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MQA was launched on December 2014. It is now January 2, 2017 so let’s see where MQA is at today. Remember all the people who said that MQA was not Digital Rights Management? Well Utimaco disagrees. “MQA turned to Utimaco, a leading manufacturer of hardware-based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. “ “Critical to the continued success and monetization of the streaming and download services of the entertainment industry, is the ability to secure and safeguard end-to-end transmission of intellectual property. A market leader in hardened encryption, Utimaco is at the forefront of enabling the authenticated delivery needed to drive next-generation entertainment consumption.” Now turn to content. As of today there is no music in the genres 80% of American buy, Rock, R&B/Hip Hop, Pop and Country. Add Latin and EDM and you are at about 9 out of ten people buying music in America have no MQA encoded music to purchase. Don’t wait for licensee Warner Music Group to suddenly turn a switch and their music become available because they told the SEC in their latest financial statements they haven’t figured out how to distribute digital music. There are 10 companies that produce equipment with MQA decoders. None of the products have enough units in the hands of consumers to make any impact. Many companies announced they would not support the format. The view of companies neither producing products nor announcing they would not support the format is indifference. Hardly a must have feature. I said earlier this year that I would need 200 artists producing new music in the genres I regularly buy for MQA to be viable a viable format for me. I don’t see any interest by those artists in recording high resolution much less with MQA encoding. Those genres are rock, alt rock, alt country and bluegrass. And personally I will not test any MQA equipment until eight of the nine albums I use as my reference are available in MQA. The Doors “Riders on the Storm “was used as demo of MQA not realizing there was no master to authenticate. Something that was well known but apparently unknown to the MQA people and audio journalists. As of January 2, 2017 two years after its splashy launch we have a lot of audiophile press about MQA, announcements and demonstrations. But there is a limited supply of equipment to decode MQA files and no music encoded for nine out ten American music buyers, classic vaporware.
https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-9113-mqa_-_a_clever_stealth_drm-trojan Presenters give a shout out to this forum and its contributors. At around the 50 minute mark the presenters go into what DRM is, and why MQA is a good example of it. They also detail the public/private key aspects of MQA better than I have seen before. All in all a good presentation, the errors being mostly of omission, but with 60 minutes this is expected.
So, some questions and thoughts about the rights-holders of music, and what they can do with that music after the MQA "magic" has been applied... Can the record company have digital copies of the decompressed files? Or does the agreement with MQA not permit this? If it doesn't permit it, then it is (effectively, by legal agreement) DRM used against the labels themselves (ironic if true lmao). If they can have such decompressed digital copies, are they prevented by legal agreements from selling those directly? If they are prevented, it is again (effectively) a type of DRM against the labels. We have already seen many instances where fake HiRes files have been distributed, whether by mistake or deliberate intent. In this case, it would appear that a consumer would be downloading an actual 24/96 file (or whatever the decompressed resolution appears to be, even if only as a result of upsampling or whatever, just like if someone converts their own lossy MP3 rips to FLAC or WAV). This could be one way in which files tainted by the MQA process (tainted in the sense that they are not the masters at all, but might appear to be due to the apparent resolution of 24/96 etc) could end up in the wild, without customer awareness or choice. I imagine this is covered by NDA, so I don't know if anyone will be able to state definitively that a record label CANNOT do this with their own music. I am sure that wouldn't stop certain people from stating that "it has never been done and never will be," just as some continue to state that the conventional interpretation of DRM "has never and will never" be applied with MQA files. P.S. If anyone cares, here is a bit of background on why I am interested in any way in MQA: My interest in MQA began in the same way as my interest in DSD/SACD. I didn't have an opinion or preconceived notion one way or the other whether the format itself would be "better" objectively than existing formats, but I was interested as I always am by the idea of record companies revisiting session tapes in order to bring a better sounding release to the public. My experience as a music listener and consumer has taught me that the mastering or remastering is more important than the "numbers" involved in ultimate resolution between certain formats. I'm not too concerned, for example, if the DSD layer of an RCA Living Stereo SACD is "better" than the Red Book layer, as it is very clear that even the Red Book layer is vastly superior to the prior RCA releases of the same music, due to the fact that they actually went back to the 2- and 3-track session tapes, where in many cases before they had only gone to the 2nd or 3rd generation mixdown or whatever, and also due to the extreme care taken by SoundMirror in their work on the Living Stereo SACD project for Sony. As classical fans here are aware, Sony lost interest in that project, and ended it, leaving many legendary recordings undone. So I was excited at first by the possibility that something like this "MQA" process might reopen the vaults to a similarly careful and painstakingly meticulous revisiting of those remaining precious session tapes. I want the rest of Leontyne Price's opera recordings at RCA to be treated as lovingly as Madama Butterfly was. So, I read everything I could find about MQA. And here we are now, with me rambling on and on in what was going to be a very brief post hahahaha!
I have several gigabytes of "Protected AAC Audio Files" in my iTunes library that I purchased back in the day when they still used DRM. I would like to convert these to a format so I can use them in HQP or Audirvana - but haven't figured out how to do it yet. I am aware that there is one way using iTunes Match (deleting the files and then redownloading them from the cloud) - but I am not interested in using Match. Is there some Mac software solution to remove the DRM (assuming it is legal to do so)? I did some googling around, but didn't come up with anything that looked legit. If you have any advice, I am all ears. Thanks.