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The Brinkman Ship MQA Listening Results


Brinkman Ship
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Sounds like what happens with remastering - the original version is put out to "get the job done"; then, remasters happen to "make it sound better", on consumer gear, or rigs that audiophiles typically use. Which means, that when a system is actually working at a high level of competence, that the originals always sound better. Every time. Because, some of the complexity of the mix is discarded in an effort to not highlight the typical inadequacies of the playback systems targeted - and the listening experience suffers, when the latter limitations are overcome.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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55 minutes ago, Brinkman Ship said:

We listened to approx. 50 albums where we confirmed there was both an MQA version, and an official

24 bit digital download  and where we could confirm the mastering was the same.

 

Can you share this list of albums?

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I'm always amused by this "level matching" red herring thrown into the mix ... once a person has identified something untoward in the sound the volume one hears it at is irrelevant - the assumption is that human hearing is this very simplistic, crude mechanical process that the brain has no ability to fine tune, in terms of how precise it can be in discernment.

 

If you hear an annoying rattle in your car, does the volume at which you hear it make the slightest difference to the fact that you can hear some issue ... ?

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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1 hour ago, FredericV said:

 

 

I had a lot of forum  and facebook battles with Peter Veth, the guy who opened the secret MQA group on Facebook. In the end, I decided to go listen to MQA by buying the Mytek Brooklyn, use a linear Sbooster supply to power it, connect it to my Vitus RI-100 amp and use Amphion's Two 18 studio monitor in a nearfield setup. I sold my Auralic Vega and the Brooklyn was it's replacement. My main DAC is not the Mytek, but Metrum's Adagio flagship which has multiple R2R networks per channel (similar to MSB). The Brooklyn is one of the toys in the lab.

The first thing that struck me was that MQA has more echo & reverb than the DXD original from which it was derived on the Mytek. The stage was clearly altered. Then I concentrated on voices, and female voices lost a certain quality, the raw aspect of the voice became polished.

So anyone claiming MQA is Master Quality Authenticated is not telling the truth.

Then Archimago & Mansr discovered that MQA is doing upsampling with minimum phase + a very short post-ringing tail. The renderer part of MQA, or the second unfold, is nothing more than upsampling + dithering + some filters to kill post-ringing.

After I discovered Ayre had a very similar filter which was well documented in a  ~ 10 year old PDF, I started creating DSP recipes in SOX which kill post-ringing, which would give me the exact same impulse response when a dirac pulse was sent through this filter.

Listened via our music server, the Metrum Adagio, a Vitus SS-025 and Amphion's Krypton 3 flagship, which is a very large speaker capable of projecting a near field sound into a larger room, thanks to Amphion's cardiod system. Krypton 3 is like the studio Two 18 flagship on steroids.

As the Metrum does not do any DSP or digital filtering, I only heard our own SOX DSP config.

Very similar effects happened with this MQA alike filter:

1. bass: with EDM, the bass is more tight, but it loses body. The kick is more aggressive.
2. voices: again something is lost, the decay is shortened
3. fluidity: these filters lack fluidity of a decent linear phase, or intermediate phase filter

Something is lost. Transients are boosted and bass kicks more, but any decay is artificially shortened. Instruments which in real life have body, now are thinner.

These filters may be nice for some music genres, but enforcing them on all music genres like MQA is doing, feels wrong.
When you buy an MQA dac, you risk that redbook CD is also processed via such filter.

For this reason, I contacted my own DAC manufacturer Metrum Acoustics, that I did not want to have a NOS dac where everything is going through an MQA decoder. The MSB is also a NOS dac, so to keep the NOS sound, any MQA processing, filtering or upsampling should only occur when MQA files are being played, and the MQA module should be bypassed when no MQA is entering the DAC.


Today I got confirmation from Cees Ruijtenberg that no processing is occurring when the MQA decoder does not detect an MQA encoded PCM stream, which is good. Not all manufacturers implement it this way, and mk2 versions of existing non-MQA dacs may actually sound worse than the original mk1.
 



So many excellent DAC's have been called "outdated" by these magazines. They should be ashamed.

 

 

 

They are selling a solution to a non-problem, and hyping the deblur and time domain arguments.

Well I played with the time domain argument by implementing it in SOX, and I did not like what I hear.
These filters cause a frequency dependent phase shift, which alters the width/depth/soundstage.

We also tested all of these filters on a very expensive Aries Cerat system (also includes an R2R dac, but with tubes), and the owner did not like the MQA alike filters at all.


image.thumb.png.b78e88ef3d0ab834d77aebfac0a54386.png


Last weekend, Archimago debunked the deblur features of MQA. He found the opposite: MQA most likely adds blur by consecutive minimum phase steps, instead of removing blur:

 

 

http://archimago.blogspot.be/2018/02/musingsmeasurements-on-blurring-and-why.html

 

They already lost the bandwidth argument, as the shelf life of a x4 to x5 compression factor compared to lossless flac, is just a few years with data doubling every 18 months, an 5G on the rise. They already lost the time domain argument, and last weekend they lost the deblur argument.

