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

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KeithPhantom

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£490k turnover
£4.5 million in administrative expenses. £2.07 million of which were wages.


Bob Stuart took home nearly half a million

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/09123512/filing-history

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Cost of sales: almost nothing. They really don’t have to since they sell a software product.
SG&A: if at least it was mostly R&D....maybe all of it is salaries and “marketing expenses”. Do they better explain this section I’m their financials?
 

bidn

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We can do further analysis, but here are the difference from the same song, one with very low levels... and his FLAC version is a real 16bit FLAC
It's "Bayou" by Thomas Strønen
FLAC 16-44.1 Qobuz
View attachment 125305


FLAC 16-44.1 Tidal (real FLAC for this one, not a 16bit MQA)
View attachment 125306


FLAC 24-48 folded Tidal
View attachment 125307


FLAC 24-96 Qobuz
View attachment 125308


MQA 24-48 Tidal Unfolded via Roon to 24-96
View attachment 125309



Yes, just look at the one I tested above ;-)
It's a different situation for 2L, but there's a small problem acutally : their MQA tracks are on Qobuz as MQA while nothing says it on the Qobuz interface.


I find this issue actually much more important and worrisome than the one with Tidal.
That 2L has converted their tracks to MQA was also already reported several days ago (maybe also by you, or someone else),
as well that the tracks from 2L catalogue on Qobuz are since then MQA.
Qobuz probably has no choice, it has to take over the catalog a right-owning company dictates.
2L is not alone, it has been said several times that Warner will converts its masters to MQA. And many other recording companies could follow.


Why is this is very important?
Because it means that the MQA quagmire is not limited to Tidal, but is starting to infect other streaming companies through the record companies owning the rights to the original tracks and forcing even those streaming companies which chose against MQA to take their MQA files: there is no escaping the "pandemic" on the streaming front... And MQA CDs already exist, more and more DACs use MQA DRMs... the MQA Cov-19 is spreading everywhere!
This is of utter concern for everyone loving high quality music,
and therefore please (I don't mean you BTW but some other posters) don't keep sending concerned people off with the lame argument that they are not Tidal subscribers.



Why is this very worrisome?
I see 2 reasons:


1. Not only are these MQA file replacement being forced upon by recording companies like 2L, but they are are arriving in secret, in the disguise of clean, authentic and lossless files.
This is to be expected from streaming companies who chose against MQA, like Qobuz (and I assume amazon HD, etc.) because they as such do not deliver MQA, have not set up their service for providing any option for MQA delivery, the fault lies with the record companies.


Then there is the case of a company like Tidal deliberately streaming MQA, and where files presented as not-MQA are actually MQA, as shown by GoldenOne, but here this may be subreptive.... Just like the lies re. losslessness, etc...

2. Most worrisome is that with such an evolution (small companies like 2L --> bigger companies like Warner), the available original, unaltered files are replaced by files where the audio has been messed up by MQA obscure, lossy and DRM-encrypting algorithm (not speaking of MQA's Kafkaesque origami and the numerous unfoldings its requires) Presently this is very limited, but the prospects are very ominous. I would not underestimate the temptation of using DRMs for the big record companies.

I am very concerned.
For me the arrival of MQA is by far the worst evolution in the audio world because it alters the master records and the files which used to comply with the CD Redbook quality, and it has the ambition and potential to do this on a huge scale. I think it should be resisted and fought back by all legal means possible. The least one can do is avoiding buying any MQA hardware, as GoldenOne very well summoned all audio loving people to do, in his video.
(and boycott streaming companies purposefully going for MQA. At least there is a good evolution here: I browsed the comments below GoldenOne's MQA debunking video on youtube, a good portion of the people were saying they had cancelled their Tidal subscription or were going to or were considering doing it.)
 
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voodooless

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So basically MQA is a rounding error in the marketplace. It will not be the differentiator that drives Tidal to overcome Spotify.
It’s all about your point of view. If you look at the whole landscape, sure your right. But us audiofools are also a rounding error. And if you look within that error, I bet you the ratios will be quite a bit different.
 

jensgk

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mansr

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Any specifications on what those are?
"Compensation" paid to key people in the hifi press, incentive money for Tidal, etc. They're spending (and losing) now to establish a foothold. Their plan is to become (perceived as) indispensable, then jack up the rates. The concept is not new.
 

Rottmannash

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This is great news! Thank you for confirming this as a lot of people were unsure whether Amazon Music HD would pass 16 bit 44kHz PCM source as bit perfect to your DAC if your Windows mixer settings matched that output.

