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MQA Bad For Music

tomelex

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This is my take on MQA, but first a little comparison. One might expect a well known chef to put all he had into a dish to serve up to his customers. He would not omit an ingredient, or use artificial vanilla flavoring instead of the real thing. All artists and craftsmen and woman want to and do give you their best.

Now, compare and contrast to the music industry. They are known for taking extreme advantage of their so called clients (the folks who make music) and act somehow that their "plate of food" is not to be given out unless it is dumbed down, either because of existing technology or whatever reason they will not present the original recipe. Consider 331/3 LP, a compromise for a needle to the groove, consider 8 track, compact cassette, compact disc (which we know is also a compromise, we really needed 18 or 19 bits not sixteen, and MP3 etc, and now MQA.

So, along comes digital, and they find folks are wanting the Hi resolution of the original master recordings. They just don't like that idea because they are greedy, they don't want you to have the best "food dish" they can make, they want to, as usual, dumb it down, cheapen it up before it reaches your taste buds.

............. Well...............

.........................along comes a couple of folks with this MQA idea, and they say hey music industry, we can make a product that will keep you from giving out your best food dish, and we will say that due to the flavorings of our product, the customer will be so happy to have the lower quality version, and we will do our best to convince the customer, and you the music industry will do your best to convince the customer, that in time the customer will never question that he is getting artificial vanilla flavoring.

Its a SCAM, for the GREEDY music industry. If you see it any other way post why!
 

Sal1950

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Its a SCAM, for the GREEDY music industry. If you see it any other way post why!
It's AKA DRM no matter who denies it.
If you get a MQA product and don't pay to decode it, you get a lesser quaity product, even lesser than RedBook!
If you pay the tax, a light goes on, and it may sound a little different. Better or worse is anyone opinion.
And you can't have the unmolested real thing to work with as you please, so much for DRC as we know it, etc.
BLAH, These are the "good ole days".
 

j_j

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I don't really want to comment much on this, but I will point out that hearing is nonlinear, so some of the objections to adding nonlinearities may be modestly off.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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That's an interesting article! But so long. I got halfway through and now it's bedtime. Any idea who the author is?
As the Kaiser said of Mozart in Amadeus, "too many notes". IAR continues in its tradition of too many words.

The author is J. Peter Moncrieff, who has been doing his IAR thing for a long, long time. Odd that he would not put his name on the first page. I used to subscribe. But, it looks like it has been silent for maybe a decade or more. Then, suddenly, there is this.
 

oivavoi

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As the Kaiser said of Mozart in Amadeus, "too many notes". IAR continues in its tradition of too many words.

The author is J. Peter Moncrieff, who has been doing his IAR thing for a long, long time. Odd that he would not put his name on the first page. I used to subscribe. But, it looks like it has been silent for maybe a decade or more. Then, suddenly, there is this.
Thanks. Haven't heard of him before. There are a lot of things in the part of MQA which intuitively make sense to a non-technical person like me. But then again there are things which seem more dubious. So the sampling theorem is wrong? If there's a reasonable argument to be made for that, I'm prette sure AES and other journals would come running to publish it...
 

Sal1950

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Thanks. Haven't heard of him before
J. Peter Moncrieff was the publisher of a Hi Fi magazine back in the 80-90s called International Audio Review. A basically objective type of reviewer more along the lines of Peter Aczel and the Audio Critic. Two of the better publications of the time, too bad there's little like them left.

Odd that he would not put his name on the first page.
I must be blind, where are you seeing his name, a page search also fails?
 

Sal1950

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I must be blind, where are you seeing his name, a page search also fails?
I see, your going buy the url, back tracking brings me to IAR
 

Scott Borduin

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Just like there is some alcohol in fermented corn mash, there just might be some real technical content in that article - but it will take some triple distillation before most of us can really get the flavor :)

Moncrieff does seem to agree with the claim that MQA has a very fast impulse response - but why he thinks that I don't know, since I've seen no other writings on MQA, pro or con, cite any empirical evidence that this is true. Other than MQA marketing stuff, of course.
 

Scott Borduin

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There is also another in the series of MQA articles by Jim Austin in Stereophile: https://www.stereophile.com/content/mqa-contextualized

Unlike his previous two articles, this one does not attempt to do technical analysis, a good thing since Austin seemed out of his depth on the technical side. Here he starts to get to the nub of the matter, which is the quest for the music industry to regain more control of its destiny, and MQA as a tool in that quest.

Austin defends Bob Stuart, saying that he is sincere if possibly not right. I've been a Meridian owner for about 25 years now, and Stuart used to be one of my heroes, a guy who understood both digital audio and pyschoacoustics deeply and articulately. But he's also developed a lengthy track record of creating an aura around branded innovations that on closer examination turn out to be highly hyped reinterpretations of known technologies. Meridian High Resolution, Meridian Room Correction, Meridian Lossless Packing, Meridian Apodizing filters, to name some off the top of my head. Whether MQA falls in that same camp I can't say definitively, but the lack of empirical or theoretical evidence put forward for its primary claim (de-blurring) is not reassuring.

