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MQA is Vaporware

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4 hours ago, John Dyson said:

Off topic a little, but backing this statement with historical fact.  Remember the 'Aphex Aural Exciter'? -- I call it 'distorter'.  A lot of people had historically liked the sound (including Linda Ronstadt, who demanded her recordings be made with it.)  It is a phase scrambler that doesn't really add normal distortion, but might as well do so.

The 'Distorter' is about the most egregious and clear example of someone preferring distortion.  Artists actually imprinting their forever works with that travesty is so very sad -- but apparently fairly common.  (I can undo some of the early version of the distorters' damage, but it is tedious to do so.)

 

Bottom line -- doing subjective comparisons doesn't really always support determining the best quality or the most accuracy...  Emotions MUST be removed from the comparisons, and even then -- personal preference can confuse the comparison using accurate references.

 

Making mistakes in comparisons based upon personal preferences make future comparsions totally confusing.  It is best to be accurate and intellectually honest, while using actual engineering/mathematical know-how, and scientific method.  (The reason why I use the term 'intellectually honest' instead of 'honest' is that I truly believe that most people are trying to be 'honest' from their own viewpoint -- but it is important to base that honesty on facts, rather than feeling & wishfulness.)


Just my two cents, but I would REALLY WISH that non-technical audiophiles could be kindly and respectfully educated about engineering and mathematical fact --- also be given some understanding about scientific method, instead of the snake-oil merchants encouraging a confused muddle of emotional feeling that results in nonsensical conclusions (and profits for the manipulatively dishonest.)

 

John

 

John this is not off topic. Its actually documentation that will prove helpful  in the future thanks.

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1 hour ago, Jud said:

 

 

Your counter-argument assumes Lee is in fact making an argument.  :)  I don't think he is, at least not in the way most of us conceive of it - some logical predicate, followed by reasoned steps therefrom.

 

The feeling I get is more of someone just being chatty, imparting to us the "facts" as he has been given to know them by the people he considers the most reliable sources, insiders.  For their part, the insiders would want to use people they trust to pass along their message intact to consumers, and I would assume Lee has proved reliable in this regard in the past.  So Lee is happy to report to fellow audiophiles what he thinks of as solid information from people in a position to know, and the industry folks are happy too.

 

Technical counter-arguments are thus evaluated not so much in terms of whether they make logical sense, but rather as noise getting in the way of imparting the valuable inside information he's been told (and confirmed for himself through subjective listening impressions).

 

Lee seems to be fishing for information. Asking for the shareholders of 7 Digital a couple nights ago for example. 7 Digital isn't that big about 21 million Pounds in assets.  Whether they can continue operations in the future is uncertain according to the auditors. I would want more certainty that my streaming platform will be around in 2020 before I committed to using them. 

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15 hours ago, Paul R said:

transmission, so very little, if anything, will be saved by MQA vs ALAC or FLAC that it is completely a non-issue. Might feel a bit non-intuitive, but the cold hard engineering facts are immutable. 

 

 

Paul this is well said and I'll back this up (we may be in similar industry). Only thing I will add is that there is significantly more cost savings with regards to bandwidth by tweaking the UI to default back to the "normal" setting every now and then. When most users cannot hear the difference because they have earbuds turned to 11 on a noisy bus they won't flip that setting back to "high quality" and the whole argument of how to store/stream the "high quality" is mute. In fact...   Those of us who can hear the difference will be a tad frustrated but I'd rather have to flip a switch back to high quality after every upgrade than be reminded every time high quality equates to "MQA" coming out of my system. Anyway, there are plenty of ways to reduce the bandwidth bill and MQA should not be part of that discussion if anyone is serious about truly reducing the bandwidth. MQA is the solution you use when the non-technical/non-engineering people need to say they did something. 

 

A couple months ago I would have absolutely believed the MQA bandwidth / storage saving "hype" but there are numerous points within this thread that now totally debunk any advantage MQA provides with regard to this. Additionally, now that I have a much better understanding of what MQA is doing it's pretty obvious the savings simply cannot be there. It seems like a selling point that should have already been discredited and removed from the marketing glossy. In fact...  It would almost make sense to me if we saw a "my high quality is better" wars when Spotify and the like open their high quality service. This would be a great marketing argument against MQA and a differentiator to those services. 

 

But... as I browse other audio forums that are not this one...   I am seeing a pretty significant following for MQA. To the extreme that when someone says they "dislike" MQA or say it doesn't sound as good as some other format the respondents are all over the original poster on how to "fix" their system because "it's just not possible you didn't find MQA to be the best". 

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5 minutes ago, ipeverywhere said:

It would almost make sense to me if we saw a "my high quality is better" wars when Spotify and the like open their high quality service.

