internet has made music dissemination easier but it has been a disaster for the music industry. People stopped buying music--they stole it instead, in very low-fi formats. The industry's profit model fell apart. I don't fully understand the economics of this--I'm not an expert on this topic--but there does appear to be a belief out there that giving a company control over its IP (via separation of archival distribution formats and this notion of "authentication" via the blue or green light) could help return music companies to profitability. Not everyone thinks that's a good thing, but I do.

So you've got--what--four pillars? It sounds good to me. The technology makes sense. It solves a consumer problem (authentication) and it solves and industry problem (IP control).

Downsides? If you equate file resolution with music quality, you may think you're giving up something because MQA is not totally lossless in the IT sense. (I think that's a dumb objection.) By handing responsibility for the sound back to the record companies, you take it out of the hands of the more tech-savvy consumers; I'm thinking EQ here. That's a much more reasonable objection--but there's no reason to think MQA is going to make life worse for those people--they can still download their PCM files and stream CD quality--it just might not make life any better.

I'm not in anyone's pocket, and I'm not a fanboy. In fact, as my track record as an audio writer will show, I'm pretty skeptical. This just makes sense.

I've just dedicated a big chunk of my day to this. Don't expect me to write this much again. :-)

jca

 

RE: MQA files sound very good on a good, posted on October 29, 2016 at 15:19:23
Isaak J. Garvey
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Jim. I appreciate you taking the time, I really do.

I will make my reply brief so as not drag this out forever, it is clear we have different views on the motives behind MQA.

First, I think much your opinion is based on faith, but that is MY opinion.

Again, to be brief..let us examine your "4 Pillars"...

First, you say MQA sounded the best of any previous digital format...that is your opinion...hardly a pillar...and your opinion on DSD is counter to most of the professionals I have talked with. Hearing numerous analog tapes archived to DSD, especially DSD128, tells me it is amazingly good format, and very analog like in its continousnes.

Second..the technology...so you and a few people you know think it makes sense and is elegant..again...opinions....Any thing applied AFTER the fact is DSP. Plain and simple.

Third, provenance. This has been an issue since the very early days of the music business. The Beatles American LPS on Capital were done from copies of the master tapes, with more reverb applied. Reissues of classic LPs were done from multi generation tape copies. CDs were initially mastered from LP masters, with rolled off bass and other quirks related to LP mastering. Then you talk about retailers upsampling music. Never happened EVER with HDT, Pono, 7Digital, Qobuz, etc. This is a NON issue. Any "fake" hi rez has originated with the labels. And those instances were so small in number.

Lastly...the toothepaste is out of the tube. An entire generation has grown up not paying for music. MQA will not change our society. That is totally magical thinking, but then again, Bob Stuart is a magical thinker.
The record companies, while slow to change with times know how to still make money. File sharing is never ever going to go away. And it is lossless now. Including SACD rips. But again to repeat, there are numerous other revenue streams.

 

Understood, thanks (nt), posted on October 29, 2016 at 19:57:40
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Nt

 

Be polite, or be gone, posted on October 29, 2016 at 21:47:48
fmak
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nt

 

RE: A question for Isaac-I think the, posted on October 30, 2016 at 03:18:09
fmak
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same question should be addressed to the MQA promoters in this forum.

 

Plenty of examples..., posted on October 31, 2016 at 08:52:43
mlsstl
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...of good ideas and fine products that never panned out despite lots of cheerleading. This is true in all walks of life, not just audio.

Whether or not MQA becomes a popular success is a complicated question with lots of factors in play. Not the least of these is, does the average music consumer even care?

 

RE: MQA hype, will this kill the industry? An observation from a consumer, posted on November 3, 2016 at 16:40:23
X1992
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A) I heard the RMAF MQA comparison to the same high resolution track with consumer education centered around time correction. The MQA was way better, and I mean like almost too large of a difference. I do not want to accuse, but it leads me to more questions.

B) I do not really understand what is so hard about streaming high resolution. I know next to nothing about the technicalities, but know I can stream high definition movies easily.

 

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