How many of you believe in MQA?


I have recently purchased a Bluesound Node 2i.  The dealer suggested I connect the Bluesound by way of digital coax to a Pro-Ject S2 DAC by way of RCA anologue to my ARCAM AVR550.  However, I found out I will not be able to control my Bluesound with an iPhone, iPad or PC notebook.  The only way to hear MQA completely unfolded is to plug in a computer USB.  This would mean I would have to get up from where I am sitting, go to the computer to change songs and albums.  I believe the Pro-Ject RS2 DAC would work, but not sure what the sales price is or if this is a good option.

The dealer asked me why I wanted to even bother listening to MQA completely unfolded when the DAC sounded better than the DAC inside the Bluesound.  He thinks MQA is way over rated and it may not be around a year from now.  If I hook things up with the Pro-Ject S2 DAC I will be able to hear one unfold which would be at 24 bit/88.2 kHz.  If I do this, I will be giving up the opportunity to hear MQA recordings recorded at 24 bit/96 kHz or 24 bit/192 kHz.  

How many of you are enbracing MQA?  
C8ae46d2 13a8 4a9e 9672 691de36f1fddlarry5729
I agree with your dealer. I think of MQA as the Dolby of the 21st century. Though it sounds nice on paper, why do I have to buy equipment to fully extract the beautiful sound? - Oh yes, money...
I will take either a high resolution track, or use my Memory Player Mini, thank you.
Bob
I think MQA is terribly over rated.

I have a Mytek Brooklyn which was one of the first fully MQA compatible DACs out there. I've disabled it and never looked back.


As I've written before, MQA is to my mind, about 20 years too late. 20 years ago DACs playing Redbook just did not sound very good. Now that has greatly improved to the point where the best DACs make high resolution files a lot less important to me. I spent time with an older ARC DAC 8 and the Mytek, but other DACs I've heard more casually confirm this. Something about new DACs, perhaps better and cheaper clocks, perhaps better jitter reduction, has shifted things.
With the ARC 8 I had to use high resolution files for it to sound good. The red book did not. With the Mytek, this delta in performance really disappeared.

I talked to a few audiophiles at the SF audiophile society and they basically concurred, they could not find an improvement. 
And yes, I agree, the performance of the DAC in terms of it's output stage is FAR more important to me now than MQA or even the original file resolution.

Go with your ears.


Best,

E
I cancelled Tidal as a result of my disillusionment with MQA.  Opted for Qobuz hi-res.  MQA just isn't sonically pleasing to my ears.
Post removed 
Thanks everyone.  I had hoped to hear 24/192, but probably would not detect much of a difference between that and 24/88.2 anyway.  When playing the Bluesound through RCA, it sounded harsher than through through the DAC.  Bass sounded more boomy and cymbals  with less detail. However, what would the Bluesound sound through a more expensive DAC that can be controlled remotely controlled by my iPone or PC.  Perhaps, you might know of an affordable option.  

Maybe the Pro-Ject RS2 would be a good option.  Be worth saving up for because I am not about to connect my PC to DAC and get up every time to change a song.

i feel like Elizabeth too.

i would still like to hear MQA played through a nice DAC.  Developer of MQA figured out how to make a buck from multiple income streams.

Thanks again everyone!

If you want to hear genuine hi rez sources, plenty of online stores for you like HD Tracks.

You asked about MQA though, which is a different story.
I've done the A/B twice with MQA - once with my Node 2 analog out vs Chord 2qute and once with a Node 2i analog out vs Schitt Yggdrasil and the outboard DAC easily won both times playing at 24/96.

It's an easy A/B to set up see what your ears like.  Depending on the DAC and cabling you may even prefer the sound of the Node 2i which is quite capable on its own.
audiojedi,

I thought if you play a Bluesound Node 2i RCA (analogue out) through a DAC on a receiver or an amplifier that is not MQA certified, it automatically defaults back to 24/88.2 because this is only one MQA unfold.  

