MQA actually tested


I got a Tidal subscription a few months ago with the hope of streaming hi res music rather than continuing to buy WAAYY overpriced files from HD tracks and the like....and while the Tidal catalogue is great, some of the Master files just seemed a bit, well, not so masterful. So I decided to listen to Master files in Tidal (full unfold) and compare them to 24/96 min FLAC that I already own, and there wasn’t a single file I owned that did not sound better in clarity and extension than the “Master” file I was comparing it to on Tidal.

I had heard a lot of thoughts from different manufacturers about MQA and just put them down as interesting but not proven since none of them offered anything but their opinion...no testing etc.

then I came across this vid (. https://youtu.be/pRjsu9-Vznc ) last night from a guy who managed to actually test MQA on Tidal using files he created and had loaded onto Tidal. VERY interesting results. First real tests I have seen of MQA and I can now see why my FLAC sounds better to me.
Might have to check out alternatives.

ukthunderace
The biggest mistake one can make when mastering is...

Making the song sound polished, but lifeless. In other words, it sounds like a recording and not like music.

In a rock song for instance, the opening cymbals should have both weight and depth. No clipping or exaggerated sharpness. And definitely no compression unless it is absolutely necessary...

A larger file does not guarantee better sound quality or listening enjoyment. IMO, .wav from CDs and DSD is where it’s at.
After examining the pro's and con's of MQA I have reached. the conclusion it is a con to extract more cash from the unwary! Excessive signal processing never results in better SQ!
I canceled my Tidal Hi Res subscription after a year for the same reason. 
@jasonbourne52
 
Excessive signal processing never results in better SQ!
BINGO!!!
There is already a ongoing thread on soon to be defunct MQA  :-) 

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/mqa-is-for-chumps
asonbourne52"After examining the pro's and con's of MQA I have reached. the conclusion it is a con"

That something is not to your taste, preference, or style does not make it a con, fraud or snake-oil.
I have a MQA CD player and the MQA CD’s sound fantastic.....as do the K2’s. Just sayin’
Whether it is a con or not, it is based, or at least sold on some very shaking premises, especially the MQA "filter". It is fake. Perhaps with some good AI inference engine you could infer data that does not actually exist, sort of like in AI for image enlargement. However, a simple signal processing filter is going to fail. They create a problem that does not really exist (so called multiple successive filters at 20KHz), then create an inverse that can't work as you don't know the pedigree of the signal chain.  Beyond that it is still compression.
I happened to watch the same video just yesterday. It supports much of the negative rumblings surrounding MQA. The lack of transparency and the questionable marketing claims is pretty disturbing. I use Tidal and Qobuz currently but I typically prefer the hi-res Qobuz file over the Tidal Master when both are available. 
buck66

Which CD player do you own?   Happy Listening!
buck66

I have the Luxman D-03X and agree that MQA discs sound superb. Standard CD’s also sound excellent on the Luxman.
trebor33

Thank You for the tip on Luxman D-03X player.

Happy Listening!
Also this guy Archimago has posted test results on his blog quite some time ago, already.
Obviously his test method was to feed the analog output of the MQA DAC into a digital analysis tool. But the observations are quite similar.http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/02/musingsmeasurements-on-blurring-and-why.html
I can’t hear crap  either in fact I feel it takes a little bass away and my levels are exact on my DAC analog input as it is on my Heos input through my Marantz . I haven’t been impressed.My marantz does do Justice after upgrading from an Onkyo and I added a audioquest cobalt and don’t do crap so I moved it to my cpu and it works great on my cpu . Hey it was my first dac I know your going to give me crap , what’s the best bang for your buck Dac I guess I’m in the market ?
Yep, I noticed on bass extension as well...def less forceful.  
So measurements matter? Maybe most audiophile marketing is snake oil or fluff as Judge Judy puts it. 
So what does all this mean to the "Beginner" listener?
Wow, if this is true, and at this point it feels like it is, a lot of high-end manufacturers have some ‘splaining to do as to why they incorporated this and charge their customers for it. And I agree with the earlier comment this certainly seems to at the very least embarrass those audiophiles who suggest that their ears are the ultimate test instrument and who a year or so ago could do nothing but gush about how good MQA sounds.
For the "beginner"?  Approach with caution.  It is tough in the day and age of COVID if you are in a location where you might not be able to listen to equipment or specific music before laying your money down.  Measurements do matter when they translate to clear distinctions in music quality...that's where it all goes sideways--people swear to clear distinctions for all kinds of stuff.  So basically, don't buy into the hype...listen and buy what you like.  If you hear something you like better, sell what you have an buy the new thing if it is worth the difference.  In the case of the vid I referenced in the start of this thread, the measurements were more of a verification of what I was hearing when comparing FLAC vs MQA.
I'm still looking for a good high-end Elcasette...
So we’re better off setting the sound quality to “HiFi” instead of “Master” within the Tidal app?
I don't think it's as black and white as everyone wants it to be. MQA is not lossless and the filtering adds distortion, I don't think anyone other than MQA would argue with that. That doesn't mean someone won't like the way it sounds.  The part that bothers me most with MQA is the marketing statements that don't align with reality and how they go out of the way to make it hard to test any marketing claims that are made. If MQA did what it said I don't see what harm there is in letting 3rd party testers validate that.

In regards to why companies are adding MQA support to devices I think Paul McGowan from PS Audio hit the nail on the head. Customers are asking for it. It's a business move. 

