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is MQA the new BetaMax?


AudioDoctor
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While early days, from what I've read, it's not the same question at all.

 

BetaMax was a physically distinct format, which had hardware compatibility limitations. The objective (yet to be demonstrated) is that MQA is a format based solution which looks to avoid as many physical limitations as possible.

 

As an owner of a (once cutting edge) NAD M2, I am very keen to know whether if MQA gains support, will my beloved M2 become a limiting factor?

 

Would it still be viable if fed a MQA decoded PCM stream from an outside source (say a MacMini running MQA software), or could it have a firmware update to decode MQA itself? If the latter, how would this be done?

 

These my be early questions, but as the owner of a high-end bit of digital audio, you can understand my concern

All the best[br]Steve.[br]ALAC stored on Drobo FS > Intel iMac > iTunes/Spotify/Slimserver > Modded SB3 > NAD M2 Digital Amplifier -> Wilson Benesch A.C.T.

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Good point. We should all first re-purchase our music collections with this ubiquitously available superior format.

 

Pretty certain all of my music is not going to be available on MQA.

 

Barring redbook, no other format has anywhere near all of my music, not even by a long shot.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Good point. We should all first re-purchase our music collections with this ubiquitously available superior format.

 

I don't think the record labels would be able to get away with that if they hadn't demonstrated over the years that they have been dedicated to improving sound quality, lowering record label overheads in order to pay musicians better, and educating consumers about the merits of better sound quality. Otherwise, repackaging CD quality recordings as MQA and then charging double for recordings people already have could seem like a cynical ploy.

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I don't think the record labels would be able to get away with that if they hadn't demonstrated over the years that they have been dedicated to improving sound quality, lowering record label overheads in order to pay musicians better, and educating consumers about the merits of better sound quality. Otherwise, repackaging CD quality recordings as MQA and then charging double for recordings people already have could seem like a cynical ploy.

 

I am pretty sure wgscott was using sarcasm there...

No electron left behind...

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I am pretty sure wgscott was using sarcasm there...

 

Maybe I was too?

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I look at it this way - if it were an open standard, it would replace FLAC in an instant. If it cost consumers nothing to comvert to it, save perhaps a little time and effort, there would be no question if it being a welcome advance.

 

As a commercial product we do not really know if it will be worth the cost, not the least because we do not know what the cost will be. Or how the technology will be used, such as a SACD like form of copy protection / DRM.

 

I do not suspect evil intentions, but even the best and purest of intentions can go down twisted when implemented in pursuit of profit.

 

I have to say, Tidal implementing it makes me very cautious, for reasons that have nothing to do with the technology. They will implement it *only* as a way to grab more cash from well to do audiophiles, while claiming it is to benefit the art.

 

If a company like Apple implements it, it will clearly be to provide customers with a premium product while making a profit from it. No hidden agenda, and no financing some Apple Executive's $50m debt load.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

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If a company like Apple implements it, it will clearly be to provide customers with a premium product while making a profit from it. No hidden agenda, and no financing some Apple Executive's $50m debt load.

 

If Apple would begin offering hires (96/24 or similar) downloads and streaming from iTunes using ALAC, I wouldn't have any problem with it. Actually I'm just waiting for that to happen, it's been sort of slowly coming for long time already since they've been requesting all content from record companies in 96/24 format. Assuming this is all without DRM the way they nowadays sell the content.

 

Reason for my opinion is that since Apple has published the ALAC decoder and the MP4 container an ISO standard, there are reasonable guarantees that I or anybody else who has legitimately obtained the content can losslessly decode or convert it to any other suitable format at full resolution without problem. Even if Apple and whatnot would have gone bankrupt.

 

 

I still have pile of HD-DVD discs that I cannot play or rip without lot of trouble. And if my HD-DVD drive for Xbox360 breaks down, the content becomes really inaccessible. This annoys me to no extent. Thanks to cracking of the DVD CSS stuff, I'm easily able to rip my DVD discs to files and watch my legitimately obtained content on my choice of OS (Linux). But it shouldn't be this way. Standard CD (RedBook) is good example, my content can continue life without trouble even after the physical media and the storage format has become obsolete.

