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MQA Deep Dive - I published music on tidal to test MQA

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tmtomh

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So, since MQA is lossy, and Tidal claims Hi-Fi/MQA tracks are lossless, and folks paid for the "Hi-Fi" subscription expecting lossless streaming, then Tidal is subject to a class action lawsuit. @GoldenOne, any thoughts on contacting a lawyer to see if there is enough evidence for a class-action lawsuit?
Yes - it's difficult to construe MQA's claim to be lossless as anything other than a straight-up lie. I have a difficult time seeing how it's not fraud.
 

KeithPhantom

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Is Amazon’s lossless service good enough? I don’t want to deal with the mess that is Tidal right now and Qobuz is missing many albums of music I like. I don’t really want to go back to lossy music.

Edit: is there a sure way to get unadultered FLAC files from Tidal without the MQA thing involved?
 

Soniclife

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Don' forget watermarking / DRM like scheme for the record labels.... That is what MQA is about...the sound quality thing is just a Trojan Horse for consumers.
Not quite sure what you are saying here but my investigation into watermarking on tidal showed that MQA tracks didn't have it, where non MQA did. That was a few years ago, things could have changed.
 

Grooved

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I know, but at least it can tide me over until Spotify Hi-Fi launches in Canada. That is, assuming that it will have a Wasapi or, gasp, full ASIO mode.
Since Spotify app doesn't even have exclusive mode at this moment, it would be a huge step to add anything, especially ASIO that only Qobuz support among the "official app" (third party player like Roon, UAPP... offer it). I'm afraid Spotify want to just add Lossless CD quality FLAC but keep it as simple as possible for their users and not add any features. Hope it will be the case.

So, since MQA is lossy, and Tidal claims Hi-Fi/MQA tracks are lossless, and folks paid for the "Hi-Fi" subscription expecting lossless streaming, then Tidal is subject to a class action lawsuit. @GoldenOne, any thoughts on contacting a lawyer to see if there is enough evidence for a class-action lawsuit?
Would need to be sure of their main lie, which IMHO is stating that it's the same than what the official record, and appears to not be the same.
There's also the origami thing stating that data from 24 to 48, and from 48 to 96 are folded lossless.

...
For instance, we know ("know") that MQA dithers the 16 bits that remain after extracting the 8 LSBs containing the "origami" data. Obviously, if you started with an (undithered) 24 bit file and end up with a (dithered) 16 bit file, you've raised the noise floor significantly. What they seem to have done (based on the -60 dB 1kHz sine wave test in the 24/44.1 file) is some aggressive noise-shaping to keep the noise floor below -125 dB everywhere below 10kHz.
But the same test in the 24/88.2 file is ... completely inexplicable. WTF could they be doing to produce that result?
It's all like that. One graph, you sorta nod your head and say, "Yup, that makes sense." and then the next graph just blows you away ...
What do you think about their process to create to create 24 and 16 bits MQA files?
I'm not sure that, when a 24/96 master is available, that they create both 24bit MQA and 16bit MQA file from this one. I was thinking that they use the 24/96 master done by the mastering studio) to create the 24bit MQA file, and then use the 16bit original version (done by the mastering studio also) to create the 16bit MQA file, and not creating it from their 24 MQA file. But I'm not sure about that
 

dmac6419

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How is it less than a "white paper" that an audio company posts on their website about their new revolutionary game changing product? Here is what Wikipedia thinks is a white paper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_paper
It not,no matter how much you want it to be. It's just his opinions and you're free to believe them,just like people believe in conspiracy theories, not saying this is a conspiracy, just saying. Now I am going to listen to some music and relax.
 
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Is Amazon’s lossless service good enough? I don’t want to deal with the mess that is Tidal right now and Qobuz is missing many albums of music I like. I don’t really want to go back to lossy music.
Yes, checked 3 random Albums (Redbook & HiRes), compared these (with Deltawave) on Qobuz & Amazon HD and the result is BITPERFECT.
So, YES.

