How Is MQA Fareing?


 In another thread here are posters are making comments about MQA suggesting that it isn't a big commercial success, that is should be called DOA, etc.  Yet there are always announcements about companies adopting MQA, testimonials from happy Tidal streamers, etc.
  I'm neutral on MQA but having witnessed more than a few formats go down in flames in my time, and still puzzling over the resurgence of vinyl, I wonder how one measures the marketplace progress of MQA.  Do we look at Tidal subscriptions?  Sales of MQA compatible DACs?  The size of Bob Stuart's house?
mahler123
I think the fact that any forum you go to there is a lot of talk about MQA bad and good. That certainly indicates that people are interested. Whether it will last or grows or increases subscribers to Tidal or makes money for Meridian it is really to early to tell. I don't really understand the DOA guys. If they don't like it then don't buy into it. Stop lecturing everybody else on how evil MQA is. We don't really care what you think
Alan
So far, so good.  Two of the three major record companies (conglomerates Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) have  signed on with MQA and end users seem to be happy with it.  

Streaming seems to be where music sales are going.  The major labels have long wanted to find a way to rent music rather than sell it.  So it just needs enough people to sign up for Tidal Masters to make it profitable enough for everyone involved.  That's the hard part.  $20/month is the introductory rate.  That's sure to be jacked up in the future if it catches on.
No idea about MQA progress but Tidal Masters often sound excellent and that is what I am very happy about.

I have a theory that high frequencies generated in excessively high resolution help with DAC performance ....a kind of dither if you like as none of thse excessively high frequencies are actually audible but the audible audio spectrum often sounds better at higher sample rates.
fear of DRM from MQA is driving a lot of unhappiness
+1 arh

I am enjoying the subtle audible improvements everytime I cue up a MQA recording on Tidal and very excited about MQA prospect. 

Having said that, I believe most major manufacturer of DAC's are still on the fence or lagging behind which is IMO, quite discouraging.  Any new format (software) success or failure largely depends on compatible hardware availability.  

Let's hope we see more MQA compatiable DAC's in second half of the year. 
To arh:
Dear "arh" - you're entirely wrong and  we don't really care what you think.

All specialists (aware of Bob's "doings") are obligated to inform audiophiles about all that they know about MQA - in order to make right decision: to buy or not to buy MQA.
I am very pleased with MQA and the TIDAL delivery of it. The amount of MQA albums is increasing each week. Audible improvements of listening to a 24 bit 44,48,96,176, 196 and even 382 is very audible. It depends on the Master source and record label of course, but some albums by 2L are outstanding and MQA is impressive and sounds as good as the DXD master itself.
2L recordings sound impressive enough through non MQA equipment.  For me the question would be how does regular, non Audiophile recordings fare?  
PS Audio just joined in. That has to say something. I respect Paul McGowan very much for what he has seen and done for the "high end". 
I don’t know how well MQA is doing. I, like many, see a growing number of companies now offering MQA playback integrated into their streaming devices.

When I bought a Bluesound Node 2, it was in the back of my mind to try the MQA playback. But foremost I wanted to integrate my Itunes library, made of mostly of ripped CD’s, as well as Spotify playback all organized into one playback device. I do NOT like using a computer to do this. So my Iphone or Ipad became my controller, with all music stored on a MyCloud HDD off in another room. Works very well for me but recently I started my subscription to Tidal again and had the opportunity to play some Tidal MQA albums. WOW I was not prepared for how well it sounded, I was amazed. Granted I have NOT listened to FLAC files in anything like 192k/24 bit PCM or DSD files, therefore I don’t know how good they sound. But to my ears, MQA files sound fantastic. The sound has rich tone, great clarity and detail, a large soundstage and a smooth transition across a very wide frequency band. I am hearing much more information from the recordings. Maybe it’s my imagination but I think not. 
Personally, lossless FLAC is fine. https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music

@bkmaxey,  thanks for sharing the article. Very informative indeed. The article concluded on a very positive (hopeful)  note, 

"In the end I’m confident that the free, readily available, high quality, open-source alternatives will win out. Lock down, centralisation and profiteering has a tendency towards failure".


@bkmaxeyVery interesting.  Thank you posting that.  
You'll never see that point of view in Stereophile or The Absolute Sound.
To 2psyop - but I CAN hear the difference between Tidal Masters and the same original albums - not MQA encoded. For me, original albums sounds more like vinyl via tube ?
It's always good to hear an alternate point of view, but it sounds like Linn just doesn't want to pay Meridian whatever costs they might incur in implementing MQA.  Linn can always develop a better/cheaper way of streaming hi-res files if they want.

