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MQA reviewed at Audiostream


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Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I don't think there will be any showdown, as DSD is strictly a niche within the audiophile niche, while MQA is trying to be a broad based format. DSD isn't ever going to be something "the public" adopts.

 

If Tidal and some labels really start releasing/streaming significant amounts of content in MQA format, then MQA will establish itself as a viable format - since it can also be played back on standard equipment - and we will start to see lots of MQA capable devices.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I don't think there will be any showdown, as DSD is strictly a niche within the audiophile niche, while MQA is trying to be a broad based format. DSD isn't ever going to be something "the public" adopts.

 

I guess DSD will lose even more market share now that MQA is here...

 

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

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I don't think there will be any showdown, as DSD is strictly a niche within the audiophile niche, while MQA is trying to be a broad based format. DSD isn't ever going to be something "the public" adopts.

 

If Tidal and some labels really start releasing/streaming significant amounts of content in MQA format, then MQA will establish itself as a viable format - since it can also be played back on standard equipment - and we will start to see lots of MQA capable devices.

 

MQA is still nich. And will never move to another status.

I don't see any of my friends changing their phone because of a MQA logo. None of them, almost, care for anything other than spotify.

DSD is a niche for audiophiles...and the fact that DSD is now in many devices, does not get it out of it's niche...

 

Tidal hifi is niche for audiophiles...

 

MQA is still a niche inside the niche...

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MQA is still nich. And will never move to another status.

I don't see any of my friends changing their phone because of a MQA logo. None of them, almost, care for anything other than spotify.

DSD is a niche for audiophiles...and the fact that DSD is now in many devices, does not get it out of it's niche...

 

Tidal hifi is niche for audiophiles...

 

MQA is still a niche inside the niche...

 

The difference is that the labels can sell/stream MQA files and discs and the public doesn't even have to be aware of it, as they will play back on standard devices. That automatically makes it more viable than any format where you need special software or hardware just to play it back.

 

Tidal hi fi is a niche, but is apparently well over a million users and growing, so it's a decent sized niche. Compare that to the number of HQP users.... A few thousand at most? How many have DSD capable DACs - I doubt it is anywhere near a million, or even any multiple of 6 figures. So a million or two million users willing to pay a not insignificant monthly fee every month is nothing for the recording industry to laugh at.

 

I assume there will be more hi-fi streaming as time goes on. That bodes well for MQA.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Everyone is quick to proclaim the death of CDs but long will streaming survive? How long will VCs continue to pour money into Spotify seeing the rate at which it continues to lose 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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This reminds me of the SACD vs DVD-Audio debate. Both of those formats were marketing failures and the good old CD survived and is still relevant today in this digital age. I will just stream whatever format is available at the present and not get too excited about any format as long as the music still plays.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L - LA4  AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:  Van Damme, Canare 4S11, Lifatec optical, Wireworld and IsoTek power

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I don't think there will be any showdown, as DSD is strictly a niche within the audiophile niche, while MQA is trying to be a broad based format. DSD isn't ever going to be something "the public" adopts.

 

If Tidal and some labels really start releasing/streaming significant amounts of content in MQA format, then MQA will establish itself as a viable format - since it can also be played back on standard equipment - and we will start to see lots of MQA capable devices.

 

Why would someone want a closed format with DRM* that is controlled by a single company who wants to control even the encoding process? What do you do if MQA company goes bankrupt or gets acquired by some other company and eventually discontinue the technology and you own a lot of content encoded with it? Just think what happened to HDCD or HD-DVD?

 

At least for me any closed content format is complete no-go. And even more so when associated with any form of DRM.

 

Why not use some open standard, standardized by international standardization organization instead? Like MPEG-4 SLS standardized by ISO/IEC? Or even better stick to a completely free format like FLAC that doesn't require royalties from all parties using it. There are no space savings or anything like that with MQA. You can store same resolution in a standard FLAC in smaller space.

 

*) They call it "authenticated", but that's just marketing trick to avoid saying "DRM". It is DRM as long as you cannot freely completely decode or convert the content to another format as you please.

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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The difference is that the labels can sell/stream MQA files and discs and the public doesn't even have to be aware of it, as they will play back on standard devices.

 

With severely degraded quality if you don't have MQA decoder. Why not use standard FLAC instead. Or if you want different format, MPEG-4 SLS?

 

Compare that to the number of HQP users....

 

You shouldn't, and cannot. HQP is not content format, you can use any other alternative player at any time for playing any of the open formats supported by HQPlayer.

 

How many have DSD capable DACs - I doubt it is anywhere near a million, or even any multiple of 6 figures.

 

Certainly much more than there are MQA capable DACs. And none of those DSD capable DACs limit your possibilities of doing pre-processing for the audio, like digital room correction, upsampling or what ever.

 

I assume there will be more hi-fi streaming as time goes on. That bodes well for MQA.

 

Why!? To burn more bandwidth for lossy quality degraded compression and require new hardware to comply with the DRM (or "authentication" as they call it) requirements?

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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..

If Tidal and some labels really start releasing/streaming significant amounts of content in MQA format, then MQA will establish itself as a viable format - since it can also be played back on standard equipment - and we will start to see lots of MQA capable devices.

 

What "standard equipment" can MQA be played back on? It is not a standard, it is a very tiny exception!

 

Plus, by all accounts it is not bit accurate to the 24/192 master it is supposed to have come from, so why would you want a lossy hi-res format. It doesn't make sense.

 

And it also seems that those people who have "standard" DACs and therefore cannot decode MQA will get a degraded version of the 16/44.1 when playing MQA material. Can't see them being very happy. Schiit have already announced they are boycotting the format. I am sure others will follow.

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MQA in a non MQA DAC SQ should be no worse than redbook.

IME that's the case.

 

Re Schiit knowing that their DACs are limited to PCM 24/192 I'm not surprised that they wouldn't take up MQA.

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.-

Groucho Marx

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MQA in a non MQA DAC SQ should be no worse than redbook.

 

At least based on the various analysis I and others have been doing that doesn't seem to be the case.

 

Re Schiit knowing that their DACs are limited to PCM 24/192 I'm not surprised that they wouldn't take up MQA.

 

Why? If you have MQA file in 44.1/24 container, the decoded output rolls out at about 30 kHz, so 88.2/24 capable DAC is well enough for it.

 

Meridian Explorer2 is also limited to 192/24 and has MQA.

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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I heard MQA files in a non MQA DAC and they didn't sound worse to my ears than the redbook version. IIRC Bob Stuart has rebuted opinions about MQA being worse than redbook in a non MQA DAC in an extensive article here at CA.

 

 

 

Please note that MQA can go up to 24/352.8, so a 24/192 DAC would not be capable of taking full advantage of MQA.

 

Perhaps more importantly my knowing about Schiit's previous failure with DSD made their conservative stance somewhat predictable to me.

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.-

Groucho Marx

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I heard MQA files in a non MQA DAC and they didn't sound worse to my ears than the redbook version. IIRC Bob Stuart has rebuted opinions about MQA being worse than redbook in a non MQA DAC in an extensive article here at CA.

 

 

 

 

Please note that MQA can go up to 24/352.8, so a 24/192 DAC would not be capable of taking full advantage of MQA.

 

Perhaps more importantly my knowing about Schiit's previous failure with DSD made their conservative stance somewhat predictable to me.

 

One thing to DSD's advantage over MQA, the DSD library is as big as the Redbook library at the current time, not counting other resolutions, and not counting native DSD recordings. Just look at the good reviews for HQ Player and the new T+A DAC 8 for just two examples of the capability to play Redbook upsampled to DSD. I don't see MQA having that size library, ever!

Jim

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One thing to DSD's advantage over MQA, the DSD library is as big as the Redbook library at the current time, not counting other resolutions, and not counting native DSD recordings. Just look at the good reviews for HQ Player and the new T+A DAC 8 for just two examples of the capability to play Redbook upsampled to DSD. I don't see MQA having that size library, ever!

 

DSD's library size being as big as Redbook I must say I very much doubt that. Do you have any evidence to backup that claim?

 

About MQA I think its big advantage is having made Hires streaming feasible. I'm hoping Tidal or some other streaming service include MQA in their lossless offer at no additional cost.

 

edit: Having reread your post when you say DSD's library is as big as Redbook do you mean using software to convert 16/44.1 to DSD?

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.-

Groucho Marx

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DSD's library size being as big as Redbook I must say I very much doubt that. Do you have any evidence to backup that claim?

 

About MQA I think its big advantage is having made Hires streaming feasible. I'm hoping Tidal or some other streaming service include MQA in their lossless offer at no additional cost.

 

edit: Having reread your post when you say DSD's library is as big as Redbook do you mean using software to convert 16/44.1 to DSD?

 

Yes, for example converting Redbook files to DSD with HQ Player.

 

There might be a scenario where PCM, DSD, and MQA coexist in separate spheres, such as native playback, converted playback, and streaming, respectively. People seem to be taking sides in battle so far!

Jim

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Yes, for example converting Redbook files to DSD with HQ Player.

 

There might be a scenario where PCM, DSD, and MQA coexist in separate spheres, such as native playback, converted playback, and streaming, respectively. People seem to be taking sides in battle so far!

 

I'm rooting for MQA as its SQ is IMO at least on pair with DXD or DSD 256 and it's technically possible to stream it.

 

But as I have a DAC capable of playing DXD and DSD and MQA I'm not too worried.

 

What I do find odd is some people being firmly against MQA without listening to it properly.

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.-

Groucho Marx

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About MQA I think its big advantage is having made Hires streaming feasible. I'm hoping Tidal or some other streaming service include MQA in their lossless offer at no additional cost.

 

Like that's going to happen.

 

MQA is not doing this out of the goodness of their heart.

 

The only scenarios are...

1. The streaming services charge more in which case nobody is going to pay more for a lossy streaming tier over existing lossless (in the case of Tidal).

2. The streaming services pay MQA from existing earnings and probably go out of business sooner, leaving only audio CDs and digital downloads.

 

Personally, I could live with either outcome.

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

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I'm rooting for MQA as its SQ is IMO at least on pair with DXD or DSD 256 and it's technically possible to stream it.

 

This I gotta hear.

 

What I do find odd is some people being firmly against MQA without listening to it properly.

 

What do you expect with statements like the one you've made above?

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

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What do you expect with statements like the one you've made above?

 

Pretty easy to check for yourself. A Mytek Brooklyn with a good quality linear PSU in a good setup and you're good to go.

I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.-

Groucho Marx

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Most of the responses here are spoken from the true perspective of the audiophile who can't see the world from a non-audiophile point of view. The rest of the world doesn't work the way audiophiles think it "should". Too bad all those people are so stupid :).

 

As far as how MQA sounds, very few have enough experience with it to say. The review from the OP isn't glowing, but ML does say he prefers the sound of the MQA'd files. ML has pretty good ears. If he thinks it sounds better, lots of other audiophiles will too.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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