Since their app appears to be able to pass a bit perfect signal, now it is just a matter of them patching it so it is independent of Windows system settings.
Amazon HD does the same thing on my phone via UAPP, my Node 2i with or without outboard DAC, from my PC via Audirvana via outboard DAC, or from my Hiby R5- every device shows all files at the highest sample rate the DAC can process.
 

Tks

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Nope no contact from them (though if anyone from mqa is reading this I would still be keen to speak with you to sort out some tests that would be agreeable to both.)
One reccuring theme I've heard from various manufacturers is that mqa is becoming quite... Pushy about how not just mqa, but non-mqa content is handled.

This is a direct quote from a manufacturer that spoke to me:

"Now, the MQA file, un-unfolded, is usually a 44.1kHz or 48kHz file, while unfolded it is played at the highest sample rate supported by the player that is a multiple of these rates (so e.g. 352.8 / 384kHz / 705.6 / 768kHz). There are few to no DACs out on the market that can handle a switch from e.g. 44.1kHz to 705.6kHz without an interruption to the sound, well, I should say I am not aware of any such DAC and certainly none of our company's devices have one, not even sure if it's theoretically possible. This is the reason for the interruptions to the sound many of our users are reporting when beginning to play an MQA track, seeking through it, skipping to another track, basically anything other than playing a whole MQA album in sequence.


Now, MQA understandably do not want to want this to happen to their audio, so the recommendation to all of us, is to resample all incoming audio to their highest 44.1 / 48 multiple, regardless of whether it's MQA, in a manner consistent with MQA unfolding so that no break in the sound would occur.


If we followed this recommendation, we would have to abandon the [name redacted for company anonymity] for bit perfect rendering of PCM audio at different sample rates."
What a dumpster fire. Can you imagine looking a DAC manufacturer in the face and telling them they should forget about sample rates with respect to attempting bit perfect playback? And then going back and telling service providers like Tidal to tell users they're getting the "original" of anything.

Yikes this is bad.

Also thanks to whoever the manufacturer was. I hope you could solicit others perhaps for their thoughts on the whole MQA ordeal as a product in general (if they are uncomfortable revealing anything as worrisome as this one manufacturer did).
 

voodooless

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"Compensation" paid to key people in the hifi press, incentive money for Tidal, etc. They're spending (and losing) now to establish a foothold.
Is that just conjecture or is there any evidence of this in the report?
 

KeithPhantom

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Is that just conjecture or is there any evidence of this in the report?
Don’t expect evidence of this kind in the financial statements in an explicit way. They are going to disclose the numbers, but they can be very vague with their explanations. Go by their actions, it’ll tell you a lot about their business model.
 

mansr

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Is that just conjecture or us there any evidence of this in the report?
Obviously not in the official filings. However, the handsome reward Robert Harley received for a glowing report in the early days was the talk of the industry. For example. Price lists with steep discounts (to the point of being paid to implement MQA) for early adopters is further evidence. All under NDAs, of course, but someone always talks.
 

PierreV

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I rather think they spend loads of money to push the technology in some way or another.
Follow the money. They have got major backing and, without any doubts, big plans. The stated goal, if you read lots of stuff, too much to post here, is to build MQA into a "luxury" brand for audio streaming and derivatives.

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Sir Sanders Zingmore

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I seriously don't understand why would they ever do this. they still have to host two different files for the same track (as Hi-Fi is without the tagging).

there is not a single reason i can think of why this would be a good idea.
Because when they control both versions they then have the ability to hobble the non-MQA version thus “proving” the MQA version is better.

Not saying they are doing this (yet) but they could if they choose to. Then you get a situation where you need an MQA capable DAC and they get licensing fees at every step.
 

Rottmannash

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I think the strongest argument against MQA is the Dolby-fication of plain old audio reproduction. We don’t need that. Even if MQA were to provide some advantage, unless the advantage were very large (there’s no indication of that), we should reject it because it makes music reproduction more expensive and beholden to a proprietary format.

But what’s conspicuously missing in this thread, among all the MQA bashing, is some research into listener perception of MQA. Does MQA actually sound bad? Does it sound worse than FLAC? Is there anyone who can do a test?

For me personally Tidal MQA doesn’t sound bad at all. It’s not better nor worse than Qobuz. But Tidal does have nicer apps, better recommendations, possibly a larger catalog, and doesn’t force a German website on me. So I wouldn’t recommend Qobuz either. It’s just not a good product for the price, in my opinion, despite the real high-res audio files.
Who's forcing a German website on you? Sounds kinky
 
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