And whether Stuart himself is sincere is actually pretty much beside the point. Whether he likes it or not, he's a flea on the beast of the music industry that's invested in his company and will ultimately make him rich if MQA succeeds or indifferently crush him if it doesn't. An industry of which 99% doesn't give a crap if MQA is actually sonically beneficial. An industry for whom DRM is a dream, not a truncated four letter word. Stuart is tantalizingly close to achieving his dream of creating an industry-changing technology. Now he - and mostly all of us - have to hope that is not ultimately cause for regret.
 

Sal1950

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Whether he likes it or not, he's a flea on the beast of the music industry that's invested in his company and will ultimately make him rich if MQA succeeds or indifferently crush him if it doesn't. An industry of which 99% doesn't give a crap if MQA is actually sonically beneficial. An industry for whom DRM is a dream, not a truncated four letter word.
That is the meat on the bone. the money for Stuart and the lock-down of lossless (Redbook or better) access to music files is the industry goalpost.
It may be too late but I have seen a glimmer of hope in the last year.
Over on Computer Audiophile, after very begrudgingly having anti-MQA voices all but take over MQA discussions, his site became the hot-bed of the push-back. In the middle of this, after many long and loud calls for Chris to stop being another shill for the MQA forces, he's at least moved to the middle and is actually starting to acknowledge that all is not roses in MQA land.
Then there is Stereophile, also after a few years of nothing from them but rah rah sis boom bah, we've also started to hear some voices and comments of negativity being voiced.
If we can continue to get the world of High End to realize that any talk of SQ aside, the politics and intentions of MQA are Bad For Music and it's listeners, there may yet be just enough time to halt a complete takeover by this Juggernaut.
 

Cosmik

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So the sampling theorem is wrong?
I don't think it is saying that. I think it is saying that unless you use a very wide antialiasing / reconstruction filter, you are not doing it properly.

In amongst this very long, repetitious article might be some interesting ideas:
  • The sampling theorem is very specific and perfect; you 'play' with it at your peril
  • Selective thinking in terms of the frequency domain or the time domain can delude you into thinking it is OK to be cavalier with the reconstruction filter (a while ago someone was even touting the idea of allowing the user to sketch their own filter!); in reality it is an 'holistic' thing that breaks if you change it
  • If audiophiles 'prefer' the sound of something it doesn't make it right; audiophiles may be the worst people for assessing what is right because they are mistaking spurious by-products for e.g. 'excellent ambience' which it is their habit to listen for.
 

Ken Newton

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Thanks. Haven't heard of him before. There are a lot of things in the part of MQA which intuitively make sense to a non-technical person like me. But then again there are things which seem more dubious. So the sampling theorem is wrong? If there's a reasonable argument to be made for that, I'm prette sure AES and other journals would come running to publish it...
Moncrieff is notoriously long winded. Harry Pearson of TAS fame used to deridingly refer to him as "J. Meter Pontiff". Some might say that was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. :)

The fact that Moncrieff often builds an convincing verbal argument which seems to make intuitive sense is part of the danger of reading him. Sometimes, concepts that are logical and intuitive are simply wrong, especially with regards to DSP science. Whenever I've read him I usually feel that he purposely uses an unnecessary blizzard of words. Makes me wonder whether the blizzard is there so that I can't see too clearly into his argument.
 
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Blumlein 88

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More like the article is saying the sampling theorem is misunderstood and wrongly applied. Sounds like the thinking mirrors the thinking by Chord in that the longer the filter the more accurate it is. Which has some truth to it. Of course I've only read like 6 long, repetitive pages with I don't know how many more to go. The article is saying the pursuit of sharp transient response conflated with what happens when you hit a DAC with a single max level bit has mislead engineers. I don't know so much about real engineers, but certainly audiophiles and audio designers. So these misguided people have chased the short impulse response, the impulse response with no pre-ringing etc. etc. when a long sinc function is the best most accurate function for digital to use for reconstruction of signals. J. Peter must be the John Kerry of audio explanations.
 

Wombat

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An Einstein comment that has stuck with me is: 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it enough'.

I would add 'or your explanatory skills aren't up to the task'.
 

Arnold Krueger

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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.
Pacific Microsonics sponsored HDCD for about 5 years, and MS sponsored it for about 5 years more. Sooner or later you got to take your medicine. SACD got about 9 years of grace. Sooner or later people are going to figure out that anything past the CD format is overkill from a dynamic range and bandwidth standpoint, and in fact the CD format is overkill. I have a lot more optimism about Atmos.
 

Ken Newton

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...Sooner or later people are going to figure out that anything past the CD format is overkill from a dynamic range and bandwidth standpoint, and in fact the CD format is overkill. I have a lot more optimism about Atmos.
I think that the issues with CD format have been implementation oriented, not theoretical. For quick example, the widespread use of chip-resident half-band digital filters in data converter chips, which permit a clear violation of Nyquist. In addition, low level converter linearity was not good until bit scrambling was employed, and not great until low bit sigma-delta-modulation was utilized.
 

Dialectic

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Pacific Microsonics sponsored HDCD for about 5 years, and MS sponsored it for about 5 years more. Sooner or later you got to take your medicine. SACD got about 9 years of grace. Sooner or later people are going to figure out that anything past the CD format is overkill from a dynamic range and bandwidth standpoint, and in fact the CD format is overkill. I have a lot more optimism about Atmos.
Your statement about the longevity of SACD is incorrect. In all geographic markets, there are hundreds or thousands of new classical titles on SACD every year. In Japan, the format continues to thrive in all genres.
 
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