If I were to connect the Bluesound Node 2i by way of digital coax to the Chord 2qute, will I be able to unfold MQA completely and be able to operate the Bluesound remotely by way of iPhone, iPad and PC.  If so, I wonder how this would sound.  I hear all of the market hype about MQA and about how great it is to be able to hear music the way it sounded when it was mixed in the studio.  However, maybe it is just hype, as so many audiophiles seem to not be impressed.  If I play play the Bluesound Node 2i through the Pro-Ject S2 DAC I WILL be hearing one MQA unfold, for whatever that is worth.

I would be completely satisfied with being able to hear 24/96.  However, again, I would guess it would be nearly impossible to detect any sound quality difference between 24/88.2 and 24/96.

I have thought about switching from TIDAL to QOBUZ, but QOBUZ just doesn't have much of a library.  For example, TIDAL has 20 albums by Vincent Ingala and QOBUZ has only one.  However, I will most likely switch once QUOBUZ's library is the size of TIDAL.  What TIDAL should do is upgrade their Hi-Fi songs to play 24/96 and 24/192.  They could crush Qobuz if they did this.  
I’ve been far happier with qobuz.  Not too many mqa albums that I listened to.  Hi Res files on Qobuz is a different story.  Michael Jackson sounds really good on Qobuz Hi Res; same with Norah Jones.  I can find quite a bit of edm in Hi Res on Qobuz.  When I type Mozart in Qobuz’ search engine it doesn’t bring up a rapper, like in Tidal.

I prefer the sound of Qobuz over Tidal
I wouldn't say I'm "embracing" MQA, but I don't hate it either.  I think it sounds better than a CD quality file even with a non MQA DAC just letting Tidal's app do the first unfold.  I prefer hi-res files on Qobuz where I don't need a special device to get "all" of the MQA "magic".  I bought a MQA enabled DAC to see if there is a big difference, and there isn't to my ears.  

Your Bluesound will unfold MQA files if you use the analog outs.  I don't understand your statement that you can't control the Bluesound when running the sound through a DAC.  I do exactly that using my phone or tablet on two of my systems - Bluesound Node 2 ----> DAC ----> Preamp.
I’m indifferent on MQA, but I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to judge it based on the output of a Bluesound product, just because the DAC there IMO really isn’t strong enough to get the full benefit of the hi-res music recorded under the MQA.

I’ve got a Powernode 2 (full MQA) and separately a Teac NT-505, also full MQA. The difference between the two is night and day, though granted one is a $2k product and one is $800. The Teac uses dual AK 4497 while the Bluesound uses (and the 2i versions also still use) a dated TI/Burr Brown lower quality DAC chips. Also, the analog output section of the Teac is far superior to the Bluesound.

For further context, I also have an Integra DTM-7 (full MQA), and again, like the Bluesound, it's DAC really isn't strong enough to unlock all of the goodness of Hi-Res via Tidal MQA, even though it's fully certified etc full MQA.

IMO it really doesn't make sense for MQA to be be licensing to lower quality DACs like Bluesound/Integra DTM-7 because the MQA hi-res experience will kinda necessarily be underwhelming with that level of DAC, and it's really nothing to do with MQA.  (But of course not hard to figure out why they license to a high-volume company like Bluesound).

Tidal is my only source for all systems so I can’t really compare it’s hi-res content via MQA versus qobuz or hi-res downloads, fwiw.

All I’m saying is that were Bluesound my only reference for MQA, I’d be very underwhelmed, whereas with the Teac I am floored by the fantastic quality of Masters Tidal via MQA.

Bottom line, anyone looking for pheneomenal MQA/hi-res I'd suggest Teac NT-505 streamer/dac/preamp for $2k it's really really good.   (also not knocking the cheaper products (I own them and like them for their modest cost) just not really suited to hi res MQA IMO).
big_greg,

What I was referring to is the only way I can hear complete unfold using the Pro-Ject S2 DAC is to hook my PC computer to it via USB.  I wish I could understand more how it works because the dealer did not explain it well to me because he does not believe in MQA.

I am going to try using the Bluesound Node 2i hooked up RCA analogue to ARCAM and see how it sounds.  The technical people at Harmon Industries told me the DAC inside the Bluesound is better than the DAC inside my ARCAM AVR550.

I might be better off saving up my money for a DAC that can do the complete MQA unfold and be controlled by an iPhone, iPad or PC.  I think the Pro-Ject RS2 DAC has the ability to do this.  Wonder if anyone has experience with this DAC or if they have any ideas to offer to recommend a DAC that doesn't cost a fortune.

