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MQA Bad For Music

amirm

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#21
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.
I lead the acquisition of Pacific Microsonic into Microsoft/my team :). The interest we had was not in HDCD. That is true. Instead, we were interested in speaker correction technology Keith and Pflash had developed. They were able to dial out the distortions in cheap computer speakers. HDCD was dying due to introduction of DVD-A and SACD. You could have real high resolution music instead of trying to get there part of the way with 20 bits versus 16 of CD using HDCD. If we had not stepped in, they would have closed their doors shortly.

Note that we did not want to kill HDCD. The problem was that it was a super messy business. The HDCD ADC and encoder was this esoteric box (Model 2 at the time) that was a nightmare to manufacture. We looked hard and found a manufacturer to pick it up and from what I recall, we gave them the business for free and on top of that gave them something like $450,000 in parts to keep it going. On the decoder side, they had embed it in a custom made DSP by motorola that Motorola proceeded to instantly end of life when we acquired the company. We made a lifetime buy of again, something like $450,000 to make sure we did not strand the CD player OEMs. We then set up a support group to support companies interested in continuing to use it. All at great expense to us.

I tried to get HDCD also into our playback chain but my team would not go for full implementation due to requiring a new pipeline in the windows media player. I got them to at least detect and light up HDCD but that was it.

So not a great story but as I said, it was technology whose time had come and gone. They knew it by branching into speaker correction and we realized that as the value.
 

Ken Newton

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#22
Amir, that's interesting insider info.. When it was apparent to those of us on the outside that HDCD was going away while under MS control I used to think, I guess the desires of audiophiles simply represent too small a niche market for a company the size of MS to be concerned over. It's too bad there's not an audiophile involved in these decisions. So, as it turns out, there was after all.

BTW, was any of that PC speaker distortion reduction IP applicable to large speakers?
 

hvbias

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#23
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
Thanks for the Stereophile link, the DAT protection sounded familiar.

From the Yuhongbao blog

Back in the old days, an Audio CD was not easily copyable or rippable. That changed with the introduction of CD-ROM drives which allow easy ripping of music into a computer. Eventually the industry responded with various tricks being used to prevent copying, most of which is not compliant with the Red Book standard and disqualifying these discs from the CD logo, as a result causing issues with some optical drives such as these CDs not ejecting. Another alternative is to put copy protection software on the audio CD. Sony BMG's attempts to do exactly this in 2005 turned out to be a disaster. What Sony BMG did was that they put XCP and MediaMax copy protection software onto some of their audio CDs. Both of these software used a rootkit to hide the software, a technique commonly used by malware, which was exposed by Mark Russinovich. I will not go into the mess that was the attempts by Sony to provide removal tools, which at first had security holes. This fiasco resulted in widespread consumer outrage that increased awareness of the harms of DRM, eventually leading to most music nowadays being DRM-free.
All the DRM that was attempted on audio CDs broke redbook specifications and caused consumer uproar.

I lead the acquisition of Pacific Microsonic into Microsoft/my team :). The interest we had was not in HDCD. That is true. Instead, we were interested in speaker correction technology Keith and Pflash had developed. They were able to dial out the distortions in cheap computer speakers. HDCD was dying due to introduction of DVD-A and SACD. You could have real high resolution music instead of trying to get there part of the way with 20 bits versus 16 of CD using HDCD. If we had not stepped in, they would have closed their doors shortly.

Note that we did not want to kill HDCD. The problem was that it was a super messy business. The HDCD ADC and encoder was this esoteric box (Model 2 at the time) that was a nightmare to manufacture. We looked hard and found a manufacturer to pick it up and from what I recall, we gave them the business for free and on top of that gave them something like $450,000 in parts to keep it going. On the decoder side, they had embed it in a custom made DSP by motorola that Motorola proceeded to instantly end of life when we acquired the company. We made a lifetime buy of again, something like $450,000 to make sure we did not strand the CD player OEMs. We then set up a support group to support companies interested in continuing to use it. All at great expense to us.

I tried to get HDCD also into our playback chain but my team would not go for full implementation due to requiring a new pipeline in the windows media player. I got them to at least detect and light up HDCD but that was it.

So not a great story but as I said, it was technology whose time had come and gone. They knew it by branching into speaker correction and we realized that as the value.
Unfortunately in the solid state world parts quickly going EOL is a real issue for DIYers, hobbyists and smaller manufacturers.

I had a few DACs with the PMD100 digital filter and one DAC with the PMD200. I also know one guy at Google that bought a Pacific Microsonics Model 2 from Goodwins and it set him back around $30k.

Amir if you cracked open a Model 2 could you tell us what DAC it used? That was something people wondered about, since it was capable of 24/192 it couldn't have been the UltraAnalog unit that the early Spectral DAC/CDP and some Lavry DACs used.
 
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amirm

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#24
BTW, was any of that PC speaker distortion reduction IP applicable to large speakers?
I am not sure. The process was by ear. Keith would sit there with the speakers and change filter characteristics until they sounded better. I think he was getting rid of severe resonances in the cones and such. I suppose one could use a DSP to do the same and perhaps the JBL M2 does that.
 

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Don Hills

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RayDunzl

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amirm

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Thanks Ray. I think that is the first instance of a non-streaming offer for MQA???

Like this bit too:

"As for Pidgeon's classic, most audiophiles have already heard it in multiple formats, which will make comparison with the MQA issue easy.

