• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

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

Status
Not open for further replies.

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
33,040
Likes
111,909
Location
Seattle Area
It is possible that by paying subscription fees you are subsidizing the replacement of CD quality of with MQA.
I assume you only mean on Tidal. There, I get the benefit of MQA unfolding.

The less well heeled with a non-MQA DAC are experience a reduction in quality.
Roon decodes MQA so is compatible with all DACs, sans the final upsample (which you could force in software regardless of MQA).
 

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,434
Likes
1,976
Location
Massachusetts
MQA has created a system to allow one content to act both standard and high-res. It is unique in that regard and getting some market adoption. It exists as a solution for a tiny portion of audio market and that is that.
I have seen it posted that CD quality 44.1/16 is being replaced with 44.1 MQA, that may be actually 44.1/13.
For those who own MQA licensed (most likely at a fee to someone) perhaps this does not matter.
But then, why insist on a minimum of CD 16 bit resolution in DACs for to achieve color coded quality ratings on ASR.
I am not trying to be confrontational, merely trying to reconcile these views.

The open source community has not cared to create an alternative to MQA. If it had, then folks could adopt that. But since it doesn't exist, then the proprietary version is gaining traction.
They did, it is called FLAC and even Apple has conceded this.
Bandwidth is not a limiting factor the HD-Audio crowd which is why we see Amazon coming on board.
An alternative needs a reason to exist.

Unfortunately, the Audio industry and publications are not supporting mastering best practices and metrics.
Digital files can be scanned with DR and anomalies such as overages and clipping.
If HDTracks supplied DR ratings and metrics for its files or rejected digital clipping as HD-Audio things might change.

I am old enough to remember CD provenance codes. A and D for recording, mastering, and delivery (ADD, DDD).
That was a good start that has gone by the wayside.

- Rich
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
31
Likes
51
Who I am: the mythical possibly intelligent layman. Other than an interest in audio, no industry or other connection to this debate. I have an advanced degree and professional career in an unrelated field. Almost all of my listening is with real media, a modestly large collection of albums and CD's. I have fooled around with streaming using a Chromecast Audio into a Topping D50S, but find the tracking and recommendation functions of the services I have used (Spotify & Amazon Music) creepy. I acknowledge a slight bias against record companies, I'm still waiting for my check from the 1980's record industry price fixing class action lawsuit. I say all of that because there are some people posting here who appear to be industry reps, not all, but some. Of course I might be lying too, this is the internet.

Where we are: the original poster published some test files on Tidal which revealed that many of the claims made for MQA (at least on Tidal) were false. Including most obviously that it was "lossless". This thread erupted with various back and forth arguments and I must say that the pro-MQA people sound exactly like the injured fanboys of expensive amps and speakers that measure badly: our _________ is designed for music, not test signals. Which makes me think that we should have an audiosciencereview t-shirt with a picture of Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) screaming "You can't measure the truth".

Even if we accept the argument that lossy codecs are "broken" by non-musical test signals, I think the burden of proof has shifted. The original poster was prevented from doing any further testing and nothing has been offered demonstrating that all "musical" signals are passed correctly by MQA. We have all sorts of people chilling with the cat and saying that it sounds just fine to them, or even that it sounds better. So it is obviously good enough, but bad amps and speakers continue to sell and the argument has been made on this forum that many people cannot distinguish between 320 MP3 files and CD's. And despite our host's contributions, I still don't get why we can't use measurements to evaluate a lossy codec. To my non-technical mind it seems that if you encode a file (musical signals or not) and then de-code it, that we really want A to equal B, no golden eared panel required. If not, what are we doing here?

Where I'm at: I think MQA is an inferior, but "good enough" format being sold to the public for reasons that have much more to do with the music industry (DRM?) than any consumer benefit. In an age of cheap storage and free, open lossless codecs it doesn't have a place in my food chain. And just to demonstrate I'm fair: I don't think the Klippel measures non-box speakers completely correctly. If so, that would be a measurement issue, not an indictment of measurement!
 

Thalis

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
318
Likes
187
How is Deezer's catalogue compared to Qobuz? Here where I live Qobuz is not available but Deezer is.
 

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,434
Likes
1,976
Location
Massachusetts
And despite our host's contributions, I still don't get why we can't use measurements to evaluate a lossy codec. To my non-technical mind it seems that if you encode a file (musical signals or not) and then de-code it, that we really want A to equal B, no golden eared panel required. If not, what are we doing here?
That is what GoldenOne has done.
MQA is a closed system and has actively attempted to thwart such comparisons.
There have been clever sleuths that have non-less provided insights that have resulting in debunking many of MQAs claims.

- Rich
 

RichB

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
1,434
Likes
1,976
Location
Massachusetts
I assume you only mean on Tidal. There, I get the benefit of MQA unfolding.

Roon decodes MQA so is compatible with all DACs, sans the final upsample (which you could force in software regardless of MQA).
I'll concede that you posses all that is necessary to mostly thwart the impact of MQA, except their leaky filter.
Good for you, however, you are funding the replacement 44.1/16 titles on Tidal for others.
Is suggesting that there are not that many and I don't run into them make it good?

You are also not streaming the most open and truest master available.
I believe a point that you have made for top-tier purchases from HDTracks.

Products that implement filters with "good attenuation" are frequently commented on and supported.
Why then is MQA supported that removes that option on many devices?