I have not yet opened the Bluesound box and I wonder if I should have gone with the Bel Canto eOne streamer.  Wonder if that has a better DAC than the Bluesound and perhaps that is why that dealer told me to buy that and not the Bluesound.  It retails for $1,600 and I wonder if the increased sell price is worth the money over the $499 Bluesound Node 2I?
Kind of on a side note, in the past when these questions came up there were always fanboys, with lots of canned counter points.

They seem to have vanished. Guess they've given up the fight?
I am enjoying MQA Masters from Tidal.  That first unfold provided by the Tidal app is all I need. More detail, kick drum sounds more real and the leading and trailing edge of bass notes are particularly well defined. 

It hasn’t cost me anything to listen to thousands of Hi-Res tracks I would have had to purchase otherwise.  I subscribed to Tidal well before MQA Masters were added to their library.  

Count me as a believer in MQA.  In general I like what I hear.  

I enjoy Qobuz also and listen to their Hi-Res selections as well.  Good stuff.  

My disclaimer is that I don’t have near the time or money invested in my hifi and music collection as a lot of others here do. I just like picking an album to play and if I wonder what the format is due to something I am hearing, I will investigate.  Otherwise it’s just the bliss of good tunes.  

I am enjoying hi-res in all the formats and consider my subscriptions to Tidal and Qobuz a bargain.  
Larry, I think you're confused about a couple of things.

First, you shouldn't need a PC in the chain.  You stream music from the Bluesound Node 2 directly to your Arcam or you can run it to the Pro-Ject DAC via a coax cable and connect the DAC to the Arcam.  You may find the Node 2i's DAC is as good or better than the Pro-Ject DAC.  Either way, you should be able to get a full unfold of the MQA files.

The Bluesound app will control streaming from music services like Tidal, Qobuz, Radio Paradise, etc. as well as stream music from your home network if you have files that you have shared on your network.  The DAC just converts digital signals to analog and passes them to the Arcam.  There's nothing to control on the DAC.
I personally would not invest in equipment with MQA because I don't want to be tied to what Tidal decides to stream in that format. And lately their new releases in classical is a couple of months behind Qobuz...
Big_Greg is correct. You don’t need the computer. That is why the Node2 was designed as a one-in-all player. The Bluesound is a DAC and streamer all in one. It can be linked to a NAS or your own library of music as well, but one does not have to do this. I was surprised by how good the DAC inside the Bluesound sounded.  I am using a Node 2 for playing non-MQA and MQA material and it sounds fantastic. Not every album sounds good in MQA. Just like the old analog mastered albums, some good recordings, some not so good.

I am not sure I understand the MQA take-a-side argument. It is just another format to try, see how you like it. If not, try something else??? Am I believer?!? In MQA. That makes the format sound like a cult, or UFO, or elves ....which is kind of ridiculous.

Reel to Reel tapes, Betamax, cassette tapes, mini-discs, CD, turntables, aiff, FLAC, wav, streaming .....just another way to listen to music... not the end all, be all for music recording.
@big greg 
@2psyop .
I use a Bluesound Node and control it with a PC desktop app.
Though you could use an Android or Iphone, too. Either way, there is a computer.
I don't any other way to play music through the Node.
Bob
Bob, technically, you're correct as both phones and tablets are "computers".  I have the desktop app on my PC also and can control the Bluesound from there, but it isn't required.  I almost always use my phone or tablet.  In fact, I just downloaded the PC app yesterday.

The interface for the Bluesound has to be run on some kind of device. 

Larry was talking about having to physically go to his computer, which you don't have to do with a phone or tablet (or laptop).
Kind of on a side note, in the past when these questions came up there were always fanboys, with lots of canned counter points.

They seem to have vanished. Guess they've given up the fight?

Sorry for the being late to the game.  I'm still a fan of MQA.  I've done a ton of listening and research and still find MQA quite enjoyable.

