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MQA is Vaporware


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24 hours after I joined the MQA discussion at ASR, the moderator closed the tread.

 

There is one post there I like your guys confirmation of.
Is “everything” what this guy posted correct ?

 

 

“No, I'm sorry but you are the one who has it all wrong. A 352.8k original is downsampled to 88.2k, which is then folded into a 44.1k container file. Undecoded, the MQA file will play back at 44.1k. Unfolded ("core") it will play back as 88.2k. Fully rendered - "the rest of the unfolding in the DAC" as you say - it will play back with the DAC and/or playback software showing 352.8k - but that is because the "rest of the unfolding" is what MQA calls the final render, where in Bob Stuart's sly words they "put the sample rate back to what it was." The 352.8k sample rate is generated - not decoded or restored - via a quadrupling of the native 88.2k sample rate of the MQA file - it's not the actual original samples from the original 325.8k PCM file that the record company file started out with.

So once again, here is the chain:

  1. Record company 352.8k PCM original (assuming in this example that they have an original at that resolution)
  2. Record company runs that original through MQA encoder
  3. MQA encoder downsamples 352.8k to 88.2k - throws out 3/4 of the samples (I know you think this can't be true, but it is)
  4. MQA encoder then "folds" the the 88.2k into a 44.1k MQA container, via lossy compression of half the samples, encoding that lossy-compressed data in the lower bits of the files
  5. MQA "first unfold"/software decode on the playback end decodes the 44.1k container file back into 88.2k
  6. Hardware DAC "final render" upsamples the 88.2k to 352.8k and applies allegedly "custom" MQA reconstruction filter

Crucially - and the bit you don't get - Step #6 does not "unfold" 352.8k sample rate information that is encoded in the MQA file - all that's encoded in the MQA file is 88.2k. The additional samples of the original 352.8k PCM file the record company started with are gone forever, and the MQA final render simply makes 3 additional copies of each sample, thereby quadrupling the number of samples, in order to bring the file back up to 352.8k.

“Now, it is not surprising that there is confusion about this - MQA has been misleading in their communication about it from the beginning. By calling it "audio origami" and referring to a "first unfold," they have strongly implied that there are multiple "folds" and that the full 352.8k sample rate info can somehow be folded up/encoded into a file that ends up as a 44.1k container. That's impossible and is not what happens.

Personally I don't care if the file is 88.2k, 176.4k, or 352.8k - there's no sonic difference. But MQA is marketing them as 176.4k and 352.8k and Bob Stuart is claiming (incorrectly) that "new neuroscience research" shows that the ultrasonic information from those higher sample rates is meaningful. So he and MQA are being deeply misleading, allowing the impression to circulate that something beyond 88.2k/96k is contained in an MQA file when it most certainly is not.

If you take a 352.8k PCM file and downsample it to 96k yourself in Audacity or any other audio editor, and then run that 96k file through the MQA encoder, when you play it back on an MQA-capable system and DAC, it will register as 96k. If you take the same file and do not downsample it to 96k yourself and run it through the MQA encoder, the MQA encoder will downsample it to 96k before doing any other processing. But because the file you gave the MQA encoder was 352.8k, when you play back that file on an MQA-capable system and DAC, it will register as 352.8k. In both cases the file has been downsampled to 96k - it's the same file. But in one case the MQA DAC will show it as 96k while in the other it will upsample it and show it as 352.8k.”

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18 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

MQA encoder downsamples 352.8k to 88.2k

The MQA decoder doesn't do exactly what we normally refer to as downsampling. It discards any frequency above 44.1\48khz in the original, and then encodes the result (depending on the source) as 88 or 96. That is one reason some consider it inferior. And the quote above mixes up 352/88 and 384/96.

 

Bob Stuart actually doesn't claim that the super high frequencies are meaningful. Thats the reason they claim that their downsampled files with frequencies/bits  thrown out are "perceptually lossless".  That's what he says the neuroscience shows. 

