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 Post subject: MQA DAC - Noob Question
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:43 am 
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Apologies for the noob question. I listen mainly to vinyl but also stream Tidal HiFi through a Sonos Connect into my receiver. I'm interested in the Masters being offered by Tidal but understand that I need an MQA DAC, connected to my laptop, to fully exploit it.

I was looking at a Meridian Explorer2 USB DAC at the dealer today. I think it's intended primarily for headphone use and it has very thin connections - retailing for approx. $400. The dealer advises that I'll still notice a significant improvement in sound quality compared with streaming Tidal HiFI through Sonos.

The problem is that the next step up in MQA DAC is quite a bit more money.

I'm using a McIntosh MAC6700 receiver, MT-5 turntable and Harbeth SHL5+ speakers connected by 12awg wire.

Do you think it's worth spending $400 on this little DAC?

Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:53 am 
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$400 is not much compare to your current investment so I think you'll be fine either way. I wouldn't expect much if I go for it though. I'd hold off for more expensive DAC as there'll be many more choices in the short future, assuming MQA takes off.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:31 am 
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Could the dealer not arrange an in store demo with and without the dac, that would give you an idea of any audible difference in s/q.


Last edited by allgonoshow on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:44 am 
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Just make sure the Sonos is set to lossless otherwise I don't think MQA will work. Whether the Sonos is actually "bit perfect" is also a question. It might not even work on lossless. Probably have to try it out or find someone on the net who's actually done it.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:11 pm 
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dhacker wrote:
Apologies for the noob question. I listen mainly to vinyl but also stream Tidal HiFi through a Sonos Connect into my receiver. I'm interested in the Masters being offered by Tidal but understand that I need an MQA DAC, connected to my laptop, to fully exploit it.

I was looking at a Meridian Explorer2 USB DAC at the dealer today. I think it's intended primarily for headphone use and it has very thin connections - retailing for approx. $400. The dealer advises that I'll still notice a significant improvement in sound quality compared with streaming Tidal HiFI through Sonos.

The problem is that the next step up in MQA DAC is quite a bit more money.

I'm using a McIntosh MAC6700 receiver, MT-5 turntable and Harbeth SHL5+ speakers connected by 12awg wire.

Do you think it's worth spending $400 on this little DAC?

Thanks in advance.



This is a hot topic on another forum Im a member of.
If youre paying the $20/mo subscription and running Tidal through your computer to your DAC, Master files will decode up to 96/24.
Are you seeing that?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:36 pm 
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Thanks all.

Unfortunately, you can't run the Master recordings through Sonos - it's not supported.

To date, I haven't run anything from my laptop through my DAC - there's never been a need for me to do so. The introduction of MQA (which can only be run through my computer) potentially changes that.

I guess the question is whether the potential benefits of MQA are outweighed by using a crappy USB DAC to get it (versus using normal Tidal HiFi lossless through a better DAC with better connections).

I don't think the dealer is terribly eager to give me an A/B comparison. But he tells me that he hears a difference for what that's worth.

Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:25 pm 
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At CES this year I spoke to many manufacturers about MQA. All stated they will not be supporting MQA for several reasons. Any DAC that can support 24/96 can play the basic MQA file. It's the 'secret up sampling/decoding' that MQA is claiming to deliver the best sound possible. There are many in the industry who think the sound has several negative attributes and of course there is the added cost.

The feeling is the consumer will not support another technology that requires significant investment in hardware. As one designer said at the show "I've bought Fleetwood Mac Rumours in every format possible, I'm not keen on spending more money to hear it in MQA".

Now that MQA has a deal with Tidal, it's ticked off many manufacturers since it bypasses the streamer and DAC suppliers, for example, seemingly to force them to decide to pay up for the technology.

The other grey area is the cost for music files. There is the lack of clarity what extra costs are going to show up if MQA gains traction.

The overall feeling at CES was that MQA may not last the year. The market will decide as it always does.