I dropped Qobuz and kept Tidal...
Kind of like the "digital vs. vinyl" discussion in another thread, it doesn't have to be either/or.  I have both Tidal and Qobuz (and Spotify and Pandora too).  From a pure sound quality standpoint, I prefer Qobuz.  I also dislike the idea of having to buy specific hardware to get the "best" quality.  Tidal has a bigger selection and there are some things about its interface I like better than Qobuz, like the "My Mix" selections. 

Both Tidal and Qobuz sound really good even at CD quality and both MQA and Hi Res sound great.  MQA content sounds great even with my non-MQA DACs.  

I doubt that I could tell which was which if you were to blindfold me.

It's a lot like my other hobby - photography.  People get caught up in brand wars, debates about file formats (RAW vs. JPG), and more.  At the end of the day, I don't think there's a photographer out there that could look at an image and say what camera it was made with or if it was processed in RAW or as a JPG.
I use Tidal through the Roon interface. My DAC doesn’t do the final unfold but i think it sounds great. Chain is Innuos Zenith III to Lyngdorf 3400 to Vandersteen Treos. I auditioned Qobuz and I liked Tidal better my 2 cents. 
I just got my Bluesound set up.  John at Bluesound  is terrific.  I set up my the app and Tidal looks the same as it does on my Apple TV.  Like it best on my PC.

Are any of you familiar with the Bel Canto eOne streamer.  If so, is it worth triple the price of a Bluesound?

You guys are great!

I don’t care about it.  It is a lossy method of squeezing a high rez file into a Redbook container.  Why?  There are plenty of high rez containers.  I can stream 4K video into my house.  High rez audio isn’t even a challenge.  I’m not sure resolutions above Redbook even matter.  MQA is an attempt to make money answering a question no one was asking.  Audiophile claims that a decoded MQA file sounds better than the original high rez file are baloney.
If I continue to use my Bluesound, what MQA DAC would you hook up to it so I could control the Bluesound by way of iPhone, iPad and PC notebook?
Ah, another challenge to the universal "there’s no such thing as a dumb question..."

If I continue to use my Bluesound, what MQA DAC would you hook up to it so I could control the Bluesound by way of iPhone, iPad and PC notebook?

Have you read the manual? [font for circuitous answer search]... the answer is actually quite straightforward....

https://www.bluesound.com/support/
Hello Larry,

I do own a Project Pre Box S2.  Since Feb.  I also use Tidal HiFi.  I "hear" a difference between the single unfold and the full unfold (which makes the Pre Box show a blue indicator).  There are several settings that need to be correctly aligned in addition to the HiFi subscription to get the Master MQA stream.  The dealer is correct regarding the USB connection.  It is required for the full unfold.  But unless you have all the settings correct, you can actually have the single unfold playing...and you wonder what happened to change the character of the sound from the last time you played that song in full MQA.  I'm satisfied with the Pre Box sound in general after having changed the filter settings a few times, even though its relatively low priced.  I only use it with Tidal but can stream to a different external DACs in my setup without MQA by using optical.  Without any comment on the licensing strategy, I would prefer either full MQA unfold or non MQA....but not the single unfold.  However, I am doubtful in other postings from different threads (not these) of whether people have actually heard the full unfold of MQA or just used a box that was MQA enabled.  To bypass the rubbish and before considering any MQA DAC (mine was a birthday present), I had R&D invested in a handheld player that had MQA as one of its many features (included the latest hi-end dual DACs, one per channel, which beat everything I already have except my Esoteric).  And as most people know, MQA encapsulated albums can be purchased and downloaded at various sites on the web.  I downloaded 3 of my most listened albums / artists and took them and my handheld player on vacation.  Then, I also had a teenager listen to the MQA version of the one album they were familiar with and give me commentary.  Only after having spent headphone time and nothing else but the handheld did I decide there could be a difference.  From there I could venture to integrate some MQA option into my system.  Additionally, before trying to integrate any MQA DAC, I had Tidal app installed on my handheld (not a phone) and was able to easily flip through songs and playlists there, feeding it directly into my system as decoded 2 channel MQA as analog inputs....which I was also happy with.  In the end, having a computer in your listening room can add noise (computer fan) and you have to make other settings to make the exclusive MQA mode work correctly.  It's a little clunky, unless you sit at your computer or if you have a laptop and then a USB cord running to your system.  Some vendors like Schitt have totally rejected MQA and it still seems to be finding purchase in the audiophile market.  Personally, I like the options given no one truly agrees on analog vs. digital, streaming vs. non-streaming because most of it gets caught up in irrelevant issues regarding setup, equipment or apathy.  The Pre Box is useful at its price point for dipping into MQA, but I invested in more direct paths as proof of concept (and took the listening opinions of others in my circle) before adding yet more electronics to my system.  To me MQA seems like psychoacoustics, but in reading the specs, that's not what it is.  I'm not sure I would sink real money into an MQA enabled DAC at this point but the Pre Box seemed like a reasonable way to go early this year if wanting a simple path requiring some user involvement.  If not already received as a present, I would have purchased it.
Hi David,