Like most things in this hobby, listen for yourself and decide what you like. I have a non MQA DAC and find that letting my Aurender do the first unfold on MQA tracks tends to sound pretty good to me. So that's how I listen to Tidal. Comparing that first unfold on Tidal to anything Hi-Res on Qobuz I find I tend to like the Qobuz offering better. So when available I always listen to the Qobuz Hi-Res version. 
mqa can sound very good

it is just inconsistent and variable in a way the user cannot really control, not to say some recordings based on great master versions aren’t excellent

same deal for non mqa recordings... recording/mastering quality is the dominant driver of sound quality

thing with mqa is it makes the user do somersaults and spend $ on gear that may not be otherwise necessary, adds a layer of complexity cost and worry that doesn’t really consistently deliver the goods as the marketing would lead you to believe and desire

thus my advice/conclusion from having been through it is to make your digital front end sound great without mqa (basically targeted at redbook res and/or quboz hi res flac) -- these standards encompass most recordings out there that one would care about
If Tidal goes under, does MQA go with it?
I like Tidal and their extensive library.  When I purchased my BlueSound Node 2i the dealer talked me into adding a ProJect S2 DAC.  After hooking things up at home I noticed the bass sounded thinner.  As soon as I removed the DAC the bass came back.  I thought I also liked the sound of total MQA unfold.  However, I also wondered if I wasn’t convincing myself MQA was better.  I did appreciate the detail of hi-res quality sound regardless you.  Tidal doesn’t offer that many MQA recording but I do like Hi-Res.  Still like Tidal and their library and format.  I am sure MQA is gimmick.  But you can’t argue with the quality of hi-res.
Having not watched the vid I would like to know the delivery chain. I run quobuz hi res from MacBook Pro into balanced dac out to balanced pre into mono blocks balanced in. First was using WiFi for stream sound was great with big sound stage. Then I switched to Ethernet cat 7 and up graded usb cable. Soundstage opened up more and bass was night to day. I next want to add fiber in the signal path. Is Mqa more snake oil or real thing? I have learned just like a fish fry 9 out of 10 that say it is better never seems better to me but when I do find better I can think back on the journey and appreciate the end result. Play around with the options and enjoy when you strike gold.
MQA is just another codec... let it be, disregard their own claims how good they are from tech point of view and just decide for yourself based on your own listening experience. For me (Tidal Masters through Teac NT-505) it sounds fine, better than CD quality. Qobuz high res is just a little bit better of both however Tidal’s selection is wider what’s makes it equal member of sources community.
I agree that the Tidal catalogue is really good and I really haven't looked into Qobuz, so I am not sure what they offer.  Is Qobuz Hi-Res 24/96 and above?  

The cost for Tidal MQA is $20 a month--is Qobuz Hi-Res cheaper?  I guess that's where it makes a difference. If Qobuz is serving lossless hi-res files for less than Tidal, then if catalogues were equal, I would go with Qobuz.  When that starts to reach parity, I will switch.
^^^^Only you can decide if Qobuz catalog is better than Tidal based on your listening preferences. And yes, Qobuz offers content upto 24bit/192khz resolution for $12.49/month. Sign up for free trial and check out the catalog. 
The cost for Tidal MQA is $20 a month
Tidal has promo events pretty often... you can get HiFi subscription (the one with MQA) through vendors websites as low as $9.99 per month. I’ve got one through BestBuy.com for $9.99. Also, if you have a student in the family Tidal has constant student discount $9.99 for HiFi subscription. 
I have the Esoteric K-01XD SACD player with MQA and the few UHQ-MQA CDs that I have sound incredibly good. But so do the XRCDs, HDCDs, SACDs, and CDs, etcetera.

I do not stream because I live in rural Michigan and pay for data from satellite internet. However, just received word that Musk’s STARLINK that we signed up for is about to launch early here (we signed up about a year ago). It is not data limited, but costs $$.
Why is it that the group of naysayers (cable, mqa, they all sound the same on these threads) have unfounded biases that they try to prove by finding somebody in their little world that agrees with them so they can broadcast it out. It’s hilarious to read threads done by so-called experts that cables/mqa sound the same or is inferior or they are snake oil gimmicks. The joke is on you!
You read threads that want measurements to prove your point, why? Don’t you listen with your ears? You probably listen to your charts/specs. Have you done studies to prove your point that you like red better than blue? If you can’t hear a difference between the different formats or different cables, good for you, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. But I will say this, you naysayers probably were the same people that hated SACD because you had to buy a new format, new player, etc.. but it crushed redbook back then and the hires formats we have today crush redbook. I won’t be trying to find people to support my statements, I’ll just use my ears to judge for myself

p05129
205 posts
04-23-2021 7:24am
Why is it that the group of naysayers (cable, mqa, they all sound the same on these threads) have unfounded biases that they try to prove by finding somebody in their little world that agrees with them so they can broadcast it out. It’s hilarious to read threads done by so-called experts that cables/mqa sound the same or is inferior or they are snake oil gimmicks. The joke is on you!



Peak irony, coupled with peak misinformation. Measurements are rarely mentioned in threads, though obviously this one links to a video with measurements. Measurements are good to illustrate the sonic issues that already are known to exist. Why is it so important to you that other people remain ignorant?
Oh if only we were all so amazingly adept audiophiles as you p051, but alas, our self righteousness is limited by actually reading threads in their entirety and not making judgements and ASSertions that aren’t warranted.
My original post was that I was listening, or "using my ears to judge" as you so eloquently put it, to MQA files compared to my own FLAC collection and noticed a marked difference in that the FLAC was much richer and had better extension. The measurements, as I said, came after this realization, but only backed up what I was hearing.
Some of us aren’t afraid to look at empirical data (look it up) as it applies to this hobby. While measurements are only a single facet of the big picture, they can definitely inform decisions.