• 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.

Tidal’s New Lossless Tier Says Goodbye to MQA (but does it really?)

Status
Not open for further replies.

Cebolla

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Messages
14
Likes
21
They can't control whether someone uses a decoder so that can't be it. I would think they would want said content to be completely free of MQA or it would sure cause confusion with the MQA light coming on even though the customer did not pay for that tier.
Unfortunately, it appears TIDAL are happy to cause that very confusion - the new Australian TIDAL HiFi tier has now been tested and found to be streaming MQA:
Tidal “HiFi Plus” Introduced - #15 by vmartell - TIDAL - Roon Labs Community

If you happen to select an MQA labelled track for streaming, the 16bit/44.1kHz only HiFi quality connection sources that very same MQA track for the stream - it does not magically provide a lossless free from MQA version in its place:

- If it's an MQA-CD track then it streams unhindered & of course the MQA light shines;

- if it's a 24-bit MQA track then its bit depth is truncated to 16 bits (lower 8 bits removed). The MQA light still shines, by design according to Lumin's firmware lead Peter Lie. See also Truncating MQA files to 16 bits and the blue light still shines - General Forum - Audiophile Style;

- if the MQA track's (undecoded) sample rate is 48kHz then it's resampled to 44.1kHz. The MQA light doesn't shine because the resampling corrupts the embedded MQA flagging info, according to Peter Lie. Unfortunately, this type of MQA track would therefore give a false impression of being free from MQA.


So the track will be lossless & free from MQA only if you have selected a true lossless CD-res track, ie, one that isn't labelled as MQA - not many of those left on TIDAL.
 

tmtomh

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 14, 2018
Messages
1,109
Likes
3,306
Unfortunately, it appears TIDAL are happy to cause that very confusion - the new Australian TIDAL HiFi tier has now been tested and found to be streaming MQA:
Tidal “HiFi Plus” Introduced - #15 by vmartell - TIDAL - Roon Labs Community

If you happen to select an MQA labelled track for streaming, the 16bit/44.1kHz only HiFi quality connection sources that very same MQA track for the stream - it does not magically provide a lossless free from MQA version in its place:

- If it's an MQA-CD track then it streams unhindered & of course the MQA light shines;

- if it's a 24-bit MQA track then its bit depth is truncated to 16 bits (lower 8 bits removed). The MQA light still shines, by design according to Lumin's firmware lead Peter Lie. See also Truncating MQA files to 16 bits and the blue light still shines - General Forum - Audiophile Style;

- if the MQA track's (undecoded) sample rate is 48kHz then it's resampled to 44.1kHz. The MQA light doesn't shine because the resampling corrupts the embedded MQA flagging info, according to Peter Lie. Unfortunately, this type of MQA track would therefore give a false impression of being free from MQA.


So the track will be lossless & free from MQA only if you have selected a true lossless CD-res track, ie, one that isn't labelled as MQA - not many of those left on TIDAL.

This is sad and dumb but not surprising. Anything with the "M"/"Master" badge next to it is MQA, and there's no way Tidal are silently substituting a regular redbook PCM stream for the MQA version if someone has the regular Hi-Fi tier subscription - instead, they're just disabling the MQA decoding so you're getting the adulterated (or perhaps I should say even more adulterated), undecoded MQA stream.

This is particularly self-destructive for Tidal to do, because this means they're not simply limiting Hi-Fi subscribers to redbook - instead, they're punishing them by disabling the MQA decoding on "M"/"Master" files. So the Hi-Fi stream contains intentionally crippled files. I can honestly say that even if the prices were identical, I would take 320kbps mp3s over undecoded MQA.
 

acbarn

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
1,218
Likes
2,872
Location
California
This is sad and dumb but not surprising. Anything with the "M"/"Master" badge next to it is MQA, and there's no way Tidal are silently substituting a regular redbook PCM stream for the MQA version if someone has the regular Hi-Fi tier subscription - instead, they're just disabling the MQA decoding so you're getting the adulterated (or perhaps I should say even more adulterated), undecoded MQA stream.

This is particularly self-destructive for Tidal to do, because this means they're not simply limiting Hi-Fi subscribers to redbook - instead, they're punishing them by disabling the MQA decoding on "M"/"Master" files. So the Hi-Fi stream contains intentionally crippled files. I can honestly say that even if the prices were identical, I would take 320kbps mp3s over undecoded MQA.

