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MQA at CES

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This whole thing seems like smoke and mirrors to me. Do not want.


If I am anything, I am a music lover and a pragmatist.

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original 352/24 or DSD content

 

AFAIK, they don't support DSD content. Any rate higher than 88.2/96 kHz is decimated to such rate for encoding.

 

resampled using the novel sampling (which retains more timing information)

 

Not much novelty there, just very slow roll-off that uses the entire upper octave for rolling off. I think the idea is that this also limits the level of HF content enough that they don't easily get overload due to running out of bitrate at encoding phase, because they really don't have much bits available.

 

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.

 

Just that for example the Mytek DAC that currently supports MQA uses bog standard ESS Sabre DAC chip... And the decoding output produces PCM...

 

In addition what the encoder takes in is 88.2/96 kHz 17-bit data which they band-split to lower and upper octave. The upper octave is folded and encoded into 7 + 3 bits of the lower octave LSB. After decoding, the result is again 88.2/96 kHz 17-bit data which can then be further upsampled to higher rate as seen necessary.

 

Given that the decoding is done on a XMOS xCORE-200 chip firmware, it cannot be very complex or elaborate process.

 

This is also why you can play MQA content on any DAC that supports minimum 88.2/96 kHz sampling. So practically any hires DAC.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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AFAIK, they don't support DSD content. Any rate higher than 88.2/96 kHz is decimated to such rate for encoding.

 

DSD could obviously also be downsampled to 96k and MQA-encoded. Many ADCs start out with 1-bit sampling after all.

 

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.

Just that for example the Mytek DAC that currently supports MQA uses bog standard ESS Sabre DAC chip... And the decoding output produces PCM...

 

I'm just waiting for someone to capture the input to that DAC chip, i.e. the output of the MQA decoding. I'd do it myself if I had one.

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DSD could obviously also be downsampled to 96k and MQA-encoded. Many ADCs start out with 1-bit sampling after all.

 

Sure!

 

I'm just waiting for someone to capture the input to that DAC chip, i.e. the output of the MQA decoding. I'd do it myself if I had one.

 

Me too, maybe if there will be some cheap enough MQA DAC, I'll buy it for that purpose just out of curiosity... :)

 

Connecting XMOS's USB audio development kit's I2S input to the DAC pins is not too hard.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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

 

 

Miska,

 

I have noticed a number of end users here who use a combo of your HQPlayer and Roon to get good results with Tidal. Could you explain to us what happens if/when Tidal goes all in on MQA (with a software decoder of some sort) and how that effects HQPlayers ability to stream Tidal?


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

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Sure!

 

 

 

Me too, maybe if there will be some cheap enough MQA DAC, I'll buy it for that purpose just out of curiosity... :)

 

Connecting XMOS's USB audio development kit's I2S input to the DAC pins is not too hard.

 

You guys are too funny! All I can picture is someone at MQA/Meridian running around like a chicken with its head cut off "We can't have the public analyzing our technology, we have to do some more development, re-announce a 'new and improved MQA' at CES 2017" :)


Jim

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Here's my analysis of 2L-048, originally recorded in 96/24.

 

Spectrogram of the 96k master, left channel only:

2L-048-96k-spgram.png

Nice and clean, no visible modulator noise and music content nearing 40kHz in places.

 

Spectrogram of the MQA file, left channel:

2L-048-MQA-spgram.png

Here we clearly see the tell-tale noise band at the top and also slight haze over the entire image.

 

Average power spectrum of the entire track:

2L-048-average.png

Looks familiar.

 

Average power spectrum of a 4 seconds near silence at end of track:

2L-048-silence.png

Here we see the elevated noise floor of MQA from 5kHz upward. At 15kHz the noise level starts rising sharply and peaks at 21kHz.

 

Finally, average power spectrum over a 50ms high-frequency burst starting at 224.6s:

2L-048-hf.png

The MQA noise is visible above 20kHz but naturally not as obviously as when there is no signal at those frequencies.

 

Undecoded MQA is probably psychoacoustically transparent for music like commercial rock that's pretty loud all the time. Anything with a decent dynamic range is likely to suffer.

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Attention Computer Audiophile Experts: Can somebody kindly post dynamic range etc charts

DSD 64 and DSD 128 vs MQA for fun and then add your expert opinion. Tx

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Attention Computer Audiophile Experts: Can somebody kindly post dynamic range etc charts

DSD 64 and DSD 128 vs MQA for fun and then add your expert opinion. Tx

 

Here is the same 2L-111 upsampled to DSD64 and DSD128 and then converted from there down to 32-bit 44.1 kHz PCM for comparison.

 

DSD64:

tmp64.png

 

DSD128:

tmp128.png

 

 

As you can see, both have so much dynamic range (more than 24-bit PCM) in 22.05 kHz band that the only limiting factor is the original DXD recording.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Miska,

 

I have noticed a number of end users here who use a combo of your HQPlayer and Roon to get good results with Tidal. Could you explain to us what happens if/when Tidal goes all in on MQA (with a software decoder of some sort) and how that effects HQPlayers ability to stream Tidal?

 

99% of Tidal's subscribers will care less about MQA, so it will be an option (as it is now). Furthermore, once MQA gets their software decoding shit together Roon's Tidal MQA output may well be already decoded...and ready for HQPlayer's upsampling/filters/modulators.

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99% of Tidal's subscribers will care less about MQA, so it will be an option (as it is now). Furthermore, once MQA gets their software decoding shit together Roon's Tidal MQA output may well be already decoded...and ready for HQPlayer's upsampling/filters/modulators.

 

Disagree. A high percentage of Tidal subscribers already pay the $10 per month premium for Hifi service which provides only one benefit which is sound quality. SQ issues make a difference to these folks.

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I have noticed a number of end users here who use a combo of your HQPlayer and Roon to get good results with Tidal. Could you explain to us what happens if/when Tidal goes all in on MQA (with a software decoder of some sort) and how that effects HQPlayers ability to stream Tidal?

 

My main worry is if Tidal will begin to always send MQA FLAC instead of normal RedBook FLAC, that would mean quality degradation at least in case Roon doesn't decode it, or if Roon is not used as front-end.

 

If the RedBook FLAC stream continues to be available (at least is is much less data than MQA FLAC), then the situation is much better.

 

I would personally prefer if Tidal would rather stream for example something like 96/18 for hires instead of MQA which would use less bandwidth than MQA and be decodable almost universally.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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My main worry is if Tidal will begin to always send MQA FLAC instead of normal RedBook FLAC, that would mean quality degradation at least in case Roon doesn't decode it, or if Roon is not used as front-end..

 

Roon fully intends to do this.

 

Interestingly (or not) Auralic website still touts streamer level decoding :

 

"MQA provides a new solution for high quality local and online streaming service via wireless connection supported natively by AURALiC’s industry-leading Lightning Streaming Technology.

 

Any existing Digital-to-Analog (DAC) on the market will be able to benefit from MQA Master Recording Technology with AURALiC’s Lightning Streaming device.

 

 

MQA file stored on NAS or streaming server, suchas TIDAL

 

 

Unfold by Lightning device natively to original sampling rate

 

 

Original PCM signal deliver to any existing DAC"

 

Here's Enjoy the Music interview with Auralic CEO touting MQA :

 

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/CES_2016/CES_2016_Live_Stream/AURALiC_CES_2016.htm

Edited by jeffmudrick

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Roon fully intends to do this.

 

I personally won't continue my Tidal subscription if they switch the current RedBook stream to MQA stream because I don't use Roon for my own listening. If they continue the current RedBook I'm OK, although annoyed and disappointed that they don't use standard technology for streaming hires.

 

But I won't be buying any MQA encoded downloads for the same reason, those would be complete waste of disk space for me.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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

I have 6 digital versions of Nina Simone's "Little Girl Blue" plus one vinyl.


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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99% of Tidal's subscribers will care less about MQA, so it will be an option (as it is now). Furthermore, once MQA gets their software decoding shit together Roon's Tidal MQA output may well be already decoded...and ready for HQPlayer's upsampling/filters/modulators.

But will MQA agree to allow Roon to decode MQA and produce a "standard" PCM output? This seems to be the contentious point. My current read is MQA has decided that it would only allow decoding to end-to-end implementations, and I presume maybe later to "profiled" DACs, but not a generic PCM. I hope I'm wrong.


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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99% of Tidal's subscribers will care less about MQA, so it will be an option (as it is now)

Do you mean it is possible to get MQA on TIDAL now?


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Auralic update yesterday: (no real news)

AURALiC add MQA, RoonReady to Aries at CES 2016 | DAR__KO

 

And here a confirmation? they did output the full hi res stream.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/787020/review-comparison-of-5-high-end-digital-music-servers-aurender-n10-cad-cat-server-totaldac-d1-server-auralic-aries-audiophile-vortex-box/240#post_12238050

 

"Auralic - They were the only company I came across to announce both RoonReady and MQA status with their next firmware due out soon for the Aries and Aries Mini. Unlike Aurender, the Aries will have MQA enabled without regard to the DAC connected to it. In speaking with MQA, this is acceptable but not ideal and if you stream an MQA file that contains a recording originally recorded at 352 KHz oversampling (and apparently they do have such native recordings), for example, and your DAC is not capable of such a file, there could be problems with "lock ups" or issues with SQ. In the Auralic room, they were running an Aries Mini streaming an MQA file to a pair of wireless speakers. While it's nice to be able to show this convenience and capability, to my ears, the sound was very flat. It didn't do them any favors."

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Just to be clear, "regular" bluetooth uses an mp3 like logarithm that varies depending on the signal stregnth, and if memory serves is at best equal to 128 (though that is rare as I understand it). Aptx is an improved version that gets you a slightly better bit rate. Sooo, when you stream to a phone using a service at 320 or below, and then use bluetooth, you are compressing/processing the music twice, which is no doubt why it sounds so bad (even through a low-fi car stereo).

 

Aptx described as "near CD quality" is marketing speak for "I am selling you a load of s#*t"

 

I suppose I should not have been surprised that I could hear the difference between music processed lossy once as opposed to twice through my car stereo...

 

MAQ Bluetooth ?

aptX HD Provides Music Enjoyment At 24-bit Hi-Res Audio Via Bluetooth

Enjoy the Music.com High-End Audio & Music Industry News

 

Not near 24/48, but it is 24/48. Can it be too good to be true.

Time will tell...

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Others as well strugles with MQA implementation.

From What Hi-Fi:

 

"But there’s a catch: the MQA compatibility isn’t ready just yet. A firmware update in early 2016 will make the Pioneer player fully MQA-ready. Seems like we have to wait a bit longer to try the new technology."

 

 

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