• 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) If not decoding MQA, what's the difference between Master and Redbook albums?

Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
61
Likes
18
#1
Hello,

If i'm not unfolding MQA, whats the difference between playing identical two albums, one being Master and the other not, assuming both come from the same release and master tape?

Is the "base" FLAC file from the MQA version any different from the FLAC of the "normal" version?

I mean, if I'm using only Hifi, not Master, is there any advantage on choosing regular versions instead of the MQA version of (assumed) identical releases of the same album?

Also, some MQA albums are FLAC 48khz-24bit, but when only Hifi is selected, I get "FLAC 44.1khz-16bit". Is this a converted file from the original MQA FLAC being streamed?

Thanks!!
 
Last edited:

somebodyelse

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
898
Likes
564
#2
If you're not unfolding MQA then pick the "normal" version if you get the option. If nothing else it'll either be smaller for the same resolution, or higher resolution for the same size. Benchmark detail this among other objections to MQA. This is of course assuming the master is identical, which it may not be.
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,890
Likes
2,769
Location
UK
#3
There are less real bits in the MQA, something like 14, the rest is noise, there are 16 bits in the normal version.
The MQA might be at 48khz instead of 44.1.
The MQA is larger to download.
I've not found any watermarked MQA, but plenty of normal is watermarked.

Are you avoiding the software unfold, or is it not offered with your software?
 
OP
F
Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
61
Likes
18
Thread Starter #4
There are less real bits in the MQA, something like 14, the rest is noise, there are 16 bits in the normal version.
The MQA might be at 48khz instead of 44.1.
The MQA is larger to download.
I've not found any watermarked MQA, but plenty of normal is watermarked.

Are you avoiding the software unfold, or is it not offered with your software?
In reality, I'm using Premium subscription on tidal (AAC 320kbps) because of data restriction in my situation.

I mentioned plain "hifi" to simplify the question... but the actual case is the difference of choosing the redbook vs the MQA version of the same album when "converting" both to AAC 320 (premium tidal).

Bonus question is: when using plain Hifi subscription (no Master), does it "convert" the 48khz 24 bit MQA albums to 44.1/16 bit?

Thanks. I reckon these are more theoretical than practical questions.
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,890
Likes
2,769
Location
UK
#5
I mentioned plain "hifi" to simplify the question... but the actual case is the difference of choosing the redbook vs the MQA version of the same album when "converting" both to AAC 320 (premium tidal).
I've no idea in that case. It actually offers MQA in AAC format?
 
OP
F
Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
61
Likes
18
Thread Starter #6
I've no idea in that case. It actually offers MQA in AAC format?
Yes. Regardless of the quality selected/subscription plan, the Master albums are still there. On the High/Premium setting, they are played as AAC 320kbps 16 bit. Of course, no MQA processing is done. The same happens when only Hifi (not Master) is selected. In this case, it plays as FLAC 44.1khz/16bit (even tho some MQAs are 48khz 24 bit)
 
Last edited:

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,890
Likes
2,769
Location
UK
#7
Yes. Regardless of the quality selected/subscription plan, the Master albums are still there. On the High/Premium setting, they are played as AAC 320kbps 16 bit. Of course, no MQA processing is done. The same happens when only Hifi is selected, but not Master. They play as FLAC 44.1khz/16bit (even tho some MQAs are 48khz 24 bit)
With you now, but I don't know the answer, you could try asking them.
 
OP
F
Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
61
Likes
18
Thread Starter #9
As far as I understand, they only stream FLAC at best if the Master option is not selected in the Hi-FI setting is selected.
yes, but is this flac the same MQA base file but “compressed”? When streaming a Master album, of course
 

dmac6419

Active Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
235
Likes
117
#10
There are less real bits in the MQA, something like 14, the rest is noise, there are 16 bits in the normal version.
The MQA might be at 48khz instead of 44.1.
The MQA is larger to download.
I've not found any watermarked MQA, but plenty of normal is watermarked.

Are you avoiding the software unfold, or is it not offered with your software?
How is MQA larger to download when the file is smaller than the original? Wasn't MQA suppose to be smaller to stream?For example: Haydn's String Quartet in D No 5. In hi-res competitor format DSD is 306MB while the MQA file is just 40MB. This compares with 73MB for the 24-bit/96kHz FLAC file and 142MB for the 24-bit/192kHz version
 

EB1000

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
100
Likes
66
#11
Most Tidal's MQA-encoded FLAC files are 48kHz/24bits files, and therefore larger in size compared to non-MQA versions. Some of the Tidal MQA albums are 48kHz/16 bit. Those I'd avoid because if played unfolded, you'll get only 13bits. You can use a Windows-based software called Athame to download MQA-encoded FLAC files from Tidal, and play then unfolded using any DAC/streamer with MQA decoding. I've downloaded over 1TB of MQA encoded albums from Tidal. Of course, this isn't exactly legit, but it does feel good ripping off Jay-Z...
 

dmac6419

Active Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
235
Likes
117
#12
Most Tidal's MQA-encoded FLAC files are 48kHz/24bits files, and therefore larger in size compared to non-MQA versions. Some of the Tidal MQA albums are 48kHz/16 bit. Those I'd avoid because if played unfolded, you'll get only 13bits. You can use a Windows-based software called Athame to download MQA-encoded FLAC files from Tidal, and play then unfolded using any DAC/streamer with MQA decoding. I've downloaded over 1TB of MQA encoded albums from Tidal. Of course, this isn't exactly legit, but it does feel good ripping off Jay-Z...
How is you ripping off Jay Z?How can the MQA file be bigger than the original file?You're not making sense.
 

