MQA: Revolutionary British streaming technology

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by bigshot, Dec 8, 2014.
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  1. castleofargh Contributor
    as the top bits are basic PCM, you can of course read those with any typical DAC, and operate on the file like on any other wave file, including encoding it to flac. but you have to consider that used in such a way, all the lower bits of the file are read as non dithered noise. you end up with lower resolution in a bigger file. so what you say is true, but it's really a last resort choice to use MQA as if it's only PCM.

    also if playing the file that way does sound great, it suggests that the difference in sound, if any, doesn't come from several steps of MQA(extended sample rate, dither, special low pass). and lean more toward pure mastering differences which never required a special format in the first place.
    so it would be pretty significant to be able to clearly tell what makes a file sound good or not in the MQA library.

    agreed ^_^
  2. Sterling2
    I just purchased an OPPO UDP-205. Its firmware incorporates MQA so it seems I'm set to enjoy MQA downloads, as well as Mastered for iTunes downloads. For sure, I'm excited about MQA and I'm looking forward to compare it with iTunes downloads. Now, I'm expecting that I will not hear anything sounding better or worse since it's my understanding that MQA is more of a certification than a process; but, who knows. Seems there have been many professing on the matter who have not actually heard any MQA recordings. These folks believe their recording studio credentials permit comment on MQA's moment in the history of civilization, as well as the permission to bully any who do not accept their beliefs on the matter.
  3. castleofargh Contributor
    it's everything. the certification is but a tiny and honestly pretty vague piece of the MQA swiss army tools. the only concrete practical result is that we can't alter a file without losing part of the decoding. any other idea "à la" Pono doesn't have the means or the transparency toward consumers to guaranty actual tractability as to the origin of the masters or what is done to them. sooner or later we'll get low res stuff encoded as highres one, like we did for pretty much all highres formats and distributors in the past. at some point they have to trust the provider of the masters and some will not play by the rules to make a few more bucks. it's in the game.
    but with MQA the blur goes beyond that. so far I don't even know the exact resolution of a song and I still haven't been able to find out if said resolution is in practice altered depending on how much ultrasonic content there is to encode. or if the ultrasonic content is just attenuated in amplitude until it fits the pre-allocated storage space? it's likely to be a little of both. the patent seems to offer all those possibilities. so all in all, listening to some MQA albums isn't any form of a test IMO. you can never be totally sure that what you hear isn't the DAC using a different way to process the signal, or just a different master. both of which could absolutely exist without the MQA format. if anybody knows how to setup a reasonable listening test for MQA, I'd be real interested. I've thought about it long and hard and haven't come up with anything. Archimago's stuff are partial aspects of MQA or even attempts at copying the filters using another device and non MQA files. those are nice ideas but they introduce their own issues IMO.

    aside from that, I know this is a trigger to some, but a technology isn't fully analyzed by ear. a digital format and the various technical operations described in the patent don't necessarily need a subjective opinion about how it sounds, for some to decide that they'd rather see it fail. the good old "have you tried?", "just listen", argument is over simplistic under such circumstances. claiming the cannot be any audible difference without trying would be foolish, but being against MQA without trying seems perfectly reasonable to me so long as they have read a good deal about it. after all MQA has been a topic for many years now, long before it became available, the Meridian crew was already trying to sell it everywhere. I personally felt informed enough to totally hate it long before I could try a song. and that hatred didn't come from someone at Meridian eating my pudding when I was child. it's the stuff they said that got me mad on various occasions until I decided I was simply against MQA in general. it didn't happen in one day.
    now MQA exists, that's very fine and my life didn't get ruined and most likely will never be no matter how long the format lasts. so whoever enjoys it, please by all means, have fun. but I really wouldn't want their ideal plans to become reality. I'm at least sure of that much.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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  4. bigshot
    It helps that the MQA folks have been pumping out reams of obvious hot air talking about improvements that are quite clearly inaudible to human ears- even on paper. (See the link CD Sound Is All You Need below in my sig.)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  5. jagwap
    Can we have a new forum?

    As from what I see, more than 50% of the objection here is to the marketing and closing of the DRM loop, we could separate the these <strike>rants</strike> discussion out to "Audio Marketing" forum and leave science here.