what i I was asking is what DAC’s are out that could be hooked up to the Bluesound that can totally unfold MQA and be controlled remotely by iPhone,iPad and PC Notebook without having to get out of a chair to change to another album?
To my knowledge, the bluesound node 2i will decode MQA 24/192...

I’m confused here.  If you didn’t know that the Bluesound Node 2i is a network streamer / dac, what did you think it was?  
I'm confused and always have been about MQA and streaming in general. I have never been able to hear a difference between 44.1 kHz and MQA on Bluesound Node 2. Basically, I don't like Bluesound, and for iOS devices, not at all. Just to mention two things ...
If you go to favorites albums in the menu and click one of your favorites, and then you go back to the list, then the navigation will be lost. The list rolls back and you have to navigate down again to where you came from. The other thing is, that the BluOS application is not available on the home screen, when it's locked? It is for Android.

The last thing that (also) confuses me @larry5729 ... There are not 20 albums with Vincent Ingala on Tidal - there are only 5 in my view. What a mess.

Kind regards
A preponderance of confusion in this thread. : )
There are not 20 albums with Vincent Ingala on Tidal - there are only 5 in my view.

I don't know the artist so I pulled him up on Tidal/Qobuz. As you say there are 5 main albums listed, which is correct.

I checked online and HE HAS FIVE (5) albums released and credited to him. Where are his missing 15 albums???

If he has collaborations they may be listed under the primary artist, but even his Facebook Page shows very limited collaborations.
+1 @b_limo   

If you didn’t know that the Bluesound Node 2i is a network streamer / dac, what did you think it was?  

what i I was asking is what DAC’s are out that could be hooked up to the Bluesound that can totally unfold MQA and be controlled remotely by iPhone,iPad and PC Notebook without having to get out of a chair to change to another album?

Hi Larry. My advice is to learn all you can about the chain:

--- from how and where your Internet Service Provided (Provider) signal first enters your home all the way through to a (generic) DAC ---

You need to understand the fundamentals first.

I also recommend ceasing your MQA perseveration until all of the 100 level courses are passed.

The answer to your two questions are:

Many. [Look them up]

And,

All. [via the Bluesound (Output/Input matched)]
what i I was asking is what DAC’s are out that could be hooked up to the Bluesound that can totally unfold MQA and be controlled remotely by iPhone,iPad and PC Notebook without having to get out of a chair to change to another album?
You already have all of these things in the Node 2i.  There's nothing to "control" in a DAC, at least not in regards to your music selections, unless it is also a streamer (like the Node 2i). 

I have one of my Node 2's connected to my Auralic Vega DAC.  I control music selections with the Bluesound app on my phone or tablet.  You can also install an app on your laptop. 

I can change inputs and a few other things on my DAC with the remote, but it has nothing to do with music selections.  

Download the Bluesound app to your phone, tablet, and/or laptop, let it "find" the device on your network, and then you'll be able to use most of the major streaming services from your recliner as well as stream any music files you have available on your network.

This stuff isn't rocket surgery.  A little time spent reading the manual will go a long way.  There's also a lot of really simple and easy to read information on Bluesound's site and they also have forums.
David,

Sorry for the confusion about the number of Albums Vincent Ingala has put out.  You are correct, it is 5 albums.  I had him confused with Herbie Hancock.