Tidal streaming is the main source for MQA listening right now.  Tidal also streams cd quality and mp3.  You pay more if you want higher quality or less if you want lower quality.  The choice is yours.

I think streaming is the future for digital audio. If enough people find MQA worth paying extra for, it will succeed, if not, it will fail.  I don't see it as a conspiracy to harm music.
Recently upgraded my MSB Analog DAC with the new MQA module. I was previously streaming Tidal Master and it sounded good but to actually decode the MQA is much much better. I am happy with it and expect that MQA will continue to grow. 
MQA - is not worth time and effort. Consensus with my audiophile contacts is some things sound a bit 'better' will others a bit worse! Mostly it just makes things sound slightly different and NOT better. When I recorded tracks 20-30 years ago, we would take a mix and run out to our car and listen to see how it came across on the vehicle's cassette player. This was an effort to see how things sounded in the real world and our final mixes were adjusted accordingly. Getting that mix prior to that step does not improve anything. 
When we are taking about streaming in hight quality. Why not do as the streaming company Qobuz. They deliver streaming with flac files and noting else is needed then a dac that can use as 192kHz 24bit.
it cost more of cause. But in the end it is better. Or?
jazzdc
2 posts
07-29-2017 3:29am
MQA - is not worth time and effort. Consensus with my audiophile contacts is some things sound a bit 'better' will others a bit worse! Mostly it just makes things sound slightly different and NOT better. When I recorded tracks 20-30 years ago, we would take a mix and run out to our car and listen to see how it came across on the vehicle's cassette player. This was an effort to see how things sounded in the real world and our final mixes were adjusted accordingly. Getting that mix prior to that step does not improve anything.
Hmm, really technical (as in accurate LOL) then. I get your drift, but poor analogy. Studios use a mini monitor for 'radio' check, and full range (hopefully good) speakers for sound check. But as in all things, some studios were better than others, and we have all come across hideously harsh or bright recording, even recently clipping recording in the digital domain (Metallica as an example). My view is anything that gives us access to 'better' sounding albums, then good news. The ones I have tried do seems a bit cleaner and more dynamic, though I am using 96K tracks to a non MQA DAC, so got got the 'whole' MQA bounce. But it is an improvement to me.

And yes, lets stop the MQA bashing for the sake of it, way too much of that political / corporate nervosa going on. And IMO if more pay for Tidal Masters, the price will drop not go up, and Amazon and others might offer a similar service to help drive it down.
Sorry, have to bash Apple though, they had their chance with 'Apple Music' service, it was / is dire. Forget Apple, they are too into selling mp3 at garbage quality for 99p a track. That is on the way out and will die soon I am convinced.
I've had MQA for the last few months and really enjoy it.
It's true I do not have the technical expertise to bring to the the table but with 40 years earning my living as a performing musician and the last 20 endlessly experimenting with various combinations of high end audiophile equipment, my opinion more than counts, it supercedes. 

Whether MQA 'sounds' better or not will always be a matter of opinion highly reliant on your own equipment and personal mixing preferences for the last particular track you heard. If that kind of jumbled mess is the criteria for progress, you've got me beat. 

note: My audiophile friends mostly agree but there is one hold out - the non musician. 
Love MQA through my ARC system and Blusound Vault 2... When I can find music that I want to listen to...
I Don't like the concept of "renting" music though and find the Tidal music channel appears to be pushing lots of its own musical genre that I don't find interesting. That said, when I dig in and search for music that is to my liking it often is not in the MQA format which makes the $20 monthly fee questionable.  I do feel MQA is an entertaining high quality musical source with audible pleasantries to be sure.  Some recordings sound more intimate and come alive in MQA... I do find myself wishing that there were some quality alternatives to Tidal as a distribution channel.
Bottom line though is regardless of how good it sounds (or potentially can sound given the original master), MQA is a "lossy compression". For those such as myself who primarily listen to bands - such as but not limited to the Grateful Dead - whose live recordings are readily available in "lossless" compression formats such as flac or shn, why would I ever want to stream MQA when I can just download the lossless files and play those?
Meh. I agree. If I own lossless hi-res, I have zero need for MQA. I have Tidal but find I rarely use it. Comparing a hi-res track to its MQA equivalent (like the Warner releases) is something to check out, since most likely the mastering is the same. MQA sounds OK but something is slightly off about it compared to the lossless file. 