    Then I could start a thread on how the new Apple Homepod Doesn't let you play your own music unless you have bought it on itunes, or have an Apple paid subscription and upload your own music to the Apple cloud! The science of the Homepod is quite interesting, but this is outrageous.
  6. Sterling2
    Closing the loop is an interesting topic. Seems HDMI consolidation will pretty much make home recording impossible as soon as legacy recorders just break down. I've got 2 Sony PCM-7010F's still recording the supposedly non-recordable but they're almost 20 years old and DAT cassettes are kind of hard to find today.
  7. bigshot
    Relating marketing claims of how a codec works in the real world to defined thresholds of audibility definitely falls within the range of science. If there is no scientific reason why MQA can sound better and a listening test has proven it doesn't sound better, do you want to buy it? I would love to discuss the science behind MQA, but if all they will say about it is smoke and mirrors, and the only controlled listening test fell smack dab into random territory, I don't see much to talk about. Perhaps we should leave MQA to the poets to compose odes describing "the crystalline purity of the languid liquid waves lapping on my eardrums like the gentle surf of the Mediterranean sea in mid-Summer". If we want to go that route, a different forum would probably be better. The sales pitch for MQA is just as vague. It just uses words that sound scientific.

    I have a Mac Mini based media server. I can play my own files, or rip just about anything, or stream from the internet from thousands of different content providers. That loop isn't closed and it likely never will be. I think the loop gets closed on the end of the market that requires so much convenience that it borders on sloth. Alexa and that Mac equivalent seem like that to me.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  8. jagwap
    Agreed. We are used to hearing music and sound in enclosed spaces. If you put an orchestra in a desert it woud not sound as we expect.

    Who mentioned audiophiles? This was an assembled team of audio reseachers in a highly thought of audio manufacturer. They were doing the testing in a professionally treated room and backed up by at the time state of the art measurement equipment.
  9. bigshot
    In theory audiophiles want the ultimate sound quality. That's the way I am using the term. I use audiophiles for people who want great sound and audiophools for people who believe in smoke and mirrors and refuse to accept facts.
  10. Sterling2
    How do you typically copy or record music, that's to say, how do you download it to your computer. For example, if you were listening to music on YouTube and wanted to add that music to your iTunes Library how would you import the music? What would be your step by step actions?
  11. slinkyjynx
    I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we'd listen to a song on Youtube, and if we liked it, we'd purchase the CD/Album download from a vendor of some kind and then either rip the CD or dowload the files they provide :wink:
  12. Sterling2
    Yes, that's exactly what you would do. It's what I do to. And, in fact, it may be the only way to get the music into your music library; meaning, what if you heard some music on YouTube which did not have a link to iTunes, Apple Music, or other to be able to buy or play the music from your library. Well, I'll tell you, would not be able to enjoy the music unless you went back to YouTube to listen to it. That is unless you had some sort of legacy audio recorder which could receive the optical S/PDIF output from the player you are using to listen to the music on YouTube. For example, let's say you have a Smart TV and you are listening to music on YouTube, you could output from the TV's optical S/PDIF to a digital recorder with S/PDIF input. But, here's the thing, soon, there will be no TV's or other electronics which will have anything other than HDMI output. That effectively means an end to home recording, such as enjoyed in the past using CD, or DAT Recorders. Of course, usb to S/PDIF can be used for recording to legacy recorders, but once those recorders give it up you will be out of luck.
  13. bigshot
    I generally buy a lot of CDs, DVDs, SACDs and blu-rays and I can rip from all those formats to load onto my media server. It's possible to download YouTube videos too, and it isn't necessarily illegal. Here is an article on c/net about it...

    If there is something you find on YouTube that you can't find anywhere else, I'd recommend downloading an archive copy of it. Stuff on YouTube is ephemeral. I've run into instances were incredibly important stuff just disappeared for no reason. Our culture is becoming like Alzheimers.

    To me, it's important to have a copy of something. I don't listen passively or randomly. I try to compare performances and analyze. That is very difficult to do with streaming, especially if it's set up for random play with no set playlist. That kind of setup has never worked for me. I want to hear music I'm not familiar with, not music I already like and know about.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  14. Sterling2
    How do you rip SACD, either stereo and/or multi-channel? And, BTW, I like your posts, perhaps because I too like to compare and analyze, at least think critically about topics within the hobby.
  15. bigshot
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