MQA•Foolish New Algorithm? Vote!


Vote please. Simply yes or no. Let’s get a handle on our collective thinking.
The discussions are getting nauseating. Intelligent(?) People are claiming that they can remove part of the music (digits), encode the result for transport over the net, then decode (reassemble) the digits remaining after transportation (reduced bits-only the unnecessary ones removed) to provide “Better” sound than the original recording.
If you feel this is truly about “better sound” - vote Yes.
If you feel this is just another effort by those involved to make money by helping the music industry milk it’s collection of music - vote no.
Lets know what we ‘goners’ think.
P.S. imho The “bandwidth” problem this is supposed to ‘help’ with will soon be nonexistent. Then this “process” will be a ‘solution’ to a non existing problem. I think it is truly a tempest in a teacup which a desperate industry would like to milk for all its worth, and forget once they can find a new way to dress the Emporer. Just my .02

ptss
Yes to the power of 100 
Yes, now. 

A decade ago, it would have been great. Why? Internet streaming is a lot faster and DAC's are a lot better sounding with Redbook. 

It has arrived rather late to really make a difference. 
Yes, it's waaaay better.  

Is it better than my vinyl rig?  Sometimes, but not much.  Vinyl wins 85% of the time (my estimate :) on my system). 

But is MQA better than predecessors?  Yes, I think it sounds way better. 
No to the power of 1000.
Yes for now until we (consumers) are given more options to stream high resolution streaming.

I am tired of double, triple dipping of our favorite music in tapes, records, CD’s and don’t even get me started on the ridiculous cost of high res downloads.

No. Completely happy with current HiRes PCM and DSD.
All I can say is an MQA version of an album sounds better than a non-MQA version of the same album. Same system same volume. 
Bumping this post from another thread before more votes come in.
Editor’s notes say a lot :-


johndoe21ro38 posts
03-04-2018 10:01pm

On CA:

MQA: A Review of controversies, concerns, and cautions

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/ca/reviews/mqa-a-review-of-controversies-concerns-and-cautions-r7...

P.S.:

"Editor’s Note 1: MQA ltd was sent a copy of this article several days prior to the scheduled publication date. The company requested a phone conversation, which took place earlier this week. MQA was encouraged to write a response for inclusion with the article below, but it respectfully decline to submit a formal response.

Editor’s Note 2: The author of this article is writing under a pseudonym. While he is unknown to the readers, his identity has been verified by Computer Audiophile. He has no vested interest in the audio business, other than being a consumer of music.

Editor’s Note 3: The technical assertions made in this article have been thoroughly checked by independent engineers, both in and out of the audio industry. To the best of our knowledge everything technical in this article is factually correct and may be duplicated at any time by anyone with the requisite skills."

- Chris Connaker

Yes....for now. MQA seems to fire up alot of people. Many people hate this format because they lose bits. Many people don’t like a flawed format being shoved down their throat, even though Flac, a lossy format and downloads of hi-rez files are easy to do and one does not have to listen to MQA at all. CDs did not push out albums, nor did cassettes or reel to reel tapes or any format, including mp3 files ruin the audio listening experience. MQA has caused a better listening experience for many people who like the convience of easy streaming of high quality music. Nobody is forcing MQA on the audio world. If one likes it, great. If you don’t there are many, many ways to enjoy audio. Soon the ability to stream much faster highest rez files will make MQA obsolete, perhaps. Until then enjoy it.... or something else?????
Flac is not a lossy format but just a very good data compression algorithm. The decompresed file is identical to the original.
No, I think it is another 'Dolby'-type of format.
It might sound better to some, but it seems more of a signal alteration than anything else.
B
......MQA has caused a better listening experience for many people who like the convience of easy streaming of high quality music. Nobody is forcing MQA on the audio world. If one likes it, great. If you don’t there are many, many ways to enjoy audio. Soon the ability to stream much faster highest rez files will make MQA obsolete, perhaps. Until then enjoy it.... or something else?????

