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Do some DACs decode MQA better than others?

ShiZo

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#1
Like the title says, do some DACs decode MQA better than others?

Of course, a DAC performs differently than another, but when it comes to MQA, do some decode it better than others as well?
 

majingotan

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#2
I’d rephrase the question as do different USB receivers with hardware MQA decoder decode MQA better than others? DAC has nothing to do with MQA as it only cares about the incoming LPCM bits and sample rates before oversampling and bit-reduction (or DSD from HQPlayer or other hardware upsampler such as Chord MScaler)
 
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ShiZo

ShiZo

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Thread Starter #3
I’d rephrase the question as do different USB receivers with hardware MQA decoder decode MQA better than others? DAC has nothing to do with MQA as it only cares about the incoming LPCM bits and sample rates before oversampling and bit-reduction (or DSD from HQPlayer or other hardware upsampler such as Chord MScaler)
Haha, a little too late with that, but we'll go with that then!

I meant dac implementations with MQA, but I can see how that would sound improper given the information you just provided. So what are your thoughts on that question then? Any idea if some decode MQA better than others?
 

Fluffy

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#4
How are we still talking about MQA? It's a scam, people. No actual benefits in it. It's just a compression codec, you don't need any special hardware to decode it more than you need it to decode any other codec. All it does is taking hi-res files and apply lossy compression to them to make them fit in the same bitrate that fits 16/44 files. If you want to listen to hi-res, just get hi-res files. Data rate and storage space are super cheap and available, you don't really need lossy compression.
 
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ShiZo

ShiZo

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Thread Starter #5
I've never been good at getting lossy content aside from the occasional pirate. So far im pretty happy with Tidal. I wouldn't have bought a dac because of mqa, mine just happened to come with.... And xmos chip that "helps" decoding.
 

majingotan

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#6
Haha, a little too late with that, but we'll go with that then!

I meant dac implementations with MQA, but I can see how that would sound improper given the information you just provided. So what are your thoughts on that question then? Any idea if some decode MQA better than others?
Unfortunately, I don't have an MQA hardware decoder other than the A&Ultima SP2000 DAP. Also, I won't be able to perform this test blind since there's a relay click with my Bifrost 2 when I switch inputs. Regardless, I can provide a software MQA decode (Audirvana -> USB -> Bifrost 2) vs DAP MQA decode (AK SP2000 -> Optical -> Bifrost 2)

With sighted listening and volume matched obviously since the SP2000 DAP doesn't allow volume control while outputting SPDIF while Audirvana is outputting WASAPI Exclusive (volume deactivated), there's no surprise that both sources sounded identical like it should


IMG_1971.JPG


Capture.PNG
 

mansr

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#7
Like the title says, do some DACs decode MQA better than others?

Of course, a DAC performs differently than another, but when it comes to MQA, do some decode it better than others as well?
The MQA "core" decoder should produce the same output regardless of where it runs. The "rendering" part exists in a couple of variants that differ in whether noise is added before or after upsampling.
 

Vincent Kars

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#8

mansr

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#9
If a DAC detects the MQA watermark it is supposed to apply a MQA prescribed filter and upsample with a certain rate.
Not quite. If a DAC detects the MQA signature, it is supposed to apple the MQA-prescribed filter and upsample to whatever rate it wants. The displayed rate, if any, need not have any relation whatsoever the one actually used.
 

Soniclife

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#10
If a DAC detects the MQA watermark it is supposed to apply a MQA prescribed filter and upsample with a certain rate.
Are different DACs meant to use different filters for the upsampling part? I though that was their flimsy excuse for why full unfolding wasn't allowed in software decoders.
 

Soniclife

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#12
That's what they'd have you believe. It is, however, not the reality.
That's what I figured. Given that their upsampling seems a broken idea, not using it and only using a software decoder is going to be a better solution, so in my head no one wants an MQA DAC.
 

Theriverlethe

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#13
How are we still talking about MQA? It's a scam, people. No actual benefits in it. It's just a compression codec, you don't need any special hardware to decode it more than you need it to decode any other codec. All it does is taking hi-res files and apply lossy compression to them to make them fit in the same bitrate that fits 16/44 files. If you want to listen to hi-res, just get hi-res files. Data rate and storage space are super cheap and available, you don't really need lossy compression.
Then how is anyone supposed to collect patent licensing fees while perfect audio transmission has been possible with free codecs for decades?
 

amirm

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#14
Like the title says, do some DACs decode MQA better than others?
It depends on the certification requirement from MQA. Some codec vendors require very high level of matching against their own results. Some not.
 
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ShiZo

ShiZo

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Thread Starter #16
Plus i just
Firstly there shouldn't be difference in decoding.
Also, does it matter? MQA is essentially just adding garbage to a CD quality audio.
Damn that bad? I thought it was underrated, not completely useless. At least I didn't factor it into my dac choice.
 

BDWoody

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#17
Damn that bad? I thought it was underrated, not completely useless. At least I didn't factor it into my dac choice.
No, it's worse than useless. It isn't even benign.
 

amirm

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#18
Firstly there shouldn't be difference in decoding.
On a powerful desktop machine, sure. But in embedded processors inside DACs, all kinds of shortcuts are taking to keep CPU load low. This usually causes numerical errors addition noise and distortion.
 
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ShiZo

ShiZo

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Thread Starter #19
I have a realllyyy nice computer.

9900k 5.0ghz
32 gb ram
2080ti
z390 gigabyte aorus master

@amirm , you also think mqa is worthless and even worse than cd redbook?

What makes it so bad? I thought it was basically like zip. It compressed and uncompresses when you start streaming it.

I'm going to have to cancel my Tidal then. They gave me a discount because i just became a first responder (firefighter) like a week ago.
 
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