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MQA at CES

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But the only correct recording is the Nielsen one to compare. The idea is that old 16 bit redbok should sound better with MQA applied on a non MQA DAC than if the same record has no MQA attached.

 

For the other tracks delivered in 24/352.8, they at least has to be converted to 16/44.1, and then compared with the 24/44.1 MQA file.

Still, not a good test, as you need original 16/44.1 and the same recording also in MQA codec. Agree ?

 

Where is my big red buzzer??

 

Are the rules being changed, so that there are now "correct" recordings to compare MQA vs. non-MQA encoded?

 

Remember, the promise (repeated several times over the course of this "rollout") is that a non MQA DAC will see an MQA encoded file the same as the equivalent 16/44 redbook. However, we should have seen that this was bunk on the surface (before Miska's and mansr analysis because at the same time they were claiming "slightly better", so clearly they knew they were not in fact the same all along. This is now being confirmed.

 

Of course, the reply will be "are these differences audible" or "are they an improvement, degradation, or something else" to standard 16/44 encoding? The answers to these questions will be what they are, but we can now do away with the fiction that MQA encoded files are equivalent or the same to standard 16/44 to non MQA DAC's. Perhaps Copernicus himself said it best:

 

"If you don’t have a decoder, you can play it back without a decoder because it is PCM. MQA turns PCM into PCM. When you play it back, it’ll play back on a legacy system sounding better than a CD. And it sounds better than CD because the noise floor is properly managed and the signal has been pre-apodized." from 'MQA Co-Architect J. Robert Stuart Talks with Robert Harley Jan 5th 2016'

 

The question for all of us who do not want to invest and/or entrap ourselves in an MQA format ecosystem, is this claim about MQA "sounding better" on our (you have to love the language) "legacy systems" (see what Copernicus did there? Tell me you did folks, tell me you see the obvious!). Does my "legacy system" sound better with MQA encoded files over a wide and diverse range of recordings?


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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In addition to Miska's spectrograms here are the waveforms of MQA-encoded 24/44 sample from 2L & my home-made downrezzed/downsampled to 16/44 version of the 24/352 DXD master (which utilizes SoX95 linear-phase re-sampling & moderate noise-shaped MDA VST dithering):

 

- MQA:

23296-mqa-ces-2l-mqa.jpg

 

- 16/44:

23297-mqa-ces-2l-1644.jpg

 

These two graphs are also very revealing. Thanks for sharing.

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You could also run the same source content through conversion to 44.1/16 using SoX and then compare that against the MQA one.

 

Average power spectrum of 2L-111 downsampled to 44.1 (using sox "rate -u 44100" and default dither):

2L-111-MQA-CD.png

Nothing remarkable there.

 

Since this is average (?) spectrum of the entire thing, it doesn't give very clear picture of high frequency content, because the HF content is typically on transients (since that is sort of definition of a transient) and thus has very low contribution to the average. So there are two good ways to get a picture of that. One is to use spectrogram and another if you prefer to simple plot, is to use "peak hold" mode that plots the highest peak level of every spectrum bin throughout the recording.

 

Yes, those plots used average spectrum. Taking the maximum reveals brief peaks better but doesn't show the difference with MQA as well since both have peaks exceeding the constant level of the MQA noise.

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...Meridian claims that for first, audio is encoded to MQA at A/D stage. Then, obviously, we need to edit that captured audio in studio. All editors works with PCM, so for editing we need to decode first, then edit and mix, after that re-encoding again to MQA for streaming, and after transmission/delivery and decoding from MQA to some form of PCM, listeners pop-up and says - this file sounds better! Better of what? Better than original? Better than PCM?

 

Good question :)

 

I also wonder whether all music will be re-done again using this multi-stage upsampling and downsampling procedure. Since many audio plugins and digital synthesizer introduce their own ringing, will MQA-encoding be applied every time such a plugin or digital synth is used?

Edited by Hiro

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A Few Post CES 2016 Thoughts: The MQA Suite | Real HD-Audio

 

Also Michael Lavorgna (Audiostream) says he is going to do a detailed MQA post.

 

Michael is an MQA "true believer" (has been from the beginning) and will ban you if you ask the hard questions on his blog (as he has done in the past). I like his DAC reviews as his impressions line up with mine, but I don't consider him a reliable source as to anything MQA. Read with discernment...


