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Odin412

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  Here is what we are doing at Schiit. We are sending out a press release to indicate why we will not build any MQA decoding device for the foreseeable future.
 
Wow - a voice of reason amid all the audiophile hype. How refreshing! Keep up the good work and we're looking forward to seeing (and hearing) The Gadget!
 
BTW, the press release is here: http://schiit.com/news/news/why-we-wont-be-supporting-mqa
Now, that's what I call taking a stand. Congratulations!
 
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post-12608597
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jacal01

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  For the moment, it is very safe to assume that Schiit will never be in the biz of attempting the futile task of polishing audio turds.
 
The money's good, if you can wear the uniform.
 
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jsiegel14072

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Here is what we are doing at Schiit. We are sending out a press release to indicate why we will not build any MQA decoding device for the foreseeable future. If we are wrong about the future of MQA and significant portions of the available and future audio catalog are offered – we will then be forced to look at in the same terms as Bluetooth Audio, MP3 and other lossy formats. For the moment, it is very safe to assume that Schiit will never be in the biz of attempting the futile task of polishing audio turds.
You mean we are stuck listening to CD's on Yagg for the foreseeable future?
 

 
I guess we should put our big boy pants on and take our punishment like a man!
 
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jacal01

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Why, no.  You're special.  You can branch off into any audio purchase direction you want.
 
There.  That help?
 
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post-12611178
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ScottFree

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Armaegis

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judmarc

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  DSD has only recently begun to assume room temperature. All that remains is for the inevitable stench to clear, leaving a small fraction of all released music in its wake. Now is announced MQA, an even more tenuous proposition, not because it not only requires a repurchase or redundant restream of music you already have, but it is Meridian Audio proprietary, therefore requiring the user to indirectly pay license fees. Oh, and a minor tech anomaly: just like MP3 and Bluetooth Audio, it is lossy! Yup. What a deal.
 
* * *
 
That's the rub: there is not enough money in the consumer audio market to support two different mainstream media formats or configurations. Never has been. Again, see the questions. The entry level end, from where our users bubble up, care about one thing: bang for the buck. It all begins with 2-3 buck ds dac chips which deliver quite a bit for for cheap in phones, etc. At all levels from the bottom to the top, that which delivers the most for the buck in the current format mentioned above wins. The outliers such as HDCD and MQA, even if sonically superior, have always lost.
 
I basically agree with what you say above, but wanted to comment on a couple of aspects of it:
 
Lossy:
 
Yes, MQA is lossy.  But then so is just about all the music we listen to, if you want to be fairly strict about the definition of "lossy."  To eliminate marketing-speak, I like to use the definition that if you can't get from the result back to the original by a mathematical operation, the result is lossy.
 
Filtering is necessary for digital audio, at least if you don't want your music with a helping of massive distortion.  Nearly all the filters used in analog to digital conversion at the recording end, and in digital to analog conversion at the listening end, are lossy under the definition above (with an important exception I'll get to).  Yes, MQA, mp3, etc., are considered lossy "formats," but all that means is the lossy bitstream resulting from the filtering has been saved as a file.  When a RedBook or hi res file is running through your DAC's filters, that bitstream is also lossy in comparison to the file that came off your disc or drive or player, it just hasn't been re-saved to a file.  (Again, there's an important exception I'll get to in a moment.)  So the important distinction to me isn't between lossy and non-lossy, it's the quality of the filtering.  It's not the mere fact that something's lost which can't be regained, it's what is lost.  In the case of mp3 and Bluetooth, those losses are unacceptable to my ears, but I'd say the very same about bad DAC filtering.
 
OK, the important exception: If I understand correctly, closed form filters like those in the Schiit multibit DACs are mathematically reversible to the original file, and thus are not lossy.  Huzzah, right?  Well - just IMHO, this is good for marketing, but in terms of listening quality not especially meaningful.  My guess is that one could easily make a bad sounding closed form filter.  So it's not in the non-lossy nature of such filters where the magic (if any there be) lies.  It's in the optimizing of the filters to produce as little as possible of the unavoidable distortions that are the result of filtering - aliasing, ringing, and potentially phase artifacts.  I've listened to the Yggy and the BiMBy and liked them a lot, so at least to my ears Mike's done a very nice job with the filters.
 