The proof: when MQA came out, we had 200 mbit in Belgium. Now we have 500 mbit on cable and gigabit fiber is being rolled out now in cities. So the doubling every 18 months can't be stopped by MQA, and the bandwidth advantage will soon be irrelevant.

Not much will be left of MQA when it has been fully debunked and reverse engineered.
Except for the believers who are already sold on MQA gear combined with Tidal. Today I encountered a few, with the typical arguments copy pasted from MQA's marketing. They want to stay in their bubble.

It's like talking to flat earthers.

PS: I also owe you an apology. I misjudged you. You did your homework well in doing this test, which cannot be said of certain MQA believers.



 

 

Thanks for your very detailed and informative post sharing your experiences! As an owner of the Metrum Adagio DAC myself I had been looking forward to gaining support for full MQA decoding with their recent implementation of an upgrade adding their MQA module. Nice to see that it is completely bypassed for non-MQA material, but I'm now questioning whether I should even consider getting the optional modification. Tidal streaming only accounts for a part of my listening and only a portion of their selections are available in MQA. From your post I'm now feeling much less motivated to even bother with the update and just leave well enough alone. The Metrum Adagio is a phenomenal sounding DAC which offers an exceptional value compared to other discrete R2R DACs.

 

Thanks again for sharing your perspective!

 

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Interesting reading. Although, the magazines probably got a hand hold tour through MQA vs others. This probably included descriptions from the MQA people. That is not a listening test. To the OP what you did was am listening test.

Current:  Daphile on an AMD A10-9500 with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Rotel RC-1590

Amplification - Benchmark AHB2 amplifier

Speakers - Revel M126Be with 2 REL 7/ti subwoofers

Cables - Tara Labs RSC Reference and Blue Jean Cable Balanced Interconnects

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44 minutes ago, Brinkman Ship said:

It seems some "reviewers" are still doing "research". No rush. Only been 3.5 years.

Yeah, it's like climate change.  The only research they are doing is looking into why their talking points aren't working.

NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 2004/HDPLEX 300W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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BTW, maybe I sounded too dismissive with my post. 

 

I do commend the honest effort you went to in order to discern where the truth lies.  

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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5 hours ago, Brinkman Ship said:

The Brinkman Ship has docked and I can report on between 8-10 hours of listening to MQA and Non MQA files

 

(When it is FREEZING out, plenty of incentive to get cozy with music, wine, and a great system).

 

The listening took place at a long time friend's East Side apartment.  The system was beyond reproach:

 

-MSB Reference DAC / Roon / Tidal

 

-VPI Prime table / Audio Research PH9

 

-Audio Research Ref 6 Preamp

 

-Ayre MX-R Twenty Mono Block Amplifiers

 

Wilson Alexx speaker system

 

Wireworld cabling for all

 

Audience power conditioning, Symposium Acoustics isolation devices and platforms

 

My host has a very large digital library stored on a NAS. And a decent size vinyl collection.

 

We listened to approx. 50 albums where we confirmed there was both an MQA version, and an official

24 bit digital download  and where we could confirm the mastering was the same. We listened to quite a few new releases as well.

 

Volumes matched as close as possible.

 

I had my host select albums play MQA streams from Tidal, then the same tracks from his NAS without telling

me which was which, and we turned off the display of the DAC.  We also muted the first 3 seconds of every track.

 

We repeated the process with me selecting tracks from Tidal and his NAS.

 

We also broke things up by playing tracks from his vinyl collection of some of the same albums.

 

Verdict:

 

In each an every, case, without exception, we both preferred the non MQA version. Some by a little, and some it was not even close.

 

The MQA version created a whole in the center and an artificial Left and Right Spread, and a digital sheen that was

off putting to say the least. We both concluded MQA was DESTRUCTIVE to the music.  It was quite an eye opener.

It sounded like what happens when you hit the "3D" or "Loudness" buttons on mid level home theater receivers.


MQA was putting far too strong a stamp on the music.  We even preferred his 24 bit vinyl rips to the MQA versions.

 

MQA screws up the tonality and the soundstage. Period.

 

Bob Stuart, John Atkinson, Michael Lavorgna, Robert Harley, Jim Austin, John Darko (did I miss anyone?)..

you should all be ashamed of your selves.

 

MQA is by far the biggest farce ever perpetrated in "high end audio". 

