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

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Grooved

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This is very interesting, GoldenOne.
From the cynical perspective of a company having no qualms about lying about their very core service (like pretending to stream lossless),
I could see several reasons to provide the same MQA files as non-MQA files...
It's another example on which we need to not make a global conclusion. Yes it's a big problem to not know what the file is, to even lied about that, but this one is not a good example, it doesn't reflect the majority of what happens on Tidal tracks.
I checked it and Porcelaine from Moby has indeed the same file for Hifi and Master (so problem of replacing the FLAC in Hifi option) but both are 16bit MQA, and it's not much common at this moment. The strange part is that Qobuz has FLAC in 16/44.1 and 24/96.

This one is a problem, but remember that when you find a problem, on Tidal in this case, to not conclude that it's the same for all tracks ;-)
But it would be important to keep each one in a list (not each track found with a problem, but each kind of problem)

D- They can't be lossless when unfolded: to be "lossless" in these Taliban terms, both noise floors must be identical, and by definition that noise floor doesn't exist anymore in MQA, as it was replaced with useful information, that a normal DAC still sees as noise, but a MQA DAC knows to decode as information.
What is “relevant”? How do you know this inclusion of data is even statistically significant? What do you gain from that extra data? Just want to know more.
It seems that folded, it's an artificial noise floor as there are the MQA informations (data and frequencies of above 22.05 or 24kHz), and once unfolded, you get the real noise floor, to be exact, the noise real noise floor from the MQA encoding, not the best you can get.
It's statically significant because on the measures from different versions of the same track that I posted in a previous message, we see that the 24bit MQA folded has a minimum level of -76dB, and once unfolded (first and last unfold as it's a 24/96 master, and following unfolding don't use data but only upsampling), the minimum level goes to -96dB. So it statically made a change.
Now, if we look at the Qobuz 24/96 FLAC, the minimum level is -138dB...

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.
I thought about the impact as it is today. Now, you're right to think that potentially, it can be even bigger in the future.

This is a statement from 20 years ago and is completely wrong. Labels stopped caring about control when they decided to give Steve Jobs permission to distribute MP3/AACs with no Fairplay (Apple DRM). That then led to outfits like HDTracks and their competitors to distribute even high-resolution content without copy protection. All the people in the labels that used to care about this were fired years ago (after failure of SACD/DVD-A).
...
I don't even know of an article about labels wanting to control content in the last 10+ years. Who is spreading this kind of propaganda???
As I have explained many times, the authentication is no different than Windows activation with a key. They use it to control licensing of the decoder. It has no benefit or use whatsoever to the labels since it controls nothing anyway.
Right, there were also some streaming services using WMA with DRM, I think it stopped about 9 years ago.
But it could still appear again... Amazon Music is using Widevine DRM for streaming, but I don't know what happen when you buy a track, never did it with Amazon
 
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KeithPhantom

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It seems that folded, it's an artificial noise floor as there are the MQA informations (data and frequencies of above 22.05 or 24kHz), and once unfolded, you get the real noise floor, to be exact, the noise real noise floor from the MQA encoding, not the best you can get.
It's statically significant because on the measures from different versions of the same track that I posted in a previous message, we see that the 24bit MQA folded has a minimum level of -76dB, and once unfolded (first and last unfold as it's a 24/96 master, and following unfolding don't use data but only upsampling), the minimum level goes to -96dB. So it statically made a change.
First of all let me acknowledge that what you said is true. I had that in mind since at least unfolding should bring the information encoded in them in order to reconstruct the original source file. The change is statistical significant just because of the magnitude, but I was thinking more about the statistical significance on the audibility. This would require at least a few experiments and statistical analysis in order to prove causation. The problem comes when you compare what are the current options in the market, how they “solve” these issues, and even in the existence of problems to be solved by MQA. Right now I’m thinking about the bandwidth issue more than the sound quality, both shouldn’t be an issue, but they appear like this in their marketing. MQA doesn’t seem to be delivering a great deal in terms of value proposition, I don’t know if we can agree on that.

PS: just noticed that the 96 kHz 24-bit MQA is only about 96 dB in DR, that’s not good. Isn’t it supposed to dither and noise shape the quantization noise.
 
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(The following is an unfinished narrative of the history of MQA imagined from an insider perspective.)

The story of MQA begins with Bob waking up one morning and thinking, "how can I make some money?" His hardware business, Meridian, was losing money, and his earlier foray into digital formats, MLP, had had limited success. Clearly, a new approach was needed. The labels control the music, Bob thought, and thus the flow of money. Something to tap into, but how?