Edit:
1: Daft_Punk-Random_Access_Memories_Hi-Res_Version / 88.2 khz / 24 Bit BITPERFECT / identical on Qobuz/AmazonHD
2: Dead_Can_Dance-In_Concert / 44.1 khz / 24 Bit BITPERFECT / identical on Qobuz/AmazonHD
3: Dead_Can_Dance-Spiritchaser_Remastered / 44.1 khz / 16 Bit BITPERFECT / identical on Qobuz/AmazonHD

Buyable Downloads also identical.
 
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Sorry to say: this test is deeply flawed. You are trying to test a formula 1 race car in an off-road track.

MQA folding algorithm could be called “lossy” if you want, in the sense it statistically erases high frecuency information by means of using less bitrates there to register information (not noise, not void over music signal), in order to gain room for the folding process, as all musical instruments have their harmonics at decreasing amplitude at those higher frecuencies (i agree, nevertheless, that this could be problematic with very specific artificial signals generated by synthetizers, that’s why the coding algorithm offers the option of electronic music, that you further used it to bypass the problems you knew it would happen).

if you have ever made an effort to really understand what MQA does, you perfectly know that already. Then, if you feed a test full of white noise and square waves, which means you are purposely feeding the encoder with high frecuency dynamics you know it will not be able to handle properly, then you are looking in advance for the kind of results you want. You are analyzing the suspension of the f1 car in a bumpy road...testing MQA as a generic compression algorithm, which is not (it is a packaging algorithm), instead of the MUSIC oriented algorithm it is.

One of your graphs is specially annoying: the square Wave reconstruction: it is just impossible that you don’t know that a square wave has high amplitude content in high harmonics, in energy levels that no musical instrument has. You should know in advance that MQA expects lower amplitudes in those upper harmonics. Not only that: you were informed by the conversion proccess (as noted by MQA answer, conveniently hidden in a link instead of published in full), that a problem was happening, and yet you keep insisting on it.The ripples of the results is exactly what should be expected if you understand what MQA is trying to do, and i suspect you do understand.

if you use a wave simulator starting with a perfect square wave, and then begin lowering amplitude of higher harmonics you may reach exactly to the same graph you published. The sad thing is that you knew in advance that would happen if you really know how MQA works. And also know that with 99.99% of MUSIC content that would not be a problem.

This is a taylor-made test designed to mislead your readers.
 
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Tks

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Yes - it's difficult to construe MQA's claim to be lossless as anything other than a straight-up lie. I have a difficult time seeing how it's not fraud.
Hey tmtomh, I was hoping you would see this new development seeing as how I recall in the recent past you had to keep explaining to a few people about how ridiculous MQA claims were at face value even conceptually without even having to do the stuff GoldenEars did.

What do you think about his expose'? Saves you from ever having to suffer frustrations explaining the basics about the blue light being on and why it's proves nothing.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

@amirm Where you at bossman? I know in the past (I'm talking like years ago), I've seen your alias pop up on other places on the web challenging Bob to come out and demonstrate his claims after your long explanations on how MQA is basically making claims that cannot be true. Though just very recently, I recall there being an incident where you were a bit triggered or something when a few people were questioning your position on DRM-like natures and the work you did I MS back then to try and push for an authoritative position for an audio format that Microsoft would be in control of. And it somewhat sounded like you were for some reason coming to MQA's defense as a product that shouldn't be as detested as it is (which I recall asking about, but it seemed the discussion never properly concluded).

Now that this whole thing is somewhat settling. Whats' your position on MQA currently? You still like chasing MQA versions of music over lossless for the sake of finding different masters potentially? Also do you still hold to the notion of MQA being something we should support being an option on the market in it's current state? Really interested in hearing any conclusions you have on the matter since I find it odd you haven't spoken about this whole ordeal.
 

dmac6419

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Hey tmtomh, I was hoping you would see this new development seeing as how I recall in the recent past you had to keep explaining to a few people about how ridiculous MQA claims were at face value even conceptually without even having to do the stuff GoldenEars did.

