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MQA: Revolutionary British streaming technology

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by bigshot, Dec 8, 2014.
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  1. artpiggo
    Okay now after 100+ pages of discussion, Have we come up with any mutual agreement/conclusion on MQA format yet?
  2. jagwap
    Many have come to an agreement, but they are all different ones.
  3. bigshot
    That depends on whether you're talking about audible sound or theoretical sound. There was one pretty carefully controlled listening test and there was no difference whatsoever.
  4. artpiggo
    Okay, so it is still individually concluded, isn't it?

    I will go test myself with set-up at retail shop some time. I have been curious about this thing for a long time.
  5. Sterling2
    There are uninformed opinions, informed opinions, and doctorate opinions. In this arena a doctorate opinion would be from someone with credentials in sound science, that's to say, someone highly qualified to profess on matters here. How highly qualified are you to profess that I can not hear more detail from the scenario I earlier described? What are your credentials to claim your opinion is indeed more valid than others here. One thing for sure, you do have a bias about the OPPO UDP-205, making comparisons between it and the 103 which is not remotely germane to this thread, since I never claimed I thought the 205 sounded better than a 103. As you recall my statement was simply that I perceived the 205's usb DAC delivered more detail from my iTunes Library than previous means to enjoy that library, i.e. Airport Express. My "critical thinking" was listening to familiar music at the volume level I enjoy such music. In your "thinking" that apparently is not enough thought for such a statement as mine to be made here. Isn't that right? In other words, you have no interest in an opinion that is not in step with your logic, which you assume is the only route to what you believe is a "valid" opinion. Also, it's clear that you dismissed my observation for your own bias about all DACs sounding the same, which you believe to be fact when clearly not all experts in DAC technology believe that.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  6. Sterling2
    OK, let's start with you alluding to all DACs sounding the same as being fact. Then, any opinion about a DAC delivering more detail than another would be rejected by you. Thing is, not all experts accept as fact that all DACs sound the same; so, while you say you support an opinion with facts, it appears, you do not adhere to your own rules regarding what makes an opinion valid; and, in fact, only use opinion from others that bolsters your arguments. Doesn't this invalidate your opinion?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  7. bigshot
    I am speaking about every DAC in every digital audio component I've ever had access to. I've never run across one that sounded different than any other one- all audibly transparent. That's dozens and dozens of them, ranging from the DAC in a $40 WalMart DVD player all the way up to an Oppo HA-1. Now I don't doubt that there are high end DACs that are deliberately designed to perform out of spec. Those probably sound different. But for the life of me, I can't figure out why anyone would want something like that, much less pay extra for it. If a DAC does sound different, the question would be why? Odds are, different doesn't mean better. It just means different.

    Now the dozens and dozens of DACs don't mean jack diddly to you. You only care about *your* DACs. I totally understand that. But if you really care to know whether they sound the same, or one sounds better, or one sounds worse, you'll make the effort to eliminate potential bias and do some sort of controlled listening test. If you can't be bothered to do that, then I'm going to say that you just don't want to know, and your impressions are probably based on expectation bias- particularly when you grab on so hard to defend your opinions you haven't bothered to verify. I think you are trying to convince other people to convince yourself that you spent a lot of money wisely. I think you have a vested interest in one particular outcome. Bias.

    Prove me wrong. Get a swtichbox and a way to balance line level. Corral a friend to help you with a blind test. Do a bunch of comparisons and come up with results that are statistically convincing. Then we can start talking about what the difference actually consists of.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
    Wallboy likes this.
  8. bigshot
    How about this?

    Part 1: https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/mqa-core-vs-hi-res-blind-test-part-i.html
    Part 2: https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/mqa-core-vs-hi-res-blind-test-part-ii.html
    Part 3: https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/mqa-core-vs-hi-res-blind-test-part-iii.html

    Let me tell you a story about my experience at a high end audio retail shop...

    I was in the market for speakers. That is the area where money makes a big difference... much more than with electronics. So I went to a highly respected audiophile shop. They had a room full of speakers. The salesman was very helpful. I had several CDs and a notepad, and I wanted to systematically audition each speaker and make notes. So I sat down with my yellow pad and the salesman pointed to a set of speakers and played a couple of minutes of music through each one. At one point I asked him to jump back to a set that I had already heard. They sounded quite different. So I turned around and the salesman was standing with his back to the controls and his hands behind his back. I said, "Why does that sound different than before?" and I saw his arm move a bit. The sound changed. He pretended that he wasn't doing anything, and I asked him to step away from the panel. He had been goosing the volume and bass on the speakers he wanted to sell me behind his back. I said to him, "Look, if you're going to keep adjusting stuff behind your back like that this is going to take all night. I see how the switch box works. You just go help someone else and I'll let you know when I make a decision." He got all huffy and rude and stomped away. I sat there and figured out which speaker I wanted by myself... and then went to another store and bought them.

    The absolute WORST place to try to do a controlled test is at a retail shop. The salesmen are on commission and they get paid different commission rates on different brands. Some equipment in stores is deliberately hobbled to make other equipment look good. They are going to skew any test you try to make.

    When it comes to MQA, there is no way to do a totally controlled test. Archimago has done the best that anyone can. They have made it difficult deliberately by making it a proprietary format and mucking about with the mastering. You can't always directly compare apples to apples. You can either take them at their word without question, or reject their product because they haven't given any reason why their format should sound any different than competing formats. My advice is if something you buy has MQA built in, great. But don't pay an extra cent to get it. There's no evidence it improves sound at all. And AAC 256 VBR is both audibly transparent and streamable. Use that.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  9. castleofargh Contributor
    all those pages are mainly me whining about marketing and some of the stuff they have spammed over the years(sorry). then there are also many pages full of the readiness of people to go "hey I like that song in MQA, therefore temporal blurring is clearly audible and bad" or fallacies like that. really hard to put logic back in line once it's been bent so much and so eagerly. in short we don't discuss MQA itself that much.

    as a digital format with enough bits and frequency range, we can expect audible transparency in typical listening conditions like with most digital formats. which at this point makes new formats in general spectacularly uninteresting IMO. to me they're all just means to have a lock on copyrights and to force consumers to buy new devices needed for compatibility
    some of the changes done on the files in MQA are arguable from an objective standpoint, but they say that it can subjectively sound nicer to some people. and here we are in subjective domain where anything goes because people will think and feel whatever they like, real or not. magnitudes are in the mind of the listener, all is true, all is false.

    as you need a MQA DAC that will use a special sauce when playing MQA for complete cuisine, there is a potential cause for audible difference right there(different gears are different). and it makes proper testing complicated. at the same time it shouldn't make much of a difference because most of the special operations should occur above the audible range anyway(which is why some of us question the relevance of it all). so if the DAC isn't rubbish when playing PCM at 44 or 48khz, there is no reason to expect anything massive from an audible point of view.

    our lack of knowledge about how much change is done on each MQA file makes serious testing almost impossible(add that to the precious difficulties). like knowing how many of the MQA ingredients are integrated into a specific song, and for some "ingredients", how they're used. is the song remastered while we're at it or not? what is the actual final resolution of the signal(not the container, the audio content)? they all make reaching conclusions only readily available to MQA insiders and those who have no issue jumping to conclusion. for the rest of us, "it's complicated" with expectation of minimal to irrelevant changes from the format itself.

    MQA as a format is lossy, which doesn't mean it can't contain "high res" ranges of data. it's just not stocked and reconstructed in a fully lossless way.

    on the top of my head that's about it. I'm not a fan, so consider that how I present things could have done with a little more optimism. :wink:
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