MQA - One Filter to Rule them All?

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd start another, discussion. I've been reading some about MQA.  It has several components, but I want to focus on one in particular. The digital filter compensation.

The other two parts are compression and authentication.

We don't have a lot of DAC's to listen to with MQA right now, but here's my understanding.

By measuring time or amplitude errors in ADC's AND DAC's MQA seeks to correct the behavior, making the entire A/D --> D/A chain closer to ideal. It's pretty ambitious. What I'm wondering is, assuming this is real and not snake oil, does this mean all MQA DAC's will begin to sound alike? Will otherwise mediocre DAC's step up, and great DAC's not have that much to contribute anymore?

If so, maybe this will usher in another great era of tone controls being built into our preamps or DAC's instead of having to make tonal changes via cables and tweaks.

What say you? Assuming MQA is not snake oil, (could be, haven't heard it) doesn't it mean all DAC's will sound the same?


@ahender you are not alone, however I think there's a bit of a mistake there in terms of the generic process.

It's a 2 part process.  During encoding they attempt to remove any effects from the ADC but after this it's expected that the MQA decoding process takes into account the DAC and attempts to compensate for it.  It's most certainly NOT generic. The DAC must be measured, corrected and submitted to Meridian for certification. 

Meridian _do_ have a generic ADC compensator however, for encoding previously recorded high resolution sources when the correct filters are not known. I think that's maybe what you were thinking of. 


@kijanki Great, thanks! :)

Interesting reading. 99% of that writing has nothing to do with sound quality but marketting and branding concerns, which are very very real. I do worry it’s just a way of taking money out of the market, like GMO corn seeds.

If I read it correctly for Schiit it boils down to being some one new to pay money to, in addition to questions about how well they would be treated as a minor (in volume) manufacturer.

I think Schiit is playing it safe. MQA is brand new and by 2017 could be useless. If Tidal goes down, or worse, gets bought by Apple, it may be all over.  One other point is differentiation.  MQA could very well be the opposite of this, if all DAC's will be forced to sound much more similar than before. The value proposition is going to have to be high, because honestly I don't think most people will fully understand what's going on with it besides compression. 

There’s also the possibility that the algorithms will be analyzed and, using that knowledge, better, open source solutions will be able to leap frog over them. It’s a very dynamic situation.



Given the amount of time that's passed, it's interesting that so few hardware partners seem to have come out with MQA compliant equipment. If you do a search here on Audiogon for "MQA", you get the same 3-6 listings (from the same seller) for the Mytek Brooklyn.

Besides that, there's the Meridian Explorer and a couple of portable players plus the Mytek Manhattan II. Anything else?


@cvalle as far as I know you are mostly correct, however, I have a personal connection ( cough cough cough, bs) with Berkeley Audio Design and they have stated they hope to release MQA compatability this year (not bs).

If Tidal support is real, AND the benefits are real, it will be like selling a good pie. You don’t have to sell it, the wafting smell will sell itself. Otherwise, it will be like Windows 10, which requires Microsoft to take over your computer, possibly illegally, and push an update you didn’t want.

You are right, of course, all of the current models of the Mytek DAC’s have MQA support, including the Brooklyn which I’m listening to right now. The older, Stereo 192 DSD does not, but it’s also insanely cheap via the website right now, $1,000 as a discontinued product.



You are right, of course, all of the current models of the Mytek DAC’s have MQA support,
interesting. So, Mytek did submit their designs to Meridian & get their seal of approval for MQA. Do you know if Mytek is paying royalty fees to Meridian for this? It'll probably show up in it's price...

i'm sure that you'll get a MQA-supported Berkeley DAC when it releases. It will interesting for you to update us w.r.t. its sound vs. the Mytek Brooklyn sound & let us know if these 2 DACs sound identical (as you had suggested in your above posts)....