The vote is not about whether one enjoys MQA or not per se, but rather more about whether MQA actually sounds better.
To verify this, one can simply compare an MQA file played through a high end MQA dac/player like the Meridian 808v6 or UltraDac with a non-MQA hires PCM or DSD version played through a high end non-MQA dac from dCs, Total, Light Harmonic or Esoteric, to name a few.
No!  I should point out that your title and guidance for answering are in disagreement.  The title of the post asks if MQA is a “Foolish Algorithm”, in that case “Yes” would indicate MQA is a bad (foolish) thing.  In the body of the post it says voting “Yes” indicates MQA is about “better sound”, in other words MQA is a good thing.  The exact opposite.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the answers above are in response to the title, rather than the body of the post.  This “poll” is therefore invalid.
No!  I should point out that your title and guidance for answering are in disagreement.  The title of the post asks if MQA is a “Foolish Algorithm”, in that case “Yes” would indicate MQA is a bad (foolish) thing.  In the body of the post it says voting “Yes” indicates MQA is about “better sound”, in other words MQA is a good thing.  The exact opposite.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the answers above are in response to the title, rather than the body of the post.  This “poll” is therefore invalid.

Great observation there!
I voted according to the body of the post, not the title.   :)
Willemj, yes I see FLAC is lossless, my error. I have used AIFF files. Does anyone stream DSD or hi-res PCM files? I get the point about does MQA sound better. But that is very subjective, and more importantly I am looking at it as a streaming option. If the freq band capability opens up, MQA will not make sense.
A simple yes or no answer on Audiogon,ain't gonna happen my friend !!!!
Yes, 100%. For me, it’s a no brainer. In my system, MQA sounds great, so I will continue to play it, and continue to enjoy the hell out of it.

If you have a subscription to Tidal, like a lot of us Agoner do..it is simply a gift. Temporary, maybe? In the meantime, I’m going sit back, relax, and keep hitting play!


Yes. Tidal provides the opportunity to compare many tracks/albums in both MQA and redbook formats.  Listening to just about any Tidal MQA track on my Aurender A10 noticeably improves SQ. The improvement with MQA is not subtle.
Ptss - When I read your questions it sounds like your asking about the "intent" of the format, not whether it sounds better or not. So to answer what I read as the intent of your questions: Yes, I do think MQA is a processing algorithm that was created for better sound quality, and Yes, it was created to make money. What isn't done to make money? Let me know if I'm off base with my understanding of the question.

Now, do I think MQA makes an audible and worthwhile difference versus redbook? With my system and the music I listen to 100% yes!

Is MQA inferior to high resolution downloads, SACD and vinyl? Maybe, I don't have the ability for direct comparison. But listening to MQA on Tidal allows for better than CD sound (in my system) and the opportunity to listen to a vast library without having to purchase each download, and accessing those choices is darn near instantaneous. If I were into those other formats I would explore the world on Tidal then buy what I like on high res DL, SACD or vinyl (if available). I don't see this being an either/or proposition. I realize this isn't a debate on the pros and cons of Tidal but it sort of goes hand in hand with why you would want MQA processing. So there is a market for MQA processing and I guess it's for folks like me. Oh and did I mention it sounds better than CD? 

Sorry, this is Audiogon. No such thing as a yes or no answer ; )
This just in....Aurender N10/N100/W20 owners now able to purchase MQA Core Decoder license from within the Aurender Conductor app for $54.99.

This will allow users to hear MQA coded files at 88.2kHz or 96kHz sample rate through a non-MQA compatiable DAC’s.

http://www.aurender.com/blog/new-software-release-note-4/post/system-sw-4-5-11-36-app-2-9-3-93-189


If I recall correctly, the MQA provided by Tidal is only a 'partial' decoding.
You have to buy into whole MQA system in order to get the full 'benefit'.
Hence, my post equating it with Dolby.
B
Have not heard and compared, but it is a lossy compressed format which by definition means less accurate than original.

So that alone seems like a step in the opposite direction in regards to at least the accuracy of the sound.

Of course the most accurate sound does not necessarily mean "best sounding" so there are lots of other digital processing tricks that might be played to make things sound better, even with less accurate data to start. It sounds like the highest frequencies are being transformed in a lossy manner in this case. So trained younger ears might be better equipped to distinguish than older, if audible at all. Kinda like a Trojan Horse perhaps in practice. Most will probably never notice a difference even if there is one.








THIS IS BS!!!! STOP ALL VOTING!!