I can see it now, “Pure PCM” all over the place.


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12 minutes ago, new_media said:

 

I have noticed that 7digital hasn't updated their home page with new releases in several weeks, and I wondered whether they were in dire straits financially. They are still adding new releases every week.

 

It would be a shame to lose them. They are one of few online shops that offers redbook and hi-res, and their prices usually beat HDtracks and are competitive with Qobuz.

 

7digital runs the back-end of OnkyoMusic.com (which is still update regularly), so they do obviously have some existing relationship with the MQA cabal.

 

 

7 Digital has a long discussion about their ability to continue operating in their 2017 financial statements. 

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1 hour ago, new_media said:

 

I have noticed that 7digital hasn't updated their home page with new releases in several weeks, and I wondered whether they were in dire straits financially. They are still adding new releases every week.

 

It would be a shame to lose them. They are one of few online shops that offers redbook and hi-res, and their prices usually beat HDtracks and are competitive with Qobuz.

 

7digital runs the back-end of OnkyoMusic.com (which is still update regularly), so they do obviously have some existing relationship with the MQA cabal.

 

I like 7digital too. They often  have exclusive albums. Or at least a 24 bit version available no where else. And lots of world music.

 

I bought the whole Van Morrison 24/96 remaster series a few years back, and it only became available elsewhere over a year later. BTW the 24/96 remastering  of the catalog is nothing short of stunning...actually more DR than previous CDs from a decade prior. 😎

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3 minutes ago, wdw said:

 

Asked the same question and received this reply:

Customer Support replied:

Hi#####,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Regarding the note on the Shostakovich String Quartets, please accept our apologies – these notes were meant for a different album, and were applied to this one in error. This release exhibits no signs of being processed by a perceptual coding algorithm, a statement which would typically indicate the audio being sourced from a compressed, lossy format which uses perceptual coding as a mechanism for determining which audio information to encode or discard – for example, MP3 or AAC-formatted audio, which is more common in hip-hop or electronic music genres.

While we respect your opinion regarding the MQA format, it's important to clarify that our intention is simply to provide the option to those who are interested, while continuing to provide the same uncompressed and lossless, high resolution formats we have been offering for years. We certainly are not going to require our customers to purchase an MQA-capable DAC (or software) to enjoy the music we provide! We also would like to clarify that "192 kHz / 24-bit" in the context of MQA files indicates the source audio which was used to generate the MQA-encoded files, not the sampling rate of the MQA files themselves – of course, all MQA-encoded content is delivered as 44.1 or 48 kHz / 24-bit FLAC files. We're discussing the means to make this distinction more clear, and we thank you for raising this question.

All the best,
#####
ProStudioMasters

Very fair and detailed reply IMO. 

 

I like how they distinguish between "uncompressed and lossless, high resolution formats", and lossy MQA>😎

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22 hours ago, Paul R said:

 

I have significant experience designing high speed and very high data load transfer networks and WANs as part of financial networks. And I have really extensive recent experience with providers like AWS, IBM, Oracle, and others. I have also been working with accountants - making any business profitable, much less sustainably profitable is anything but easy.  However, in terms of data transmission, so very little, if anything, will be saved by MQA vs ALAC or FLAC that it is completely a non-issue. Might feel a bit non-intuitive, but the cold hard engineering facts are immutable. This I have had to explain to unbelieving accounting and lawyer types many times, but the numbers always work out to say that a minor compression savings costs more in real dollars. The extra transmission cost, if any - and there is usually none at all - is negligible. 

 

In this case, I strongly suggest that this is a red herring, being used to distract you. 

 

Regardless of whether you believe me or not, it is easily shown that MQA formatted files do not appear to save much, if any, space over conventional ALAC or FLAC files, and that is before you take into account how compressible the files are for data transmission. (MQA may be more compressible than ALAC, depends upon just how random the "extra data" actually is. 

 

Go check with a non-MQA source and ask them to give you some actual figures. And, here is an example that may make it clearer - Amazon streams 4K videos to Prime Subscribers, as well as a tons of 1080 and 720 high def videos - free to Prime Subscribers every day. Do you really think that they are not completely covering the cost in the $129/year cost for prime? And that covers much more than just the video, it includes audio and free two day shipping on a ton of items. How much do you think the cost of streaming really counts in there? 

 

Now consider that AWS powers Amazon and thousands of other streaming companies. How much impact to you imagine that MQA can have in an environment like that? There will be a lot of zeros to the right of the decimal point before any significant numbers show up.  Any streaming company intending to survive has negotiated favorable deals with AWS or someone similar. They are NOT paying anything extra to stream FLAC vs MQA.

 

(If they are, they are foolish and should hire me immediately to come and get them out of the mayhem their foolishness has caused. :) )

 

Someone is feeding you a line mate. They are using this red herring to get you to buy off on points one and two, which make no sense technically unless you buy into point three, do they?  If there is no audible difference between ALAC and MQA, and no cost difference to stream them, then what sense to pay the MQA license fee? 

 

If MQA, regardless of whether it is lossless or not, sounds better, then there is some real justification. But will it sound better to the hordes of MP3 128kbs users out there?

 

I don't know, but it is a fair comparison. Lossy MP3 vs Lossy MQA. I think MQA would win that battle myself, I don't see how it could not. Lossy Sirus XM vs Lossy MQA XM?  Again, I think MQA would stand a great chance there. Problem of course, is that MQA is larger than 128kbs MP3. Much larger, I think. 

 

However, lossy MQA vs Lossless ALAC, based on some pie in the sky transmission savings? Not a chance in heck mate. Absolutely zero. As I said, you probably have access to other people that can easily verify this. Trust but verify is the motto in this case. 

 

P.S. Space on phones was limited.  Past Tense.

 

Most people stream all the time now, and save very few files actually on their phone.  You are thinking Audiophiles here, and audiophiles are anything but the best market segment for MQA. We tend to have lots of space on our phones anyways... 

 

 

 

I appreciate the thoughtful reply and different perspective Paul.  Thanks.

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6 hours ago, ipeverywhere said:

 

 

But... as I browse other audio forums that are not this one...   I am seeing a pretty significant following for MQA. To the extreme that when someone says they "dislike" MQA or say it doesn't sound as good as some other format the respondents are all over the original poster on how to "fix" their system because "it's just not possible you didn't find MQA to be the best". 

 

Those thoughts mirror a couple of journalist's in my rogues gallery of stupid MQA comments. If you need "a highly resolving system" you have no market just like high resolution.

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4 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

I have to agree. There’s no market for high resolution or MQA and now some say you need a highly revolving system to hear it. Wow, that puts about 0.000001% of the music consuming public in line to really get into MQA. Oh, subtract the thousands here who know what it really is so tack another zero after the decimal point. 

 

Add a few more zeros as the only folks who really need it are those with highly resolving phones on expensive data plans.


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11 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

I have to agree. There’s no market for high resolution or MQA and now some say you need a highly revolving system to hear it. Wow, that puts about 0.000001% of the music consuming public in line to really get into MQA. Oh, subtract the thousands here who know what it really is so tack another zero after the decimal point. 

 

That's a straw man argument.  MQA differences can be heard on modest systems.  But like anything else, the more resolving the system is, the easier the differences can be heard.  Same thing applies to the CD vs. hirez debate.

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13 minutes ago, Lee Scoggins said:

 

That's a straw man argument.  MQA differences can be heard on modest systems.  But like anything else, the more resolving the system is, the easier the differences can be heard.  Same thing applies to the CD vs. hirez debate.

 

I've got to disagree Lee because MQA files are normally distributed when it comes to sound quality and the middle is no difference and different but neither better or worse. If you volume match and use the same commercially available masters of the recordings of course.

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7 minutes ago, John Dyson said:

As I discussed earlier -- some people really liked the sound of the Aphex 'distorter', with long term sad/negative consequences for their recorded music.  Likewise -- a 'difference', even though some people might have a personal preference, isn't necessarily an improvement.  In fact, if the basis for comparison is lossless material of high quality -- differences show a disadvantage against the non lossless material.  (Kind of like adding 'echo' -- some people like it, but it often eventually becomes tiresome.)

Any degradation of the pre-recorded material is NOT good.  Degradation with no positive tradeoff for the consumer (maybe benefiting the license holder) is not usually good either.

I am dealing with degraded material ALL of the time, much material was deemed high quality at the time.  It is best just to do the best possible, no screwing around -- and ignore any other hype.

Hearing fatigue and the ability of people to eventually learn/hear the negative artifacts in the recordings also doesn't bode well for any kind of degradation that doesn't benefit the customer.  (Sure, there are places for tradeoffs, but let the customer make the tradeoff when they might need a compressed recording -- LET THEM DO IT.)

The time is long gone for 'just a little' compression, or technically inferior, meddled with recordings.  We have plenty of bandwidth nowadays, and the customers can dot their mp3/opus or whatever themselves when they need it...

MQA seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist (except for those who can profit from it -- effectively a money transfer from the music lover.)

 

John

 

John, I politely differ.  MQA is not degrading any of Peter's recordings.  It's making the instruments sound more natural. You're not being fair to different opinions expressed by people with deep experience in recording.

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