What do the labels desire the most? "Control," Bob said to himself, "and that's what I'll sell them." In another word, DRM. An end to the scourge of piracy. Of course, the music-buying public had long ago rejected DRM, so something clever was needed.

DRM is based on cryptography, and besides secrecy, cryptography can also be used to verify authenticity. Discerning music lovers care about provenance, and what better assurance could there be than an authentic signature from the label itself? Bob had found his Trojan horse.

With a plan to conquer both the music labels and the consumers, one market player still remained unexploited, the hardware vendors. How could they be persuaded to contribute to Bob's fortune? The answer, he decided, was to insist that his new format be decoded only within the DAC. This would also be a further incentive for the labels in that DRM coverage would extend all the way to the analogue stage, elegantly preventing copying without losses, just like in the good old days.
It may be of interest, but I had a conversation with someone who shared a little insight.

Im not 100% sure how much of this is already known.

But, Bob Stuart apparently created a new format originally for what was the Ponoplayer.
After it became apparent that the format would be somewhat locked down/proprietary, Neil Young basically told Bob to shove it.

Bob then later began marketing it standalone as MQA.

Additionally, and I'm intentionally leaving details out for now until a few things are confirmed but, it might actually be the case that MQA doesn't have the full intellectual property rights to their product and the way they are currently operating may not be legal.
GPL is an interesting area....
 
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And no, it is not perfectly reasonable. Someone has agitated people to care about this tiny thing called MQA, instead of focusing their energy on much, much larger problems in technology in their lives. It is one of the most ridiculous developments in technology.
Like how you agitated people to care about the proliferation of poorly measuring audio equipment? How is that any different? Both that and exposing MQA's misleading marketing claims and anti-consumer business agenda are good aims.

Additionally, it is perfectly reasonable to push for change in one's hobby and try to curb the spread of an anti-consumer behavior before it becomes too big for a small community to stop, like the case is for Apple.

You're assuming a lot about what people support and don't support without knowing them. I myself advocate for right to repair and condemn Apple's actions in a lot of industries. That doesn't change the fact that I have no choice but to use their products for my job. If a genie let me choose between reforming Apple's business practices, and getting rid of MQA, I'd choose Apple in a heartbeat.

However, MQA is in its infancy, and its business plan to replace a superior open-source codec with a walled garden should be stopped.

You seem to misunderstand whataboutism. You get NO morality points for defending bad actions because someone else out there is doing something worse. Consistency is NOT more important than having the correct moral stance in a given situation.

And I must ask, what is this ulterior motive you keep accusing MQAs detractors of harboring that motivates what you allege as their hypocrisy?

Truly I have a hard time reconciling your positions in this thread with the aims of this forum.
 

mkawa

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This is a statement from 20 years ago and is completely wrong. Labels stopped caring about control when they decided to give Steve Jobs permission to distribute MP3/AACs with no Fairplay (Apple DRM). That then led to outfits like HDTracks and their competitors to distribute even high-resolution content without copy protection. All the people in the labels that used to care about this were fired years ago (after failure of SACD/DVD-A).

You can show up to a label tomorrow and license everything they have. They will ask for an up front check, MG (minimum guarantee of royalties) and you too can have a store. There is zero stipulation as far as any control over you, or the end user.

I can't believe this myth continues to this day when the evidence of it being wrong is everywhere around it. Here is my HDTracks folder alone:

View attachment 125561

218 albums I have bought with vast majority of them high-res. No DRM. No control. No nothing.

I don't even know of an article about labels wanting to control content in the last 10+ years. Who is spreading this kind of propaganda???

As I have explained many times, the authentication is no different than Windows activation with a key. They use it to control licensing of the decoder. It has no benefit or use whatsoever to the labels since it controls nothing anyway.
No one, least of all manse said bob’s plan would work:p
 

RichB

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This is a statement from 20 years ago and is completely wrong. Labels stopped caring about control when they decided to give Steve Jobs permission to distribute MP3/AACs with no Fairplay (Apple DRM). That then led to outfits like HDTracks and their competitors to distribute even high-resolution content without copy protection. All the people in the labels that used to care about this were fired years ago (after failure of SACD/DVD-A).

You can show up to a label tomorrow and license everything they have. They will ask for an up front check, MG (minimum guarantee of royalties) and you too can have a store. There is zero stipulation as far as any control over you, or the end user.

I can't believe this myth continues to this day when the evidence of it being wrong is everywhere around it. Here is my HDTracks folder alone:

View attachment 125561

218 albums I have bought with vast majority of them high-res. No DRM. No control. No nothing.