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All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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56 minutes ago, R1200CL said:

MQA encoder downsamples 352.8k to 88.2k


When starting from a 352.8k file
MQA's starts encoding not from 88.2k but from at least 176.4k 
as that sample rate is needed for the frequencies up to 88.2k 

1. The MQA encoder compresses the frequencies between 44.1k - 88.2k lossy (sample rate = 176.4k here)
and 'buries' those 'under the noise floor' of the 0 to 22.05k region
The sample rate has now become 88.2k
(called 2nd unfold when decoding)

2. Then it compresses the frequencies between that 22.05k and 44.1k region losless (sample rate = 88.2k here) and buries those also under the noise floor of the 0-22.05k region
The sample rate has now become 44.1k
(called 1st unfold when decoding)

At least that is what they are telling us.

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22 hours ago, KeenObserver said:

 

I just realized why I have been unsuccessful in selling that bridge in Brooklyn all these years.  I didn't advertise it on Peter Veth's blog!

Us Brits are quite good at selling bridges:

 

https://www.history.com/news/how-london-bridge-ended-up-in-arizona

 

That and dodgy music file formats.

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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1 hour ago, IT Freak said:

  


When starting from a 352.8k file
MQA's starts encoding not from 88.2k but from at least 176.4k 
as that sample rate is needed for the frequencies up to 88.2k 

At least that is what they are telling us.

You saved it on the last line.

What they actually lie to us about is that they keep the frequencies up to 44k/48k, samples them at 88/96k (another lie) 

 

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"By designing MQA based on how sound travels through air – the purest distribution platform – MQA puts great emphasis on the preservation of natural dynamic range and timing information. "

 

My God, that Mike Jbara is a true genius!  And Bob Stuart, he has crossed over into a new paradigm! He designed MQA to be listened to in AIR! My God, no wonder they gave him the Prince Phillip award!

 

That has been our problem all along, we have been listening to music in a vacuum! We have not been getting the full sound (or any sound).  And, we died!

 

Yes, I think Mike Jbara was brought over to MQA for his connection to Warner music. And maybe his ethical standards.  It was definitely not for his intelligence.

Boycott Warner

Boycott Tidal

Boycott Roon

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11 minutes ago, KeenObserver said:

"By designing MQA based on how sound travels through air – the purest distribution platform – MQA puts great emphasis on the preservation of natural dynamic range and timing information. "

 

My God, that Mike Jbara is a true genius!  And Bob Stuart, he has crossed over into a new paradigm! He designed MQA to be listened to in AIR! My God, no wonder they gave him the Prince Phillip award!

 

That has been our problem all along, we have been listening to music in a vacuum! We have not been getting the full sound (or any sound).  And, we died!

 

Yes, I think Mike Jbara was brought over to MQA for his connection to Warner music. And maybe his ethical standards.  It was definitely not for his intelligence.

This sounds like bad news, it will seriously stuff things up for those using headphones or earbuds.

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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3 hours ago, firedog said:

The MQA decoder doesn't do exactly what we normally refer to as downsampling. It discards any frequency above 44.1\48khz in the original, and then encodes the result (depending on the source) as 88 or 96. That is one reason some consider it inferior. And the quote above mixes up 352/88 and 384/96.

 

Bob Stuart actually doesn't claim that the super high frequencies are meaningful. Thats the reason they claim that their downsampled files with frequencies/bits  thrown out are "perceptually lossless".  That's what he says the neuroscience

 

 

It's my understanding that the MQA encoder (1) downsamples -- if applicable -- to 88.2k or 96k, and (2) then splits the frequencies into 2 bands, LF band = 0 -  22.05/24 kHz, and HF band = 22.05/24 kHz - 44.1/48 kHz.  The LF band is encoded into the 13-15 most significant bits, while the HF band is squeezed/encoded into a mere 4 bits of the 8 least significant bits.  During playback, the decoder joins these bands together, however, due to leaky filters, the HF band, 22.05/24 kHz - 44.1/48 kHz, is largely noise. In any case, you cannot here the HF frequencies -- hi-res is such a ruse and among hi-res formats, MQA is the biggest ruse.

MQA is dead!

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13 minutes ago, Confused said:

By designing MQA based on how sound travels through air – the purest distribution platform

 

Are you not enough satisfied with MQA sound? You need to improve how sound travels through air! To fully enjoy the origami, unlock your air with MQA balanced air decoder. Works only with MQA certified DAC.

