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MQA is Vaporware

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1 hour ago, lucretius said:

That's true.  But Stereophile might greatly increase their subscription base, if they stopped targeting the 1%.


They might not be journalists, but they also aren't idiots. They clearly understand that part of what they're selling is aspirational, and you're (partially) wrong in your assumption.


If you look at Stereophile's self-reported readership figures, then track that to household income percentiles, an average Stereophile reader's is 60th percentile, and a median reader is in the 52nd percentile. Hardly 1-percenters...


If I'm correct, the cheapest A-class system you can buy is around 3k for amps, 2500 for source (it's "A+", but whatevs), 16k for speakers (which are now old enough to be found 2nd hand around 8k), and then a couple of hundred in cables (why you'd want to do that over BlueJeans is beyond me, but well whatevs). The Kiis are also class A, so assuming you do a bit of 2nd hand shopping around and don't buy into the cable myth, you're at their reference level, with decent synergy (the speakers in the separates system were used for show demos by the amp manufacturer) for somewhere between 10 and 15k, which is horrifying to normal people, but not all that bad as far as audiophilia is concerned, and in the states, probably more in 5-percenter than 1-percenter.


Now if we go back to Stereophile's self-reported figures, the average system cost is 10k, with about 30% of the readership having a system over 10k, which makes that 15k system with at least two of the elements (Benchmark amp and Revel speakers) borne of solid scientific principles and engineering all that more sensible.


What's interesting to me, and where you are right that the reviews of ultra-expensive toys make no sense, is that only 5,6% of Stereophile's readership self-reports a system worth over 25k... So maybe, just maybe, Stereophile's real question, or answer, is "how much better would the world be if one threw science out the window, and entered the world of fantasy".

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20 minutes ago, ARQuint said:



I've read through the responses to my post, which range from vicious to...Jud. In between are a lot of people that are  irritable, accusatory, and unfriendly. Jud's note, I felt, was principled and unwavering, but also collegial and open to the possibility that there are actually two sides to an issue that should be reconciliated as much as possible. I think it makes sense for me to engage with Jud to perhaps move a discussion forward. To actually have a discussion about MQA.


To reiterate my personal feeling about MQA, it is not a technology that represents a new day dawning, in my opinion. My sole experience with MQA was with an Aurender A10 that I had in-house for review two years ago for 6 or 7 weeks. I did as much comparison of MQA'd files to their HDtracks high-resolution equivalents as I could and felt that the MQA-processed material consistently sounded better. But (A) not enough better to get me to purchase a different reference DAC and (B) I don't stream much, anyway.


My portal into the MQA "debate" was not as an advocate but, rather, as a commentator on the increasingly toxic reaction to the codec in some corners of the internet. In mid-2017, I wrote an editorial called "The Politics of MQA" that laid out my concerns. (It's on the TAS website.) In that piece, I noted that "the theoretical objections to MQA do deserve a thorough consideration. But that discussion is difficult to have when the naysayers too often resort to ad hominem attacks on MQA principals and prominent audio journalists, including TAS editor-in-chief Robert Harley and his capable counterpart at Stereophile."


I still feel that way. I'd love to have the oft-repeated technical objections to MQA thoroughly addressed. But if this was a daunting proposition two-and-a-half years ago, it's 10 times more challenging now. In order to occur, a few principles need to be accepted, or it's not going to happen.


(1) Pro-MQA needs to be represented by someone with full fluency with the technology, preferably someone with the company.

(2) Anti-MQA needs to be represented by someone willing to identified by name and qualifying credentials. "Archimago has his reasons" for anonymity just doesn't cut it; that stance is the full equivalent of the stonewalling that the most zealous critics of MQA accuse the company and magazines of on a daily basis.

(3) The two representatives will respond to written questions devised and agreed to by Jud and myself. Responses will limit themselves to engineering, psychoacoustics, and musical aspects of the technology, steering clear of accusations regarding motives and integrity. 

(4) Sound quality will be on the table, as that's a primary concern for many, if not most, listeners, when it comes to MQA.

(5) Finally, it's understood that this isn't "MQA on trial" - the public flogging of a presumed miscreant. MQA, Ldt. is a legally incorporated entity doing business in a legal fashion, and they have plenty of supporters among recording professionals, record labels, journalists, and consumers. The goal is to shed light, not more heat, so that that last constituency can make their own judgements.


I'll sign off now and contact Jud vs PM to see if he's interested in pursuing this. There's no guarantee, of course, that TAS or Stereophile will take on publishing a 4 or 5 page feature on the controversy - again, I'm not speaking here for my magazine - but I can pitch the idea.


I'd like to see this happen - but I would urge you, in making your pitch, to advocate for one additional aspect that will greatly enhance the utility of such an exercise: Make the Q&A iterative, that is, once the pro and anti-MQA reps have responded to the initial inquiries, allow them to respond to/rebut each other's replies (or at least some of their replies).

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6 minutes ago, John Dyson said:

MQA is in the position that it needs to prove itself...


no no no 


This is exactly what a black box audio confidence game play must never ever do.


In a game of three-card monte, you never show the MQueenA!!



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

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3 minutes ago, firedog said:

A better idea would be to bring in some agreed upon outside experts (not anyone from MQA, not Archi, Mansr, etc) and have them evaluate the published criticism. Your magazine and others should have been doing this from the get go, but you've failed to do so. 



I'll leave this here (it's in the context of the AES paper that came to the conclusion MQA is not Copernicean in its importance, Ms Generale is who presented it) for the forgetful:


On 6/7/2018 at 8:46 AM, Archimago said:

Well @ARQuint, I suggest you get a copy of the article then and divine what "necessarily" means. That's a quote from the article so it's the author's words. Feel free to E-mail: [email protected] as a journalist to get the full scoop.

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2 hours ago, Thuaveta said:

What's interesting to me, and where you are right that the reviews of ultra-expensive toys make no sense, is that only 5,6% of Stereophile's readership self-reports a system worth over 25k...


Yes, a magazine like Stereophile reviews a lot of products that its typical reader will not be able to afford. See my essay at


in which I both offer an answer to the question "Why does a magazine read by regular middle-class people devote space to products that might as well be made from unobtainium?" and examine why the high-end audio industry is undergoing an upward price spiral.


John Atkinson

Technical Editor, Stereophile



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