I don't even know of an article about labels wanting to control content in the last 10+ years. Who is spreading this kind of propaganda???

As I have explained many times, the authentication is no different than Windows activation with a key. They use it to control licensing of the decoder. It has no benefit or use whatsoever to the labels since it controls nothing anyway.
If MQA gains enough influence with the labels, your days buying HD Tracks at full resolution will end.

- Rich
 
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amirm

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Like how you agitated people to care about the proliferation of poorly measuring audio equipment? How is that any different?
I didn't agitate people by feeding them misinformation on DRM/label control, etc. like people are doing with MQA. I did that by investing in tools to analyze equipment, performing testing and bringing new information to the table. I see no equivalent work in MQA campaign.

As best I can tell, the agitation came from companies that were competitive to Meridian and decided it would be on their dead body they would adopt something from their competitors. They then recruited a bunch of warriors online to go and kill themselves over this topic. It makes no sense. We have so many more important fish to fry.

Don't be a pawn in this. Let them fight their own battles.
 

amirm

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If MQA gains enough influence with the labels, you days buying HD Tracks at full resolution will end.
Why would it gain traction with labels in this manner? What is in it for labels to jam this into their distribution? And why would companies like Amazon, HDtracks, etc. let them?

This is all fantasy and imagination going wild.
 

RichB

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I didn't agitate people by feeding them misinformation on DRM/label control, etc. like people are doing with MQA. I did that by investing in tools to analyze equipment, performing testing and bringing new information to the table. I see no equivalent work in MQA campaign.

As best I can tell, the agitation came from companies that were competitive to Meridian and decided it would be on their dead body they would adopt something from their competitors. They then recruited a bunch of warriors online to go and kill themselves over this topic. It makes no sense. We have so many more important fish to fry.

Don't be a pawn in this. Let them fight their own battles.
There is measured evidence of false marketing from MQA as it seeps and squirms into the HD-Audio and now even reducing CD quality sound. I am not particularly concerned who makes the claims but they must be well founded. The MQA marketing is not well founded. Measurements have been published that remain unrefuted.

I don't think it is appropriate to call people pawns.

- Rich
 

amirm

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No one, least of all manse said bob’s plan would work:p
There is no plan because there is no DRM provision in MQA. Why don't we speculate that they are bank robbers too?
 

amirm

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I don't think it is appropriate to call people pawns.
People have been fed misinformation and they are running with it with no impact on their own lives. What else would you call it?
 

Grooved

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First of all let me acknowledge that what you said is true. I had that in mind since at least unfolding should bring the information encoded in them in order to reconstruct the original source file. The change is statistical significant just because of the magnitude, but I was thinking more about the statistical significance on the audibility. This would require at least a few experiments and statistical analysis in order to prove causation. The problem comes when you compare what are the current options in the market, how they “solve” these issues, and even in the existence of problems to be solved by MQA. Right now I’m thinking about the bandwidth issue more than the sound quality, both shouldn’t be an issue, but they appear like this in their marketing. MQA doesn’t seem to be delivering a great deal in terms of value proposition, I don’t know if we can agree on that.

PS: just noticed that the 96 kHz 24-bit MQA is only about 96 dB in DR, that’s not good. Isn’t it supposed to dither and noise shape the quantization noise.
Not sure if it really changes the DR of the music itself compared to the Qobuz version, need to check it more and with different kind of tracks.
Don' know why but it made me think about one thing : is it possible that MQA talk about lossless just because it would be capable of, even if it doesn't use it now on what we get from providers ?
I need to check it because I have a doubt on this possibility, I think I have read it in one of the patents in the different claims they made covering several version of processing, like having one with setting of the encoder for above 20Khz being lossless.

It may be of interest, but I had a conversation with someone who shared a little insight.

Im not 100% sure how much of this is already known.

But, Bob Stuart apparently created a new format originally for what was the Ponoplayer.
After it became apparent that the format would be somewhat locked down/proprietary, Neil Young basically told Bob to shove it.

Bob then later began marketing it standalone as MQA.

Additionally, and I'm intentionally leaving details out for now until a few things are confirmed but, it might actually be the case that MQA doesn't have the full intellectual property rights to their product and the way they are currently operating may not be legal.
GPL is an interesting area....
Maybe check all patents, I've seen lots of people talking about Bob Stuart patents, with or without Peter Graham Craven, but if I'm not wrong, MQA also use a patent from Malcom Law, maybe under its sole name... not sure.
 

RichB

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People have been fed misinformation and they are running with it with no impact on their own lives. What else would you call it?
Which information are you refuting?

