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Article: A Comprehensive Q&A With MQA's Bob Stuart


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Think bigger picture. Dirac talks to MQA to implement a full solution. Thinking small, with only the current solutions will lead you down the path of using analog outputs into a DSP solution.

 

That might be viable for commercial solutions. Open source products can't afford the licensing fees, and there's no way MQA would permit it even if they could.

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That's the whole point Chris. You'll have to turn over your entire digital chain to Meridian implemented-approved hardware forever. All Meridian All The Time. A digital world totally under control of Meridian. What about your beloved DSD? The end for that too.

The answer to a problem that never existed. It's real reason for existence is to take control of our music and make huge fortunes for Meridian and the music labels/distributors.

I understand why you don't want to comment on DRM, you've already signed up on the MQA bandwagon. But I think you've noticed that a good segment of the CA membership isn't on board.

Hi Sal - First and foremost, your comments about me already signing up on the MQA bandwagon are preposterous. Please point me to my comments that lead you to believe this. I've said from the beginning that I just want MQA to get a fair shake and that I like what I've heard.

 

Now to your other opinions. Receivers that implemented HDCD back in the day and DTS aren't turned over to Dolby. Your logic hurts your case against MQA.

 

My beloved DSD? Not sure where you read that. DSD is just another format like PCM that I use. When listening through the MQA DACs I have here, I play DSD as we as PCM.

 

I tend tend to agree with you that MQA is a solution looking for a problem. In fact I asked Bob Stuart this exact question on the RMAF panel a year ago (check the video if you want to see).

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I asked the Dirac help desk . Response was that they didn't not know but felt it unlikely Dirac would implement MQA. Mentioned licensing fees and gave me a good link that's not positive for MQA. http://www.metal-fi.com/meridian-audios-mqa/ This was just help desk and I wouldn't consider it an official position.

I guess, someone could play back a decoded file without Dirac live and compare that to an un-decoded file with Dirac Live and see which technology offers the greatest improvement.

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I asked the Dirac help desk . Response was that they didn't not know but felt it unlikely Dirac would implement MQA. Mentioned licensing fees and gave me a good link that's not positive for MQA. Meridian Audio's MQA | Metal-Fi Rant This was just help desk and I wouldn't consider it an official position.

I guess, someone could play back a decoded file without Dirac live and compare that to an un-decoded file with Dirac Live and see which technology offers the greatest improvement.

Thanks for the follow up Kevin.

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Hi Sal - First and foremost, your comments about me already signing up on the MQA bandwagon are preposterous. Please point me to my comments that lead you to believe this. I've said from the beginning that I just want MQA to get a fair shake and that I like what I've heard.

.

Chris,

With out spending time digging things up your praise of it's sound and continued support for it as a "good thing" speaks for itself IMHO. You jump to it's defense any time one of us criticizes it in any way. Your position is very obvious, your all for it.

 

"No comment about DRM."

Really, why? It's whole intent is to eventually lock us out of any access to the digital data. If their temporal de-blurring process has real value as a SQ enhancement let them introduce it as a optional rider on a conventional PCM stream such as HDCD was distributed. They don't need all the rest of the gangster shakedown that is MQA to offer music lovers that SQ upgrade. (I think we both know the answer to that, HDCD is already a proven marketing failure and non-money maker).

Why not back up the consumer instead of the industry juggernaut and support a continued free and open distribution chain. Use your position of power to help the people, not the money grabbers.

Cheers,

Sal

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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Chris,

With out spending time digging things up your praise of it's sound and continued support for it as a "good thing" speaks for itself IMHO. You jump to it's defense any time one of us criticizes it in any way. Your position is very obvious, your all for it.

 

"No comment about DRM."

Really, why? It's whole intent is to eventually lock us out of any access to the digital data. If their temporal de-blurring process has real value as a SQ enhancement let them introduce it as a optional rider on a conventional PCM stream such as HDCD was distributed. They don't need all the rest of the gangster shakedown that is MQA to offer music lovers that SQ upgrade. (I think we both know the answer to that, HDCD is already a proven marketing failure and non-money maker).

Why not back up the consumer instead of the industry juggernaut and support a continued free and open distribution chain. Use your position of power to help the people, not the money grabbers.

Cheers,

Sal

 

You clearly have a bias against me on this one. My words and actions have been neutral the entire time, yet you read into them as against the consumer and for MQA. Without evidence you are just imagining things.

 

I often jump to the defense of facts and real information. You suggest that MQA will take over all hardware and get rid of DSD. Of course I'm going to jump in because this is just plain false. So many people have put forth allegations without a hint of factual evidence. I only want the truth, not a skewed opinion.

 

I will always praise good sound. Not doing so would be lying to the CA readers.

 

With respect to DRM: You have absolutely zero evidence to back your claim, yet you want me to support your claim. That makes no sense to me.

 

Please stick to the facts Sal. I respect your point of view most of the time even if I may disagree. I just wish you weren't fast and loose with the facts. Heck, I even searched Wikileaks for MQA info (Sony hack) to see if I could find some inside info. I just want the truth. Facts.

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You clearly have a bias against me on this one. My words and actions have been neutral the entire time, yet you read into them as against the consumer and for MQA. Without evidence you are just imagining things.

 

I often jump to the defense of facts and real information. You suggest that MQA will take over all hardware and get rid of DSD. Of course I'm going to jump in because this is just plain false. So many people have put forth allegations without a hint of factual evidence. I only want the truth, not a skewed opinion.

 

I will always praise good sound. Not doing so would be lying to the CA readers.

 

With respect to DRM: You have absolutely zero evidence to back your claim, yet you want me to support your claim. That makes no sense to me.

 

Please stick to the facts Sal. I respect your point of view most of the time even if I may disagree. I just wish you weren't fast and loose with the facts. Heck, I even searched Wikileaks for MQA info (Sony hack) to see if I could find some inside info. I just want the truth. Facts.

Chris

No offense intended but I must call them as I see them.

"You clearly have a bias against me on this one"

Not sure what you mean by "bias"? Do I believe you are doing consumers a disservice by not opposing MQA, absolutely. Won't argue your assertion that you have remained neutral only to say I think you can and should be doing better than neutral for "we the people".

 

DRM attributes?

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f8-general-forum/good-article-mqa-and-why-it-so-dangerous-all-revolutions-are-28042/

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f8-general-forum/so-mqa-about-drm-or-it-not-27142/#post500208

There's much more but you've read it all before and probably even more.

Also in short, once MQA is in place at the major labels the way Meridian hopes we will no longer have access to the best quality high data rate music files as we do now. Without MQA decoding you'll get a lossy "less than CD quality" file, or the best digital data rates once everyone in the MQA machine gets their blood money. Maybe not DRM in the classic definition but in the spirit by controlling who has access to the best digital media and what can be done with it.

If all this should come to pass do you believe major labels will continue to also offer us our music in non MQA HDA form as we get it now? Nope, at some point they'll cut it off so fast your head will spin.

Good news is a very large piece of the greatest music in this century is already out there in Redbook or better and they can never put that Pandora back in the box.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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If their temporal de-blurring process has real value as a SQ enhancement let them introduce it as a optional rider on a conventional PCM stream such as HDCD was distributed.

 

Are there any credible reports on the audibility and effectiveness of the temporal de-blurring process?

 

Have any other software developers come out with some identical processing?

 

I don't stream, so this processing seems to be the only thing MQA has to offer to me.

 

And I'm certainly not going to replace a single CD so the de-blurring would do a better job by serving me as part of a file player program like HQPlayer (hint)...

 

R

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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Are there any credible reports on the audibility and effectiveness of the temporal de-blurring process?

 

Have any other software developers come out with some identical processing?

 

I don't stream, so this processing seems to be the only thing MQA has to offer to me.

 

And I'm certainly not going to replace a single CD so the de-blurring would do a better job by serving me as part of a file player program like HQPlayer (hint)...

 

R

Nope, You hit that nail on the head R.

So far I've seen no credible evidence if temp-de is a real enhancement, a euphonic coloration by the process, or just some expectation bias a work? But they're using this supposed SQ improvement claim to justify putting HDA under lock and key.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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  • 2 weeks later...
Nope, You hit that nail on the head R.

So far I've seen no credible evidence if temp-de is a real enhancement, a euphonic coloration by the process, or just some expectation bias a work? But they're using this supposed SQ improvement claim to justify putting HDA under lock and key.

What's locked can be unlocked. It MQA has widespread use on consumer electronics devices, this company JVB Digital for all your MultiZone MultiRegion Codefree Blu-ray and DVD players. Including 3G-SDI, HD-SDI, SPDIF and Darbee is sure to provide a digital out on at least some of them. Not a cheap solution however, but at least you could use Dirac Live or other room correction on the decoded signal sent to the dacs and intercepted by the digital out board.
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What's locked can be unlocked. It MQA has widespread use on consumer electronics devices, this company JVB Digital for all your MultiZone MultiRegion Codefree Blu-ray and DVD players. Including 3G-SDI, HD-SDI, SPDIF and Darbee is sure to provide a digital out on at least some of them. Not a cheap solution however, but at least you could use Dirac Live or other room correction on the decoded signal sent to the dacs and intercepted by the digital out board.