Agreed, what a freaking mess. I dumped Tidal and went back to 256 AAC streaming, which actually sounds great. Now hoping Apple’s upcoming hifi tier is populated with clean Red Book files.
 

tmtomh

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 14, 2018
Messages
1,109
Likes
3,306
Agreed, what a freaking mess. I dumped Tidal and went back to 256 AAC streaming, which actually sounds great. Now hoping Apple’s upcoming hifi tier is populated with clean Red Book files.

Yes, I would think an Apple hi-fi service would just be redbook PCM compressed losslessly into Apple Lossless format.
 

firedog

Active Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
289
Likes
483
They can't control whether someone uses a decoder so that can't be it. I would think they would want said content to be completely free of MQA or it would sure cause confusion with the MQA light coming on even though the customer did not pay for that tier.
Australian users have already reported that many of the "CDs" are so called MQA-CD's. I don't know why you would expect anything else, as Tidal has already eliminated thousands of Redbook CDs from the catalog and replaced them with MQA-CD versions. Apparently they are stripping the MQA tags from the files so as not to trip a decoder.
That is actually the worst of all worlds: less than actual Redbook quality and the bastardized MQA versions of the files.
 

Soundstage

Active Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
217
Likes
141
Australian users have already reported that many of the "CDs" are so called MQA-CD's. I don't know why you would expect anything else, as Tidal has already eliminated thousands of Redbook CDs from the catalog and replaced them with MQA-CD versions. Apparently they are stripping the MQA tags from the files so as not to trip a decoder.
That is actually the worst of all worlds: less than actual Redbook quality and the bastardized MQA versions of the files.
How long until the class action sues TIDAL for the false lossless claim on the second tier of their offering?
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
3,855
Likes
4,379
Location
UK
How long until the class action sues TIDAL for the false lossless claim on the second tier of their offering?
Their language looks like it's been written to prevent this, they don't seem to be using the term CD quality, just lossless, which seems complicated to define, it's clearly not lossless to the file they started with so they might still have trouble.
Do we know for sure that the lossy versions did not start as MQA? If so the lossy version might be more accurate than the lossless.
 

mansr

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 5, 2018
Messages
3,693
Likes
8,346
Location
Hampshire
Is anyone able to capture a few samples from that new middle tier?
 

abdo123

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
3,551
Likes
3,123
Location
Brussels, Belgium
It should be equivalent to setting the playback quality to HiFi in the Tidal app.

Not in principal, ‘Master’ releases should not be available.

The whole point of this tier is to not pay MQA, it would be a ****** business model of them to include bootleged MQA tracks and for Tidal to pay them nevertheless.
 

Cebolla

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2019
Messages
14
Likes
21
Not in principal, ‘Master’ releases should not be available.

The whole point of this tier is to not pay MQA, it would be a ****** business model of them to include bootleged MQA tracks and for Tidal to pay them nevertheless.
Forget about the principle, presumably assumed from the TIDAL marketing speak. Did you actually read my first post above (& especially Peter Lie's comments in the linked Roon community thread)?
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/tidal’s-new-lossless-tier-says-goodbye-to-mqa-but-does-it-really.22968/post-767685
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
6,912
Likes
8,109
It should be equivalent to setting the playback quality to HiFi in the Tidal app.
That's my suspicion too, which we know serves flag stripped mqa when they only have the mqa available. (in territories under the old tiers). I can't believe they will pay to store 2 versions of the same track x however many mqa tracks they have.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
6,912
Likes
8,109
Not in principal, ‘Master’ releases should not be available.

The whole point of this tier is to not pay MQA, it would be a ****** business model of them to include bootleged MQA tracks and for Tidal to pay them nevertheless.

But its only "Master" when the special light comes on
 

mansr

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 5, 2018
Messages
3,693
Likes
8,346
Location
Hampshire
That's my suspicion too, which we know serves flag stripped mqa when they only have the mqa available. (in territories under the old tiers). I can't believe they will pay to store 2 versions of the same track x however many mqa tracks they have.
There's too much confusion around various types of MQA tags, flags, and stripping thereof. I want to see samples.
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
6,912
Likes
8,109
There's too much confusion around various types of MQA tags, flags, and stripping thereof. I want to see samples.
We need a friendly aussie.
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
3,855
Likes
4,379
Location
UK
I can't believe they will pay to store 2 versions of the same track x however many mqa tracks they have.
I can believe it, storage is cheap, they are already storing the lossy ones in multiple bit rates, and having the files already there reduces processing, and simplifies the code. I've read previously that for streaming services storage is cheaper than processing, but I expect 'it's complicated' is the true answer.
Their implementation today might not match their implementation in 6 months, what they have done right now is almost development free, so it could just be a quick reaction to the market, or maybe they really don't care.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom