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MQA - "I'm not quite dead yet..."

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dkinric

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I got an email from Radio Paradise today noting their 21st birthday. In the note I found this nugget:

For you audiophiles:
We’ve always prided ourselves on providing the highest quality audio of any radio station anywhere in the world. We are now pleased to offer another audio upgrade. Owners of BluOS-enabled equipment from Bluesound, NAD, and other manufacturers now have the option of listening to Radio Paradise via MQA. More details are here.


W.T.F.?
My first thought is MQA is panicking with the recent Apple and Spotify announcements and sees the writing on the wall. Likely they are trying to sign up anybody who will let them offer their "services". Radio Paradise is a really nice website with wonderful lossless FLAC sound quality. They do accept and ask for donations, I believe I will write them and explain that they will not be getting money from me if they are supporting MQA.

Kudos if you got the movie reference and heard it in your head with the British accent.
 

bikeguy

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I don't think MQA is panicking nor has Radio Paradise joined the dark side. They are offering their flac streams as usual and the MQA streams have been a available for over a month. Bill G. of RP is offering his users even more choices as a smart businessman does. You don't want the MQA stream? fine, listen to the flac stream, it isn't going anywhere. There is no conspiracy.
 
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dkinric

dkinric

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I don't think MQA is panicking nor has Radio Paradise joined the dark side. They are offering their flac streams as usual and the MQA streams have been a available for over a month. Bill G. of RP is offering his users even more choices as a smart businessman does. You don't want the MQA stream? fine, listen to the flac stream, it isn't going anywhere. There is no conspiracy.

Well, this is not the way it works on Tidal, as the std lossless items are incompletely unfolded MQA masters. MQA is a differently mastered stream of a recording. So is radioparadise - a small time radio station - maintaining two different masters - MQA and non-MQA, streaming both at the same time for the listener to choose from? If so, will it continue this way? One of the biggest issues people have with MQA is not having a choice with a particular provider (ie Tidal).
I thought this was newsworthy as I am not aware of anyone outside of Tidal streaming MQA infected tracks. Who else does?
 

tmtomh

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RP has 135,000 subscribers globally.

I don't think it matters much one way or the other what they do RE MQA.
 

Soniclife

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I think it's most interesting that they have an MQA encoder, unless they bounce their stream to some MQA server in real time.
 

voodooless

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Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96.

So, what you’ll get is a highly aliased upsampled version of the same song.

And also:
We’re also not paying any fees to MQA, if that makes any difference. Those are paid by the manufacturers, whose products you are free to not buy if you consider MQA to be objectionable.

That probably means they even get paid for providing the MQA stream. It’s purely marketing to push the MQA brand to more people.
 
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dkinric

dkinric

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Some info in the following thread.

https://radioparadise.com/community/forum/topic/25835/

It's going the predicable way you would expect that thread to.
Thanks for this link. Many of the posters who were against seemed pretty knowledgeable and had the proper technical arguments against. RP to their credit seem intent (for now) on keeping the streams separate, which is good. They are also not presenting MQA as technically superior, but just different. I wonder how long those preferences would hold in a DBT.
Also, as mentioned above, RP said they are not paying anything to MQA, which reiterates my point about the heat they must be feeling with recent industry changes. With the potential demise of Tidal and the existing consumer backlash movement, their future appears to be in peril.
 

Grooved

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Not sure at all they are afraid of something, I already heard that gave encoder for free as it seems to be their way to extend the usage of MQA.
We also have to wait for Spotify and Apple lossless and see what it is, because most of the time, MQA is promoted like lossless, so we can"'t be sure that Spotify will use FLAC and not MQA...

Well, this is not the way it works on Tidal, as the std lossless items are incompletely unfolded MQA masters. MQA is a differently mastered stream of a recording. So is radioparadise - a small time radio station - maintaining two different masters - MQA and non-MQA, streaming both at the same time for the listener to choose from? If so, will it continue this way? One of the biggest issues people have with MQA is not having a choice with a particular provider (ie Tidal).
I thought this was newsworthy as I am not aware of anyone outside of Tidal streaming MQA infected tracks. Who else does?
There are some tracks on Qobuz but it's from one label that is only offering this version.
The same were on Deezer, with tracks from David Elias too, but it seems Deezer always used FLAC for the all their catalog except these few tracks... despite having an agreement with MQA since 2017
 
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dkinric

dkinric

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Not sure at all they are afraid of something, I already heard that gave encoder for free as it seems to be their way to extend the usage of MQA.
We also have to wait for Spotify and Apple lossless and see what it is, because most of the time, MQA is promoted like lossless, so we can"'t be sure that Spotify will use FLAC and not MQA...
In my experience, when companies start to give away their product for free to gain market share it is not a good sign.
Apple would never use MQA.
MQA on Spotify? Is there anything to suggest this?
 

Grooved

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In my experience, when companies start to give away their product for free to gain market share it is not a good sign.
Apple would never use MQA.
MQA on Spotify? Is there anything to suggest this?

I'm not sure they are starting to give away their product :
- they have certainly do it since the beginning
- it may not be a give away but a loan
- their product is not the encoder, but the licence fees. At least at this moment, because if they manage to increase the usage, they may start later to sell encoders, or continue to work with manufacturers.

Anything suggesting ? No, expect one possibility I don't see happening for the moment : The size to limit their bandwidth costs, but
- if they just want lossless without HiRes, there's no reason to use MQA as they won't get any size benefit between 16bit FLAC and 16bit MQA.
- if they go for Lossless/HiRes, there no size benefits for 24/44.1 and 24/48 master (MQA and FLAC will have almost the same size)
- only valid point : for the above SR (I know it a 24/96 MQA won't sound the same than a 24/96 FLAC, but it's only 60% of the FLAC size)
It's the only reason I would imagine, as Spotify always tried to be the cheapest offer.

Spotify will use whatever file they receive from the record label. That's even how it works on Tidal.
Right, but if you have to use MQA Core decoder, the provider has an agreement with MQA. If you don't use it, not sure the label will send these versions.
Despite an agreement with MQA, Deezer seems to never have use MQA file (except labels having only these files like 2L), so it means that the labels having MQA versions have sent FLAC to Deezer and MQA to Tidal. I would like to know why... if it's only because Tidal uses the Core decoder.
So it was like Qobuz with the 2L files, there is no Core decoding, a MQA renderer DAC won't see it as MQA, but a full MQA decoder+renderer will and unfold it.

Talking about that, I found one strange thing : "Random Access Memories" was produced at 24/88.2
- Qobuz has this version and the 16/44.1
- Tidal didn't have the HiRes and only 16/44.1 FLAC (not 16bit MQA, checked), so I supposed that if they get later an MQA version, it will be 24/88.2 too.
- Amazon Music HD has 24/48 at best, and this one doesn't make any sense, even 24/44.1 would make more.
 

Grooved

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Amazon HD has up to 24/192
Please read it again, I'm only talking about "Random Access Memories" and it's 24/48 on Amazon HD ;)

RAM Amazon Music HD.PNG
 
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