Any company can provide a digital output. MQA so far has denied licensing to any product with a digital output.

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Any company can provide a digital output. MQA so far has denied licensing to any product with a digital output.
No, I think you may be missing my point :). That company will provide a digital out for licensed MQA products that do not have a digital output. For example, you can bypass HDMI audio restrictions that way and get 4 SPDIF outs. You find a licensed MQA product and then have that company create a digital output and get around the MQA restrictions.
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No, I think you may be missing my point :). That company will provide a digital out for licensed MQA products that do not have a digital output. For example, you can bypass HDMI audio restrictions that way and get 4 SPDIF outs.

Thanks for the follow up. Yes, I missed your point.

 

Now i see, that company provides mods or will mod components depending on the model.

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Eventually someone will hack some sort of solution like what has been done with SACD's.

But my point all along is not to support something we'll have to break laws to do that which we can do now..

Friends don't let friends do MQA. :)

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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Eventually someone will hack some sort of solution like what has been done with SACD's.

But my point all along is not to support something we'll have to break laws to do that which we can do now..

Friends don't let friends do MQA. :)

I'm afraid many do support MQA. I am not one. However, I think that efforts should be directed at the labels and manufactures to not support it. Those who do certainly have contacted many companies asking when will they get support for MQA. I suggest that those who do not support MQA do the same.

 

Chris should not oppose MQA in my opinion. If he does, people like Bob Stuart will never participate on this forum. Seldom is there a universal consensus on anything. I remember the debate about motorcycle helmets many years back for example.

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I'm afraid many do support MQA. I am not one. However, I think that efforts should be directed at the labels and manufactures to not support it. Those who do certainly have contacted many companies asking when will they get support for MQA. I suggest that those who do not support MQA do the same.

 

Chris should not oppose MQA in my opinion. If he does, people like Bob Stuart will never participate on this forum. Seldom is there a universal consensus on anything. I remember the debate about motorcycle helmets many years back for example.

 

Well maybe just a little stronger neutral then. ;) LOL

But Mr Stuart has plenty of venues to push his proposed takeover of music distribution.

We need a venue supporting the facts that MQA is no bed of roses for the consumer. Difficult to achieve since all the money is already behind it. :(

 

Yes, I was a very active member of ABATE from back in the early 70s. At the time we in Illinois were the only free state (no helmet law) in the US. Since then with the grass roots efforts of motorcyclists county wide there are now only 19 states left with a universal helmet law. (helmets worn all the time by every one riding a motorcycle).

A great example that "Totalitarian Enactments" can be successfully opposed with the strong vocal support from we the people.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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You clearly have a bias against me on this one. My words and actions have been neutral the entire time, yet you read into them as against the consumer and for MQA. Without evidence you are just imagining things.

 

I often jump to the defense of facts and real information. You suggest that MQA will take over all hardware and get rid of DSD. Of course I'm going to jump in because this is just plain false. So many people have put forth allegations without a hint of factual evidence. I only want the truth, not a skewed opinion.

 

I will always praise good sound. Not doing so would be lying to the CA readers.

 

With respect to DRM: You have absolutely zero evidence to back your claim, yet you want me to support your claim. That makes no sense to me.

 

Please stick to the facts Sal. I respect your point of view most of the time even if I may disagree. I just wish you weren't fast and loose with the facts. Heck, I even searched Wikileaks for MQA info (Sony hack) to see if I could find some inside info. I just want the truth. Facts.

 

Chris,

 

I understand that you do not define DRM in such a way that MQA is included in its domain. How do you define DRM? If you don't want to go there, how would you define MQA - if it is not DRM as such, and also it is (quite factually) an IP protected software product in a way that PCM/DSD are not, what is it then? Do you consider it some kind of "third thing"?

 

I also appreciate the focus on "facts" to a certain extant, but MQA (by the explicit claims of its creators, by the impression of its champions in the mainline "audiophile press", etc.) is not really about the "facts" as such but about a "revolution" of our digital musical lives. Revolutions are about *changing* the facts - from one status quo into another. So when you say:

 

"You suggest that MQA will take over all hardware and get rid of DSD. Of course I'm going to jump in because this is just plain false."

 

That really is not factual either. Of course MQA would like the market penetration that would make all other "hi-res" (i.e. PCM & DSD) formats irrelevant. Of course "the industry" does not like the open format status quo (piracy - which they believe is THE source of their market decline) and would rather have an IP/DRM protected format. Now, you are right in that it is not "factual" in a sense to prophesize what the market (and MQA's place in it) will look like in 1, 5, 20 years. That just reveals that MQA is not about "the facts" but is a revolution - which means that it is about the future and as Yoda says "the future is always in motion". If you (and the rest of us) really "just want the truth. Facts" then we will have to think about MQA in a way that includes *time* and *possibility* and *market player intentions/desires* and other squishy/conceptual/synthetic thought. We can't limit ourselves to psuedo-investigative "factual" analysis of the past IMO.

 

I understand that in your position you would want to remain neutral, but MQA (again, by the explicit claim of everyone involved) is not a product like other products. Therefore, does it not forfeit the normal treatment/neutrality that most other products/companies get? MQA is trying to change the way every other product works and the consumers relationship to their music - so why does it then get to play by the same rules? A "revolution" should not be treated the same as any other speaker, amp, or cable. Even if you disagree with me here, it is clear that Stereophile/Absolute Sound/etc. don't exactly treat it the same as any other product - quite the opposite, they are giving it full on "revolutionary" status - they just have chosen sides and are trying their best to burn the villages of "counter-revolutionaries - the enemies of the revolution".... ;)

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

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Chris,

 

I understand that you do not define DRM in such a way that MQA is included in its domain. How do you define DRM? If you don't want to go there, how would you define MQA - if it is not DRM as such, and also it is (quite factually) an IP protected software product in a way that PCM/DSD are not, what is it then? Do you consider it some kind of "third thing"?

 

I also appreciate the focus on "facts" to a certain extant, but MQA (by the explicit claims of its creators, by the impression of its champions in the mainline "audiophile press", etc.) is not really about the "facts" as such but about a "revolution" of our digital musical lives. Revolutions are about *changing* the facts - from one status quo into another. So when you say:

 

"You suggest that MQA will take over all hardware and get rid of DSD. Of course I'm going to jump in because this is just plain false."

 

That really is not factual either. Of course MQA would like the market penetration that would make all other "hi-res" (i.e. PCM & DSD) formats irrelevant. Of course "the industry" does not like the open format status quo (piracy - which they believe is THE source of their market decline) and would rather have an IP/DRM protected format. Now, you are right in that it is not "factual" in a sense to prophesize what the market (and MQA's place in it) will look like in 1, 5, 20 years. That just reveals that MQA is not about "the facts" but is a revolution - which means that it is about the future and as Yoda says "the future is always in motion". If you (and the rest of us) really "just want the truth. Facts" then we will have to think about MQA in a way that includes *time* and *possibility* and *market player intentions/desires* and other squishy/conceptual/synthetic thought. We can't limit ourselves to psuedo-investigative "factual" analysis of the past IMO.

 

I understand that in your position you would want to remain neutral, but MQA (again, by the explicit claim of everyone involved) is not a product like other products. Therefore, does it not forfeit the normal treatment/neutrality that most other products/companies get? MQA is trying to change the way every other product works and the consumers relationship to their music - so why does it then get to play by the same rules? A "revolution" should not be treated the same as any other speaker, amp, or cable. Even if you disagree with me here, it is clear that Stereophile/Absolute Sound/etc. don't exactly treat it the same as any other product - quite the opposite, they are giving it full on "revolutionary" status - they just have chosen sides and are trying their best to burn the villages of "counter-revolutionaries - the enemies of the revolution".... ;)

Hi crenca - Love the thought that goes into your posts on this and other topics. Thanks for contributing.

 

DRM can be defined any number of ways. When I think of DRM, I think of classic cases such as Microsoft's music attempts and even MTV's attempt back in 2005. These services had one thing in common, a connection to the mothership was needed to play any music at all. All music had to be authenticated back to the service before playing. Just like purchasing movies from Apple right now via AppleTV. When playing them, the screen says "authenticating..." before the moving starts. I remember people who purchased content from Microsoft and even a Walmart download service, who were SOL once the service shutdown and the authentication servers were decommissioned. The content wouldn't play. This is how I think of DRM. Sure this is a bit limited, but some of the other items that can be considered DRM don't really bother me. For example, offlined music in an app like Tidal. To play this content the app must be able to communicate with the mothership every so often, to make sure you are still a paid subscriber. This is DRM, but I don't expect to be able to play this stuff for the rest of my life. It's a streaming service I rent music from.

 

In its current form I don't see MQA like I see the ultra-restrictive DRM of movies now and music of the past. One needs a decoder to play the full resolution of a file, else one gets less resolution. Perhaps this can be equated to a regular CD. One needs a physical CD player to play the disc. Without it, nothing is going to happen. When MQA decoders eventually disappear, people will still be able to play the files at lesser quality or use a software decoder that will eventually find its way to the wild. When CD players disappear, that's the end of listening to CDs. Sure people can produce more CD players using pretty open plans, but I'm talking about when CD players disappear for the masses. The masses won't be able to play CDs.

 

I'm not going to let a company, MQA in this case, define what a revolution is or isn't. This isn't a revolution in my opinion.

 

I also stand by my opinion that MQA will not get rid of DSD, and I believe it's a fact that MQA will not get rid of DSD. That's like saying CD will get rid of vinyl back in the 1980s. If there is demand, DSD will around. It's capitalism. If there is money to be made on DSD, someone will sell it whether or not MQA is here.

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Thanks for the reply Chris! Very interesting, in that your definition of DRM is both very narrow/restrictive & very broad at the same time. IMO the first (call it the "ET phone home" definition) can not really "fit" into the same dictionary as the second (call it the "technological obsolescence" definition). I admit to having been a bit surprised at the general lack of awareness as to what DRM is and what digital tech/software really is in the audiophile world, but then I come from a background of being the geek hunched over the terminal in the server room...

 

If you look at the first sentence here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management

 

You can see how MQA is DRM - indeed it is a good example of it. However, as you point out this is an insiders/tech definition and not a more gut-feeling-consumer take which is "DRM = hard copy control" (your not the only one to express this).

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

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Thanks for the reply Chris! Very interesting, in that your definition of DRM is both very narrow/restrictive & very broad at the same time. IMO the first (call it the "ET phone home" definition) can not really "fit" into the same dictionary as the second (call it the "technological obsolescence" definition). I admit to having been a bit surprised at the general lack of awareness as to what DRM is and what digital tech/software really is in the audiophile world, but then I come from a background of being the geek hunched over the terminal in the server room...

 

If you look at the first sentence here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management

 

You can see how MQA is DRM - indeed it is a good example of it. However, as you point out this is an insiders/tech definition and not a more gut-feeling-consumer take which is "DRM = hard copy control" (your not the only one to express this).

 

Thanks for the follow up. Let's look at that sentence a bit closer (and the following sentence in context).

 

"Digital rights management (DRM) schemes are various access control technologies that are used to restrict usage of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies."

 

 

Looking at the first sentence only, and your belief that MQA is DRM as defined by this sentence. Based on this I can argue that all technology is DRM. Let's look at Compact Discs. They require a physical CD player. Access is controlled by the need for a physical piece of hardware to play the proprietary content. Usage is restricted to only those people with CD players.

 

Taking the first sentence on context with the second sentence, again a broad view of this must include all technology. The open source OS Linux (whatever distribution you like) should also be called DRM as well. Only those people with computers can use, modify, or distribute the OS. OK this one is a stretch, but I'm comfortable arguing it based on your definition and equating MQA to DRM.

 

Let's put MQA into the same box. It's proprietary = Check. Control of its use, modification and distribution? It's use must be paired with hardware, just like a CD, to get the benefit. Else, one may be penalized sonically depending on how you look at it. Modification can be done just like any other PCM piece of audio and the sound will be changed. Distribution is controlled only as much as non-MQA music is controlled.

 

Maybe there's something I don't get here, but I'm not seeing it based on your definition.

 

Would love to continue to flesh this out in a constructive way. I'll admit I am wrong if needed, but I need to be shown why first :~)

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Chris, I'm glad you responded as you did because you did exactly what needed to be done. You pushed your latter definition to The Logical Breaking Point and thus revealed its fundamental inconsistency. In other words your latter definition is essentially meaningless because as you say all technology even the most basic stone tool is thus defined under the domain of DRM.

 

So what we need is a definition that is more consistent to the domain that we're working with, namely computer and digital technology hardware and software and legal environment. In its natural domain MQA is DRM in that it fits the core definition. Indeed as I have already said it is actually a good example of DRM in the sense that it is not really ambiguous at all...

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

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I am away from the keyboard but I will respond more specifically exactly how in MQA is DRM using the more traditional definition as for example listed on that Wiki

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

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I am away from the keyboard but I will respond more specifically exactly how in MQA is DRM using the more traditional definition as for example listed on that Wiki

Thank you for your contributions to this thread! Your talents at expressing the realities of this situation are vastly superior than mine.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

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