By the way, I was at the RMAF two weeks ago and I asked several exhibitors to play Vincent Ingala's song Nasty on his Coast to Coast song and before I knew it exhibitors were playing it by other exhibitors.  This is an incredible demo song.  I also had them play Herbie Hancock's song Watermelon Man on his Head Hunters album.  That too was played by a lot of exhibitors.  Great demo song for bass and separation.  Really shows off speakers.  I play these two songs when I want to hear what my system can do.  Sure glad I added a pair of REL S3 SHO's to my system.  Still dialing them in to make them seamless.
Big Greg,

I was talking about improving the sound quality of the DAC inside the Bluesound and being able to control TiDAl remotely by use of my iPhone and PC notebook.  Eventually, I will add a DAC in the $1,500 to $2,000 range to unveil more of what is there in MQA recordings.  I also am not hung up on MQA.  All I care about is being able to hear more detail and to play more 24 bit hi res recordings.

Again, everyone has really helped me to understand what I can do.  Still wonder if anyone owns the Bel Canto eOne stream?  Does this piece, costing triple the price of a Bluesound really sound better than the base sound of both units being connected RCA analogue?  So far, I think adding a Chord DAC to the equation might be a good move down the road should I decide to give up on MQA.  The jury is out on MQA anyway, as there are a lot of us who resent someone developing a format to take revenues from multiple sources.  If MQA becomes the norm, this guy is going to be rich, if he isn't already.
Larry,

The DAC in the Bluesound is really good.  Try it first and see how you like it.  The Bluesound has everything you need to control it remotely, you just need to download an app for whatever device (phone, tablet, PC, laptop, iPad, etc.) you prefer to use.

I have both of my Node 2's connected to external DACs and there is an improvement in sound quality, but it's not a dramatic one.  In my main system I am using an Auralic Vega DAC.  In my bedroom system, I'm using a Mytek Liberty DAC.  The Vega doesn't do MQA and that doesn't matter to me.  The Liberty does do MQA and it sounds nice, but it's not as "natural" sounding as the Vega.  The Liberty retails for $1K and the Vega when it was new retailed for $3,500.  I think both improve the sound quality of the Node 2, but it's not as dramatic of an improvement as you might get with room treatment, better speakers, a preamp upgrade, etc.

I have no experience with the Bel Canto unit you mentioned, so won't comment.

My advice is to listen to the Node 2 for a while and see how you like it.  If you're happy with it, you're all set.  If you'd like to hear better sound quality, consider the MHDT Orchid DAC.  It's well under your budget and will bring a more "analog" like sound to your system and will retrieve more detail than the Bluesound's DAC.  It won't do MQA, but I doubt you'll care. 

I don't have a recommendation for a DAC that will do MQA, the Liberty is the only one I've tried and I think there are better sounding DACs even if they don't do MQA.
The Node 2i supposedly sounds quite a bit better than the original Node 2.

Larry, did you connect the Bluesound to your system yourself?

The bluesound node is a dac / streamer...  what were you using previously as your dac and have you a/b compared the two dacs (node / previously used dac).

Do you know how to a/b compare the two dacs?  If not, maybe we could help.  What is lacking in the bluesound dac?  What is lacking in the streamer?  

Its really odd that you bought a new streamer / dac and then right away ask about what kind of dac and streamer you should connect to your new dac and streamer...?

Again, when you were sold the Bluesound, what did he say it was?

Just a bit of clarification.  Larry, your Node 2i outputs Tidal/MQA by analog RCA, with the quality limitations discussed above, and by SPDIF Coaxial, but very few DACs decode MQA signals coming in that way.  The Mytek Liberty and Brooklyn DACs do, but the Pro-Ject PreBox S2 Digital does not...its MQA decoding is limited to the USB input.  With this item you do have to use a computer to stream your music...not an app on your tablet or smartphone.  But for that I'd have bought one of these myself! 
On the OP's main question, using my Tidal account and Node 2i, I find some Master files sound distictly better than regular CD quality files on Tidal...enough so to justify having the option, IMO, but some do not and in fact sound worse.  I suspect this has all to do with the integrity of the source file and less to do with the MQA process.
On balance, a desireable option, not a panacea.