Even if you've got one of the Schiit multibit DACs, the same problem exists on the ADC (recording) end as at the DAC end: just about all ADCs use lossy filters to produce RedBook or hi res.  So even the "non-lossy" formats are in fact files that resulted from lossy filtering.  (Once again, I assume Mike's ADC filtering that was used by Mobile Fidelity was an exception; but once again, IMO it's not the non-lossy nature of the filtering but its optimization to minimize distortions that I think is really important.)
 
Thus the fact that MQA is indeed a lossy format doesn't matter to me, any more than the fact that 99% of my recordings were made with lossy filters, or that most of the software filtering I use with my DAC is lossy.  (There is software available with closed form filters, and I've used them on occasion.)  What would matter to me is how accurate it is - what's lost, what distortions are added.  I haven't heard it, so I can't comment on that.
 
Outliers:
 
Saying tech outliers have always lost, even if sonically superior, struck me as more than a little ironic coming from someone who makes multibit DACs built around non-audio DAC chips because they are sonically superior. 
  I hope you disprove your own statement that such outliers always lose.
 
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Ableza

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Outliers:
 
Saying tech outliers have always lost, even if sonically superior, struck me as more than a little ironic coming from someone who makes multibit DACs built around non-audio DAC chips because they are sonically superior. 
  I hope you disprove your own statement that such outliers always lose.
He's talking about formats, not equipment designs.  Shiit DACs are designed for the dominant formats.
 
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judmarc

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  He's talking about formats, not equipment designs.  Shiit DACs are designed for the dominant formats.
 
Sure.  But are equipment designs immune from being looked at the same way?
 
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Ableza

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Sure.  But are equipment designs immune from being looked at the same way?
By other designers, no.  By mainstream users?  I believe the majority don't care as long as it works well.
 
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Baldr

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On pro-level ADCs, MQA vs open systems, and why Schiit has not built them (yet?)
 
Twenty five years or so ago, I was approached by Joe Bermudez, the marketing guy at Mobile Fidelity. He had heard of a one off reference A/D built by Dave and myself for a startup group who were experimenting with a proprietary method to encode digital audio with an inverse method on playback to improve the specs of the record/playback system. Unlike MQA, this was not a system which traded off loss of data for increased effective audio bandwidth, but a system which an encode on record and a decode on playback actually improved performance and effective resolution. This company used a royalty model for revenue. Despite my early willingness to sell them hardware, I refused to support their closed system which required a rebuy of even more expensive musical software. The pressure was enormous as that system had the high end press rolling over and wetting themselves, just as they later did for DSD and now MQA. Forgive my continued rant.
 
So what Joe at Mo-Fi wanted was the same A/D that we had already built, with Nelson Pass doing the analog. This was what eventually became their “Gain System” which resulted in the Muddy Waters, etc. etc. recordings of the early 1990s. It was a lot of work for three systems built. (I kept one.) At the time, it was a really expensive multibit 17 bit A/D converter which converted at 8x either 44.1 or 48KHz 352.8 or 384KHz – double the MQA rate. It also featured an inverse megaburrito filter of the time. Which gave us the sound.
 
At Theta, despite the fact that we had sold two D/A sets to very famous film composers, found it very difficult to sell such an expensive A/D to the studios. Fast forward to today, and it is a different cost world. A two-channel multibit 16x (4x MQA) 21 bit original sample, 24 bit out no missing original sample codes A/D converter with an updated megaburrito filter should sell for $3500ish, given equivalent quantities. It would kill the old Mobile Fidelity converter at less than a quarter of the price. Why that much? Multibit A/D converter chips (proper ones) have really fast D/A converters components within to test and compare reconverted numbers against the original analog level multiple times before conversion. They therefore are far more expensive than an equivalently specced D/A converter chips.
 
So why do we hesitate to build this at Schiit, given Jason, the creative energy/genius behind his other marketing company, and me, the one who has already done this rodeo?? Schiit is a company which builds audio equipment in high quantities at low prices. Principal reasons the prices are low in addition to the high production quantities are the low overhead, minimal marketing investment, and no sales department. A safe approach is to continue doing that which works. On the other hand, given my production engineering knowledge of building a lot of digital audio performance for the buck, it would be very fun to build.
 