I agree with Linn only that the technology should not be a locked-in proprietary format. And to be honest, all of the audiophile press gushing positive about this is somewhat suspect. End users are more split in their opinions. Some see it as a money grab since DVD-Audio sank (some discs used MLP--Meridian Lossless Packing--to shrink the size of the data).

And think about it. Anytime Meridian is asked how it works, they either dodge the question or launch into technobabble. They hide "lossy" under the word "unfolding." Their argument for their brand of lossy is that they are throwing away data for sounds we aren't able to hear. This is EXACTLY what Sony said about their failed ATRAC compression (used for MiniDisc), and I believe even lowly MP3 was also described as such. 

I do think there is a use for a compacted data version of hi-res for streaming, but it needs to be "open." And given Tidal's uncertain future (they are in poor shape financially), another streaming service would be needed to deliver it. And there aren't enough audiophiles to support one at an affordable cost, sadly.

BTW, I think Tidal is a bargain. Think about it. Even without MQA, for the cost of a new CD or two each month, we get access to a lot of lossless CD-quality music. Great way to sample something before buying, or provide music for guests. Owning a $10k+ system and complaining about $20/month seems a bit silly, no?
I did  A , B    Tidal Hifi with MQA  Aurender I won't make any changes.  I really notice my CDP up against Tidal
Hifi. CDP blows it away 
 But the convince edges 
Tidal in first place 
@bec1195

Lots of back & forth about SQ improvements of MQA on TIDAL. IMHO, I've only heard improvement when comparing MQA to CD Redbook (lossless) tracks on TIDAL and that's only with the initial unfold to 48k/24-bit. Admittedly, improvement on some tracks is very slight but I've never heard worst. Perhaps some of the naysayers can list some examples of worst sounding MQA tracks on TIDAL.

However, your point about the current TIDAL HiFi cost of $20 being an introductory rate is interesting. The economics of MQA are going to be critical to its adoption. 

From TIDAL's perspective, there's no need for them to increase their subscription fee. From an infrastructure perspective, MQA tracks take the same amount of server throughput, disk storage and streaming rates as lossless Redbook CD tracks. 

There's no reason for the major record companies need to charge more as they're just selling 0 & 1 bits. I admit I'm not an expert re: any extra cost for the record companies to produce MQA files vs. Redbook CD files.   

Meridian will already be charging hardware and software player manufacturers to decode MQA tracks. If Meridian decides to also tack on some sort of MQA fee to the record companies, then they're killing their own potential Golden Goose.

Then we need to consider the greed factor of either TIDAL, the big 3 record companies or Meridian. I can't imagine that us audiophiles move the TIDAL user subscription needle, so if TIDAL decides to charge more for MQA, how much extra revenue do they project. I doubt it would amount to $1M per year. They'd be better off with a marketing pitch stating they provide MQA for the same current HiFi cost.

That leaves the greed factor of either the record companies or Meridian. If either wants to kill MQA adoption, go ahead and raise costs that affect the monthly streaming price. 
To JazzDC: I don't understand your comment about it not being good that MQA could remove the step where you adjusted recording mixes so they would sound good in a car. Isn't that exactly what would benefit, at least, audiophiles? Adjusting the mix to sound good in a car would be unlikely to make a recording sound more like the original event on a high end home system. Maybe I'm missing your point...
This week I noticed that MQA content from Universal Music has been added to Tidal.
I have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC, which I love, but MQA sounds dull when output to the DAC, even when I have Tidal doing the unfolding...so I bought a Mytek Brooklyn DAC just for streaming Tidal MQA, and with many (but not all) MQA mastered albums the sound is excellent.  I especially noticed how well recorded acoustic piano, ride cymbals and well recorded vocals sound more "realistic".
My DirectStream DAC coupled with my DirectStream transport with most SACDs and many "regular" CDs sound excellent as well, in many cases, sound better than the MQA remasters.
So, I think the "jury's out" on MQA and its ultimate commercial success.
@ejr1953 

I was thinking about purchasing the Brooklyn DAC to realize the true potential of MQA recordings. 

Would you say, a well recorded MQA recording provides substantial audible upgrade with Brooklyn DAC over their 16bit/44.1kHz counterpart on Tidal HiFi.  One such album is Stepping Out by Diana Krall. The 'Body and Soul' and 'Jimmie' tracks are absolute joy! 

I own a ARC DAC9 and both MQA and Tidal HiFi sounds pretty darn good. I do hear bit more depth and clarity in upsample (384kHz) mode when I am listening to a well recorded album or a track. FYI, DAC9 does not have MQA decoding on board.