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1 hour ago, KeenObserver said:

Yes, I think Mike Jbara was brought over to MQA for his connection to Warner music. And maybe his ethical standards.

Yes. He absolutely has the music label mindset and lack of tact. Ask people who he has bullied in HiFi. Makes everyone excited to do business with him and MQA. Said nobody ever. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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1 minute ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Yes. He absolutely has the music label mindset and lack of tact. Ask people who he has bullied in HiFi. Makes everyone excited to do business with him and MQA. Said nobody ever. 

 

The fact that MQA has gotten this far astounds me.  It is testament to the fact that Warner and MQA want to ram this down the music consumer's throats.

MQA wants to force the contaminated brandy on the music consumer.

Boycott Warner

Boycott Tidal

Boycott Roon

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9 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Yes. He absolutely has the music label mindset and lack of tact. Ask people who he has bullied in HiFi. Makes everyone excited to do business with him and MQA. Said nobody ever. 

 

Perhaps we need to post a link to the RMAF 2018 seminar so that people can actually see who it is pushing this scheme.

Boycott Warner

Boycott Tidal

Boycott Roon

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1 hour ago, KeenObserver said:

I am utterly baffled by this! People actually believe what MQA puts out and what people like Peter Veth puts out!

 

P T Barnum and H L Mencken were right.

 

How can you be baffled when, in your country, tens of millions actually believe the former President to be of the United States?

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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So, I guess a lot of non-audiophiles like to comment on this topic.

 

According to Stuart, there is no musical information above 50 kHz or thereabouts. Above this range according to his theory it's just noise, but also some timing cues which are important to our ear-brain system. Supposedly the MQA encoding process retains the 50 kHz range and besides that some elements above that which is determined to be important. So when the full unfold happens the 50 kHz range is brought back, represented by the 88 kHz sample rate, plus whatever timing information was picked up by the encoder in higher-res files. This is probably the basis for calling high-res files above 88 kHz their original sample rate -- according to the theory all the important information is retained and the noise is discarded.

 

MQA began as a way to identify and archive what makes hi-res music sound better. Based on research which showed that humans are much more sensitive to the time domain than our frequency domain acuity would otherwise suggest, Stuart theorized that it wasn't all the noise in hi-res sound, nor the high frequency information we can't discern, but rather the time-domain resolution is what we're actually picking up on.

 

This is theory of course. No one has the tools or ability to verify it without the participation of MQA, and for obvious reason they're not going to give that away being a trade secret. However, what we CAN verify is that MQA has the capacity to sound significantly better than standard resolution audio if you use a a decent MQA-compatible DAC. Not all albums mind you, I've heard plenty which seem to sound no better, but there are those which are clearly, significantly, obviously better. Frankly they can be much better than any 88 kHz track I've ever heard.

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1 hour ago, GUTB said:

So, I guess a lot of non-audiophiles like to comment on this topic.

 

According to Stuart, there is no musical information above 50 kHz or thereabouts. Above this range according to his theory it's just noise, but also some timing cues which are important to our ear-brain system. Supposedly the MQA encoding process retains the 50 kHz range and besides that some elements above that which is determined to be important. So when the full unfold happens the 50 kHz range is brought back, represented by the 88 kHz sample rate, plus whatever timing information was picked up by the encoder in higher-res files. This is probably the basis for calling high-res files above 88 kHz their original sample rate -- according to the theory all the important information is retained and the noise is discarded.

 

MQA began as a way to identify and archive what makes hi-res music sound better. Based on research which showed that humans are much more sensitive to the time domain than our frequency domain acuity would otherwise suggest, Stuart theorized that it wasn't all the noise in hi-res sound, nor the high frequency information we can't discern, but rather the time-domain resolution is what we're actually picking up on.

 

This is theory of course. No one has the tools or ability to verify it without the participation of MQA, and for obvious reason they're not going to give that away being a trade secret. However, what we CAN verify is that MQA has the capacity to sound significantly better than standard resolution audio if you use a a decent MQA-compatible DAC. Not all albums mind you, I've heard plenty which seem to sound no better, but there are those which are clearly, significantly, obviously better. Frankly they can be much better than any 88 kHz track I've ever heard.

No, no and no. 
 

P.S. The research was done on owls, not humans, and used by BS. 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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