"We needed to press a new batch of The Raven, so issuing it in MQA makes perfect sense," he said. "Now people can play it alongside the other versions and see what they like. The title is also available for download in 176.4/24, which makes for a great comparison."

Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/chesky-release-mqa-cds-may#0OsyolU12WbtxfYP.99"


I will try to do that comparison.
 

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amirm

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#30
This is such a flashback to days of HDCD which likewise was backward compatible. Hard for me to imagine continued investments in audiophile CDs when the original master recording can be downloaded and played anywhere.
 

Don Hills

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#31
... Hard for me to imagine continued investments in audiophile CDs when the original master recording can be downloaded and played anywhere.
The original master is what was heard and approved in the studio. MQA processing changes the sound - audibly so, according to some people.
MQA CD contains relatively little of the "higher than CD" information, at the cost of the lowest 3 bits.
Information above 20 KHz and below 13 bits is lossy compressed and stored in the lowest 3 bits of each 16-bit sample.
 

Sal1950

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#32
The original master is what was heard and approved in the studio. MQA processing changes the sound - audibly so, according to some people.
MQA CD contains relatively little of the "higher than CD" information, at the cost of the lowest 3 bits.
Information above 20 KHz and below 13 bits is lossy compressed and stored in the lowest 3 bits of each 16-bit sample.
I'm completely with you on this Don, I find the whole prospect of the ultimate loss to access of the original lossless files depressing.

"You get a hi-rez file in the same package as the CD," he said. "It's like listening to the master file on CD. "
Really, what data rate has MQA been able to squash into 800mb?
Decoded it's maybe a higher data rate than a RB CD, but it's not the "master file" either. Its a highly altered and manipulated facsimile of the original "master file", what ever that original data rate was. And in the end, it's been SO heavily altered that whatever it sounds like, any comparison to a original is subjective and irrelevant IMO.

"while others will enjoy Red Book quality sound"
Not really, tell the truth. MAYBE close to RB, in some lossy facsimile sort of flavor.
 

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JoeWhip

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#35
Thanks Ray. I think that is the first instance of a non-streaming offer for MQA???

Like this bit too:

"As for Pidgeon's classic, most audiophiles have already heard it in multiple formats, which will make comparison with the MQA issue easy.

"We needed to press a new batch of The Raven, so issuing it in MQA makes perfect sense," he said. "Now people can play it alongside the other versions and see what they like. The title is also available for download in 176.4/24, which makes for a great comparison."

Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/chesky-release-mqa-cds-may#0OsyolU12WbtxfYP.99"


I will try to do that comparison.
Another version of the most boring release ever? I'll have to pass
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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#36
The original master is what was heard and approved in the studio. MQA processing changes the sound - audibly so, according to some people.
MQA CD contains relatively little of the "higher than CD" information, at the cost of the lowest 3 bits.
Information above 20 KHz and below 13 bits is lossy compressed and stored in the lowest 3 bits of each 16-bit sample.
I tend to agree that the MQA CD version in a 16-bit container looks highly compromised and like more of a marketing gimmick to me. That may taint and hinder acceptance of the more promising 24-bit MQA version via streaming, downloading or conceivably via Blu-Ray.

I am a bit surprised that Chesky is trying MQA CD. They have usually had high standards for sound quality, but they have taken some risky paths in the past.
 

March Audio

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#37
Just saw this on another forum and found the fact that Bob Stuart wont MQA files people have supplied for testing very interesting

http://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/opinion/1057-mqa-one-year-later-suddenly-more-questions

I don’t know what the folks at MQA Ltd. thought about my article, but I have to suspect they weren’t too thrilled by it. A few days before it was published, I received a call from Bob Stuart, who used to run Meridian Audio but is now in charge of MQA Ltd. We talked for about an hour, but as he seemed to have no real answers for my questions, nothing he said convinced me that I should change anything in my piece, and it went online as planned.

During that conversation, I offered to send Stuart some original digital recordings as well as digital masters that I have access to -- some new and others decades old, at varying resolutions. He could give them the MQA treatment, send me the MQA versions, and I and the recordings’ original producer could hear any differences for ourselves. I never heard back from him about that, which surprised me -- I thought he’d jump at the chance to prove his claims.

The other day I was talking with Mark Waldrep, founder of AIX Records, who’s written extensively about MQA in his newsletters and on his website, Real HD Audio. Over a year ago, Waldrep, too, offered his files to MQA and, from what I understand, even sent some to the company; but as of the day I’m writing this, Waldrep hasn’t gotten anything back either. He told me that he, too, was surprised at this nonresponse.
 

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Sal1950

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#39
During that conversation, I offered to send Stuart some original digital recordings as well as digital masters that I have access to, I never heard back from him about that --
Over a year ago, Waldrep, too, offered his files to MQA and, from what I understand, even sent some to the company; but as of the day I’m writing this, Waldrep hasn’t gotten anything back either.
John Atkinson had one or more of his own recordings MQA'd
I believe there's behind the scenes agreements involved, understandings as to who's on the,
"support it as it's good for commerce"
or
"this guy hasn't signed on and is libel to post something negative"
list. That determines who gets their files encoded for review and who doesn't.
If you look around you and read the various HiFi media it's become pretty obvious what's going on.
JMHO
 

NorthSky

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