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MQA is Vaporware

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he was hawking his blog at your site

 

He definitely hawks his blog, on which he makes money through advertising, on other sites, including CA.


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Thinking about Bandcamp (which I love by the way - scared to think how much of my $ they have) I wonder if they (or any "indie" effort) is a solution to the poor recording problem. They admit that the majority of their customers download the MP3 instead of the 16/44 even though it is the same price! This would indicate to me that the real root of the problem is the musical consumer - the majority just don't demand or expect good recordings....

Dynamic range compression is an artistic decision made by people involved in the creation of the art (music). Musician, singer, producer, mastering engineer, label head, etc... all factor in. The only way to change this is to get people to want to change their art.

 

I would never tell a painter to use different colors because some people who are color blind can't see the entire painting. The tail shouldn't wag the dog.

 

 

I'd love it if all albums had huge dynamic range and were recorded using best practices, but I also don't want to impede on the artistic process.


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Pardon my ignorance, how does that work - some kind of "click through" linkage between yours and his?

 

He posts links to his blog, see his last post here on CA. On his blog he has several banners advertising products similar to those he talks about. Based on number of impressions and clicks, he gets paid by the service he uses to display banners.


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I looked up some of his posts and specifically for any threads he's created. Using his TEAC DAC review thread here at CA as an example.

 

So as I can best understand your side:

 

1. He's not even running his own domain name so he really has zero ability do do any significant SEO or other like.

 

2. He could have chosen better name that isn't going to get swamped by a Literary sorcerer.

 

3. I don't think it's feasible to do the amount of measuring and write up he's done and then directly input/replicate it to individual sites.

 

4. If he was really going to monetize he would register a domain name and probably start up a forum.

 

5. Given his blogs continuously low Alexa rating, well it leads me to doubting he's in it for the Ferrari.

 

I think his input outweighs any potential negative. I'm surprised that you feel this way with someone running a blogspot.com account.

 

I think the best thing to do is ask him to simply make have him add his blog to his signature like any industry insider if that is your fear: Monetization.

I don't fear anything with him. I was simply stating the fact that he uses other sites to direct traffic to his site, and he makes money from his site.

 

It would probably serve him better to not display advertising, unless he is making "good" money from it.

 

I like some of his posts here on CA and on his own site.

 

 

 

With respect to your comments.

 

1. He is using the blogspot / blogger platform owned by google. Google takes a cut of all his advertising revenue. Right there is an SEO advantage that can't be underestimated.

 

2. Agree, but not really relevant to the discussion.

 

3. Not sure.

 

4. Possibly.

 

5. Believe me, none of us are in it for the Ferrari.


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Back to MQA Then

 

I think it is safe to say many of you disagree with my calling MQA vaporware. I’d also like to think I’ve made it clear I don’t believe in the concept of Master Quality Authenticated.

 

Driving back home from T.H.E. Show in Irvine California I had time to think how can this be stopped? These were my thoughts. Number one find documentation that the scheme used to encode decode MQA is DRM. This was done in the original post. Second poke enough holes in the “master” definition that they would have to admit they were using the best “master” they could get rights to. This a far cry from their marketing pitches in 2015. Third I read about the announcement of MQA in December of 2014. It was a you should wait for this pitch. This is a predatory marketing practice designed to hurt competitors and force them into licensing agreements. So I started talking with DAC manufactures and quelling fears that MQA was the next big thing. By reminding them how small the number of high resolution albums actually is and MQA will not be able to get past that number easily. And of course remind them Apple is going to steamroll MQA anyway. Fourth when I am around bands I tell them to get money upfront and not in the form of an advance on royalties if your record company want the rights to make digital versions of their music not covered by your existing contracts. Fifth plant the notion on audiophile sites that until you have 10,000 albums available for me to download in the United States the format might as well not exist.

 

I don't think Apple has nearly as much influence and power in this area as it once had. If labels want to deliver MQA to Apple rather than Mastered for iTunes, Apple doesn't have a choice. Accept it or stop selling / renting the music. Now that there are Apple-less options, the labels are in a position of power.

 

Many people thought Apple would wipe out all streaming competition, but so far its offering stinks.


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There are many open questions regarding MQA, such as:

 

- pro/con of full hardware decode vs software+hardware decode vs software only decode

- why are 44.1 and 48k tracks upsampled when running the software decoder?

- does the hardware MQA decoder also do custom upsampling of 44.1K material, or does it just leave that to the DAC upsampler?

 

A bit wider than just technical MQA stuff, other open questions include:

- what about room correction?

- why did miniDSP get denied a MQA licence?

- how will it all work in Roon?

- why are there upsampled tracks on Tidal Masters? Isn't the whole point of MQA avoiding that?

 

I'm sure there are other questions as well.

 

Working on it :~)


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Hi Guys - Keep the conversation respectful. I am always seeking more facts and to help answer questions for everyone. Comments that help either of these goals are always appreciated, as are more questions.


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Why are you holding back, Crenca? Are you afraid Chris is going to reprimand you?

 

Enough of the sophomoric comments. You're now on a forced timeout from CA for 30 days.


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Chris,

 

Every post on this thread advances an agenda. There is notion that the audio market should be split into music lovers, professionals and audiophiles like it was in the seventies as a way forward for the industry. The best way to advance this notion is to let audiophiles be bat **** crazy.

 

Every post? Uh, ok.


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They never actually said they would offer MQA. If you have a link that notes they are offering MQA that would be appreciated

 

I talked to Napster and tried the high res streaming. When asked about MQA I was told the company is looking at it. My guess for all the services is that they will stream what the labels offer. I believe the labels are taking back power because there isn't a single service they are beholden to.


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Its funny in another thread I posted a link and someone said its a PIA cause they don't want to read the article.

 

Let me guess, it was jbwhite. He came back as David B. before I banned him permanently.


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Norton,

 

Thank you again for an interesting and teachable point. You are using the gamer’s definition of vaporware which is fine. There are no downloads available in the genera I listed in the original post available in the United States. So music is not freely available to me. I live in a town with 231,000 other people where the average household income of $134,500. Saturday I visited one of the best audio establishments in the world. They did not have an MQA DAC in the store and they are a Median dealer. So I disagree with your statement that MQA is freely available because in the United States it is not. And agree or not I consider the Tidal release to be the gamer equivalent of a teaser release. So under your definition MQA is vaporware in the United States. I can’t buy it.

 

You claimed I was using a definition of vaporware I made up. The definition I use was coined by two Microsoft engineers to describe Microsoft Xenix (UNIX) running on personal computers in 1982. They were saying Xenix was an insignificant part of the market even though other versions would be released and in the late eighties Xenix was the largest licensee of UNIX in the United States. So Xenix was available and still considered vaporware. Common usage in the eighties was we only sold X (a four digit number of a PC program) its vaporware. Using the original definition of vaporware and using data about PC operating systems in the eighties still covered by my current NDAs I converted Xenix licenses to a percentage of the population of PC operating systems in 1982 and rounded it. This is where my 10,000 album number came from for MQA not be vaporware.

 

A long as we’re doing a history of the term vaporware the first time it was referred to in print was by Esther Dyson “good ideas incompletely implemented” when I said I wouldn’t test MQA until eight of my nine reference albums are released in MQA versions, I was saying I need Universal and Sony records for MQA to be completely implemented. Since neither Sony nor Universal has announced they are licenses I’m saying MQA is incompletely implemented and vaporware by her definition.

 

My original post had a specific purpose and was telegraphed in June of 2016 at T.H.E. Show. I told the MQA representatives that I was going to say on January 2, 2017 that it was vaporware if there weren’t enough albums available on January 1, 2017 in the United States. It will be interesting to watch and see if I shaped the debate about MQA the way I intended.

 

There is one more definition of vaporware and I will address it with whose side are you on?

 

Thanks for your definition of vaporware. I find it a very strange definition that I would never use nor admit to using, but I appreciate your willingness to share. We have different opinions about the definition. Not that big of a deal when we can explain our comments further.

 

The fact that no downloads exist is pointless to me with respect to vaporware. Netflix in-house productions aren't available for purchased download, only streaming. Should these be considered vaporware? I can stream thousands of tracks right now from the most mainstream artists in many genres. Not vaporware to me.

 

The fact that one Meridian dealer didn't have an Ultra DAC or Explorer2 for MQA decoding is inconsequential. I know dealers who have several of each, in towns with more and less people and with higher and lower incomes. None of this matters with respect to vaporware.

 

My bet is you won't have to wait long for your Sony and Universal records. But, something tells me you won't be satisfied and that won't meet your definition.

 

 

With respect to your comment, "My original post had a specific purpose and was telegraphed in June of 2016 at T.H.E. Show. I told the MQA representatives that I was going to say on January 2, 2017 that it was vaporware if there weren’t enough albums available on January 1, 2017 in the United States. It will be interesting to watch and see if I shaped the debate about MQA the way I intended."

 

I'm willing to bet the MQA representative has no recollection of the conversation and that at the time s/he didn't really care that one guy who attended the show was going to declare the product vaporware on a future date. Thus, I don't think you've shaped any debate in that context. I'm willing to reconsider the effect you had on any debate, but I'll need a scintilla of evidence.

 

P.S. I mean no disrespect with my comments.


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They certainly do. But this creates a number of problems for some customers, even the honest ones:

- For quite a few people, listening to music is still about playing files not streaming them. I see no problem with streaming if the other options still exists. I'd like to have the possibility to own and play music files without an internet connection, is it too much to ask?

 

- MQA may be a very good idea but if I don't buy the MQA gear (hard/soft), I won't be able to listen to anything but lossy streams. I don't expect to be able to get the MQA magical sound for free, but I certainly do not expect to be punished if I don't pay. As long as a DRM free lossless alternative exists I don't mind MQA, I might even consider paying extra for it, but if it is forced on me...

 

- Last but not least, if the studios force MQA down to the customer, you know what will happen : this will boost creativity on the illegal streaming/download side. I bet it won't be long before ways to neutralize the DRM side and reverse engineer the MQA files into standard PCM are found. And that is before F(ree)MQAC(odec) is created...

 

Today streaming is about to work as a business model with DRM free files, if I were them, I wouldn't take the risk to go through another crisis because they want to control what they can't. But I feel the industry might easily be blinded by the hope of making again the billions they were making back in the day. Well, if it comes to that, I know on which side I'll be.

 

Hi Fyper - You raise some really good points. However, I get a sense of entitlement from the wording of your comments. I could be totally wrong. You seem entitled to have exactly what you want, despite the fact that the owner of the content may not want to sell you what you want. Again, I could be wrong and I mean no disrespect.

 

The movie business has already done much of what you say, yet I've never seen anyone complain. Dolby and DTS put their magic sauce into movies and if you don't have a decoder, you're out of luck. Plus, I don't believe I've ever heard of a lossless movie being released. No matter the format, even 4K Blu-ray, is lossy. We get what the owner of the content whats to deliver. This doesn't mean we have to like it or accept it, but I believe people seem a bit entitled to have what they want.

 

It will be interesting to see what happens with the pirating of music if MQA becomes the standard. I honestly don't think pirating will even matter. Streaming is way too easy and downloading torrents is a crapshoot. Those who do it will always do it, those who don't won't.

 

No matter what happens, I'm sure people are already trying to create an open source free version of MQA. It's how people operate.

 

Again, no disrespect to you or your opinions. This is just another angle.

 

P.S. I'm not trying to defend MQA, I'm just looking at this a little different and in a different context.


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There appears to be some disconnect between supply and demand. The consumers are unhappy because what they want to buy isn't for sale, and the producers are upset that nobody wants to buy what they are selling. Someone needs to adjust.

Comparing Dolby and DTS to MQA isn't fair for several reasons:

 

1. Something of the kind was necessary to deliver surround sound within the limited bitrate of DVD.

2. Dolby Digital and DTS are actually open specifications, albeit covered by patents.

3. Nobody ever limited what you could do with a Dolby or DTS decoder, i.e. there are no obstacles to applying DSP (room correction etc.) to the decoded output.

 

MQA is fundamentally different in all three respects.

 

Hi Mansr - Thanks for the reply. All good points.

 

 

The supply and demand issue is interesting to say the least. Can you explain your point a bit more? What consumers want versus what's being sold.

 

With respect to Dolby and DTS, I look at it from a consumer's perspective and in the context of the previous comments. If you don't buy a device with a decoder, you're out of luck.

 

Now that we aren't limited to the bitrate of DVD, should we be arguing against Dolby and DTS, and for the lossless versions of our movies (the crown jewels)?

 

With respect to DSP and MQA, I think most people are misinformed about what's possible. I fully expect to see DSP packages 100% compatible with MQA in the future.

 

 

I'm a consumer as much as everyone else here. I'd love the crown jewels for all the movies I watch and I'd love open source everything. I think the best move is finding an appropriate balance.


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Hi.

 

One thing about MQA format amazes me.

I've downloaded the entire 2L test bench in both MQA (when available) and 24/96k PCM.

 

Neutron Eval, wich does NOT "unfolds" MQA files BUT plays back them normally, is a reproducer that ALWAYS shows sampling rate and bit depth of what it is playing. Well; every file from 2L in 24/96k appears marked as expected. On the other hand, their MQA counterparts appeared (without exception) marked as 24 bits 44,1 kHz files, what is not very usual.

 

I have not a MQA decoder, so I've had to listen to in a quite (I gess) primary way.

SQ was better in 24/96k (not "tremendously" better) than in MQA form, but not having a dedicated decoder my impressions could well be premature.

 

Anyway, and with so much contradictory literature on the matter, my question is:

What is the REAL resolution of MQA files when properly decoded, if there is just a single one?

 

(BTW.: I've made, as an experiment, a few files encoding in FLAC of the original 24/96k, and always the resulting size is SMALLER than its MQA counterparts, with no degradación in SQ at all).

 

VenturaRV

 

There is not a single "real" resolution of MQA files. MQA is just a technology used on audio files that can be any sample rate.


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6 minutes ago, jhwalker said:

 

To my ears, MQA sounds "different" and, in some cases, "better".  Other listeners, including folks with much better ears than I, also say it sounds better.

 

I'd hate to kill a nascent technology that *may* provide better outcome(s) just because "I only want lossless downloads".

 

This is where I stand as well.

 

Not on any bandwagon, just taking a relaxed approach.


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2 hours ago, fung0 said:

The question of "why?" is the key to this whole MQA movement. Why would publishers and distributors rush to climb aboard with an upstart new technology, which requires licensing fees and a complete rebuild of all audio hardware, when there are lots of existing systems and formats that are far more convenient? It's not like consumers were clamoring for MQA.

 

The answer, unfortunately, is obvious. The content industry views any shift in technology as an opportunity to tighten its grip on the ecosystem. Look at the example of UHD Blu-ray. It introduces a relatively minor upgrade in quality (which no one was clamoring for, and which needs all new hardware), but is eagerly embraced by the movie industry because it allows the adoption of something they've dreamed of for many years (ever since the original Divx): consumer players that won't work unless they have a connection to the company's servers. Meanwhile, open and far more convenient formats such as h.264 and h.265, plus MKV, are ignored.

 

MQA offers the same kind of 'advancement.' Marginally better quality is, for no particular technical reason, coupled with decoders that can 'validate' the entire delivery chain. MQA allows the music-delivery system to be locked down. Would this system 'leak'? Of course. But it would certainly put up new barriers that MP3 and FLAC do not. (Especially for the average non-geeky consumer.)

 

The counter-arguments are purely on the practical side. For example: MQA affects HD audio only. True. But the industry's dream, as with Blu-ray and now UHD Blu-ray, is always to move in the direction of tighter control. As each new format gains ground, the grip tightens. Or: MQA affects streaming only. Again, true (so far). But the dream is to move in the direction of streaming. (It's significant that video services like Netflix never let the consumer have control of the content at all. A 'Netflix VCR' can never exist.) Truly worthwhile increments in technology are getting scarce, so there's a bit of a rush. "We failed to lock down CD, MP3 and FLAC; this may be our last chance!"

 

Yes, it's possible that neither HD audio nor streaming will dominate audio in the future. But there's a good chance that they will - especially if the music industry gets behind them with a remarkably unified push. We all know that's exactly the logic that's applied in industry boardrooms.

 

 

I think this is a fair assessment. The past is frequently a great predictor of the future. I can see many reasons why the copyright holders and those who make a living from recored sound would want tight control. The vast majority of the public doesn't really care if the content industries have tight control, so it makes sense to grab control if they can. When it comes to video, I could care less about control. I purchase and rent movies through Apple TV and Roku. I realize the consequences of purchasing on both platforms and the services on the platforms. Some content is only available via one app on one of the platforms. So be it. 

 

Music means much more to me than video and of course I want total control all the time, but it depends on the pros and cons of this and at what cost. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. 


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41 minutes ago, bogi said:

 

Yes, MQA is mainly about money for labels and not about artists. The marketing speak (that artists approved deblurred origami) is here to convince customers to pay more for music and potentially to get them to buy once again what they already bought.

 

If it's mainly about money, that money is for whomever owns the rights. If an artist sold his sole to the label devil, then the label gets the money. If the artist kept the rights, then the money is for them. 

 

Labels have always screwed artists. Artists have always known this. Yet, they continue to sign away their rights and income.


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7 minutes ago, audiventory said:

 

Any MQA royalty get MQA patent holder. How these money come to copyright holder?

Does somewhere noted that the patent holder will pay to copyright holder?

 

I'm not saying this is the case, but it can easily be done. For example, see the private copying levy that kicked back money to the rights holders based on other peoples' patents. And, music CD-Rs

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy#Blank_music_CDs_and_recorders


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Just now, mrvco said:

 

My speculation has nothing to do with patent royalty.  Simply that MQA is presumably sharing licensing royalties received from hardware and software companies that add MQA support to their products.  Again, I have no visibility into MQA's business model, but I do have quite a bit of experience in the video space dealing with comparable entities and licensing arrangements.

 

I don't have any knowledge here either, but my guess is the same as yours. 


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6 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

Big company says to struggling artist "Sign here to get paid and get heard."  How many have had the leverage to say no?

 

I don't think it's about leverage. It's about taking the easy or hard way. Signing a contract for another company to pay for everything and do everything for you is easy. Grass roots is hard, but the payback is larger. I don't make judgements either way. People can run their own business or work for someone else. Pros and cons to each decision. 


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3 minutes ago, Jud said:

 

Isn't saying a particular way is the hard way a lot like saying one party has more bargaining leverage? :)  Otherwise one party couldn't say to the other, "My way or the hard way."  It isn't a negotiation between equals, so the more powerful one can say "Take it or leave it."

 

To provide an analogy: I've negotiated a settlement between a  (civil) client and the federal government.  It is nothing like negotiating with a private party, because the government has essentially unlimited funds and time, something very seldom true of a private party.

 

I see it a bit differently. 

 

It's a business decision for an artist to hire a full service company to handle everything or do it themselves. Labels are trying to woo artists into signing. The artist has the goods the labels want to sell. 

 

 


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