I am currently looking into the Teac NT-505 as a better solution, but I am wary of the app used to control it.  I like Roon, but that's another expense.  As a Prime member I want to know if the NT-505 will be able to stream from Amazon Music.  Anyone know?
Teac nt-505 can be controlled by LUMIN app (recommended). That app is pretty good
I added a Pro-Ject S2 DAC to my Bluesound Node 2i yesterday and I am not sure I like the new sound.  I seems to sound brighter and produces more bass.  I think the bass is more punchy and the highs are brighter.  To me, it sounds harsher, unless I am hearing some of the detail I have not been hearing for the past 3 1/2 years.  I thought the Bluesound connected RCA (analogue) to my ARCAM sounded really good.  I think it might have sounded less harsh.

According to the Pro-Ject specifications, it says it can do MQA.  So, if that is the case, why did the dealer tell me when I connect the Bluesound digital coax to the Pro-Ject DAC and then RCA's to the back of my ARCAM I will not be hearing the complete unfold of MQA.  If that is the case, I will then hear one unfold and the highest resolution I will hear then will be 24 bit/88.2 kHz.  Why if the Pro-Ject is rated as MQA certified wouldn't MQA be passed through completely unfolded to my ARCAM.  This sure is confusing for someone like myself who is new to this hobby.  Maybe someone could explain this to me so I can understand.  So far, no one has been able to do so.

With Amazon Music Unlimited HD launching 2 days ago, I thought I would try adding a DAC so I could hear more songs 24/192, as it appears they offer more 24 bit albums than what TIDAL is offering.  For example, a Herbie Hancock album offered by TIDAL offers this album in CD quality (16/44.1) and the same album offered by Amazon Music is in 24/192.  If this is the case, why then be concerned with MQA?  What is the difference between listening to a FLAC recording done in 24/192 and the same recording done in MQA 24/192?  What would MQA do to that same recording to make it sound different?
My experience with MQA was through a PS Audio DirectStream Jr and was entirely positive. Some tracks I am very familiar with over decades sounded better than I had ever heard them, and I noticed the improvement without knowing they were MQA tracks and actually I didn't even know what MQA was at that point. I just noticed they sounded amazing with my (then) new Tidal subscription and started digging further to figure out why.

What I can tell you after thoroughly educating myself about MQA and digital audio in general is that nearly everything I see people write online is wrong. Most people have no concept of time resolution at all and harp on and on about frequency response, which is basically a non-issue in modern audio (modern including the last several decades) and something the human ear is far less sensitive to than time. You can take all the measurements you want but that doesn't tell you how the human ear perceives sound, just like anyone can show you a 1985 CD player measures better in every way than a record player, but lots of people think it sounds a lot worse. Alas, this MQA thing has gotten totally out of hand and people spew so much vitriol that it's become the right wing versus left wing argument of the audio world. Everyone could do well to take a deep breath and actually learn a little about what Bob Stuart has done for audio reproduction over the past 30 years before slandering everything involving the letters M, Q, and A.

That said, the simple answer to your question is you just have to listen to it. Audio is like food - there is no best and no one can tell you if what they like better is something you will like better. Try just using the BlueSound as a DAC for MQA and compare the same tracks with non-MQA versions. If you like MQA better, great, go for it. If not, don't. I'm not going to tell you vanilla ice cream is horrible and a scam because I like chocolate better. I wish people could see different file formats that way and stop telling everyone else what's good for them.
Larry5729,

“I thought the Bluesound connected RCA (analogue) to my ARCAM sounded really good. I think it might have sounded less harsh”

... this is because you prefer the dac in the bluesound over the dac in the pro-ject.

Have you even read anyones response on this thread that you started?
MQA shows u more holography and more of the room in which the recording took place. All the technical bla bla bla does not matter to me, what matters is what I hear!

The narcissism in many listeners here is disappointing

I’m a full time, credential, music Mastering Engineer.  MQA is an intrusion on artist approved work to make ex Meridan DVD staff money and it’s running a 50 million GBP debt per the last public filing I read.

It’s not a lossless process.  It’s not an upgrade as there is no upgrade over the sample rate of any mastering session.  If it “sounds better” to you that’s fine.  But that’s because the subtle harmonic distortions of the codec float your subjective boat. A cable or speaker alter sound subjectively and so does MQA.  To me however, it’s ruining my work, the client approved work.  It’s a travesty built on greed and lies. 

