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

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mansr

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No deception? Here is what Dolby says about TrueHD:

"Most movie and TV soundtracks are recorded at 48k. Unfortunately, the 48k recording process can introduce an unnatural harshness or edginess to the sound during the conversion from analog to digital. Dolby TrueHD corrects this problem by applying higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter. "

You buy the bolded section? How about Apodizing filter bit which is what is used in MQA? They go on to say:

"The 96k upsampling process applies higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter that masks undesirable digital artifacts in 48k material. The upsampling takes place before Dolby TrueHD encoding."

How is this lossless if there is upsampling of the content prior to encoding?
Remember where TrueHD came from? It was created by Meridian and Bob Stuart. Your inconsistency apparently knows no bounds.
 

mansr

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At least both Dolby and DTS served some purpose to limit disc space and limit bitrate when reading discs , so there whas a need for an encoding technique ? and there still is a need for these encodings with blue ray ? I suppose . A blue ray is not big if also video is present so lossles packing of audio serves a purpose and is a valid business case .
The bit rate and capacity of DVD is such that surround sound has to be compressed if there is to be sufficient space and bandwidth for (decent) video. Dolby and DTS both offered codecs (incidentally, with open specs) capable of meeting the needs when no royalty-free solution existed. Bluray has much higher capacity, and the majority of discs have uncompressed PCM audio. Speaking of Bluray, it is an annoying locked-down system, but at the time of its introduction, the only other means of getting HD video in the home was the equally restrictive HD-DVD. It is wrong to point at these and conclude that MQA perhaps isn't quite as bad. What we should do is recognise that MQA is pushing for audio become similarly locked down to video and fight to prevent that from happening.
 

lordvader

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Probably old news but.....
Regarding people stating that MQA is offered for free through Tidal (that the price was not increased). It seems Tidal is making a move towards Spotify lossless plan.

https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-au/...jgn3v_oHH2PiUl9_RQcNmVN8NEPux9YKIui9uFcOQ35F8



So a 33% increase in price if you want MQA compared to 16(13-15)/44.1... Still free?
To verify - the $23.99AUD price was the always the price for Tidal's MQA offering in AU. They've only just intoduced a "hifi" only offering for a cheaper price (they've basically gone from 2 plans, to 3). Definitely a reaction to this report, but worked out well for me - I've just downgraded to the "hifi" only version. Hopefully soon they start sending the original flacs.
 

RichB

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They sure as heck do. How do I play DTS or Dolby stream *without* a decoder like I can with MQA? They are totally locked down formats and have mandatory decoder or you are out of luck. With MQA, I can play the baseline format with no need for any decoder.
They do not restrict digital processing once decoded.

- Rich
 

SRKRAM

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I used to work for Nokia Networks and in the early 2000s colleagues patented a system which seems similar to the 'folding' which MQA performs. It was developed when wideband voice codecs were starting to be rolled out in mobile devices, along with the needed support in the networks.
Since a wideband voice connection would require both devices and the network to support wideband voice codec, when the penetration of devices supporting wideband voice was very low not many people would have actually been able to make a wideband voice call.
The thing with was patented was to allow interoperability between narrowband and wideband codecs by folding the narrow band codec up into the higher frequency band to create a pseudo wideband effect. Perceptually it was actually quite effective, however it was operating in the audible band up to 7 kHz, unlike MQA.
I was product manager of the network element which performed all of the user-plane processing in the network, so this was one of the functions which it performed, along with all the other speech quality enhancements and transcoding.
 

voodooless

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No deception? Here is what Dolby says about TrueHD:

"Most movie and TV soundtracks are recorded at 48k. Unfortunately, the 48k recording process can introduce an unnatural harshness or edginess to the sound during the conversion from analog to digital. Dolby TrueHD corrects this problem by applying higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter. "

You buy the bolded section? How about Apodizing filter bit which is what is used in MQA? They go on to say:

"The 96k upsampling process applies higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter that masks undesirable digital artifacts in 48k material. The upsampling takes place before Dolby TrueHD encoding."

How is this lossless if there is upsampling of the content prior to encoding?
Oh boy, it's the same shit :facepalm:. But at least with TrueHD, it only an option in the mastering process. A competent mastering engineer can just leave the option disabled.

Edit: well almost the same shit: At least the original Meridian Apodizing filter does not introduce a vast amount of aliasing.
 
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RichB

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The dangerous products have come and gone and you seem to be OK with them such as Blu-ray format. Do you know a legal method to copy one? I know how to do that with MQA. Do you know how to play them without a bunch of proprietary technology with high licensing fees? I assure you MQA costs a fraction of these. So let's not be a part-time vegetarian. You have let the biggest dogs out of the gate and are worrying about the little ones...
Don't be upset with me, I bought a Toshiba HD-DVD player and supported it. That just shows you what I know :D

Actually, one of the biggest dogs out there just bought a little one, to make it big, I think, not to keep the cute Bichon Frise, as long as we are not pretending.

