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MQA is Vaporware


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I’m not sure whether here or the comments on @Archimago’s article is the best place to ask this, but is there a definitive answer on if and how resolution is compromised on MQA CDs if one doesn’t allow any “unfolding”?
 

My understanding from the rest of this thread is that MQA-CDs are effectively 15/44.1, with that last bit being used for the MQA gobbledygook. So if one doesn’t unfold it, is the compromise just the loss of potential dynamic range by sacrificing the 16th bit? Or is the MQA encoding process doing some deeper damage?

 

I ask because I’m disturbed that quite a few very good masterings now exist only on MQA-CDs. In the past, I suspect they would’ve been issued in dual Redbook/SACD formats. 

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7 hours ago, JoshM said:

I’m not sure whether here or the comments on @Archimago’s article is the best place to ask this, but is there a definitive answer on if and how resolution is compromised on MQA CDs if one doesn’t allow any “unfolding”?
 

My understanding from the rest of this thread is that MQA-CDs are effectively 15/44.1, with that last bit being used for the MQA gobbledygook. So if one doesn’t unfold it, is the compromise just the loss of potential dynamic range by sacrificing the 16th bit? Or is the MQA encoding process doing some deeper damage?

 

I ask because I’m disturbed that quite a few very good masterings now exist only on MQA-CDs. In the past, I suspect they would’ve been issued in dual Redbook/SACD formats. 

It's not gobbledygook but rather a functional compression scheme. From my own testing MQA-CDs played back in a non-MQA system are indistinguishable from regular CDs (using the MQA test CDs) in casual listening. I haven't performed a detailed listening comparison so there may be mild artifacts. I'm actually not sure if it's just the least significant bit dedicated to MQA data. Using a MQA-CD capable system (in my case, a Mytek Liberty and a regular CD transport connected via SPDIF) the quality improvement is on the level of a 96 kHz master, and significantly inferior to high-rate DSD and DXD masters. Bear in mind that all (most?) of these MQA-CDs are coming out of Japan and being mastered onto UHQCD media. In testing UHQCD (again using a sampler pack to compare UHQCD vs regular CD with the same tracks) I found there was a mild but noticeable improvement to lower frequency definition, something you normally don't get with MQA so it's not as simple as saying MQA-CD is just like a 96 kHz PCM or a low-rate DSD (SACD). It's been a long time since I listened to SACD so I can't honestly say that MQA-CD is the best physical digital format currently.

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4 hours ago, GUTB said:

It's not gobbledygook but rather a functional compression scheme. From my own testing MQA-CDs played back in a non-MQA system are indistinguishable from regular CDs (using the MQA test CDs) in casual listening. I haven't performed a detailed listening comparison so there may be mild artifacts. I'm actually not sure if it's just the least significant bit dedicated to MQA data. Using a MQA-CD capable system (in my case, a Mytek Liberty and a regular CD transport connected via SPDIF) the quality improvement is on the level of a 96 kHz master, and significantly inferior to high-rate DSD and DXD masters. Bear in mind that all (most?) of these MQA-CDs are coming out of Japan and being mastered onto UHQCD media. In testing UHQCD (again using a sampler pack to compare UHQCD vs regular CD with the same tracks) I found there was a mild but noticeable improvement to lower frequency definition, something you normally don't get with MQA so it's not as simple as saying MQA-CD is just like a 96 kHz PCM or a low-rate DSD (SACD). It's been a long time since I listened to SACD so I can't honestly say that MQA-CD is the best physical digital format currently.

Gumby:

 

Thank you for being the useful village clown...It keeps this thread going...and provides a good laugh!😅

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13 minutes ago, botrytis said:

 

I have found the UHQCD's to be hit and miss really. And why put a lossy compression up against CD. If I had wanted a lossy system, instead of CD's, well MP3 is the way to go AND I don't have to have specialized software/hardware for it.

 

Do you see how stupid the idea is?


Yes. For me, at least, I think the trouble becomes how to understand what an MQA CD is doing relative to a Redbook CD. Hence my original question. 
 

When the original source is Redbook or hi-res, and it’s converted to MQA, we know it’s using perceptual compression to throw away information. When the only source is an MQA CD, I just don’t quite understand what is going on with regard to the data. It’s lossy versus a hypothetical Redbook CD. But how lossy?
 

Is the MQA CD essentially a 15/44.1 CD if one doesn’t unfold it — meaning that we’re losing some dynamic range, though not a catastrophic amount? Or is something even more damaging going on? I know I prefer the sound of the MQA CDs un-decoded, largely because I don’t like the minimum phase/perceptual encoding/etc sound of unfolded MQA.
 