THIS THREAD SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN AND RESTARTED PROPERLY, AS IT COULD DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

AS THE TITLE OF THE THREAD IS IN DIRECT OPPOSITION TO THE "YES" "NO" VOTING CRITERIA IN THE POST, DEPENDING HOW ONE READS IT

kalali1,033 posts03-06-2018 12:27amAll I can say is an MQA version of an album sounds better than a non-MQA version of the same album. Same system same volume.
Be very careful how you conduct MQA vs Non MQA A/B’s on the same unit, as it was found that on the new $5.5K Aurender, that some of the MQA filtering was still on, and "hobbled" non MQA albums. This was still the case even after getting numerous new firmware’s to fix it.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/aurender-a10-network-music-playerserver

Cheers George
@mapman 

Exactly.  EVERYTHING in the audio reproduction chain is lossless.  We pick our favorite flavors.
george, point taken. My very simple comparison method was streaming both MQA and non-MQA versions of the same album from Tidal through my Bluesound Node2. Not very scientific but the best I could do. Whatever they do, the music just sounds a little more detailed. Not saying night and day but incrementally better to my ears.  I do however agree this thread is a bit useless in terms of content (and context).
 I am assuming the post above mine is meant to say everything in the audio chain has losses, we choose our flavours.
My understanding is that MQA is more about copyright than it is about sound quality. The rip off companies wanna get back to protecting music so it can't be copied. 
@jon2020 that is an excellent article you linked above. Everybody should read it and in my opinion it lays it out clearly that MQA is crap.
Before anyone downloads the Aurender MQA software, you may like to consider whether you can switch in and out of the decoder at will to allow for comparison. At the moment, I don’t yet see that option. I can’tell be sure if "Enable MQA unfolding" is a pure switch in and out once the software is downloaded. This issue would be moot for MQA dac owners.


I have brought home a full MQA Meridian 808v6 player in the past for a home audition and comparing an MQA file played through it with a non-MQA version played through my Esoteric non-MQA dac, I found that the MQA file sounded softer and darker overall with significant blunting of transients.


@jon2020,

Aurender owners have an option to enable/disabled MQA Core Decoder within the Conductor app. From what I heard so far, the decoder is staying enabled.
@lalitk 

Aurender owners have an option to enable/disabled MQA Core Decoder within the Conductor app. From what I heard so far, the decoder is staying enabled.

Does this mean it cannot be disabled?
@jon2020,

Yes, it can be disabled.  
lalitk876 postsYes, it can be disabled.

In the $5.5K Aurender A10, MQA did switched off, but part of the MQA’s filtering remained active in the Stereophile tests when measuring/playing non MQA files, and no different firmwares fixed the problem. The filters that remained hobbled the non MQA sound for the worse.

One must ask the question, is this done on purpose? to make MQA look/sound good compared to non MQA??

Cheers George

"In the $5.5K Aurender A10, MQA did switched off, but part of the MQA’s filtering remained active in the Stereophile tests when measuring/playing non MQA files, and no different firmwares fixed the problem. The filters that remained hobbled the non MQA sound for the worse.
One must ask the question, is this done on purpose? to make MQA look/sound good compared to non MQA?"

+1, georgehifi.
This is exactly what I am afraid of.
@georgehifi,

I can’t speak about what transpired in A10...in my N10, I can clearly discern the audible differences between MQA coded file at 96kHz and it’s 44.1kHz counterpart file by enabling and disabling MQA Core decoder.

Now, let me get back to enjoying the fabulous MQA files 😉
"I can clearly discern the audible differences between MQA coded file at 96kHz and it’s 44.1kHz counterpart file by enabling and disabling MQA Core decoder. "

@lalitk,
So you are comparing MQA 96 to non-MQA 44.1?
A more valid comparison would be between MQA 96 and non-MQA 96 PCM. 
lalitk
I can clearly discern the audible differences between MQA coded file at 96kHz and it’s 44.1kHz counterpart file by enabling and disabling MQA Core decoder.

How do you know, all the filtering has been switched off when not in MQA but PCM 44.1?? (you think it is)
Have you got Stereophiles measuring equipment? As this is what it’s all about!!

Cheers George
@jon2020,

Dang it....I lost track of what is this poster about 😆

“If you feel this is truly about “better sound” - vote Yes”
@georgehifi,

“Have you got Stereophiles measuring equipment? As this is what it’s all about!!”

And how do you know Stereophile is not paid to keep MQA controversial? After all the article is getting all the attention of non-MQA users...LOL!!!


Yes, Tidal with MQA sounds better than without.
@lalitk,
  And how do you know Stereophile is not paid to keep MQA controversial?

Stereophile were pro MQA, until recently when they started doing measurements, now they'er sitting on the fence a bit.

They could have blown the $5.5K Aurender A10  thing wide open, they even asking Aurender to comment on this sly slip of the hand, but they refused to reply to what Stereophile found.

I praised JA for telling it publicly, even if it was on the quiet.

Cheers George 
"I can clearly discern the audible differences between MQA coded file at 96kHz and it’s 44.1kHz counterpart file by enabling and disabling MQA Core decoder. "

@lalitk,
So you are comparing MQA 96 to non-MQA 44.1?
A more valid comparison would be between MQA 96 and non-MQA 96 PCM.

It always makes me wonder why any hobbyist in audio would want to bury their ears in the sand with respect to valid comparisons. The lack of curiosity is hard to comprehend.

However, I would hazard a guess that maybe, after paying for the MQA download, one would prefer not to investigate further just in case the new findings invalidate the purchase.
So far I have found MQA played via Tidal through my Vault 2 "sounds" more refined and solid than non mqa version.
I have read the technical blurb
I cannot explain why in my system it sounds better....no more so than why I can explain a change in a simple fuse sounds better either.
At this juncture I do NOT CARE!
I will continue to play what sounds better to my ears on my system
Thank you
So far I have found MQA played via Tidal through my Vault 2 "sounds" more refined and solid than non mqa version.

It doesn't really matter when you have an MQA dac as you can't really compare unless you have another non-MQA dac side by side. 
Anyway, we should always enjoy music that is enjoyable.
It is never necessary to compare what you are enjoying with anything else :)
I am not truly comparing
Just adding my 3 cents on what I like the sound of.......
In my system to my ears
Nuff said
@jon2020,

I don’t feel the need to further investigate or loose my sleep over $54.99 MQA Core Decoder upgrade. To my ears, most MQA coded files easily yield audible improvements in my system over Tidal 16bit/44.1kHz files.

And to answer your earlier question about why not compare MQA 96 vs non-MQA 96 PCM coded files is pretty simple...why pay for 96 PCM files when I can enjoy just as good MQA 96 files at no additional charge.

As you said, “It is never necessary to compare what you are enjoying with anything else :)”
@jon2020 
“So you are comparing MQA 96 to non-MQA 44.1?
A more valid comparison would be between MQA 96 and non-MQA 96 PCM.”

Why? I’m looking for an improvement over cd quality streaming. I agree that MQA may not be the equal of high resolution downloads (I don’t know for sure, I have not compared) but why is a comparison with non MQA 44.1 not as valid if my objective is to receive better than cd quality sound? My comparisons have been my cd collection saved to hard drive vs. same titles on Tidal with MQA processing. MQA sounds better on my system (PS Audio Directstream jr). If my PS Audio is now doing something to 44.1 files that make them not sound as good pre MQA then yes I want to know that.

“However, I would hazard a guess that maybe, after paying for the MQA download, one would prefer not to investigate further just in case the new findings invalidate the purchase.”

That is certainly true with many things audio but not really relevent to Tidal users. You pay your 20 bucks a month and you get cd quality streaming, oh and by the way you get a bunch of MQA titles as well. Happy listening.


When streaming Tidal, I prefer the sound of MQA Masters over non-MQA. My problem is that there needs to be more MQA albums available on Tidal that I would actually listen too. 
After having downloaded the new Aurender Conductor App along with an MQA license earlier today (first unfold only) into my N100H and then reading the above challenges to compare the sound quality of the MQA files via Tidal to a bonified 24/96 “hirez” file, I realized that I had such a HDTracks 24/96 download of Diana Krall’s “Stepping Out” album (2016 remaster) and the same album and remaster is available on Tidal Masters (MQA).

So I decided to compare my two favorite tracks from that album,”Body and Soul” and “Jimmie”, between the 24/96 version stored on my N100H’s hard drive and the Tidal MQA version streamed through the same unit. DAC used is Denafrips Terminator, so same music server, USB cable, and DAC for each version (also the same rest of the system), so this is about as perfect an “apples-to-apples” comparison as can be staged.

After several rounds of swapping back and forth, I am confident that the differences is sound quality are absolutely minimal. Perhaps the 26/96 download was a touch more resolved than the MQA version but not enough to be able to select one from the other consistently, nor to alter the enjoyment of the music in any significant way.

Two other things that I feel confident in laying to rest: 1) the MQA update is not affecting the sound quality of the downloaded files in my N100H’s hard drive (I listen to both of these tracks from the 24/96 download multiple times as evaluation tracks when comparing components so I am intimately familiar with them) and, 2) both the 24/96 and the MQA version sound so much better than the non-MQA “Redbook” version on Tidal that even the most hearing deficient among us would have no difficultly hearing the superiority of the MQA version over the Redbook.

I have close friends that are very strongly polarized about MQA, both pro and con, as to its potential impact on the music industry and component manufacturers, etc., but personally I don’t give a flip about anything but sound quality and I am satisfied that MQA is a blessing to those of us that are heavy Tidal users and value best possible sound quality.

Dave