What do you think about his expose'? Saves you from ever having to suffer frustrations explaining the basics about the blue light being on and why it's proves nothing.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

@amirm Where you at bossman? I know in the past (I'm talking like years ago), I've seen your alias pop up on other places on the web challenging Bob to come out and demonstrate his claims after your long explanations on how MQA is basically making claims that cannot be true. Though just very recently, I recall there being an incident where you were a bit triggered or something when a few people were questioning your position on DRM-like natures and the work you did I MS back then to try and push for an authoritative position for an audio format that Microsoft would be in control of. And it somewhat sounded like you were for some reason coming to MQA's defense as a product that shouldn't be as detested as it is (which I recall asking about, but it seemed the discussion never properly concluded).

Now that this whole thing is somewhat settling. Whats' your position on MQA currently? You still like chasing MQA versions of music over lossless for the sake of finding different masters potentially? Also do you still hold to the notion of MQA being something we should support being an option on the market in it's current state? Really interested in hearing any conclusions you have on the matter since I find it odd you haven't spoken about this whole ordeal.
Amirm ain't touching this,GoldenOne owns this.
 

30 Ounce

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So glad I dumped Tidal when they started adding all those 16/44.1 MQA BS! I was impressed 2 years ago but now that I have hundreds of high res albums on my music server and can compare MQA vs hi res I am usually more impressed with hi res. Tidal’s 16/44.1 MQA almost always sounds worse. Qobuz has been awesome sound wise.
 

Spocko

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I don't believe MQA is manna from heaven, or the answer to audiophile dreams. More likely it's a way for the record industry to have tighter controls over the release of hi res music, while still holding on to the originals. Fine.

But the attempts at "proof" showing it to be inferior are poorly constructed and would be torn apart in any other area, if it wasn't for the fact that everyone loves to hate MQA.

In reverse order



Did any new format have to prove how it worked to the general public, maybe I missed that. People still pay a premium for DSD files, which are proven (its a fact) to be upsampled from the DXD (PCM) masters and we don't read about how its a scam every few weeks. I couldn't say what the motivation for restricting digital out is, but one could easily record the analogue out with an ADC and compare to a known like for like source such as 2L. Plenty of folk with such devices around, yet I've not seen this done?



This is a misdirection at best, someone at Warner ok'd having Neil's music converted to MQA without his knowledge. The files were 44.1khz MQA (which I agree seems rather pointless, as why bother. I suspect its due to blanket licence agreements between Warner/Tidal). There's plain old MQA and there is MQA Studio masters, these were plain old MQA. I agree Tidal's choice, to use the label 'Master' can be misleading, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they mean "the best copy they have" rather then the actual "recording master"



I agree that paying license fees is a pain, but what are these fee's really? $99 DAC's have MQA, so it can't really be that much. MP3 incurred a license cost until a few years ago. Licensing fee's are a way for innovators to make a business. Sure it could be open source, though it would be much harder for them to survive as a business and like MP3 it may well become that way eventually.



This is conjecture. "normal" and MQA files exist, go to 2L's catalogue for freely available samples. One DAC had its MQA filter on all the time, all (or all I've seen) don't do this anymore. This is no different from you leaving your DAC in the same filter mode for all tracks. MQA attempts (if they do it right, I couldn't say) to pick the best filter for a track, and one assumes in the Mytek implementation it defaults to one if it doesn't have that information. Whether linear phase or minimum phase is really better is a whole different discussion.

As to the original "analysis" comparing the bits between a plain FLAC / MQA file makes no sense. One should really compare the analogue output, but even then this isn't conclusive. Do we care what noise is left over outside of the audible band? AFAIK the USP of MQA is not providing audible information above 20khz, but to provide the timing information of higher res content. Its meaningless to diff the bits between a file that is downsamples to 44.1 and an MQA file (folded or unfolded), of course they are going to have different bits, the bit that is important is do they actually sound different? Are there any proper controlled tests that can confirm anyone can tell them apart?

I would much prefer MQA was an open source solution, that there's wasn't a premium to use it. 99% of the software I use is open source, but there is room for the 1%, and maybe MQA fits in there.
So the real issue is calling MQA "lossless". If MQA just eliminated that false and misleading hype, there would be nothing to attack. However, I do believe the OP's point still stands - MQA is not lossless, therefore, it cannot be described as lossless, and he's provided evidence showing the addition of distortion and audible artifacts absent from the original. MQA should create a publicly available 15 second end to end production process online for all naysayers to use for testing and validation purposes - this is an excellent way to improve their own algorithm by letting the public test and identify weaknesses in the compression chain. Hell, just charge $2.00 for people to access and use this and they'd make money on it.
 

