MQA Review - Technical Analysis

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by Woland, Apr 15, 2021.

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,372
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Francisco
    That was my understanding (12:41 in the video).

    It would be simple to check if Tidal always streams MQA. Play a track not marked as Master/MQA in passthrough exclusive mode, and see whether an MQA enabled DAC identifies the stream as MQA.

    I believe that Tidal doesn't do MQA encoding. The publisher must submit the encoded file to Tidal.
    https://distrokid.zendesk.com/hc/en...an-Send-My-Music-in-TIDAL-Master-Quality-MQA-
     
  2. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,541
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I don’t like Tidal as explained in an earlier post. They upped my plan after years on Hifi to Hifi Family and charged me extra. It was like $30 a month for me for a couple of months before I learned my lesson to look more carefully at my CC statements.

    Right in the beginning when Tidal launched, my buddy signed up for a trial and canceled the trial. Tidal still billed him for the next month. Reaching out to CS didn’t get anywhere, he complained in the comments on innerfidelity on the post made announcing Tidal to get an employee to notice. Can’t go on stereophile to see if the comments are still there but Tidal has been shady as fuck for years.

    Right after launch? Tidal copied the Spotify UI:
    https://www.inquisitr.com/1972994/tidal-copies-spotifys-user-interface-right-down-to-a-tee/


    There was also the time Tidal inflated Beyonce and Kanye numbers:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/legale...-and-yeezy-streaming-numbers/?sh=2a3ee5fc61f3
    https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/11/tidal-streaming-accusations-figures-kanye-west


    “Two years ago, some questioned how Kanye’s album The Life Of Pablo, a Tidal exclusive at the time, could have been streamed 250m times in 10 days, when the platform itself only had 3 million users.”


    Kanye, who was a co-owner and shareholder? He was probably also screwed by Tidal who has always had money trouble:
    https://variety.com/2017/music/news/kanye-west-jay-z-tidal-money-owed-1202487355/
    https://www.usmagazine.com/celebrit...y-zs-tidal-over-money-dispute-report-w490694/


    The fact the Jay-Z can keep finding investors to dump millions to save Tidal is amazing. Sprint bought a 33% stake in it back Jan 2017:
    https://www.theverge.com/2017/1/23/...res-tidal-streaming-service-exclusive-content

    Only for it to it later that year in Dec 2017, it had 6 months of money left, they burned through the $200m Sprint injected into the company:
    https://9to5mac.com/2017/12/13/tidal-out-of-cash-may-close/


    And yet, Jay-Z still managed to convince Jack Dorsey bought a majority stake in Tidal through Square for $297m in cash/stock:
    https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/4/22313108/square-inc-tidal-majority-stake-jack-dorsey-jay-z


    Its amazing how many lifelines Tidal has had over the years even when their shit hemorrhages money and they lie and pad their own numbers. Jay-Z convinced his friends to join as stake holders years ago. Then he convinced Softbank/Sprint it was a good idea to invest. And just last month got Dorsey to sign on as an investor.

    And this is not to even mention all the recent shit with MQA. This is just Tidal being a shitty company.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 9
    • Epic Epic x 4
    • List
  3. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    825
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Here’s another one: MQA - Manipulative Quacks Associated
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  4. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    5,006
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    bubbleUPNP shows the bitrate and file type of every track steaming to the PI2AES if you turn on the function which I did after reading this. So far everything I’ve played has been FLAC 44.1khz 16 bit. I don’t know if this is correct though.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  5. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,557
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    That may be a half useful definition of bit perfect, whatever it is. But it is not very useful in the domain of digital signal processing of audio, without some debate :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  6. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,906
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    However from a consumer standpoint MQA is specifically NOT digital signal processing, but rests its value claims on non-adulteration and purity.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  7. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    327
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Pretoria, South Africa
    Or Missing Quality Apologetics ...
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  8. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2017
    Likes Received:
    6,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Canada
    I say that only because the lossless vs lossy argument has been pushed and pushed and pushed by many, but MQA and their supporters simply twist the word to mean what they want it to. And being that this is directly on their website as a dedicated page where they say “Is MQA lossless? Yes it’s lossless.”, clearly they feel they are legally in the right, otherwise they wouldn’t claim it.

    Regardless if it “technically” falls into the definition of lossless or not, it has been clearly shown that the data from the initial PCM file is not the same as the MQA file. So to everyone that cares about getting the original content in an unadulterated fashion, it’s definitely not that, regardless of what you technically call it.

