MQA Review - Technical Analysis

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

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    16/44.1 doesn't mean that it isn't MQA encoded. There are now a lot of 16/44 MQA albums on Tidal (especially from Warner) that don't unfold to a higher bitrate. Roon identifies the maximum rate that an MQA file will unfold to.
     
  2. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    NB: I'm not much into streaming services, although I recently signed up, and paid, for Spotify. Tidal does not work in this country; I don't think the other major streamers you guys get in USA (& Europe?) do either. So I'm not at all in this as a current, or even potential, Tidal customer. I'm in it just for principle. And because what little I've seen of BS, like Amir, was rather off-putting. Damnit, he was even dressed up like a dodgy used-car guy.
     
  3. Metro

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    Not popular on SBAF, but I believe Apple Music and Amazon Music are available in India.
     
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  4. haywood

    haywood Friend

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    People are confused about what they mean by lossless which makes the conversation more convoluted than it needs to be. The files are encoded with flac and can’t help but be lossless, what they send to you is decoded bit perfectly to be the same file as what they encoded. The substantive argument is that their digital mastering (the “folding”) reduces the fidelity of the original audio file. I wouldn’t bet that the average listener could tell the difference between a normal flac and one that’s gone through the mqa wringer (or even an mp3) but it’s demonstrably provable digitally as @GoldenOne showed in his video.
     
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  5. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Yes, I think you are right. I'm sure there are more than I know, because I'm quite new to streaming music --- apart from Youtube
     
  6. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    It would be no surprise if he defended MQA considering his Microsoft career. MS’s entire approach to the market in the past was to create proprietary, closed-source, hardware specific software, in many cases even trying to replace open/free options that existed in the market, and then selling it to consumers or charging hardware companies licensing fees. Sound familiar??
     
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  7. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    So, part of the MQA process is FLAC encoding, but a prior part is lossy.

    Thus: the entire MQA process is lossy.
     
  8. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Flac is just a container/wrapper the streaming companies would use otherwise. MQA, like PCM, DSD, MP3, AAC - that's the encoding. MQA can be delievered in other ways, such as straight up on a CD or some other physical media, or beamed through space via satalites using whatever wrapper they use, or on the backs of lobsters 2000 meters down on the floor of the ocean with the preferred digital/physical/mythical container lobsters use.

    Don't get distracted by "Flac", Zip, or for that matter any other bit/byte IT compression scheme...
     
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  9. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

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    I would say they are in too deep. MQA can't survive without Tidal since none of the other platforms are going for it. And then Tidal has become so intertwined with MQA they can't go back now.

    MQA can't survive without Tidal but Tidal can survive without MQA since Square is worth billions and can afford it.

    Hard to make any predictions with MQA/Tidal. I wouldn't expect MQA to get profitable until they can get more buy in from the industry which looks a hell of a lot harder now with all the bad press. Luckily for them, they have a loyal army to promote the holy word of MQA through thick and thin.
     
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  10. gepardcv

    gepardcv Almost "Made"

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    An army that now includes an alliance of ASR and JA? How did those two get in bed anyway? One promotes cheap gear, including shitty amps that fry headphones, and the other runs a magazine that promotes $50k DACs and $200k speakers.
     
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  11. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Most modern popular music and movie audio is filled with aliasing already folding down into the audible band and imd from bad non-linear digital processing. Lossy formats and further bad processing literally alias the aliasing and intermodulate the intermodulation distortion.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    Yes imagine telling sound guys that all their gear with converters in is now 100-200 dollars more expensive to pay for licensing the MQA codec. That’s an extra sm57, new tweeter, or more cables. 5-6 is a ribbon mic.

    100-200 dollars for a modern mastering guy is a track or two. That can be a few hours of work. Yes, the guys who actually work have to work to cover it. Cover what? Cover something that sounds bad that they hate.

    it didn’t work in the past. Pacific Microsonics was put out of its misery while Lavry and Prism are still glorious.
     
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  13. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    To a large extent they are both parting fools from their money.
     
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  14. Yethal

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    I sure wish he had the same energy when he was bashing products based on measurement results that use test signals
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  15. Thad E Ginathom

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    It's been a long time, during which I wasn't thinking much about BS and MQA, but I thought that, back then, I saw something about BS getting deals in the movie world? Hope I'm wrong.
     
  16. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Let me risk drawing ire by saying that it's a legit criticism of @GoldenOne 's work. I've talked to some DSP peeps and they kinda agree that this might not be the right test. However, until MQA presents us with anything better, it is the best test we have. If we judge MQA by the same merit as every other digital filter out there, it falls flat. At the same time, it's not just a filter, it's a lossy compression algo, so DBX testing against lossless content should be conducted to see whether people perceive a difference. If they don't, then it's a good algo even without being bit perfect. And while you're at it, do ABX test the audible benefits of >44.1/48kHz sample rates even with lossless files. You'll probably find out quickly why no one bats an eyela... erm earlobe about MQA.

    At the same time, I find it immensely sad to see people defending a company doing cost cutting at their customers expense. I personally can't wait for Spotify to offer redbook quality streams and bury Tidal once and for all.
     
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  17. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Yep, that much and type of ultrasonic (> 20-20 audio band) is not even really an edge case. In that it is like an impulse response, although impulse response in the audio band is arguably even more realistic/relevant.

    Ideally MQA would allow a test of the lossy compression of ultrasonic/"folding" algorithm in a scenario separate from their filtering scheme for a true apples to apples ABX. Not that it will every happen.
     
  18. Josh83

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    I don't really find that compelling as a criticism. First, it's not true that all of the sounds @GoldenOne has encoded are "illegal." Second, a lossless encoder would have had no issue with any of them. In order to argue that Golden's test was "unfair," Amir and John are now claiming MQA is essentially equivalent to MP3 or WMA, which is a far cry from the old claim that it's a new lossless format that's actually better than PCM. So they're now conceding MQA is lossy. That seems to be game, set, and match for Golden.
     
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  19. crenca

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    Not if you put a bunch energy (whether "real" or "illegal" digital constructs) right at the corner frequency (say 22khz in a 16/44.1 effort).

    How are you using "lossless" here? PCM is "lossy" if you define it as reflecting a bunch of IMD back into the audioband by using edge case scenario's such as the one above.

    Note: I don't read ASR so going off your reporting as to what John and Amir are saying...
     
  20. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Just thought of a trick question for all you IT bit/byte guys (that's my background too):

    Is the audio encoded in a Flac file
    1. Lossy
    2. Lossless
    3. It depends
     

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