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I think you are all missing how I think MQA is likely to be most heavily used -- through streaming sites like Tidal, Quboz, maybe even Spotify and Pandora at some point. Just because I liked SACD didn't mean I replaced my CD's, I just added SACDs as new. When downloadable hi-res came along, I again didn't replace, I added and I ripped. Same thing will be true if we hear a meaningful difference with MQA.

 

Early on you'll be able to choose MQA versus non-MQA content for your streaming. If more people start choosing MQA it survives.

 

The real question is whether the hardware manufacturers adopt it. If they don't, then it is DOA. If enough of them feel like it adds more in quality than it costs them to implement, they will add it. I think it is still too early to tell how many manufacturers will adopt it.

 

I figure it will take another 12 months to sort out whether it survives or not.

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Que Sera Sera

The best part of the death in physical media is that a large majority of the worlds greatest recorded music is available for peanuts in the used CD market. I'm too old school at this point to buy into a monthly streaming bill for music that I can't own. When I can load it to my hard drive in Redbook or better quality I might take another look.

"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

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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Que Sera Sera

The best part of the death in physical media is that a large majority of the worlds greatest recorded music is available for peanuts in the used CD market. I'm too old school at this point to buy into a monthly streaming bill for music that I can't own. When I can load it to my hard drive in Redbook or better quality I might take another look.

 

Sal-

 

I subscribe to Tidal and find it allows me to hear whatever I want, without buying. If I really like it, I buy it in some form. I can be a lot more adventurous that way in trying new music, as there is no risk if I don't like something - I just don't play it again. So I try all sorts of music that I either can't find elsewhere or stuff that is new to me and I'm not sure I'll like.

 

For instance, I just found out about a certain deceased jazz artist I'd never listened to. I loaded about 6 of his albums from Tidal, listened, and now I know which one or two I actually want to buy - and will listen to more than once after I buy them. The others I can forget about (or not) - but the experience costs me no additional outlay and it prevented me from buying a CD that I end up not listening to. I figure I'm saving at least the $20 a month I spend on Tidal that way by "not purchasing" such CDs.

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Nah. It will be the next SACD/DSD. Soon to be cast upon the ash-heap of history.

 

I'm doing my part to ensure SACD isn't cast on that ash-heap of history any time soon. People have been predicting SACD's death for the last 15 years, it's a healthy niche format for new classical, jazz and world music releases and geezer rock audiophile remastered reissues.

 

If I see SACD starting to die, I guess I will just have to buy a six-pack of Yamaha universal players to last the rest of my life.

 

I don't know about MQA, I have a wait and see attitude on that.

 

It is really close to HDCD...

 

I agree.

 

The way it was explained to me is the HDCD code is inserted into the least significant bit (LSB) of the 16-bit word.

 

The use of the 16th bit for the HDCD command code is inaudible because the code is inserted for only a very small portion of time and because it is used as dither for the remaining 15 bits when it is inserted. This is what makes it compatible with CD players without HDCD decoding.

 

From one of my Reference Recordings booklets:

 

HDCD are playable on regular CD players but require an HDCD decoder or equipped player for it’s extra resolution. The extraordinary fidelity of the HDCD process is achieved by identifying and correcting previously misunderstood (or unknown) sources of distortion in digital audio reproduction. These include additive artifacts of the analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion process, and subtractive distortions resulting from insufficient data present in the sampling standard of the CD format. The HDCD process effectively cancels the additive distortions and simultaneously provides additional data to reduce the subtractive distortions.

 

To me the above reads not to unlike the promises made by MQA, but MQA is promising higher resolution with a smaller file size.

 

I like HDCD considerably better than CD, though not as much as high resolution digital such as SACD, DSD and high resolution PCM. My HDCD collection continues to grow, there are over 5,000 HDCDs available. My Yamaha Blu-ray/SACD player decodes HDCD quite nicely. The future does concern me some, as when Yamaha went from DVD universal players to Blu-ray universal players they dropped DVD-Audio and added HDCD instead. I'm hoping the chip makers include SACD, HDCD and Blu-ray on their chips for a very long time.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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I think you are all missing how I think MQA is likely to be most heavily used -- through streaming sites like Tidal, Quboz, maybe even Spotify and Pandora at some point. Just because I liked SACD didn't mean I replaced my CD's, I just added SACDs as new. When downloadable hi-res came along, I again didn't replace, I added and I ripped. Same thing will be true if we hear a meaningful difference with MQA.

 

Early on you'll be able to choose MQA versus non-MQA content for your streaming. If more people start choosing MQA it survives.

 

The real question is whether the hardware manufacturers adopt it. If they don't, then it is DOA. If enough of them feel like it adds more in quality than it costs them to implement, they will add it. I think it is still too early to tell how many manufacturers will adopt it.

 

I figure it will take another 12 months to sort out whether it survives or not.

 

Streaming itself may not survive. A part of it may, but as a niche product.

 

Both Rihanna's and Kanye's latest albums did not do too well because they were streaming exclusives on Tidal. Adele on the other hand crushed it by keeping it off streaming.

 

Add to that streaming services have been losing money all this while and continue to do so.

 

Audio streaming just doesn't measure up to video streaming in terms of earnings when you consider services like Netflix and Hulu. Even Amazon Prime is catching on.

 

I pay for both Spotify and Tidal, but when I'm overseas I use a VPN to access Netflix, but very rarely music streaming. The bulk of my music streaming is my own collection of nearly 2500 CDs that are available via Synology. Maybe its because most of us have larger music collections, but less so in terms of Blu-ray rips - or other reasons - but streaming itself may not survive for long at the rate they keep losing money.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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The real question is whether the hardware manufacturers adopt it. If they don't, then it is DOA. If enough of them feel like it adds more in quality than it costs them to implement, they will add it. I think it is still too early to tell how many manufacturers will adopt it.

There are many - especially high end - DACs that will never incorporate an MQA decoder. So it's either software decoding (unavailable right now and from the looks of it unlikely) or I will just sit it out until all MQA searches on google are 1 yr + old.

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There are many - especially high end - DACs that will never incorporate an MQA decoder. So it's either software decoding (unavailable right now and from the looks of it unlikely) or I will just sit it out until all MQA searches on google are 1 yr + old.

 

I've been reading the Bluesound Forum as of late (for obvious reasons) and here is a couple of screenshots from an MQA discussion. Seems later this year a software update will enable MQA on their platform if their support guy is to be believed. Just putting it out there. Here's a link to the disscussion if you'd rather .. https://helpdesk.bluesound.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2573&sid=d70c91d8238b9d3b869b379689d8f4d4

 

Bluesound MQA screenshot.png

 

Bluesound Forum screenshot.png

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I've been reading the Bluesound Forum as of late (for obvious reasons) and here is a couple of screenshots from an MQA discussion. Seems later this year a software update will enable MQA on their platform if their support guy is to be believed. Just putting it out there. Here's a link to the disscussion if you'd rather .. https://helpdesk.bluesound.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2573&sid=d70c91d8238b9d3b869b379689d8f4d4

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]25393[/ATTACH]

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]25392[/ATTACH]

 

I would guess that a software update to allow MQA playback will only give you half the picture. To "fix" the DAC "problem" your DAC will need to be MQA compatible as well. The MQA process is meant to be "end to end." Unless the DAC makers get on board, MQA will only be a partial success.

Auralic Aries G2, Ayre QX-5 Twenty, Ayre KX-5 Twenty, Ayre VX-5 Twenty, Revel Ultima Studio2, Iconoclast speaker cables & interconnects, RealTraps acoustic treatments, Sonore opticalModule (X2)

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Sal-

 

I subscribe to Tidal and find it allows me to hear whatever I want, without buying. If I really like it, I buy it in some form. I can be a lot more adventurous that way in trying new music, as there is no risk if I don't like something - I just don't play it again. So I try all sorts of music that I either can't find elsewhere or stuff that is new to me and I'm not sure I'll like.

 

I hear ya but I find I can do a lot of new music investigation on youtube for free.

I'm not getting locked into yet another monthly media bill if I can avoid it. I'm too cheap. LOL

"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

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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