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Tidal Masters & MQA Thread!

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by headfry, Mar 3, 2017.
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  1. headfry
    I thought I would start a thread for those who appreciate the SQ of MQA - both files and Tidal Masters -.(as opposed to those
    debating the merits from a scientific standpoint).
    I'm going by my perceptions, but on Tidal decoded MQA by and large I'm getting a smoother, cleaner
    music with much less hash, grain ....to the point where it sounds much more inviting, less fatiguing,
    smoother. More musical! Blacker background, removal (or drastic reduction) of digital "gloss" from the sound.
    Greater ease of sound and performance, more intimacy.
    Some of MQA's claims may be exaggerated, but I believe the stated main benefits are basically true.
    Arguments saying that MQA is lossy or is locked by DRM are not true - in my opinion.
    I'd also like to counter the generally negative and/or suspicious posts on this site (and elsewhere).
    All I know is I've been a fan of higher quality audiophile sound for many many years
    and like what I hear from MQA so far.
    Which is, hi-res quality sound (or perhaps even better SQ) from a significantly smaller file size than
    a conventional hi-res stream.
    ------>>If you enjoy MQA'd music, looking forward to hearing from you!
  2. winders
  3. headfry
    I take it you don't like?
  4. UELong
    I'm subbing.  Not that I expect to hear MQA in the near or mediate future.  My choice of DAC, DAP and music sources don't allow for that.  I prefer to own files rather than stream, and I'm upgrading to a new version of a Chord DAC.
    But, for all that, I don't have a vitrial hatred of the format, and I'm interested in the outcome of the MQA story.  
    If you haven't yet-though I'm sure you have, you could check out the HB channel with Hans Beekhuisen.  He does, what I thought, a great job making a case for both hi-res and MQA codec.
    More power to you.  Hope it becomes a busy thread.
  5. winders

    I have no interest in it.
    Counter what this blog has to say:
  6. headfry
    It's fine that you have no interest in it, there isn't only one road to music nirvana!
    To each his own.

    On the other hand, I'm not interesed in countering the above, which is Benchmark rationalizing/explaining why they are not 
    implementing MQA in their products. Some other DAC manufacturers just as esteemed as Benchmark - Cary Audio
    Aurender, Mytek, ultra-high end Brinkmann Nyquist DAC and others are implementing
    MQA, so it's not as black and white as companies like Benchmark, Linn and a few others make it out to be.
    I personally don't need to read theory that attempts to explain that my enjoment for
    MQA is all placebo. I don't care how it's achieved, the proof is in the listening; aesthetics and musical
    expression are felt and appreciated.
    No, this thread is not about tearing down MQA's claims - there are already enough other threads here and elsewhere doing that.
    I don't care for theory, only results.
    I'm interested in your perceptions listening to MQA music.
    I have heard MQA for a couple months now and like what I hear, and I would like to hear other appreciations for this format.
    masterpfa, ZV1987 and swspiers like this.
  7. gregorio
    Why should we take your opinion over what even the creator of MQA has stated? (that MQA is lossy)!
    Even if we ignore the reliable evidence/facts/science and assume for a minute that MQA really is a revolutionary, superior format and does indeed sound better than 16/44.1 (or a lossless format like FLAC or ALAC), there's still a serious problem! The MQA technology, unlike say FLAC or ALAC, has to be licensed, the studios/mastering engineers/artists have to pay more to produce an MQA product. Whatever money is spent on the MQA technology and licensing, is time/money not spent by the artists/studios on creating the best possible recording/master in the first place! So, do you want a better quality format in order to distribute worse quality masters/recordings? ... And, if we assume, as the reliable evidence suggests, that MQA is not an improvement, then you'll be getting both worse quality masters AND a worse (or no better) quality format for distributing those worse masters!
    This is all your (the consumers) choice and you have to suffer the consequences of that choice. There is no free lunch! Consumers can't dictate a reduction in the amount of time/money spent on creating quality recordings (as has happened in the past by paying less or nothing for them) AND then complain about the resultant poorer quality of those recordings/masters!
  8. headfry
    Please let me know for roughly how long you've spent listening to partly or fully decoded MQA music and what your findings were.