Fun will not pay employee's salaries, however. $3500 is a phuc ton of $$ for needle drops or even garage bands. I could have amazing fun in that market at a fraction of that!
 
So what could we do (or not)?  (Random thoughts - not policy statements.)
 
1. Go ahead and build it anyway and hope we don't have dozens and dozens slowly or not sold.
 
2. Build it for another company already well established in pro audio – even though the price would be higher with another markup.
 
3. Find other pro audio manufacturers willing to build the converter at a fair price and grant them a royalty-free license to use the inverse megaburrito filter.  A true low-cost open solution.  Recordings would sound better, no matter what playback hardware is used.  Now if you used one of our megaburrito playback, that would be a real bonus.
 
The above are open systems, record to playback. If a user is willing to buy it, musical software must be free to use, NOT in the condition that you do not pay for it, you should ethically do so if the owner desires. The free refers to freedom, so you can play it back when and where you desire, royalty free.
 
It is the audio press' responsibility to report on new or proposed audio formats. When the reports are value judgments of controlled manufacturer's demos particularly with manufacturer provided content the results are degraded and not credible. They reduce to the level of the latest Kardashian masturbation fantasies. We deserve better.
 
 
Schiit Audio Stay updated on Schiit Audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/Schiit/ http://www.schiit.com/
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ThePianoMan

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Mike, as someone who sits on both sides of a mixing desk often - please do 1&3! I know my opinion alone isn't worth much, but hopefully others will chime in as well. Multibit has enormous potential to cause a real audible shift in sound quality. Please at least try it.
 
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rtaylor76

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I bet existing companies would pay for that knowledge and have a built in name and customers that would buy it. $3,500 is nit as much as you think when a single channel mic pre is average about 1,000, and a single channel compressor or EQ about the same. And that is even befor we're talking about a mic, where the cheapest Neumann is $1,0000. All that needs a good A/D to match don't you think?

Sure $3,500 can get you more that 8 channels of Appgee, but still....the pro audio world would pay, but it would be an uphill climb for Schiit. It would be more top shelf stuff and above in price than others in its class - the opposite in their consumer stuff. It would have to be done right with the right enforcements.

Neve, UA, Lynx, Mytek, Focsrite, Manley, GML, and a host of others would probably show interest. I bet if Blackbird had one here in Nashville, it would say rented out all the time.

If you guys do turn to Pro Audio, I have some experience in the MI industry with a recording degree and background. I can even make some connections. So I'll throw my hat in the ring to be a Shiit pusher.

Goodness, I'd love to see this product off the ground. Can you imagine a Schiit pro audio division? I'd love to see what kind of mic preamp Mike, Dave, and Jason could build....and EQs? Never gonna happen land. Sigh.
 
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landroni

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  So what could we do (or not)?  (Random thoughts - not policy statements.)

 
1. Go ahead and build it anyway and hope we don't have dozens and dozens slowly or not sold.

 
2. Build it for another company already well established in pro audio – even though the price would be higher with another markup.

 
3. Find other pro audio manufacturers willing to build the converter at a fair price and grant them a royalty-free license to use the inverse megaburrito filter.  A true low-cost open solution.  Recordings would sound better, no matter what playback hardware is used.  Now if you used one of our megaburrito playback, that would be a real bonus.
 

You could always do a Loki-type experiment: build the damn thing, make a (limited) production run and then wait to see how demand pans out.
 
The pro-audio world is quite big and resourceful, and if you manage to catch a glimpse of attention from starters, then perhaps many others would later turn their heads as well. A reason why this might work is that you still have residual name recognition in the ADC world for the original Mobile Fidelity GAIN system --- this actually gives Schiit a nice marketing hook for the product, in addition to the closed-form inverse filter. Another reason is that Schiit seems to have made a genuine splash with Yggdrasil and Ragnarok in the pro and high-end world (both performance and price/performance ratio), with as I recall Jason reporting serious recording studios placing orders on Yggy. Even if only a handful of studios would adopt the ADC initially, and it indeed performed sonically as hoped for, it is probable that other studios would eventually seriously consider looking into no missing codes ADCs...
 
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Ableza

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Are you describing a next-gen Aphex Aural Exciter? 

 
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