    And my main point being, if this was the only feature of MQA (the compression scheme) it wouldn’t be nearly as potentially destructive as it could be if it was widely adopted. It’s the fact that it’s a proprietary black box with a licensing scheme and baked-in DRM etc which makes the format so dangerous.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  9. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2017
    Likes Received:
    6,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Canada
    My hope is that Jack Dorsey pushes to dump MQA completely. However, considering that a significant portion of the content served by Tidal is now MQA, that may be easier said than done, and I’m sure that contracts will be involved that may lock them in for a certain amount of time (although if Tidal had any skill at negotiating their contracts they would have had a clear exit strategy). The worst case would be if Jack wants to double down on MQA.
     
  10. gepardcv

    gepardcv Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
    Likes Received:
    426
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Terra, Sol System
    A codec that transplants ultrasonic noise into audible range (it was what, -35dBFS or something in the video?) does not count as lossless. This goes way beyond normal audio snake oil, semantics, and the old “is digital really lossless” debate, and straight into the realm of fraud.

    @GoldenOne: Could you please check some non-MQA files on Tidal and see they show signs of ultrasonic noise damage? I’m wondering if Tidal does something really dumb like only store MQAs and transcode them into FLAC on the fly for non-“master” content. I lack the skill and experience to perform audio spectrum analysis.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  11. Acoustic Taser

    Acoustic Taser Rando

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2019
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    Florida
    I'm gonna start shopping turntables. :p
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 7
    • List
  12. crenca

    crenca Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Southern New Mexico
    What exactly "non-adulteration" and "purity" is, is a signal processing question...even if your Bill Clinton :D
     
  13. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,762
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India

    Yes. And they are lying about it being lossless, which...
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
  14. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2017
    Likes Received:
    6,424
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Canada
    If they are lying, then someone should sue them. Perhaps The ORAFS will take up the challenge. Maybe Amir can put his Microsoft money and measuring equipment to good use for once. ;)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  15. Yethal

    Yethal Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Likes Received:
    186
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Poland
    I wonder if the same discussion is going over at ASR.
     
  16. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,258
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Charlottesville
    Over at ASR, Amir is defending MQA, saying that everyone knows that a lossy codec can’t handle the signals that Golden encoded. John Atkinson is there saying the same thing. (We’re now in the stage where everyone admits MQA is lossy, I guess.) Atkinson is also “liking” every post defending MQA and criticizing Golden.

    Also, in the context of defending MQA, Amir just invalidated his entire “objectivist” enterprise:

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 8
    • Epic Epic x 6
    • List
  17. mimart7

    mimart7 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2020
    Likes Received:
    22
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    NYC
    If MQA and Tidal had been honest about what was being offered, all of this controversy never would have happened. Then again, Tidal never would have gained the subscriber bas base that it currently has.
     
  18. crenca

    crenca Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2,531
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Southern New Mexico
    Well this is a reversal, at least in part. Three or so years ago now Atkinson admitted over on CA (in that massive MQA vaporware thread) and I think even on Stereophile that without test signals MQA's claims could not be verified. Of course since then everyone has a much better appreciation of MQA's actual methods (min phase filtering, etc.) and Atkinson's expectation around the "end to end" ambitions of MQA are exploded.

    Perhaps his ego will not let him admit just how bamboozled he was in the beginning and so now he wants to defend MQA for what it actually is.
     
  19. Krzysztof

    Krzysztof Rando

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2021
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Poland
    I cancelled my Tidal subscription few months ago.
    But after that revelation I think Tidal doesn't deserve my my money at all and I don't think I will ever return.
    Thank you for that thread !
     
  20. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    825
    Trophy Points:
    93
    As for all these "authoritative" people who support MQA, I think most obvious solution is the correct one - they are likely incentivized to do this. I honestly don't see any other reason why anybody in this day and age would support a secretive/shady lossy solution. Other lossy solutions are around and they are transparent enough for people who do not really care about pristine audio quality, and they do not include any DRM components or false claims to recovering the holy grail of music. Plus you don't need to buy an AAC or MP3-specific DAC that will unlock the mythical qualities of these forms of compression.

    Audiophiles who care about music are not looking for lossy solutions as they tend to stream at home where they have access to high speed internet. Most people are now streaming rather than buying digital music, so it is not like hard drive space is an issue. I honestly think that the whole concept of MQA is not pitched to the consumers (or creators) of music at all. It really is designed for various middle men to try and take a cut somehow.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021

Share This Page