Spocko

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Sorry to say: this test is deeply flawed. You are trying to test a formula 1 race car in an off-road track.

MQA folding algorithm could be called “lossy” if you want, in the sense it statistically erases high frecuency information by means of using less bitrates there to register information (not noise, not void over music signal), in order to gain room for the folding process, as all musical instruments have their harmonics at decreasing amplitude at those higher frecuencies (i agree, nevertheless, that this could be problematic with very specific artificial signals generated by synthetizers, that’s why the coding algorithm offers the option of electronic music, that you further used it to bypass the problems you knew it would happen).

if you have ever made an effort to really understand what MQA does, you perfectly know that already. Then, if you feed a test full of white noise and square waves, which means you are purposely feeding the encoder with high frecuency dynamics you know it will not be able to handle properly, then you are looking in advance for the kind of results you want. You are analyzing the suspension of the f1 car in a bumpy road...testing MQA as a generic compression algorithm, which is not (it is a packaging algorithm), instead of the MUSIC oriented algorithm it is.

One of your graphs is specially annoying: the square Wave reconstruction: it is just impossible that you don’t know that a square wave has high amplitude content in high harmonics, in energy levels that no musical instrument has. You should know in advance that MQA expects lower amplitudes in those upper harmonics. Not only that: you were informed by the conversion proccess (as noted by MQA answer, conveniently hidden in a link instead of published in full), that a problem was happening, and yet you keep insisting on it.The ripples of the results is exactly what should be expected if you understand what MQA is trying to do, and i suspect you do understand.

if you use a wave simulator starting with a perfect square wave, and then begin lowering amplitude of higher harmonics you may reach exactly to the same graph you published. The sad thing is that you knew in advance that would happen if you really know how MQA works. And also know that with 99.99% of MUSIC content that would not be a problem.

This is a taylor-made test designed to mislead your readers.
So is your response a constructive criticism of the OP's testing protocol with which he can incorporate your suggestions for further investigation, or is it an absolute defense of MQA regardless of what testing measures the OP comes up with? If the latter, then this means there is no testing methodology that would satisfy you as you have already concluded that MQA's approach is unassailable.
 

dmac6419

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So glad I dumped Tidal when they started adding all those 16/44.1 MQA BS! I was impressed 2 years ago but now that I have hundreds of high res albums on my music server and can compare MQA vs hi res I am usually more impressed with hi res. Tidal’s 16/44.1 MQA almost always sounds worse. Qobuz has been awesome sound wise.
You better check those hires albums you downloaded to see if they're really hires
 
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Sorry to say: this test is deeply flawed. You are trying to test a formula 1 race car in an off-road track.

MQA folding algorithm could be called “lossy” if you want, in the sense it statistically erases high frecuency information by means of using less bitrates there to register information (not noise, not void over music signal), in order to gain room for the folding process, as all musical instruments have their harmonics at decreasing amplitude at those higher frecuencies (i agree, nevertheless, that this could be problematic with very specific artificial signals generated by synthetizers, that’s why the coding algorithm offers the option of electronic music, that you further used it to bypass the problems you knew it would happen).

if you have ever made an effort to really understand what MQA does, you perfectly know that already. Then, if you feed a test full of white noise and square waves, which means you are purposely feeding the encoder with high frecuency dynamics you know it will not be able to handle properly, then you are looking in advance for the kind of results you want. You are analyzing the suspension of the f1 car in a bumpy road...testing MQA as a generic compression algorithm, which is not (it is a packaging algorithm), instead of the MUSIC oriented algorithm it is.