There is evidence that MQA degrades the source and, if it takes hold with its new backing, we may be left with 16-bit DVDs.

I am baffled by tacit support or at a minimum, agnosticism where bits of resolution are at stake.
Measurements often include effective bits with 16-bit resolution is seen as minimum and yet we are not supposed to oppose seeking for profit to reduce that standard unless you pay them. Nice format you got here, it would be a shame to lose it.

IMO, ASR should oppose when such potential snake oil, such as de-blurring, are pushed where blind test show no discernable difference.
Respected members (not me, who am I), oppose it and for sound reasons backed by measurements, showing anomalies and data that have basis.

For some, the bias seems to be toward acquaintance and pedigree and not science.
ASR should welcome skeptics, looking for proof of efficacy.
That should remain important, much more important, than credentials and resume, which really amounts to: you can believe them, there not like the others ;)

You do realize the MQA wishes to supplant Hi-Res audio, which I believe you support.
You won't find that logo on the MQA site nor on Tidal. Weird huh.

- Rich
 
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John Atkinson

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Mr. Atkinson is too modest here - actually he is the author of AES paper (which is not a small feat, believe me):
https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=7171
Also, he presented the AES Richard C. Heyser Lecture (an honor given to a very few):
https://www.aes.org/press/?ID=128
Thank you for posting these links. If anyone is interested the text of my Heyser memorial lecture can be found at
https://www.stereophile.com/content...ial-lecture-where-did-negative-frequencies-go

From the introduction: "the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture series was established in May 1999 by the AES Technical Council, the Board of Governors, and the Richard Heyser Scholarship Fund to honor the extensive contribution to the Society by this outstanding man [Heyser], widely known for his ability to communicate new and complex technical ideas with great clarity and patience."

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile
 

RichB

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Probably old news but.....
Regarding people stating that MQA is offered for free through Tidal (that the price was not increased). It seems Tidal is making a move towards Spotify lossless plan.

https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-au/...jgn3v_oHH2PiUl9_RQcNmVN8NEPux9YKIui9uFcOQ35F8



So a 33% increase in price if you want MQA compared to 16(13-15)/44.1... Still free?
No not free, and 1411 bit sound that destroys 3 bits (or so), is not lossless sound.
I know, we may not hear the difference, but for gods sake, can't we preserve the meaning of lossless.

- Rich
 
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dmac6419

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No not free, and 1411 bit sound that destroys 3 bits or so, is not lossless sound.
I know, we may not hear the difference, but for gods sake, can't we preserve the meaning of lossless.

- Rich
Netflix going up too,so far my Tidal is the same price in the USA, $20 is cheap for the access
 

RichB

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It's going to be very interesting to find out what Tidal's policy is with the HIFI tier - MQA encoded (aka not really 16 bit), or straight up CD quality. My bet is mostly MQA infected tracks. But I would also bet that Tidal will never come out and say what they intend.
They say MQA will infect 16-bit audio by omission, Tidal does not say it offers CD quality sound, it offers bitrates, Tidal does not offer Hi-Res audio it offers Master quality.
It is important to pay close attention while the goalposts are shifted, it starts with language.

We can look to Star Wars for answers.
When Luke finds out Darth Vader and Obi-Wan explains, telling Luke that his father was dead was "in a sense" true.
Here they redefine the meaning of "dead" :)
And of course, Darth Vader's (clearly an MQA influencer) pronouncement: Pray that I do not alter it further.

- Rich
 

acbarn

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Ultimately, I believe this will be decided by Apple, Spotify, and perhaps Amazon. They will either accept or reject MQA files if/when they are submitted by Warner et al. It’ll be interesting to see what Spotify does when they roll out their high-res tier later this year.
 

RichB

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No deception? Here is what Dolby says about TrueHD:

"Most movie and TV soundtracks are recorded at 48k. Unfortunately, the 48k recording process can introduce an unnatural harshness or edginess to the sound during the conversion from analog to digital. Dolby TrueHD corrects this problem by applying higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter. "

You buy the bolded section? How about Apodizing filter bit which is what is used in MQA? They go on to say:

"The 96k upsampling process applies higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter that masks undesirable digital artifacts in 48k material. The upsampling takes place before Dolby TrueHD encoding."

How is this lossless if there is upsampling of the content prior to encoding?
Ah irony, Dolby's "deception" justifies MQA deception and folks making similar points about MQA are argumentative.

- Rich
 

tmtomh

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No deception? Here is what Dolby says about TrueHD:

"Most movie and TV soundtracks are recorded at 48k. Unfortunately, the 48k recording process can introduce an unnatural harshness or edginess to the sound during the conversion from analog to digital. Dolby TrueHD corrects this problem by applying higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter. "

You buy the bolded section? How about Apodizing filter bit which is what is used in MQA? They go on to say:

"The 96k upsampling process applies higher sample rates and increased playback quality through an advanced apodizing filter that masks undesirable digital artifacts in 48k material. The upsampling takes place before Dolby TrueHD encoding."