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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Average power spectrum of 2L-111 downsampled to 44.1 (using sox "rate -u 44100" and default dither):

[ATTACH=CONFIG]23341[/ATTACH]

Nothing remarkable there.

 

What is remarkable to me, is that it is remarkably worse dynamic range in the MQA version from 16 kHz onwards. But of course you need to select a quiet moment from a track if you insist on not using spectrogram where you could see that.

 

IMO, the averaged plots you show don't tell much, since music is all the time changing signal, not a static test signal.

 

Yes, those plots used average spectrum. Taking the maximum reveals brief peaks better but doesn't show the difference with MQA as well since both have peaks exceeding the constant level of the MQA noise.

 

Averaging also lowers the noise... Peak hold tells you about possible audibility of the HF content itself (not noise). So use the SoX spectrogram feature instead:

 

MQA version:

mqa.png

 

Normal RedBook downsample:

tmp44_16w.png


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Michael is an MQA "true believer" (has been from the beginning) and will ban you if you ask the hard questions on his blog (as he has done in the past). I like his DAC reviews as his impressions line up with mine, but I don't consider him a reliable source as to anything MQA. Read with discernment...

 

Well, I've gave him a challange :D Let's see how he perform....

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My guess is that Auralic interpreted the license they paid for to apply to streaming devices with onboard DACs, and Meridian interpreted it more restrictively.

 

Edit: The solution would be for both to agree on what devices are included at what price.

 

This is the most logical and likely correct explanation anyone has offered .

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So you mean that the 'universal DAC setting' hypothesis should be abandoned and that it all comes down to an agreement on license/royalty fees?

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This is the most logical and likely correct explanation anyone has offered .

The deleted FB should be read one more time.

 

"It is unfortunately that MQA has decided to pull back the integration on ARIES/ARIES LE during CES as they have decided to make it an 'end to end' technology which means it will always requests a MQA certificated DAC to work.

 

ARIES ARIES LE, will be able to playback or stream music contains MQA format but will not listed MQA certificated device, to benefit from MQA, you will need a MQA certificated DAC and this is the only way.

 

We are sorry about the decision made by MQA."

 

Now when will MQA be willing to say this public ?

Why is this British Flying Cirsus still avlive?

Cause they totally f.....

 

 

Edited by R1200CL

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Yes, you may say that:D We should agree about what to compare or not.

 

Se also my post here:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f13-music-downloads-and-streaming/tidal-high-res-mqa-news-26734/index9.html#post501497

 

I see the direction your going, but I am not sure how feasible or relevant it is. As many have stated around here, the vast majority of recordings are not so clean (being processed, mixed, and otherwise distanced "from the source" several times over).

It is also besides the point for those of us with "legacy systems" (which is to say, everyone) as MQA encoded files (no matter the original source/resolution) were supposed to look just like 16/44 at least, if not "slightly better".


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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The deleted FB should be read one more time.

 

"It is unfortunately that MQA has decided to pull back the integration on ARIES/ARIES LE during CES as they have decided to make it an 'end to end' technology which means it will always requests a MQA certificated DAC to work.

 

ARIES ARIES LE, will be able to playback or stream music contains MQA format but will not listed MQA certificated device, to benefit from MQA, you will need a MQA certificated DAC and this is the only way.

 

We are sorry about the decision made by MQA."

 

Now when will MQA be willing to say this public ?

Why is this British Flying Cirsus still avlive?

Cause they totally f.....

 

 

 

This was pulled by Auralic not MQA. The fact is we really have no idea what's going on.

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This was pulled by Auralic not MQA. The fact is we really have no idea what's going on.

 

I agree completely, but it's clear that no one is interested in this kind of (reasonable) stuff.

 

--David


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The deleted FB should be read one more time.

 

"It is unfortunately that MQA has decided to pull back the integration on ARIES/ARIES LE during CES as they have decided to make it an 'end to end' technology which means it will always requests a MQA certificated DAC to work.

 

ARIES ARIES LE, will be able to playback or stream music contains MQA format but will not listed MQA certificated device, to benefit from MQA, you will need a MQA certificated DAC and this is the only way.

 

We are sorry about the decision made by MQA."

 

Now when will MQA be willing to say this public ?

Why is this British Flying Cirsus still avlive?

Cause they totally f.....

 

Could be the reason Auralic pulled that and subbed a much more diplomatic statement was to allow some room for negotiation with Meridian, though that is simply conjecture. Actually, it seems that nearly everything regarding MQA is conjecture. With no attempt at clarification from "the horse's mouth" the rollout of MQA is looking more and more like the proverbial cluster f***.

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If MQA were only about more efficient compression I seriously doubt front end partners, engineers etc would have much enthusiasm, conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

Music producers have MUCH enthusiasm in a new format so they can sell you the music you own yet again.


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Could be the reason Auralic pulled that and subbed a much more diplomatic statement was to allow some room for negotiation with Meridian, though that is simply conjecture. Actually, it seems that nearly everything regarding MQA is conjecture. With no attempt at clarification from "the horse's mouth" the rollout of MQA is looking more and more like the proverbial cluster f***.

 

Yep, it probably had alot to do with a contract dispute but there might be some truth in the above bolded statement - the truth being the direction Meridian (and others in the industry) want MQA to go - and end to end hardware "solution" that is "authenticating" the music. It surely reveals competing interests and strategery within Meridians corporate thinking, like "do we get it out there in a relatively open and diverse way to enable market penetration, or do we ask for more upfront to ensure quality/control?". In the end, the bolded would not work with streaming/Tidal (chicken before the egg problem) so they could not demand the "MQA certified DAC" path...


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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Yep, it probably had alot to do with a contract dispute but there might be some truth in the above bolded statement - the truth being the direction Meridian (and others in the industry) want MQA to go - and end to end hardware "solution" that is "authenticating" the music. It surely reveals competing interests and strategery within Meridians corporate thinking, like "do we get it out there in a relatively open and diverse way to enable market penetration, or do we ask for more upfront to ensure quality/control?". In the end, the bolded would not work with streaming/Tidal (chicken before the egg problem) so they could not demand the "MQA certified DAC" path...

I too expect this IS what is going on. The word "shameful" comes to mind.

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Music producers have MUCH enthusiasm in a new format so they can sell you the music you own yet again.

 

I have enough copies of Kind of Blue thanks and I expect most audiophiles feel the same way. I don't think selling another 50,000 copies of Dark Side of the Moon is behind MQA. But then I don't think Stanley Kubrick shot the moon landing in Burbank.

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Music producers have MUCH enthusiasm in a new format so they can sell you the music you own yet again.

 

Lol .Miggy this is so true . Hmm how many versions do I have of Kind of Blue !

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Meridian (and others in the industry) want MQA to go - and end to end hardware "solution" that is "authenticating" the music.

 

In other words, it is DRM protected hires, but communicated to consumers using less controversial vocabulary.

 

Although Meridian didn't like much about SACD, they copied worst properties of it (or some in the industry would certainly call those best). IOW, low-res output for compatibility with "non-authenticated devices" (equivalent of CD layer and allowing only 44.1/16 through S/PDIF, not even 96/24 hires downsample) and encoding only through authenticated encoding houses with digital protections (SACD disc pressing only at guarded Sony manufacturing plants).


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Or it could be that for their new lossy compression to work, they need the DAC to be able to synthesize the non-sinc splines during reconstruction. This means that without the new DAC, the content will sound wrong.

 

Let's look at the 2 cases:

1) original 352/24 or DSD content, resampled using the novel sampling (which retains more timing information) into a non-sinc 96/24. This 96/24 on a standard (sinc) DAC going to play MUCH WORSE than normally resampled 96/24, as the basis is wrong. It really technically needs a change in the DAC to support this sampling, similar to how you need to have DAC to specifically support DSD. Alternatively, a software decoder can convert this non-sinc 96/24 to 192/24 or 352/24 for playback on standard DAC. Even on this changed DAC, the compression from 352/24 is lossy, but they claim it will retain most of the timing data, as compared to standard resampling to 96/24.

2) original analog content, sampled using the novel sampling into 96/24. Again, on standard DAC this is not going to play well. But they claim that from the analog source it may retain timing information better than 352 or even 768KHz normal (sinc) sampling. This can probably be converted to 192/24 or 352/24 for playback on standard DAC, using a software decoder, but this conversion will be lossy, unless converted to a timing-focused format like DSD.

 

In both cases though, there is no competition with DSD, which was timing-focused from the start.

MQA can actually be a proof that the mainstream is coming to terms with the fact that standard PCM does not retain enough timing data and DSD was the right way to go :)

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