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MQA Bad For Music

Sal1950

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#1
A great article by Jim Collinson of Linn outlining the many negative aspects of MQA. His talk on the DRM like details of MQA are very close to the things I've been harping on forever. A great read over all. IMO.
https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music
Sorry if this has been linked or discussed here before but my searches and my senior brain have come up empty. (hush) Mod's handle accordingly if repetitive.
 

hvbias

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#2
Sadly DRM has been an issue with lossless streaming and "hi-res" downloads for a while. See this thread post 69 on.

Or these two links on audibility of watermarks:
http://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark
http://mattmontag.com/audio-listening-test/

I'm not perfect at discerning watermarks, but to my ears its readily apparent on most types of acoustic music, and a bit more difficult to hear on busy rock. I heard it on Tidal streaming of DG classical and immediately terminated my subscription and told them why. No response to my email. The labels do not care. I hope it never infests CDs. A while back I asked Archimago if he would do a blog entry on it so more people know about it.

The audiophile response to it ranges from slightly disappointed to indifference, as long as it is "hi-res".

I'm sure the very pro label MQA is causing quite the ecstasy at the majors.
 

tomelex

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#3
I think cds were infested with marking at around 1khz like a few decades ago IIRC. Right in the middle of the audio band so their stuff could be easily decoded by anything, typical isn't it.
 

Sal1950

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#5
The audiophile response to it ranges from slightly disappointed to indifference, as long as it is "hi-res".
Well all the head guru's at Stereophile , TAS, CA, etc; have all proclaimed it to be just wonderful. They can't be wrong,,,,,can they?
 

amirm

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#6
Audibility of watermarks? Ask Amirm!
Crap. :)

OK, here is the deal. The record industry put out a call for watermarks back in 1999 or so. Unfortunately they put very strict requirements for decoding horsepower so only low performing algorithms could pass it, leading to easier ability to defeat them and audibility issues.
 

watchnerd

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#7
Well all the head guru's at Stereophile , TAS, CA, etc; have all proclaimed it to be just wonderful. They can't be wrong,,,,,can they?
Stereophile on HDCD:

"An astonishingly short two years after writing that, I can report that digital audio has taken a significant step forward in its inexorable march toward superiority over analog. The development to which I refer is called High Definition (HDCD)."

Stereophile on SACD/DSD:

"Every Stereophile writer who has auditioned DSD under critical conditions—Robert Harley, Peter van Willenswaard, Jonathan Scull, and me—has found it both very much better than 16/44k1 CD and much closer to the analog experience."

Stereophile on MQA:

"As compelling as the untreated hi-res file sounded, I literally laughed at the difference when the MQA version began. Not only did it feel as though a veil had been lifted, with far more color to the sound, but instruments also possessed more body. With more meat on dem bones, I also noticed less of a digital edge on the violin. I've heard Hahn in concert several times, and this was the closest to real I've ever heard her violin sound on recording."

Deja vu...

I bet they could just run a search in their old articles on HDCD/SACD, replace with MQA, change the date lines, and publish again.
 

Thomas savage

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#8
Stereophile on HDCD:

"An astonishingly short two years after writing that, I can report that digital audio has taken a significant step forward in its inexorable march toward superiority over analog. The development to which I refer is called High Definition (HDCD)."

Stereophile on SACD/DSD:

"Every Stereophile writer who has auditioned DSD under critical conditions—Robert Harley, Peter van Willenswaard, Jonathan Scull, and me—has found it both very much better than 16/44k1 CD and much closer to the analog experience."

Stereophile on MQA:

"As compelling as the untreated hi-res file sounded, I literally laughed at the difference when the MQA version began. Not only did it feel as though a veil had been lifted, with far more color to the sound, but instruments also possessed more body. With more meat on dem bones, I also noticed less of a digital edge on the violin. I've heard Hahn in concert several times, and this was the closest to real I've ever heard her violin sound on recording."

Deja vu...

I bet they could just run a search in their old articles on HDCD/SACD, replace with MQA, change the date lines, and publish again.
Scandalous really.. Having had a HDCD player and now a reasonable SACD player I can call out these sterophile assertions as being total and utter bollocks.

They are either deluded or plain good old fashioned bullshit merchants.
 

hvbias

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#9
I think cds were infested with marking at around 1khz like a few decades ago IIRC. Right in the middle of the audio band so their stuff could be easily decoded by anything, typical isn't it.
You'll need to offer some evidence of that, I did some searches and nothing came up. Nothing on the SH forums either, which would probably be the most analytical bunch of people when it comes to digital music looking at spectrographs, etc. I've kept up with CDs since fairly early on and I have never heard of this nor seen or heard it in hundreds of discs I've looked at in various DAW/audio editing apps. I'm aware of other DRMs that don't conform to redbook spec.
 