Perhaps, I am a poor communicator, but I am attempting to make the point that the reason that folks involved you in this MQA discussion is that you have stood for principles, codified in reviews and rankings, that are in direct contradiction with MQA.
If you think that statement is wrong, how so?

- Rich
 
Last edited:

snowsurfer

Active Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
128
Likes
107
Location
Spain
I downloaded those with Tidal-GUI about 10 pages ago and checked them with MQA_Identifier and the "Hi-Fi" version of both is actually a 16/44 FLAC container with MQA encoding inside. Correcting myself here, it was the Coldplay and Moby ones that I checked, here the Caprices are indeed still in non-MQA FLAC, but the Astor Piazzolla one is MQA inside a 16/44 FLAC container. These are not the "master" versions, but the "hi-fi" ones, which are both supposed to be non-MQA encoded 16/44 FLACs.

1619020626337.png


1619020646874.png
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
7
Likes
16
You can bypass MQA just by using chrome player or in ROON disabling core MQA decoder. Done:
Näyttökuva 2021-04-21 185137.jpg
 

JSmith

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
Messages
783
Likes
1,169
Location
Algol Perseus
dial back the aggression
Agree... a difference of opinion doesn't call for demanding or rude posts. There is no point people taking their frustrations about a corporate proprietary format out on individual people, especially those that have nothing to do with the format. Civil discussion can achieve a positive outcome on occasion, however negative and overly heated discussion rarely does.



JSmith
 

KeithPhantom

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
457
Likes
389
The open source community has not cared to create an alternative to MQA. If it had, then folks could adopt that. But since it doesn't exist, then the proprietary version is gaining traction.
Maybe not equal, but similar. What about AAC SLS, WavPack Hybrid? Doing it with FLAC doesn’t seem to be hard. Got to ask the developers for permission (don’t know the licensing limitations).
 

Racheski

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
1,112
Likes
1,607
Location
Chicago
You really think you can argue such a case in front of a lay judge and jury? If we had just facilities, we should go after people who sell $30,000 cables...
Actually yes, because lossless is not a subjective concept, and when one gets down to the very basic idea, it’s not that complicated. I don’t understand what that has to do with cable companies making subjective claims.
 

KeithPhantom

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
457
Likes
389
What percentage of time this is happening to you? For me, MQA pops up one in 100 things I search for and play on Tidal. Out of those, I have yet to notice them being only 16/44.1.

And in the cases that has happened to you, have you compared them to lossless and see what perceptual impact it has?
Since you are defending and proposing positive claims to the idea that MQA is lossless, at least perceptually, could you provide evidence to back this claim up? I would like to become educated on your position.
 

Grumple

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
79
Likes
129
Location
Shropshire, UK
No. :) The forum exists and is allowing you all to have this conversation. So that is not an issue. The argument is to rope me in as a crusader and when you go there, then you need to answer my challenges.

To the extent the argument is that MQA is going to take over the world and will get rich from it, you have to explain why you are perfectly OK with companies who have already done that times 1000. If you are an Apple customer as I noted, you have already lost any argument as to why what MQA is doing is a bad thing. Clearly far more bad things are Ok with you so opposition to MQA must have other reasons.

And no, the intent is not to delude people. For good or bad, some segment of audiophile market has decided high-res audio has value. MQA has created a system to allow one content to act both standard and high-res. It is unique in that regard and getting some market adoption. It exists as a solution for a tiny portion of audio market and that is that.

The open source community has not cared to create an alternative to MQA. If it had, then folks could adopt that. But since it doesn't exist, then the proprietary version is gaining traction.
I am not an Apple customer and if I have any choice in the matter never will be.

I cannot disagree with anything you've put forward here. What I do dislike is the marketing which MQA use to sell their product, it may well be excellent but, it is marketed in a highly problematic fashion. The name for example Master Quality Authenticated and all the guff about being approved by the artists. That is clearly nonsense. It seems to me, at least, that this is intended to give the impression that MQA material, as heard by the end user, is the same signal that came into the ears of the producer straight from his or her mixing desk. Indeed, that was how it first came to my attention, through that kind of marketing, and it was my suspicion about these claims that ultimately led me to this forum!

If MQA were to sell their wares in the manner you have presented, i.e. solving an issue regarding bandwidth or enabling standard level content and hi-res from the same file then brilliant. But they do not and they have named their product in a deliberately misleading manner. That is not cool.
 

JEntwistle

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
86
Likes
107
What do you mean "wait what?" You asked me about "Quality" in their name and I said that is a subjective thing with respect to lossy encoding. Lossy encoders have "state" which electronics does not do. What comes in a sample of audio depends on what comes before it. As such, you can't subject them to pathological test signals and expect them to work as well as any other. Audio gear does not have this so we we can test them with signals. A power cable doesn't know the difference between sine wave, noise or music. A lossy compressor hugely cares.
For my own edification, in layman's terms, does the bolded description of a lossy encoder mean that it is recording change from previous sample, not absolute value of the current sample?

So as a simple conceptual example:

10, 8, 4, 3, 6, 7 would be encoded as: 10, -2, -4, -1, +3, +1?
 

Thomas savage

Major Contributor
The Watchman
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
10,085
Likes
15,118
Location
uk, taunton
And btw, thank you to @amirm for taking the time to respond to everybody. Very much appreciated.
Poor amirm walks a tightrope when it comes to MQA , I think he must owe Bob some money or something ha ha
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom