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MQA is Vaporware


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Just now, The Computer Audiophile said:

I believe MQA files have been messed with by members here, but the authentication indicator was still illuminated. Not sure how real world this scenario is though. 

 

Ohnononono, I meant NON-MQA files, sorry I didn't make that clear enough... like, what would it take for the authentication to have any value on, say, a Qobuz stream...

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1 minute ago, Thuaveta said:

 

Ohnononono, I meant NON-MQA files, sorry I didn't make that clear enough... like, what would it take for the authentication to have any value on, say, a Qobuz stream...

Ah, now I understand :~)

 

Most people use the sample rate indicators on their DACs. If the files are 192 and the DAC says 192, then it's perfect. However, this isn't always the case due to local apps / operating systems using internal DSP.

 

I'll leave the technical answer to your real question up to others. 

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8 hours ago, GUTB said:

How many of you guys tested DXD vs MQA? I noticed that 2L has those in their sample page so I gave them a listen. DXD vs MQA vs MQA-CD.

 

I downloaded all the 2L test files and set up each performance in Roon like this:

 

Capture.thumb.JPG.0e0c00e9a5b17e6f40aff9966f9b4d25.JPG

 

I am not able to reliably discern an audible difference among the formats.

 

mQa is dead!

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8 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

 

It's somewhat similar to how HDCD files illuminate the HDCD indicator on a DAC. If the 16th or 24th bit of an HDCD file is changed, then the light won't illuminate. It's just a flag in the file.

 

I believe MQA files have been messed with by members here, but the authentication indicator was still illuminated. Not sure how real world this scenario is though. 

 

It's more than a flag.  There is an actual check of bits - bit checksum.  However, as I have posted before:

Only the 0-22.05/24 kHz frequency range encoded in the first 13-15 most significant bits is authenticated. The 8 least significant bits (of a 24 bit file), which also include the encoding for the 22.05/24 - 44.1/48 kHz frequency range, do not affect authentication and thus can be altered and the "blue light" will remain on. Bob Stuart has already admitted this.  Further, @FredericVhas tested and confirmed this:

 

 

mQa is dead!

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8 hours ago, Thuaveta said:

 

Ohnononono, I meant NON-MQA files, sorry I didn't make that clear enough... like, what would it take for the authentication to have any value on, say, a Qobuz stream...

 

Can you rephrase the question?

mQa is dead!

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1 hour ago, lucretius said:

Can you rephrase the question?

 

Since @The Computer Audiophile was saying there was remaining value in authenticating the transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device, which I doubt, I was wondering how much loss a transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device can take before it's audible, and will it be audible, or catastrophic ?

 

(my instinct would be to say "none, because of SSL, it needs to be perfect anyway, so transport protocol error correction pretty much takes care of that")

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9 hours ago, lucretius said:

 

I downloaded all the 2L test files and set up each performance in Roon like this:

 

Capture.thumb.JPG.0e0c00e9a5b17e6f40aff9966f9b4d25.JPG

 

I am not able to reliably discern an audible difference among the formats.

 

That’s interesting. To me the difference between MQA and DXD was minor, but the difference between DXD and MQA-CD was pretty significant. My system for this test was my custom audio PC, Mytek Liberty + linear power supply, Mjolnir 2, TH900 with balanced cables. What were you listening with?

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1 hour ago, GUTB said:

To me the difference between MQA and DXD was minor, but the difference between DXD and MQA-CD was pretty significant.

Different in what way and with the advantage on which side?

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20 hours ago, GUTB said:

How many of you guys tested DXD vs MQA? I noticed that 2L has those in their sample page so I gave them a listen. DXD vs MQA vs MQA-CD

 

20 hours ago, GUTB said:

Going back to the MQA-CD version (44/16) I was able to validate that yes, there was a definite loss of overall resolution, more akin to what I'd consider 96kHz -- a little bit more open, a little bit more air between instruments compared to CD.

 

So from this experience I don't know if pursuing MQA-CD is worth while if higher resolution versions are available for download. It's still up there with SACD as being the best available physical music format.

 

Instead of making some general CD comparison comment from past experiences, why didn't you actually test listening to the original CD versions, which are also available for download on the 2L test bench webpage (and therefore carefully produced by 2L from the same DXD masters for direct comparison between the different formats), vs the MQA-CD versions?

