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MQA Measurements


George 47
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It's not just Rob, even Linn are against MQA, with a bold statement that it is bad for music.

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10 hours ago, bencat said:

But in this case he is the real deal and only person that truly knows what his master tapes sound like . He is the the one true authority to be able to say as he does that his tapes are being changed and presented in a way that is not true to the original and that he for one does not like . No one at all can make any counter to this as they were truthfully not there at the time for each and every recording and have no real idea what they should have sounded like . Neil on the other hand was there in every sense and does know what they should sound like .

I am going to say yes and no to this. Given that almost all musicians are supportive about the reproduction of their music in CDs and Streaming I think that Neil Young should maybe be viewed in the same light as an ‘extreme objectivist’ on this forum.

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12 hours ago, TheFlash said:

Often we are tempted to choose to see the evidence which supports our decisions. Some people do this with their decision on Brexit!

I use (Norwegian) Tidal. I have only very rarely been unable to find a non-MQA version of whatever track I wanted to hear. You might of course prefer (French) Qobuz for other reasons.

:)

I thought Warner’s had removed all the cd versions on Tidal and there is only the MQA versions left?

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I only use streaming to find new stuff and for a bit of convenience when I'm feeling lazy, so to be honest I don't really care either way. I'm never going to 'invest' in an MQA compatible DAC, but then I run Tidal and Qobuz on a desktop, and the Tidal desktop software does at least a part MQA 'unfold'. Possibly it does the major part and leaves out the bit that causes issues? No idea, and frankly...

As I've said before, I've got Qobuz and Tidal at the moment, plus the 'free' stuff online and the biggest issue to my ears is that none of it is remotely clear in terms of the actual 'original' they're working from, so whatever the supposed high-res or MQA version is immaterial half the time. With a few tracks, I've been able to compare the sources. There is absolutely zero consistency. I've listened to a few where Tidal sounds notably better and a few where Qobuz does. The serious WTF for me is that for both, I've listened to examples where the actual CD sounds better than either. This suggests to me that the same 'master' is not being used, in which case there is actually a sonic penalty in return for ease of use, so I may as well just use Youtube.

I'm more likely to stick with Tidal at the moment, simply because there are a few albums and artists I can access on it that I can't find on the others. More likely, however, is that once my physical collection has grown to include a lot of the new stuff I've discovered, I'll dump the bloody lot. I don't like the business model of any of them.

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32 minutes ago, rabski said:

There is absolutely zero consistency. I've listened to a few where Tidal sounds notably better and a few where Qobuz does. The serious WTF for me is that for both, I've listened to examples where the actual CD sounds better than either. This suggests to me that the same 'master' is not being used, in which case there is actually a sonic penalty in return for ease of use, so I may as well just use Youtube.

Surely there are various possibilities as to why your CD might sound better than streaming. As you suggest, different masters might be one reason. Differences between your CD player transport and whatever you use for streaming for Tidal or Qobuz might be another reason.

I also prefer to used locally stored audio files rather than streaming but I prefer that so that my player software can load the each whole track to RAM which it cannot do with Tidal or Qobuz. That is one reason why Tidal and Qobuz do not sound as good as local files on my system.

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4 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

Surely there are various possibilities as to why your CD might sound better than streaming. As you suggest, different masters might be one reason. Differences between your CD player transport and whatever you use for streaming for Tidal or Qobuz might be another reason.

I also prefer to used locally stored audio files rather than streaming but I prefer that so that my player software can load the each whole track to RAM which it cannot do with Tidal or Qobuz. That is one reason why Tidal and Qobuz do not sound as good as local files on my system.

I can't see any plausible explanation here, other than different 'masters'. All comparisons I've made have been using the same DAC. Tidal and Qobuz are both run on my desktop, using the same setup. There are sometimes minute differences between different transports, but where I have the CD for a direct comparison, there is often no consistency. The CD always sounds fine. Sometimes, the streaming version sounds better than the CD, but on other recordings, it doesn't. That's regardless of whether it's high-res, 'CD quality' or MQA.

There is no way that the supposed high-res version should sond worse than the CD, when on some recordings it sounds better. The only obvious conclusion is that the actual source or conversion at the other end (the streaming provider) is not always the same.

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51 minutes ago, rabski said:

I only use streaming to find new stuff and for a bit of convenience when I'm feeling lazy, so to be honest I don't really care either way. I'm never going to 'invest' in an MQA compatible DAC, but then I run Tidal and Qobuz on a desktop, and the Tidal desktop software does at least a part MQA 'unfold'. Possibly it does the major part and leaves out the bit that causes issues? No idea, and frankly...

I didn't read Watts' post but I'm pretty confident that he is complaining about MQA's filter being "leaky" or flawed.

Since you use and enjoy a NOS DAC there's a fair chance that you won't object to the aliasing because a NOS will produce a lot more of it and of higher amplitude.

Archimago talks about it in the link here and you can see the gunk in the plot on the right below.

nfgpI1W.png

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Posted (edited)

I have read that some albums have been mastered for MQA, and it is possible that mastering will sound better than redbook or high-res masterings of the same programme in spite of MQA's shortcomings.

Other than that, there's nothing good.

• MQA is not Authenticated by the producers

• MQA has a flawed filter

• MQA is lossy (a 24/96k master file will be unfolded into a lossy 17/60k one)

• MQA is not as effective in terms of compression as FLAC

MQAº - 60k, 17-bit: 31M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 20-bit: 34M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 19-bit: 29M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 18-bit: 25M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 17-bit: 21M
º - 96k, 24-bit container
* - level 8 compression

• MQA claims its flawed filter will solve problems with the masters by addressing issues at the A/D stage, but this has been demonstrated to be impossible because there isn't a one-fits-all-solution and there are hundreds of different ADCs out there with different filters

• MQA can potentially be used to impose DRM and I've read reports of Tidal users hearing DRM-related(?) artifacts

.

It's a polished :td:

Edited by tuga
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26 minutes ago, rabski said:

I can't see any plausible explanation here, other than different 'masters'. All comparisons I've made have been using the same DAC. Tidal and Qobuz are both run on my desktop, using the same setup. There are sometimes minute differences between different transports, but where I have the CD for a direct comparison, there is often no consistency. The CD always sounds fine. Sometimes, the streaming version sounds better than the CD, but on other recordings, it doesn't. That's regardless of whether it's high-res, 'CD quality' or MQA.

There is no way that the supposed high-res version should sond worse than the CD, when on some recordings it sounds better. The only obvious conclusion is that the actual source or conversion at the other end (the streaming provider) is not always the same.

Did you try running the CD from your computer's optical drive, or rip it and then compare the file with the streams? If not then it's apples to oranges.

But I am not doubting or disagreeing with your assessment. It's taken me 6 years to get my file playback to the level of my CD player. CD player level computer playback is not plug and play unfortunately. And I am not convinced that it is easy to get the same quality from online streaming as one gets from local file streaming either.

CD players are dedicated machines where the designer has control over all factors and the potential jitter and noise issues have been dealt with. Using a CD player as a transport (or a CD transport) is already adding complexity to the playback system (two PSUs in different boxes, a copper link, data travelling along a cable, etc.). Using a computer that is connected to the internet is a massive lorry of worms...

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Now that we're finally able to buy high-res Masters a new format appears that despite being sold as the next best thing by the likes of Stereophile is actually a setback in all aspects...

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For those who can brave a graph or 12, have a look at this post created by the chap who made the video:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/mqa-deep-dive-i-published-music-on-tidal-to-test-mqa.22549/#post-721983

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3 minutes ago, tuga said:

Now that we're finally able to buy high-res Masters a new format appears that despite being sold as the next best thing by the likes of Stereophile is actually a setback in all aspects...

I think the main advantage of MQA is the smaller files, which may aid streaming, if you have slow broadband. I don't see the point of it on cds and downloads.

Yes some have been remastered but seems a lot recently have not and have just been batch converted.

What I object to is some of the marketing claims and having to have MQA enabled DAC to get the benefit.

I did try some on my Node which is MQA enabled but could not tell the difference between the MQA and cd version.

I would choose Qobuz over Tidal.  

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49 minutes ago, StingRay said:

I think the main advantage of MQA is the smaller files, which may aid streaming, if you have slow broadband. I don't see the point of it on cds and downloads.

But the reality is that there is no advantage. FLAC can compress to smaller sizes at identical or even higher resolution:

MQAº - 60k, 17-bit: 31M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 20-bit: 34M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 19-bit: 29M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 18-bit: 25M
FLAC* - 88.2k, 17-bit: 21M
º - 96k, 24-bit container
* - level 8 compression

MQA is just pointless for the consumer. It can be moderatly attractive to the hi-fi industry (a new standard means new equipment sales) or the music industry (though the shape of DRM), and it's definitely very attractive to Meridian (licensing fees).

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3 hours ago, StingRay said:

I thought Warner’s had removed all the cd versions on Tidal and there is only the MQA versions left?

Warner's may have but others have not. All MQA tracks are clearly identified with the "Master" tag - I'm guessing this is supposed to draw us in but it has the opposite effect on me!

I took out a trial subscription on Qobuz last night. My primary concern is the breadth of the library - when I went for Tidal, MQA was less of a thing and the breadth of their library appealed more than that of Qobuz. I know I will get CD quality, which is what I have been enjoying on Tidal, and I also know there are higher res subscriptions available, but let's take this one step at a time. If it works out, I won't have to sidestep MQA when choosing music.

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4 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Warner's may have but others have not. All MQA tracks are clearly identified with the "Master" tag - I'm guessing this is supposed to draw us in but it has the opposite effect on me!

I took out a trial subscription on Qobuz last night. My primary concern is the breadth of the library - when I went for Tidal, MQA was less of a thing and the breadth of their library appealed more than that of Qobuz. I know I will get CD quality, which is what I have been enjoying on Tidal, and I also know there are higher res subscriptions available, but let's take this one step at a time. If it works out, I won't have to sidestep MQA when choosing music.

But Warners have around 25% share of the market?

Qobuz is better for certain genres than Tidal and they push that Rap/R&B type music at you. For Jazz/Classical they certainly have more albums and choice. For pop/rock/R&B etc then Tidal has a wider choice. The only reason I use Tidal is they keep offering me free or cheap deals. I did try Spotify, the interface and catalogue was the best I have used however I did not think the music quality was good enough, when they do cd streaming I will retry. If you are not bothered about HiRes then Deezer are doing a 3 month trial on cd level (HiFi). Deezer's catalogue is similar to Tidal's. 

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