- Rich
 

jensgk

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They then recruited a bunch of warriors online to go and kill themselves over this topic.
Who?

It makes no sense.
It certainly does make sense to fight MQA (and many other tings too).

We have so many more important fish to fry.
We sure do, and I have my priorities, and you have yours. We do no necessarily agree here.

Don't be a pawn in this. Let them fight their own battles.
The pawn here is not me. I suspect the arrow points in another direction.
 

pjug

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It may be of interest, but I had a conversation with someone who shared a little insight.

Im not 100% sure how much of this is already known.

But, Bob Stuart apparently created a new format originally for what was the Ponoplayer.
After it became apparent that the format would be somewhat locked down/proprietary, Neil Young basically told Bob to shove it.

Bob then later began marketing it standalone as MQA.

Additionally, and I'm intentionally leaving details out for now until a few things are confirmed but, it might actually be the case that MQA doesn't have the full intellectual property rights to their product and the way they are currently operating may not be legal.
GPL is an interesting area....
Apparently Neil Young gave his version of the story in his book. I haven't read it but summarized here:
https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/revi...ters-mission-to-save-high-quality-audio-r834/

It sounds like at least part of Neil's problem with Bob Stuart is that you couldn't pin him down on any details. Sound familiar?
 

samsa

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This is a statement from 20 years ago and is completely wrong. Labels stopped caring about control when they decided to give Steve Jobs permission to distribute MP3/AACs with no Fairplay (Apple DRM).

That's exactly how MQA Ltd marketed theirr technology to the labels:

Spencer Chrislu, MQA's director of content services (August 2016):

"It's important, though, to protect the interests of studios. If a studio does their archive at 24-bit/192kHz and then uses that same file as something to sell on a hi-rez site, that is basically giving away the crown jewels upon which their entire business is based."
Bob Stuart (May, 2017):

"MQA provides the opportunity to deliver the exact sound heard from the real master without actually putting the crown jewels out there to be stolen."
Protecting the "crown jewels" (i.e, maintaining control) was the whole pitch to the labels.
 

scott wurcer

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amirm

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That's exactly how MQA Ltd marketed theirr technology to the labels:
Huh? This is the first quote from them:

'"MQA has no DRM component or application outside the studio," it says. "We have no opinion on this beyond noting that DRM is a futile exercise for general music distribution." '

This tells me they absolutely understand that their format better not have DRM. And that they know the labels don't care about being told about that or they would not be quoted saying so.

Of course MQA folks know all of this because they are always in discussions with labels and music distributors. People raising objections otherwise seem to do so without the benefit of that knowledge.
 

amirm

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Bob has self incriminated himself enough times that defending him is folly.
He doesn't need defending. The misinformation presented is easy to dispute on facts.
 
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You need to read more about audio industry. :) MP3 was not free until patents ran out. AAC was not free until patents ran out. Dolby and DTS codecs are not free. All subscription services use some content of content protection to tie content to a user.

And no, it is not perfectly reasonable. Someone has agitated people to care about this tiny thing called MQA, instead of focusing their energy on much, much larger problems in technology in their lives. It is one of the most ridiculous developments in technology.

This site is focused on science and engineering in audio. Measurements are one aspect of that. That aside, your point is without merit. People consume content from many sources. I listen to Amazon music when on the road and am fine with its compression there. At home, I play a full range of content from my own CD rips to high-res downloads and Tidal content (with and without MQA).

That important point aside, leaking filter gives you no excuse to manufacture noise and distortion in the gear itself. Now, if you are into whataboutism, I can see why you brought this up but it has no merit. :; :)
What does any of the above have to do with the topic at hand? Nothing. By your own logic (“much, much larger problems in technology in their lives”) this site should not exist! No one should care about audio at all! We should all be talking about climate change, etc. What you’re doing is the essence of whataboutism: Trying to shift the conversation to something unrelated. (“What about Apple’s App Store?” Who cares?! That’s not what we’re talking about!)

Audiophiles are allowed to care about audio. Period.

Debate the claims and merits of MQA without trying to deflect and change the topic. The plain fact is that you have no defense for MQA lying about the lossy nature and “deblurring” of its format, so you are throwing out nonsense about unrelated topics.

MQA is harming the audio itself. There currently exist releases only available in MQA, a lossy format. This does infinitely more harm than $1,000 power cords or other snake oil. Consumers can avoid $1,000 power cords, but if a certain release exists only in MQA, they cannot avoid it. They are forever stuck with a lossy format worse than PCM Redbook.

You’re embarrassing yourself by defending MQA and minimizing it’s importance. But I enjoy watching you dig the hole deeper.
 
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