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MQA decoding in DACs

Katji

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Well, consider the whole story. It adds up to "days are numbered" - which is clear enough anyway.

However,...

Bottom line is we ll have to deal with it in the future i think at this point, wether we like it or not. Im not even sure i would change hardware for it, just wondering what is really going on in the process of these MQA compared to regular hires.

We will not have to deal with it / accept it in the future...that is also clear enough.

Re what is going on in the process, you can find at least 2 major threads on it, at least one that is >50 or >100 posts. If you want to focus specifically on the technical, this search will narrow it down:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?search/25421072/&q=mqa&c[users]=mansr&o=relevance

e.g. :

How does MQA identify itself?

1624794088674.png


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...And related posts/replies by Topping engineer:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...1144/&q=mqa&c[users]=JohnYang1997&o=relevance

1624794721797.png


That could keep you busy for a day or so.
 

AndrewC

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Hello you guys (no girls on audio forums I’m afraid) from Holland!
New on this forum and ordered a d90se DAC because of reading this forum.
now listening to radio paradise in flac and MQA, and MQA does sound a little better with my bluesound node 130.
Sounds to me like more resolution and more natural. smoother maybe.

will receive mij new topping dac in a few weeks, so curious if the difference will remain.
 

Hayabusa

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What is it about anything “MQA” that causes people to lose grip of civility and respect for others? It’s like a trigger word used by charlatan Hypnotists! o_O

Please behave or this thread will be tossed in the MQA thread rubbish bin.

Can you be more clear on what you are reacting on as "losing grip of civility and respect" ?
Maybe the post just before that?
Anyhow, if you would quote the actual message or part of the message you are responding to, it would help to understand your reaction.
 
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A lot of bad feelings about MQA………is this justified in practice?

i don’t have tidal, but I know people with high end audio who are enthusiastic about MQA….

My listening test with Bluesound Node between radio PARADISE FLAC VS MQA is clear:
MQA wins in this case

(node-purifi power amp-dynaudio heritage special)
 

Vincent Kars

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How MQA works.
They don’t support sample rates > 96 kHz
So a 192 kHz is downsampled to 96 kHz removing all the audio content above 48 kHz.
Obvious, in this case MQA is not lossless.
The 96 kHz is downsampled to 24 bits / 48 kHz.
Of course this removes the all audio above 24 kHz but here the big trick , the audio origami kicks in.
The 24-48 range is compressed and stored in the bits 18-24.
So the frequency range is preserved but of course at the expense of the dynamic range.
A true Hires recording contains musical information often up into bit 20 so now with 17 bits left, you are just 1 bit better than CD quality.
Obvious MQA is not able to preserve the full dynamic range hence lossy all the time.
On playback, software is allowed to unfold the 24/48 to 24/96 but because of the loss, effectively 17/96.
Somewhere in the bits 1-16 there is a watermark (another reason why MQA is not lossless but to the best of my knowledge nobody has heard this watermark yet).
If a MQA enabled DAC detect this, is will apply minimum phase filters (this is not specific to MQA, often DACs allow you to choose different filters).
Likewise it might start oversampling so on the display you see 24/192 while you are listening to oversampled 17/96.


Sounds to me like more resolution and more natural. smoother maybe.
Obvious, the resolution is lower compared with true hires.

Wouldn't be surprised if you have done a sighted test, you have seen what is playing.
This tells a lot about cognitions of the listener but unfortunately very little about the audio format.
 
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thanks for the technical reply!

I also hear better separation of instruments. And a little more depth in soundstage.

is the bitrate not higher in radio paradise MQA vs FLAC?

or is it absolutely so that RP flac streams are technically better, so it is just a personal matter of taste?

I don’t mind of course, because my ear is all that matters in the end.

but it would be for the first time that technically better means worse result to my ears. Almost regret having ordered topping d90se……
 

Katji

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A lot of bad feelings about MQA………is this justified in practice?

i don’t have tidal, but I know people with high end audio who are enthusiastic about MQA….

My listening test with Bluesound Node between radio PARADISE FLAC VS MQA is clear:
MQA wins in this case
Please refer to the long extensive threads on MQA, like mentioned a couple posts back;
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/mqa-decoding-in-dacs.24523/post-828744
This thread is supposed to be about how MQA decoding is implemented in DAC. Not people's opinions on what they think they heard or perceived, or what MQA claims and so on.
 

Katji

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Maybe, but you were referring to feelings - in other words, opinions. That has been hashed over, in hundreds of pages, with closed threads because of endless heated arguments.