    I'm not asking for anyone to take my opinion - everyone
    who has an interest could try it and reach their own conclusions.

    If the Tidal Masters are any indication of the quality of future
    MQA releases, then I'm greatly looking forward to them.

    What we're after here are perceptions, appreciations for this format. Debates as to the validity of the benefits of the process belong to other MQA threads.
    John2e likes this.
  9. saddleup
    Won't be long before this thread is locked.
  10. TokenGesture
    I've yet to be blown away by any MQA track I've heard in Tidal. Can you recommend me something where you consider there to be noticeable improvement as against the standard version?
  11. old tech
    I agree, that would be a great start OP.
    I have heard a few MQA files and they have indeed sounded very good.  However, they do not sound any better than my other music sources whether they be CDs, hi res files or even vinyl when the mastering/recording is of high quality and have yet to hear one that matches the sound quality of my best sounding CD and 24/96 download.  In other words, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to know whether the nice sound from the MQA files are attributable to better mastering sources or something else.
    My stereo chain is quite revealing and I also have invested a fair bit in proper room treatment.  One of the upsides and downsides of the stereo is that the sound quality from the playback system is highly dependent on the source mastering/recording. Well produced recordings sound great but poorly produced ones sound awful as all the flaws are revealed.  So in practice, the media format is very secondary to production on how great the music sound.
    I also don't understand subjective comments such as "hash", "digital sheen" or "fatigue" etc in relation to media.  I get none of that from the media or playback chain, just excellent, good, average or poor recordings.  It is the same with my analog media, I don't get things like "veiled" or "dull, "excess roll-off" or sibilance from vinyl when the production of the record is high quality.
    The bottom line is that nothing has changed which violates the three most important things for sound reproduction fidelity - quality of recording/mastering, speakers and room acoustics.  A poor recording is a poor recording and MQA is not going to change that fundamental.
    jhsbdn, saddleup and headfry like this.
  12. mswlogo

    Please list some Tidal (or other) examples that I can A/B that are clearly an improvement over non MQA hi-res or even better than red book CD.

    I listen to a wide variety of music but a little variety in genre would be great.

    So far I hear no difference in MQA using Meridian Prime with HiFiMan X V2

    They must be from the same Master and be the same level.

    I'd be happy to hear a difference even if it's just different or even worse. They sound the same to me.
  13. headfry
    Try the Masters versions of the following albums for starters:

    David Crosby - Croz ( I really like the track Holding On To Nothing)

    Steely Dan - Two Against Nature

    Jethro Tull - A Passion Play

    Yes - The Yes Album

    Yes - Relayer

    Joni Mitchell - Court And Spark (I like to skip the first two tracks - the rest is absolutely golden music)

    Compare with the matching non-MQA masters and see!

    Looking forward to your findings.

    .....BTW if you like other MQA albums I would enjoy hearing about them!
    stoneglad likes this.
  14. pinnahertz
    But what would you be comparing?  The Masters version to your CD?  That's just a comparison of the Masters version to the CD, not an evaluation of MQA. You don't know if the masters both were made from were the same.  Unless you know that for certain you can't consider it an MQA comparison. 
    If the Masters version sounds better, great.  But that's in no way an endorsement for MQA, it's an endorsement for a specific recording in the Masters version. 
    Keep in mind there has never been a verifiable ABX test of MQA vs ..well, anything. It's absolutely NOT something you can do yourself!
    BTW, how exactly do you A/B (much less ABX) between a streaming service and a local recording? You do you get them in sync?  How do you verify matched levels...and so on...and so on...
    Deftone and old tech like this.
  15. headfry
    hi pinnahertz - thanks for your measured reply!
    The answer is in the third last line of my post - as you'll be comparing
    the master copy that is non-MQA'd I would like to know if you hear any
    significant improvements or not in the MQA version.
    To me there IS a significant improvement, hence this thread.
    The improvements I hear in the clarity/detail smoothness and overall 
    non-artifact naturalness are comparable to the best hi-res recordings
    I've heard, and actually may be better in some aspects. The fact that this
    is achieved in a practical-sized, smaller streaming container and without an MQA dac is great!
    Looking forward to more feedback from all interested parties!
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