How is this lossless if there is upsampling of the content prior to encoding?
Love you Amir, but this doesn't really make any sense. The TrueHD claim about "harshness" with 48k recording is of course ridiculous, as is the claim that an apodizing filter increases playback quality. But whole-integer upsampling, in this case simply doubling every sample to make a 48k original into a 96k file, while pointless, is still lossless. "Lossless" does not mean "the data is never altered in any way." "Lossless" means, "the original data is not altered in such a way that it cannot be fully recovered or reconstructed." By your logic here, every Delta-Sigma DAC ever made (and every oversampling R2R DAC as well) is "lossy," which is at best meaningless and at worst demonstrably false based on any meaningful sense of the concept of "lossless" in digital audio.

MQA, by contrast, takes any PCM original with a sample rate over 96k and destructively downsamples it, throwing out half (or 3/4 in the case of a 352.8k or 384k original) of the samples before encoding. And don't even bother responding that "no one needs 192k and 384k sample rates anyway" - of course they don't. But nor do they need a 96k sample rate either. That's not the point.

The point is that MQA is lossy (and not just in the way I've noted above - the encoding itself is lossy) - yet they continue to lie and claim otherwise. You know it's lossy, @John Atkinson knows it's lossy, and I would say that at this point it's not credible for anyone to try to claim that Bob Stuart doesn't know it too. Yet here is the current MQA web site on this topic:

Screen Shot 2021-04-28 at 9.05.35 AM.png


By any reasonable interpretation, this is a lie. This is fraud.

Statements like "MQA delivers clearer sound" can be put into the bucket of garden-variety misleading, evidence-free audiophile PR BS. Even "Master Quality," by the lenient legal standards established in the U.S., can be considered advertising talk and not fraud. But "Is MQA lossless? - Yes" is different. It's a lie. And "a lossless file is just a digital container... what really matters is the content!" is a willfully misleading statement in furtherance of that lie. The FLAC container can losslessly contain the MQA data they've stuffed in it, but the MQA data itself is not a lossless encoding of the original PCM data. You know, it, Atkinson knows it, and Bob Stuart knows it.

If you had a DAC in for review that used a new DAC chip which claimed to perform unique forms of oversampling and ultrasonic processing, and your testing revealed that DAC actually altered the digital data so that its output did not match the input (beyond the slight amounts of noise, distortion, and jitter one gets with even the best DACs), you would go ballistic and call out the DAC and its maker for either fraud or a broken implementation. That's what MQA is: a fraudulent, broken implementation of lossless high-res. Its adoption rate and partial resemblance to other, past formats and schemes does not change that fact.

I sincerely hope you're correct that the format is going nowhere. But folks appear to have found evidence that MQA-encoded content has already infected the subscription (and perhaps download-for-purchase) music pool, with unflagged and unidentified MQA-encoded material showing up on multiple services. This is cause for concern. More broadly, as many of us have said over and over - and over - again, the lack of MQA's success thus far should not be equated with its aspirations and business model, both of which are predatory and therefore ipso facto worthy of sustained critique and opposition.
 
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dmac6419

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Ultimately, I believe this will be decided by Apple, Spotify, and perhaps Amazon. They will either accept or reject MQA files if/when they are submitted by Warner et al. It’ll be interesting to see what Spotify does when they roll out their high-res tier later this year.
The big three Record Labels are the stockholders at Spotify.
 

RichB

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Netflix going up too,so far my Tidal is the same price in the USA, $20 is cheap for the access
You can have CD and Hi-Res sound from QOBUZ for $12.99, until the MQA infects the master files, that is.

- Rich
 

dmac6419

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Ultimately, I believe this will be decided by Apple, Spotify, and perhaps Amazon. They will either accept or reject MQA files if/when they are submitted by Warner et al. It’ll be interesting to see what Spotify does when they roll out their high-res tier later this year.
Apple,Amazon and all the rest are gonna use what the Record Labels supply them with unless they're planning on going into the record business,that's one of the reason netflix and amazon started their movie studios to own content.
 

Raindog123

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From the introduction: "the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture series was established in May 1999 by the AES Technical Council, the Board of Governors, and the Richard Heyser Scholarship Fund to honor the extensive contribution to the Society by this outstanding man [Heyser], widely known for his ability to communicate new and complex technical ideas with great clarity and patience."
Thanks @John Atkinson (and @Vladimir Filevski). At the risk of sounding Mr Obvious, I'll say it anyway.

I (and 'we', 'most of us') do recognize achievements of John. And respect them, when/as the respect is due. [Yes, Stereophile's technical editor, and invited AES speaker is something not to ignore.] However. I hope this respect is mutual. Many folks here openly or incognito are esteemed contributors and even leads in audio, and audio-related engineering and scientific fields. Some are current and some are 'in-training'. Therefore. I would invite all of us, including John, to be at 'a certain level of conversation'. Out of respect for others, and also for discussion efficiency. Recycling the same [MQA] marketing pamphlet again, and again, and again is hardly the way - we've heard it the first time.
 
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