Background concepts : 

192 is not inherently superior to 96 is not superior to 44.1. This is a marketing myth. AD or DA is clock, chip, analog parts and filter.  Sample rate is not the primary factor in quality.  And engineers adjust each session for the subjectively best result given the audio chain. 

MQA at a base rate of 44.1 or 48 is also not superior to the source rate if in fact it was above those rates.  It’s not possible to upgrade mastered PCM.  Anything that alters is going backwards. Else we would have done it in mastering. Modern PCM DA can be amazing.  I use Bricasti M1 SE.  with many other great options out there to suit your taste. 

MQA is CERTAINLY NOT mastering engineer authenticated, their calling card is a sham, as they are bulk processing back catalogues to create a market.  That should be all you need to know if you’re a person of principle. 

It’s bad form all around.  Get the native sample rate file of the mastering session and focus on your room. 

Most audiophiles have playback rooms rooms that are by far the weakest link in their chain.  By far. 


@Brianlucey, Thank You for your response!  Very informative and helpful 👍
Brian,

I really appreciate your insight since you are a music master engineer.

How are most recordings made.  Are they recorded in 32 bit 192 kHz to begin with and then the recording studio copies 24 bit/192 kHz or 24 bit/96 kHz to a DVD or disk that can fit the greater amount of data and copy to a lower 16 bit/44.1 kHz to fit on a standard CD.  What then does MQA do that is different if it offers an original recording let's say in 24/96?  Isn't this going to sound exactly the same as any CD you pick off the shelf of the same recording done in 24/96 and pay more for the high res recording compared to the same recording sell on the shelf that is 16/44.1?  Is this what you are trying to say?

As a rookie starting out in this hobby I am beginning to begin to understand bit rates and sample rates.  I am also having problem hearing the difference between 16 bit and 24 bit recordings.  Maybe I am deaf.  The only thing I think I am hearing when hearing 24 bit is a bit more space and dimension.  However, maybe this is similar to THE EMPORER'S NEW CLOTHS phenomenon.  

I just connected a Pro-Ject S2 DAC to my Bluesound Node 2i after Amazon launched Amazon Music Unlimited HD.  I felt maybe the DAC is better than the DAC inside the DAC inside the Bluesound.  So far, I think it might sound more harsh after adding the Pro-Ject DAC.  Wonder if the Pro-Ject DAC emphasizes highs and the Bluesound is more neutral or is it I am hearing more detail compared to the Bluesound DAC and the DAC inside my ARCAM?  I called ARCAM and they told me the DAC inside the Bluesound was better than the DAC chip they put inside my ARCAM?  He said it can process more and since it has more processors, resistors, etc. than what they can fit inside the ARCAM, it should sound better.  My thinking was then maybe the stand alone Pro-Ject DAC, which has even more things inside than perhaps the Bluesound, maybe this will sound better than the DAC inside the Bluesound.

Several dealers and manufacturers at the RMAF told me what I am listening to remember everything I am hearing is the DAC.

Not too confusing!  I wonder what you would do if you were in my shoes.  Would you just connect the Bluesound via RCA analogue to my ARCAM or would you have connected the Bluesound via digital coax to a DAC like an affordable Pro-Ject S2 DAC and connect the DAC via RCA analogue to my ARCAM.  What in your opinion sounds better.  From what I can determine is if you want to hear MQA and in a completely unfolded format, you need to just hook up the Bluesound RCA's to the ARCAM.  I have a TIDAL subscription and I wanted to take advantage of the MQA technology.  However, dealers told me to forget MQA and either add a DAC to the mix that is better than the DAC inside the Bluesound and hear 1 unfold at 24/88.2 or take out a subscription to Qobuz and be able to take advantage of some of their recordings offered in 24/96 and 24/192.

I do think MQA could be just smoke and mirrors and a way to generate a lot of revenue from multiple sources by inventing a way to fold data and then in order to completely unfold it during the streaming process, you need to purchase expensive equipment.  

I will look forward to hearing some responses to this post. I must say, I am embarrassed to ask what might be stupid questions.

Sorry for the long post.  I just need to learn what some of you experts have learned already.  Some of you are highly technical and I really am fascinated by your knowledge.



I agree with the dealer, MQA is overrated.