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Ken Newton

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#11
Guys, I'm not seeing the DRM issue with MQA. While I don't know all the details of MQA, it seems that MQA simply requires proprietary encoding, and so, also requires proprietary decoding. In that respect, it seems no different than SACD, or Dolby Digital or DTS, for examples.

As far as watermarking is concerned, I don't believe that MQA utilizes it, not in the sense of embedding an specific signal only for that purpose. I think it's more of an inherent side benefit of the containerizing of the high resolution signal content. My strong suspicion is that high-rez signal info. is converted (scrambled) to pseudo-noise so that MQA coded containers are compatible with non-MQA playback. Disguised as pseudo-noise, the high-rez MQA info. would simply act as strong dither during non-MQA playback. Such pseudo-noise encoded information is easily recovered (de-scrambled) back to the original signal. Digital cell phones have long utilized such a technique, known as direct sequence spread spectrum. So, while the MQA content is scrambled/encoded, it seems primarily a necessity so as not to interfere with non-MQA playback.
 
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Fitzcaraldo215

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#12
Scandalous really.. Having had a HDCD player and now a reasonable SACD player I can call out these sterophile assertions as being total and utter bollocks.

They are either deluded or plain good old fashioned bullshit merchants.
Well, yeah, I do not disagree entirely. HDCD was a tiny step forward, not a worthwhile one, and the market responded sensibly.

But, when it comes to SACD or hi rez, there is much confusion. First, I do not think DSD solves all problems or is innately superior to hi rez PCM. However, I think that there is a world of difference between music natively recorded in hi rez DSD or PCM and music merely uprezzed and/or reformatted from analog or lower resolution native recordings. So, the question is, when you draw your six gun and blow away claims about SACD, what is it that you were listening to? In what format was it natively recorded?

If, as I suspect from your music preferences, it was just remasters to DSD from RBCD or analog originals, then I would suggest that your opinion might not be as generalizable as you think. But, if you think that RBCD is the ultimate and as far as we need to go, you are certainly entitled.

Also, I only buy SACDs of music that was natively recorded in hi rez. The nice thing about the hybrid SACD format is that it contains up to 3 formats for comparison: RBCD, DSD Stereo and DSD Mch(if we are lucky). I have listened to the comparison between the RBCD and the DSD Stereo numerous times from the same native hi Rez recording through the same system. I am not saying there is a black/white, day/night improvement wrought by hi rez playback of hi rez recordings, but I disagree with you. There is a small but noticeable improvement with hi rez playback of hi rez recordings. Unlike you, I find it worthwhile.
 

tomelex

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#13
That's one of them, thanks Sir. below is some other stuff, but I remember reading I guess about proposals to put some sort of code buried around 1Khz or so and so many db down. Obviously that never happened, I remember as an audiophile it just pissed me off. In the link below just go down to the second paragraph and it talks about some games played with CD. However, I stand corrected that most likely I was reading a proposal that never happened. Thanks for the feedback for this humble mind. I still don't know if there is something buried around 1khz or not, but if anyone could find it it would be you guys\

http://yuhongbao.blogspot.com/2010/06/artificial-scarcity-audiovideo.html
 

Thomas savage

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#14
Well, yeah, I do not disagree entirely. HDCD was a tiny step forward, not a worthwhile one, and the market responded sensibly.

But, when it comes to SACD or hi rez, there is much confusion. First, I do not think DSD solves all problems or is innately superior to hi rez PCM. However, I think that there is a world of difference between music natively recorded in hi rez DSD or PCM and music merely uprezzed and/or reformatted from analog or lower resolution native recordings. So, the question is, when you draw your six gun and blow away claims about SACD, what is it that you were listening to? In what format was it natively recorded?

If, as I suspect from your music preferences, it was just remasters to DSD from RBCD or analog originals, then I would suggest that your opinion might not be as generalizable as you think. But, if you think that RBCD is the ultimate and as far as we need to go, you are certainly entitled.

Also, I only buy SACDs of music that was natively recorded in hi rez. The nice thing about the hybrid SACD format is that it contains up to 3 formats for comparison: RBCD, DSD Stereo and DSD Mch(if we are lucky). I have listened to the comparison between the RBCD and the DSD Stereo numerous times from the same native hi Rez recording through the same system. I am not saying there is a black/white, day/night improvement wrought by hi rez playback of hi rez recordings, but I disagree with you. There is a small but noticeable improvement with hi rez playback of hi rez recordings. Unlike you, I find it worthwhile.
No, iv got native hirez SACD's from places like this https://www.spiritofturtle.com/about-us/?v=79cba1185463 . They can sound ok but iv also got things like nils lofgren acoustic live that I believe was mastered in 16/44.1 that sound excellent too.