EB1000

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
100
Likes
66
#13
How is you ripping off Jay Z?How can the MQA file be bigger than the original file?You're not making sense.
The MQA encoded FLAC files, at least the majority of them, are standard 48kHz/24bit FLAC files. 17 bits out of the 24bits carry the standard uncompressed audio. The rest of the bits are used as the MQA metadata. They hold lossy data with the MQA data, presented as dither noise to any non-MQA DAC. As for Jay-Z - He's the owner of Tidal... (see attached images of Foobar2000 properties of an MQA ripped FLAC file).
MQA-2.jpg
MQA-1.jpg
 

dmac6419

Active Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
235
Likes
117
#14
The MQA encoded FLAC files, at least the majority of them, are standard 48kHz/24bit FLAC files. 17 bits out of the 24bits carry the standard uncompressed audio. The rest of the bits are used as the MQA metadata. They hold lossy data with the MQA data, presented as dither noise to any non-MQA DAC. As for Jay-Z - He's the owner of Tidal... (see attached images of Foobar2000 properties of an MQA ripped FLAC file). View attachment 48179 View attachment 48180
That's something you encoded,How is MQA bigger than the original ?Oh and i buy my music so that the person who created it gets paid,your not screwing Jay Z.
 
Last edited:

EB1000

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
100
Likes
66
#15
That's something you encoded,How is MQA bigger than the original ?

I did not encode anything. What do you mean by "original file"? The master is expected to be larger. The Tidal non-MQA standard lossless file is a 44.1kHz/16bits Redbook FLAC file, and therefore is smaller than its MQA version, which is 48kHz/24bit FLAC than can be unfolded into 17bit 192kHz audio. I simply paste the album's Tidal's URL into Athame, and hit download. Athame DOES NOT reencode the original file. it only downloads the file and adds some extra comments into its ID3 tags...

P.S the person who created the music is getting paid royalties from Tidal anyway. The last time I bought music was the last time I've purchased a CD. it was back in 2000 I think... I am paying for the Tidal Hi-fi subscription, however (and for Deezer too).
 
Last edited:

dmac6419

Active Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
235
Likes
117
#16
So what did you use Athame from github for?How do you know what size the master file are?You work for the studio,Tidal etc?
 

EB1000

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
100
Likes
66
#17
So what did you use Athame from github for?How do you know what size the master file are?You work for the studio,Tidal etc?

Athame is a geat too which allows Deezer and Tidal (and Google Music) users to play their music fully offline using any third-party payer (software or hardware based). I only play music directly from Tidal/Deezer when I'm outdoors using my phone. At home, I prefer to play using my personal library.

I do not work for any studio or Tidal. I'm only guessing that the original master of an MQA-available track, should be at least the same bit-depth and sample rate as the unfolded track, namely, 24bit/192KHz.
 

dmac6419

Active Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
235
Likes
117
#18
Athame is a geat too which allows Deezer and Tidal (and Google Music) users to play their music fully offline using any third-party payer (software or hardware based). I only play music directly from Tidal/Deezer when I'm outdoors using my phone. At home, I prefer to play using my personal library.

I do not work for any studio or Tidal. I'm only guessing that the original master of an MQA-available track, should be at least the same bit-depth and sample rate as the unfolded track, namely, 24bit/192KHz.
You would need an MQA dac to do the unfolding,see you could put a MQA file on a redbook cd and it would play back as a regular cd,unless you have something to unfold it.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
5
Likes
0
#20
Hello,

If i'm not unfolding MQA, whats the difference between playing identical two albums, one being Master and the other not, assuming both come from the same release and master tape?

Is the "base" FLAC file from the MQA version any different from the FLAC of the "normal" version?

I mean, if I'm using only Hifi, not Master, is there any advantage on choosing regular versions instead of the MQA version of (assumed) identical releases of the same album?

Also, some MQA albums are FLAC 48khz-24bit, but when only Hifi is selected, I get "FLAC 44.1khz-16bit". Is this a converted file from the original MQA FLAC being streamed?

Thanks!!
The difference is you get to hear more of the overall sound. Non-MQA has the in your face sound it's like watching the concert in front while the MQA is like you are listening from a distance, there's a sense of focus.


Most Tidal's MQA-encoded FLAC files are 48kHz/24bits files, and therefore larger in size compared to non-MQA versions. Some of the Tidal MQA albums are 48kHz/16 bit. Those I'd avoid because if played unfolded, you'll get only 13bits. You can use a Windows-based software called Athame to download MQA-encoded FLAC files from Tidal, and play then unfolded using any DAC/streamer with MQA decoding. I've downloaded over 1TB of MQA encoded albums from Tidal. Of course, this isn't exactly legit, but it does feel good ripping off Jay-Z...
do you mind sharing your 1TB MQA rips.
 
Top Bottom