One of your graphs is specially annoying: the square Wave reconstruction: it is just impossible that you don’t know that a square wave has high amplitude content in high harmonics, in energy levels that no musical instrument has. You should know in advance that MQA expects lower amplitudes in those upper harmonics. Not only that: you were informed by the conversion proccess (as noted by MQA answer, conveniently hidden in a link instead of published in full), that a problem was happening, and yet you keep insisting on it.The ripples of the results is exactly what should be expected if you understand what MQA is trying to do, and i suspect you do understand.

if you use a wave simulator starting with a perfect square wave, and then begin lowering amplitude of higher harmonics you may reach exactly to the same graph you published. The sad thing is that you knew in advance that would happen if you really know how MQA works. And also know that with 99.99% of MUSIC content that would not be a problem.

This is a taylor-made test designed to mislead your readers.
So... why should anyone use this uber-secret "hi-res" format with arbitrary limitations in high frequency recording capabilities in the first place? All lossless encoders "package" these signals without any information loss (although the file size may vary depending on the signal).

Is there any publication that states the adequate level of high frequency signals for MQA?

What about that leaky filter that mirrors the low frequency signal to high frequencies?

What exactly does that "authentication light" tell you? It seems like it doesn't have anti-tamper capabilities.

What exactly is this "time smearing" or "digital blur"?

Why should consumers endure all these obfuscations and dubious claims? OP wouldn't have happened if MQA Inc. was open enough to explain all these claims in a clear fashion.
 
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So is your response a constructive criticism of the OP's testing protocol with which he can incorporate your suggestions for further investigation, or is it an absolute defense of MQA regardless of what testing measures the OP comes up with? If the latter, then this means there is no testing methodology that would satisfy you as you have already concluded that MQA's approach is unassailable.
No, no relation with MQA, and not sure if it is even close to the best available format (although I do believe it sounds way better than redbook, specially when fully rendered by hardware). I also think it is a huge improvement for the people, like me, that listen mostly by streaming.

But I find a bit annoying those sanctioning judgments based on misconception of people that have not even made an effort to understand what MQA really does. 9 of 10 people comment about this as if it were just another compression method, and imho, this is exactly what MQA is not, and therefore, it can’t be tested as such.

The second issue is the bias of Goldenone, evident in almost every phrase. As he is obviously very competent, I just can’t understand the kind of mismatch of the procedures he used with the MQA technicalities, that are inherently incompatible with what he is allegedly trying to measure. And so, I think they were as biased as his opinion.
 
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So... why should anyone use this uber-secret "hi-res" format with arbitrary limitations in high frequency recording capabilities in the first place? All lossless encoders "package" these signals without any information loss (although the file size may vary depending on the signal).

Is there any publication that states the adequate level of high frequency signals for MQA?

What about that leaky filter that mirrors the low frequency signal to high frequencies?

What exactly does that "authentication light" tell you? It seems like it doesn't have anti-tamper capabilities.

What exactly is this "time smearing" or "digital blur"?

Why should consumers endure all these obfuscations and dubious claims? OP wouldn't have happened if MQA Inc. was open enough to explain all these claims in a clear fashion.
1-Anyone trying to use it to listen music instead of test tones or noise. The information discarded by MQA at high frecuencies is above music and below the noise threshold.

2- any fourier analysis of any musical content, or even of every instrument in particular. Each higher harmonic in almost every musical instrument is of a progressive lower amplitude. When you reach, say, 5khz and above, there is a tiny fraction of the energy of the fundamentals, that end no higher than 3 or 4 khz (And only in the case of high pitch instruments, like the higher notes of a violin, for example)

3- leaky filter: don’t know what you mean. Perhaps an artifact due to the inappropriate test method?

4- blue light certifies that MQA has checked the file was done from original masters; green light that it may not be the case.

5- time smearing or blur is caused by three issues: a) the phase shift of harmonics produced mainly (but not only) by analog filters at capture (a neccesity according Nyquist-Shannon; a flaw that MQA pushes to supra-aural region by capturing at higher samplings); b) aliasing close to the Nyquist frecuency, corrected by MQA by adaptative filters; c) ringing on impulse response, that MQA dramatically corrects using convolutional filters.

6- Because it sounds very good (perhaps not as good as DSD but close, and far better than CD's); because it is compact enough to be streamed; because the content is potentially certified to come from original sources; and because all of this costs to end user close to nothing, the surplus of Tidal for master content is irrelevant compared to the benefits.
 
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