 

Couple this with all the data presented here, the measurements, and looking behind the curtain at the financials,

the motives, and the players, it is clear MQA is a wholesale fraud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fake news.

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7 hours ago, Brinkman Ship said:

The Brinkman Ship has docked and I can report on between 8-10 hours of listening to MQA and Non MQA files

 

(When it is FREEZING out, plenty of incentive to get cozy with music, wine, and a great system).

 

The listening took place at a long time friend's East Side apartment.  The system was beyond reproach:

 

-MSB Reference DAC / Roon / Tidal

 

-VPI Prime table / Audio Research PH9

 

-Audio Research Ref 6 Preamp

 

-Ayre MX-R Twenty Mono Block Amplifiers

 

Wilson Alexx speaker system

 

Wireworld cabling for all

 

Audience power conditioning, Symposium Acoustics isolation devices and platforms

 

My host has a very large digital library stored on a NAS. And a decent size vinyl collection.

 

We listened to approx. 50 albums where we confirmed there was both an MQA version, and an official

24 bit digital download  and where we could confirm the mastering was the same. We listened to quite a few new releases as well.

 

Volumes matched as close as possible.

 

I had my host select albums play MQA streams from Tidal, then the same tracks from his NAS without telling

me which was which, and we turned off the display of the DAC.  We also muted the first 3 seconds of every track.

 

We repeated the process with me selecting tracks from Tidal and his NAS.

 

We also broke things up by playing tracks from his vinyl collection of some of the same albums.

 

Verdict:

 

In each an every, case, without exception, we both preferred the non MQA version. Some by a little, and some it was not even close.

 

The MQA version created a whole in the center and an artificial Left and Right Spread, and a digital sheen that was

off putting to say the least. We both concluded MQA was DESTRUCTIVE to the music.  It was quite an eye opener.

It sounded like what happens when you hit the "3D" or "Loudness" buttons on mid level home theater receivers.


MQA was putting far too strong a stamp on the music.  We even preferred his 24 bit vinyl rips to the MQA versions.

 

MQA screws up the tonality and the soundstage. Period.

 

Bob Stuart, John Atkinson, Michael Lavorgna, Robert Harley, Jim Austin, John Darko (did I miss anyone?)..

you should all be ashamed of your selves.

 

MQA is by far the biggest farce ever perpetrated in "high end audio". 

 

Couple this with all the data presented here, the measurements, and looking behind the curtain at the financials,

the motives, and the players, it is clear MQA is a wholesale fraud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for 'publishing' your efforts.

 

I've found much the same, it sort of 'exaggerates' the music, maybe because of the artifacts it creates.

 

It can sound 'lively' at first so can be quite attractive, but I found I was losing interest, which  I am told is a sign of 'listening fatigue'.

 

The press people are either paid shills, (though if so probably not paid directly but are fully aware of  how their continued employment works) or don't  listen for long periods. 

 

(It's not a 'fraud' as such, but a  last ditch attempt to preserve the existence of the Meridian company, from which MQA Ltd is not genuinely separate, and thus Stuart's income.)

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8 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

so... I guess he'll take you off the "MQA Shill List" now

 

Oh yes, false alarm! I have removed your name from the chart of 'MQA enthusiasts".

 

 

MQA "enthusiast"                        Reason for no longer posting on CA

Peter Veth                                                          BANNED

WitchDoctor                                                      BANNED

Lee Scoggins                            DISTRACTED by jumping between forums

Michael Lavorgna                    BANNED for telling someone to go fuck his mother

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5 hours ago, GUTB said:

 

Fake news.

No doubt as truthful as anyone else's sighted listening evaluation. Working hypothesis: the input of the knowledge that MQA is in fact lossy has a similar impact on the result that the "knowledge" that MQA is a deal improvement based on ground breaking psychoacoustics blah blah has the other way.

cf the results of Archimago's distributed file test.

 

 

You are not a sound quality measurement device

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17 minutes ago, adamdea said:

No doubt as truthful as anyone else's sighted listening evaluation. Working hypothesis: the input of the knowledge that MQA is in fact lossy has a similar impact on the result that the "knowledge" that MQA is a deal improvement based on ground breaking psychoacoustics blah blah has the other way.

cf the results of Archimago's distributed file test.

 

 

 

Achimago's "work" doesn't prove anything.

 

There is a large improvement in MQA in that music in which the source I am confident in as well as some high quality Tidal examples. It's way beyond a minor difference that might be in your head -- that part of the OP's made up story is believable, you won't mistake it when you hear it vs non-MQA of the same albums. I will say, though, that of all the MQA DACs I've tried, I couldn't hear any improvement with the Explorer 2 or the Bluesound Node 2 -- both of these are pretty bad DACs. I first heard the promise of MQA with the DragonFly Red, and later with the Pro-Ject S2.

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