Now, time to listen to Fleetwood Mac on 8 track!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:30 pm 
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Mystic Audio wrote:
At CES this year I spoke to many manufacturers about MQA. All stated they will not be supporting MQA for several reasons. Any DAC that can support 24/96 can play the basic MQA file. It's the 'secret up sampling/decoding' that MQA is claiming to deliver the best sound possible. There are many in the industry who think the sound has several negative attributes and of course there is the added cost.

The feeling is the consumer will not support another technology that requires significant investment in hardware. As one designer said at the show "I've bought Fleetwood Mac Rumours in every format possible, I'm not keen on spending more money to hear it in MQA".

Now that MQA has a deal with Tidal, it's ticked off many manufacturers since it bypasses the streamer and DAC suppliers, for example, seemingly to force them to decide to pay up for the technology.

The other grey area is the cost for music files. There is the lack of clarity what extra costs are going to show up if MQA gains traction.

The overall feeling at CES was that MQA may not last the year. The market will decide as it always does.

Now, time to listen to Fleetwood Mac on 8 track!

Ive seen your showroom Rene. Didnt see any 8 tracks :wink: D.R.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm 
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I had an Explorer2 for awhile so I could try out MQA.

The increased sense of space was obvious to me.
It couldn't compete tonally with my high end tubed red book DAC, but for $400 when the Explorer2 is decoding MQA, it is a bargain. When you are listening to non-MQA files through it, then it is nothing special for the price.

Jon


Last edited by Neal C on Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:12 pm 
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According to Whathifi Bluesound Node 2 supports MQA

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:09 pm 
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Good article from Linn about bad MQA.

https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:02 am 
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ae86 wrote:
Good article from Linn about bad MQA.

https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music
Seems to me Linn is jealous they didn't come up with the idea. Their assessment is probably correct on most counts, but how is this any different than any other licensing agreement?

This reminds me very much of when Fraunhoffer invented the mp3. Streaming wasn't much of an issue back then, but if you wanted to make your music available online within the bandwidth limitations of the time, you had to license the software to encode/decode the files. Before long, hackers reverse engineered the process and came up with alternative codecs that could read and write mp3 files for free, but the fidelity was never quite as good.

Just as the mp3 is becoming increasingly less relevant, so too will MQA. In the meantime, Meridian deserves to be paid for their invention. Linn has a history of trashing their competitors, and this hatchet job smells no different.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:27 am 
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ae86 wrote:
Good article from Linn about bad MQA.

https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music




Good Lord ! I agree with Linn, what is this world coming to? MQA is a trap.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:53 am 
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Actually MQA sounds like the Pacific Microsonics process to me. What was it called -- the one that filtered detail of three kinds out of a high-res source, and hid it in the dither on the Red Book version, so you could hear it if you had the right equipment on playback ? The one that Microsoft bought and we never heard of again ?

Oh yes : HDCD.

You could listen to an HDCD recording on a normal system but the volume was 6 dB lower. If you had a decoder in your player, HDCD was actually very good, remarkable for the time... at least as long as the recording's production had used the process as it was meant to.

Most of my HDCD discs sound better -- clearer more dynamic -- than any run-of-the-mill contemporary recording. The Emmylou Harris one, though, Red Dirt Girl, took the dirt too far. It was muddy to start with and it just sounds extra-muddy to me when it goes through an HDCD decoder.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:09 pm 
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dhacker wrote:
Apologies for the noob question. I listen mainly to vinyl but also stream Tidal HiFi through a Sonos Connect into my receiver. I'm interested in the Masters being offered by Tidal but understand that I need an MQA DAC, connected to my laptop, to fully exploit it.

I was looking at a Meridian Explorer2 USB DAC at the dealer today. I think it's intended primarily for headphone use and it has very thin connections - retailing for approx. $400. The dealer advises that I'll still notice a significant improvement in sound quality compared with streaming Tidal HiFI through Sonos.

The problem is that the next step up in MQA DAC is quite a bit more money.

I'm using a McIntosh MAC6700 receiver, MT-5 turntable and Harbeth SHL5+ speakers connected by 12awg wire.

Do you think it's worth spending $400 on this little DAC?

Thanks in advance.



No. Do not spend a dime until later in the year (summer?) --when a plethora of NEW DAC's, Streamers / Servers and others will show up, including many with MQA --at lower prices.


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