PS: Please look at those threads. For as long as you like. They are not all closed threads so, if you still have questions about the claims and the politics and so on,...well, there you are.
 
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Right, because I read so much about the negatives of MQA on this forum, I tried it myself, with radio paradise as my source.
I was therefore surprised with the outcome in my hifi chain, to my ears (Feelings…..).
I bought the topping d90se because of the excellent measured qualities for the price (thanks for that!) but also backed up by the perceived sound quality by reviewers.
MQA might not be lossless but the strange thing is that it sounds better compared to flac lossless on radio Paradise. theoretical science should in the end always be backed up by practice.

For me the hobby is all about science and measurements COMBINED with audiophile results. That’s what I like about this forum. To help me detect snake oil and commercial lies, but also value scientific measurements for what they are really worth.
I have build and heard lots of speakers, and still fascinated by the difference in sound that different cone materials produce. Now interested in Chinese DAC‘s and class D technologie. It makes high end quality affordable for a lot of people.

will post my subjective Judgement of the topping d 90se when I tried it.
 

renofury

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I am a Graphic Design, and by no means technical savy, but this is how I understand MQA and why decided to get an MQA decoder.
CD quality is lossless it has 44.1k x 16bit information,
MQA quality is lossey but it has 96k x 24bit information (note: the numbers are just from the current track I am listening to, and will vary depending on the individual track)

So even if part of the information is degraded due being lossy, it might still contain more sonic information than a loseless CD track. Therefore MQA saying is better than lossless CD quality might be true.

About Providing a noticeable difference.
Just a few minutes ago I forgot to turn MQA on tidal (which requires exclusive access to decoder) and noticed my MQA light was not on. So I gave exclusive access to tidal and enabled MQA decoding, and the sound was noticeably richer. Infact it is what got me to write something about it in the first place.

MY setup:
BeyerDyanmics T5 3rd Gen

Sony WH-1000XM4
Topping EX5
 

avoidwork

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Lossless track is 100%, the "folding" repositiones data in an inaudible frequency range which causes the noise floor to rise and this is heard by everyone regardless of the hardware. Decoding that embedded data is the first fold, you don't get the noise floor returning to lossless. The second one is applying the filter which is effectively a nondeterministic delta trying to get back to 100% but never able to get there because that noise floor.
 
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My 2 cents….some blind test show little ability to discern between Mqa and hi res….

choose what service works for you….but……………
i own 1000 cds and never use them……..
i love my remote
and seeing the music on the big screen tv
and my playlist
and getting new albums automatically
and exploring
and meta data on songs
and suggested tracks
and lyrics
and paying $10 a month for being a student

to tell you the truth I don’t know how my car works but I love that also….
maybe growing up with my first audio experience being a 2 transistor am radio I got for selling Christmas cards makes me say we come a long way baby.

happy Friday everyone…enjoy the music
 

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linuxfan

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What about the difference in decoding levels of MQA?
...
some level of it can be performed in software and hardware?
I gave a basic explanation of MQA on the audiokarma forum which I think will answer your question -
https://www.audiokarma.org/forums/i...-step-in-class-d.897723/page-18#post-15010283

Software decoders are able to handle most of the MQA format. A final step of upsampling is left to the DAC if it supports MQA.
That's been the traditional path for MQA support to this point in time, but the latest generation of DAC chips now include extended MQA support, which can also perform the first step of MQA decoding. Example; ESS ES9068AS DAC chip.
 

solderdude

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Wouldn't be surprised if you have done a sighted test, you have seen what is playing.
This tells a lot about cognitions of the listener but unfortunately very little about the audio format.

There is another option as well. A different master could be used for the MQA version.
The blue light on the DAC is indeed a powerful optical suggestion for the brain to hear more (because you listen more attentively ?)

In the end... we don't need 24/192 and maybe 18/48 is more than enough already so even when 24/192 is downgraded to 17/96 it is still better than CD and if the master is of better quality and the blue light trick works as well I don't mind people enjoying MQA over other formats.
I don't have to (nor do) go along with the MQA thing though. They will need to get their money from someone else's wallet. Many are willing to pay for 'the promise' of better SQ and are eager to believe.
 

linuxfan

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the latest generation of DAC chips now include extended MQA support, which can also perform the first step of MQA decoding.
Sorry, correction; the latest DAC's can, indeed, perform the first "core" step of MQA decoding, but this is via a microcontroller prior to the DAC chip.
The second "renderer" stage of MQA decoding can also be done via microcontroller (which has been the norm to this date) or now done internally on some DAC chips such as the ES9068A.
 
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