But I’m very curious about how different the data on an undecoded MQA CD is versus if it were a simple Redbook CD. Have you dug into this @Archimago

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12-13 bits from 16 bits is a lot of information. MQA is a container that cannot be efficiently compressed under FLAC (Like using *.RAR to compress *.Zip files together. There is no compression ratio. It is pretty much 1 bit of RAR = 1 bit of zip in the the RAR file. 

 

So, what it might mean is that, like mp3 files, minor harmonics are thrown out. Unless MQA lowers the max frequency of the file, say from 20K to 16KHz. Either way it is information that if you are listening to a regular cd, that data is there.

Current:  JRiver 26 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an AMD A10-5700 with 8 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Amplification - Audio Research SP-16 > Pioneer M-22 - Bow Technologies Wazoo Integrated (great amp - silly name)

Speakers: Wharfedale Linton Heritage - KEF LS50 - Revel M126Be - others......

Cables: Tara Labs RCS Reference speaker cables and DiMarzio Interconnects

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14 minutes ago, botrytis said:

 

I have found the UHQCD's to be hit and miss really. And why put a lossy compression up against CD. If I had wanted a lossy system, instead of CD's, well MP3 is the way to go AND I don't have to have specialized software/hardware for it.

 

Do you see how stupid the idea is?

It's true that MQA is lossy, but it seems that they've successfully identified what can be lost and still maintain high resolution audio. With MQA-CD specifically there does appear to be a loss of definition vs higher bitrate masters (176-384), so if it's a choice between MQA-CD and DXD or high-rate DSD than MQA-CD would be the last choice. However, high-rate DSD and DXD (or 176-192) don't have physical media (I wonder why?). So if you want physical digital media, and a lot of audiophiles (especially in Japan) do, there's 2 choices currently: SACD and MQA-CD.

 

SACD isn't lossy, but it's stuck with a lot of noise close to the audio band which requires an aggressive filter. It's not optimal for DSD, which really takes off at DSD-256. With MQA-CD, it seems to result in lossless-like performance up to 96 kHz. I also consider SACD to be somewhere around the 96 kHz level....but DSD isn't directly comparable that way so in some cases it provide great results that can't be matched by any PCM, certainly not on a CD format.

 

Another thing. I'm not really sold on the benifit of the time-domain correction. There is absolutely something happening to the sound which some of you guys say you don't like. Personally I don't mind it, but it doesn't make things sound more analog if I were to compare to my vinyl. So, if it's an analog master than SACD is still probably the best physical format. However. These huge libraries owned by the labels can be batch-converted to MQA, they can be just as easily pumped out in MQA-CD. It's turning out that for many titles on physical media MQA-CD is going to be the only high-res format available.

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1 minute ago, botrytis said:

 

Sorry, I don't wand BS and company determining FOR ME what is important or not. Until they show HOW they determined what is and is not important, I don't want it. MP3 - one can determine what is being thrown away because the protocol is an open book.

 

With MQA there IS NO TIME CORRECTION. That is one of the big fallacies. If anything it makes it worse.

How was it determined that there was no time correction?

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Just now, GUTB said:

How was it determined that there was no time correction?

 

Ask Archimago, et al.  they determined this. I am not an expert in mathematical modeling, etc. like they are. They showed graphs that it makes it worse. AND BS and MQA never showed what they mean by time correction in music, only on test signals which mean diddly-squat.

Current:  JRiver 26 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an AMD A10-5700 with 8 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Amplification - Audio Research SP-16 > Pioneer M-22 - Bow Technologies Wazoo Integrated (great amp - silly name)

Speakers: Wharfedale Linton Heritage - KEF LS50 - Revel M126Be - others......

Cables: Tara Labs RCS Reference speaker cables and DiMarzio Interconnects

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10 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

This comes to mind. 
 

 

Sealioning

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sealioning

 

 

Rhetorically, sealioning fuses persistent questioning—often about basic information, information easily found elsewhere, or unrelated or tangential points—with a loudly-insisted-upon commitment to reasonable debate. It disguises itself as a sincere attempt to learn and communicate. Sealioning thus works both to exhaust a target's patience, attention, and communicative effort, and to portray the target as unreasonable. While the questions of the "sea lion" may seem innocent, they're intended maliciously and have harmful consequences.

— Amy Johnson, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (May 2019)

 

Never heard this expression before. Thanks for sharing.

 

 

Everything matters... when brewing coffee.

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