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4 hours ago, GUTB said:

That’s interesting. To me the difference between MQA and DXD was minor, but the difference between DXD and MQA-CD was pretty significant. My system for this test was my custom audio PC, Mytek Liberty + linear power supply, Mjolnir 2, TH900 with balanced cables. What were you listening with?

 

Playback was via USB to a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ via balanced cables to Adam A5X studio monitors.  Admittedly though, I have a low attention span when it comes to critical listening.  Let me try again with headphones (Focal Clear) and limiting the comparison strictly to DXD vs MQA-CD.

mQa is dead!

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12 hours ago, Thuaveta said:

 

Since @The Computer Audiophile was saying there was remaining value in authenticating the transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device, which I doubt, I was wondering how much loss a transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device can take before it's audible, and will it be audible, or catastrophic ?

 

(my instinct would be to say "none, because of SSL, it needs to be perfect anyway, so transport protocol error correction pretty much takes care of that")

 

I've never had a problem with transmission/packet loss, etc.  I doubt that's a real problem.  The value in authenticating the transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device is that of providing assurance that Tidal is delivering what is expected and not sending out something different or mangling (or DSP'ing) the bits, etc.

 

mQa is dead!

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1 hour ago, lucretius said:

 

Playback was via USB to a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ via balanced cables to Adam A5X studio monitors.  Admittedly though, I have a low attention span when it comes to critical listening.  Let me try again with headphones (Focal Clear) and limiting the comparison strictly to DXD vs MQA-CD.

 

@GUTB

Re the Joseph Haydn; String Quartet In D  --  DXD vs MQA-CD.  Still not hearing a difference.  If you are hearing a difference with this performance or others from the test bench, if you could, would you please note the time stamp where such differences are obvious and I will try to zero in on that.  Thanks.

mQa is dead!

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3 minutes ago, Thuaveta said:

 

Of course it isn't a real problem, but it's one MQA fixes.

 

Which'd make MQA's logic "let's degrade the signal, so that we can visually display that we're accurately transmitting a degraded signal". Birth of a new world, indeed.

 

How about:

"Let's degrade the signal, since no one can hear above 22.05 kHz anyway,  then we can visually demonstrate the provenance of that new signal".  "And, oh yeah, let's call ii hi res -- 96k, 192k, etc -- because folks like the big numbers".

 

 

 

 

 

mQa is dead!

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17 minutes ago, lucretius said:

 

@GUTB

Re the Joseph Haydn; String Quartet In D  --  DXD vs MQA-CD.  Still not hearing a difference.  If you are hearing a difference with this performance or others from the test bench, if you could, would you please note the time stamp where such differences are obvious and I will try to zero in on that.  Thanks.

This highlights that time domain accuracy is probably not an issue in the PCM files, I have listened to a fair few differing quality files purchased as standard PCM and the equivalent MQA version and I couldn’t hear no difference which created a night and day reaction that listeners seem to get from them 

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9 hours ago, lucretius said:

 

I've never had a problem with transmission/packet loss, etc.  I doubt that's a real problem.  The value in authenticating the transmission between a Tidal server and a receiving device is that of providing assurance that Tidal is delivering what is expected and not sending out something different or mangling (or DSP'ing) the bits, etc.

 


Files on Tidal were just HTTP in the past, and HTTPS these days. Both rely on the TCP part of TCP/IP. As TCP uses checksums and retransmissions, it guarantees a bitperfect pipe. There is no need for MQA.

For cybercriminals there would be zero gain to mess with flac files in Tidal's CDN, so we are very sure no MITM is going to take place, so rest assured that HTTPS combined with TCP provides the technical features which guarantee the file is not being changed during transmission. Doing MITM on HTTPS is much harder and while technically not impossible if you have the skills, not worth the effort.

It's much easier to look at player logs to see which URL's are being fetched, or to use an open source Tidal API. Basically when you control and endpoint, all the MITM efforts become pointless.

So to conclude: our existing network protocols guarantee the files are being transmitted bitperfect already, without the need for MQA.

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On 1/4/2021 at 5:40 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

Authenticated means that the content hasn't changed from the point it leaves the Tidal servers until the point it hits one's DAC. Thats it. 

Originally this was not the intention. Well at least not what BS said. My understanding was that idea was to ensure the file was signed off as a correct authentic master.


Obviously Warner use this a different way. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s against MQA intention, but someone maybe screwed up the contract. Will the other companies follow Warner and batch convert 16 bit red book to 13 bit MQA ?