It's clear from your writting you are hard wired to thinking there is some huge problem with digital, I just don't think there is. Some of the best sounding music iv heard has come from RBCD. There are factors outside of pure format that are of greater importance in determining the quality of the end result.

So yea, I don't think there is anything wrong with PCM done well 16/44.1 is all you need imo though I would not be adversed to having the PCM master ( at what ever sampling rate it was natively) and using that..

You seem to be searching for answers to problems in digital that I don't feel exsist, seeing that's the case it's no surprise you buy into the various 'cures' that come along. Really as long as your enjoying the music that's all that matters. :)

( it's possible a good deal of your native hirez SACD ( DSD) recordings were converted to evil PCM to be edited etc and then converted back to DSD:eek:)
 

Don Hills

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#15
... My strong suspicion is that high-rez signal info. is converted (scrambled) to pseudo-noise so that MQA coded containers are compatible with non-MQA playback. Disguised as pseudo-noise, the high-rez MQA info. would simply act as strong dither during non-MQA playback. ...
The decryption routine in the Bluesound decoder accepts a parameter which determines the number of bits of each 24-bit word (sample) to be decrypted. This parameter is extracted from the control bits in the incoming bitstream. So, for example, you can encrypt all but the highest 4 bits, leaving enough to tell what the music is but too noisy for practical listening without decoding. There was no reason for MQA to buy a high quality encryption product to convert the data to pseudo-noise, they could have accomplished that for free.
 

Ken Newton

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#16
...There was no reason for MQA to buy a high quality encryption product to convert the data to pseudo-noise, they could have accomplished that for free.
Agreed. While I don't know what scrambling algorithm MQA utilizes, this could be as simple as an pseudo-random number generator output mixed with the digital signal via an exclusive-OR logic function, if the result doesn't need to be cryptographically secure.
 

Cosmik

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#17
I suppose the question is: is MQA guaranteed to always be based on unscrambled data in the future? There is presumably nothing to prevent MQA decoders from already having the capability to decode some as-yet unreleased form of DRM. If MQA decoders and DACs become universal because of their stunning sound quality and/or convenience of a single universal format, a time might come in the future when new releases of MQA music start being DRM'ed. Maybe newer MQA decoders start playing DRM'ed music only, but most people won't mind, or notice because all their music comes via Tidal or whatever.

I don't mind, except for the fact that I want my system to be able to perform DSP on the digital data. This is most unlikely to be allowed in a universally-DRM'ed future. People like me would be reduced to inserting a DAC-ADC stage in the stream - but some people would like to see that made illegal too...
 

amirm

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#18
I don't know anything about that detail but it seems to me the word "authenticated" is meant to be a feature of the format, validating that it was not messed with. If that is to have any power, then the mark needs to be very resilient and not duplicatable easily. It is also a driver of revenue in that a free decoder cannot be written and bypass licensing.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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#19
No, iv got native hirez SACD's from places like this https://www.spiritofturtle.com/about-us/?v=79cba1185463 . They can sound ok but iv also got things like nils lofgren acoustic live that I believe was mastered in 16/44.1 that sound excellent too.

It's clear from your writting you are hard wired to thinking there is some huge problem with digital, I just don't think there is. Some of the best sounding music iv heard has come from RBCD. There are factors outside of pure format that are of greater importance in determining the quality of the end result.

So yea, I don't think there is anything wrong with PCM done well 16/44.1 is all you need imo though I would not be adversed to having the PCM master ( at what ever sampling rate it was natively) and using that..

You seem to be searching for answers to problems in digital that I don't feel exsist, seeing that's the case it's no surprise you buy into the various 'cures' that come along. Really as long as your enjoying the music that's all that matters. :)

( it's possible a good deal of your native hirez SACD ( DSD) recordings were converted to evil PCM to be edited etc and then converted back to DSD:eek:)
You are not even close to understanding my thinking, my motives, etc. But, do enjoy listening to whatever you enjoy.
 

Ken Newton

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#20
Well, yeah, I do not disagree entirely. HDCD was a tiny step forward, not a worthwhile one, and the market responded sensibly...
My recollection may be in error, but I recall reading that Microsoft essentially killed HDCD as a consumer audio format after they purchased Pacific Microsonics. The rumor was that MS was only interested in the IP related to disguising control codes and other information in the media channel as pseudo-noise. I was under the impression that HDCD was steadily growing until MS stepped in and erased it from existence. The disguising of information as pseudo-noise aspect of HDCD suggests to me what MQA may be doing to hide it's high-rez content. The patents behind HDCD have probably expired some time ago, so, maybe, MQA is utilizing them, but that's merely speculation.
 
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