 

You said Tidal servers, but it’s Warner’s servers, as Warner is the content owner. Tidal and others only deliver what is being given to them. Correct ?

 

However Tidal and others have decided what format / resolution files shall be delivered to them. If they was forced to remove redbok, based on technical definitions in contract as an example, we will probably never know.

One have to assume Tidal would like to have as many happy customers as possible. If removing redbok has a negative effect, it can’t be in their interest unless it was forced on them.

 

As far as I know, streaming companies don’t pay for heavily use of the internet capacity. So I wouldn’t expect the origami will reduce streaming costs. (If needed, companies create duplicate servers). 

Or do you think (or know) that Tidal actually is doing the conversation from a master to MQA, in the cloud?

You said otherwise:

On 1/4/2021 at 5:40 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

Consider the fact that Warner had millions of tracks batch converted to MQA and delivered to Tidal. 


 

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On 1/4/2021 at 12:49 PM, Fast and Bulbous said:

I was fortunate to work closely with Neil, Charley Hansen and Phil Baker.

Maybe you can talk to Neil and have him join AS, or at least have him do some explanations / clarifications.
 

He should know better than attack Tidal. (Or I and others should be enlightened)


If he has a direct contract with Tidal, and Tidal actually did the MQA, I would really like his confirmation.

He stats: 

Quote

MQA is the company supplying technology to TIDAL.

To me it seems he doesn’t have the guts to grab the bull by it’s horn, and uses quotes from this tread that isn’t representative for what’s actually going on. (Behind the scenes).

 

Also most of his work is distributed in hires, not redbok on Qobuz.
The quote in his website is is about Warner’s batch processing redbok. Not so much relevant in his case.

Please don’t misunderstand me now. I do not disagree in what he said or post. I just think he could be more correct, with is own words. I’m quite sure he knows better. (And much better than me). 

 

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This is Neils own words:

 

WHY I’M NOT ON TIDAL

TIDAL is calling their files of my songs Masters. But Tidal’s MQA files are not my masters. I make my masters - not TIDAL. I don’t need some hocus-pocus file manipulation that claims to improve my work. I made my masters the way I wanted them to sound. If TIDAL referred to their titles as TIDAL MASTERS, I would have no problem, but they don’t. They call them Masters. I had my music removed from that platform. They are not my masters.
 

Tidal’s master is a degradation of the original to make it fit in a box that collects royalties. That money ultimately is paid by listeners. I am not behind it. I am out of there. Gone. My masters are the original.

AMAZON HD and Qobuz are good alternatives to TIDAL where the real music - exactly as made by the artists and producers - is played. They play my masters. I don’t care if I am the last of a dying breed. I am proud to stand up for the work I did with my friends over the last 55 years. I don’t need or want Tidal’s so called improvements. I have heard them. They are degraded from my masters. They are manipulated and not our original work. I don’t buy the TIDAL hype.

MQA is the company supplying technology to TIDAL. In their own official descriptions they go into what they did to my original files. They altered them and charge a royalty. I feel that my master files are in no way improved. They are degraded and manipulated. I made them. I know the difference. I can hear it.

Neil Young

 

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From Tidal website. 
 

  • TIDAL MASTERS
  • What is TIDAL Masters?

    TIDAL has partnered with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) to deliver guaranteed Masters recordings in the highest quality, directly from the original master source to TIDAL members – exactly as the artist intended the track to sound. 

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So Tidal has a partnership to deliver.  (From a master source)


Does anyone think or know that Tidal (or others), do any processing on files given to them ?

 

Shooting the messenger Niel Young ?

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28 minutes ago, firedog said:

He didn't say Tidal alters the files. He said they are receiving MQA versions of his music which are altered versions of his masters.

Then we agree. 😀

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11 hours ago, lucretius said:

 

@GUTB

Re the Joseph Haydn; String Quartet In D  --  DXD vs MQA-CD.  Still not hearing a difference.  If you are hearing a difference with this performance or others from the test bench, if you could, would you please note the time stamp where such differences are obvious and I will try to zero in on that.  Thanks.

Right from the beginning you should hear a greater dynamic presence or "pop" from the piano on the DXD. Drumstick taps sound more "present", there's an overall sense of dullness in the MQA-CD vs DXD. Pay attention to  the bass starting at 1:55 in the DXD you should hear deeper into it making it seem more present / real.

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