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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:52 am 
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I have a Tidal Hi-Fi subscription and have been enjoying partial decoded MQA streaming with A+ software player on my Mac. I like what I have heard so far and I am itching to get a MQA capable DAC (with native DSD decoding).

However, I have my doubts with MQA namely:

    There still aren't many MQA sources even on Tidal for the genres that I am interesting in

    It is not truly lossless

    From what I have perceived it is not really that popular and future support can be wilted if there isn't a demand

Should I go ahead? To be honest as much as I think of the potential & wanted one it feels like I am going to throw money away for another Meridian proprietary format. Or just pick a good DSD capable DAC from sellers here?

(Or get a new tonearm instead? :lol: )


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:03 am 
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I have my doubts with MQA and think it's overhyped. Fortunately my DAC includes mqa support via a free update but I wouldn't think twice of going out to get one specifically for mqa.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:49 am 
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its not clear to me what the advantage of MQA is. I suspect it just another attempt to hamstring consumers to a specific format. DSD is even worse. This savy audiophile is sticking to open source formats like FLAC and Ogg Vorbis.

Audiophiles and music lovers should try to embrace open source software instead of being milked by special interests. Be cool and Be smart.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:05 am 
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DSD I can at least appreciate the format when recorded to analog tape initially (see Blue Coast Records).

MQA just seems like a way to steal money. If the masters aren't quality it isn't like MQA is going to make it better. Much like converting to DSD from a FLAC file, what's the point.

Whatever format your DAC excels at is the point. Some prefer pcm while others specifically go to dsd because of the design (PS Audio DirectStream).


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:39 pm 
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This article may help you decide: http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2017/01/mqa-tidal-where-are-we-now/

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:37 pm 
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NordicNorm wrote:


Hi Nordic, the article fails to mention the true reason for the existence of MQA, which is clearly an attempt at encryption. This is by itself not a bad thing, but this also an attempt to have the consumer burden the hardware cost of the encryption.

What I can tell you for sure, is that neither DSD or MQA will deliver better music reproduction from microphone to speaker than what is already available through flac and Ogg Vorbis.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:44 pm 
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Something like an older technology that did not fly, great concept, possibly at the wrong time (Too late in the game).

DBX encoding of an LP that needed a DBX decoder to play it back properly...

Regards
Ohms

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:48 pm 
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QuadESL63 wrote:
I have a Tidal Hi-Fi subscription and have been enjoying partial decoded MQA streaming with A+ software player on my Mac. I like what I have heard so far and I am itching to get a MQA capable DAC (with native DSD decoding).

However, I have my doubts with MQA namely:

    There still aren't many MQA sources even on Tidal for the genres that I am interesting in

    It is not truly lossless

    From what I have perceived it is not really that popular and future support can be wilted if there isn't a demand

Should I go ahead? To be honest as much as I think of the potential & wanted one it feels like I am going to throw money away for another Meridian proprietary format. Or just pick a good DSD capable DAC from sellers here?

(Or get a new tonearm instead? :lol: )



Given all of your (justified) hesitations, I think you have answered your own question...


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:28 pm 
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Audio_Guy wrote:
NordicNorm wrote:


Hi Nordic, the article fails to mention the true reason for the existence of MQA, which is clearly an attempt at encryption. This is by itself not a bad thing, but this also an attempt to have the consumer burden the hardware cost of the encryption.

What I can tell you for sure, is that neither DSD or MQA will deliver better music reproduction from microphone to speaker than what is already available through flac and Ogg Vorbis.


Hmmm...not certain I agree with that...have a DSD file of Stevie Ray Vaughn's 'Couldn't Stand The Weather' that blows all my other versions out of the water.

As for MQA...I see it as just another 'money grab'...

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:33 pm 
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What do they mean by "time smearing"? And how does MQA correct for it after the AD and DA conversions take place?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:31 pm 
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ripblade wrote:
What do they mean by "time smearing"? And how does MQA correct for it after the AD and DA conversions take place?


Time smear is another name for jitter, skew and drift in the sampling rate during playback. According to Meridian, the MQA files are already time smear corrected so even if you don't have the MQA dac to encode/unfold it you will still hear the improvement of the sound quality of the reconstructed signal.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-smearing- ... uses-of-it

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/mqa-ge ... n/8204/125


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:33 am 
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I dip into Tidal's MQA catalog occasionally, with my Meridian Explorer2. I wouldn't say every single album is an eye opener, but there are a few gems that seem to live up to the MQA claim of superlative reproduction. If you are curious, drop a couple of hundred on a used Dragonfly Red, that will get you into the game with minimal expense.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:49 am 
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I also have a MQA dac... I didnt ask for it nor paid an extra for it, it just came with the dac after I bought the unit (Aurender A10). I'm disapointed to say the least at the poor choice of MQA albums on Tidal. Does it sound better? It sounds good but I have some 16/44 that sound as good if not better. It all depends on the master. Would I pay an extra for a full MQA dac... Nope.

As for DSD, I really can hear a difference. As an example, my DSD version of Shelby Lynne "Just a Liite Lovin" is the best version I have (have 16/44 and 24/192 as well). Same goes for Patricia Barber "Companion" and "Café Blue". I believe that it is system dependant. But again, I have some 16/44 that sound as good as those DSD.

At the end, I try to look for the best labels and the best recordings whatever format I can get them. It's a daily hunt but a very rewarding one.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:31 am 
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tube54 wrote:
ripblade wrote:
What do they mean by "time smearing"? And how does MQA correct for it after the AD and DA conversions take place?


Time smear is another name for jitter, skew and drift in the sampling rate during playback. According to Meridian, the MQA files are already time smear corrected so even if you don't have the MQA dac to encode/unfold it you will still hear the improvement of the sound quality of the reconstructed signal.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-smearing- ... uses-of-it

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/mqa-ge ... n/8204/125
Thanks for the links. Exploring the 2nd one a little further I found this, the author of which, after some testing, posted this conclusion:

Quote:
1. First, there is a "de-blur" DSP being applied which supposedly improves time-domain accuracy (presumably based on measured parameters of the equipment / processing steps used in the studio). I think this is the primary audible component. This is why they claim even an undecoded MQA file played through a standard DAC sounds "better"; the DSP effect is already "baked into" the sound even without the decoding process to expand the ultrasonics.

2. Etc...

3. Etc...

Given that I believe Step 1 above is the most likely to change sonic quality, I really wonder what standard 24/96 or 24/192 "digital masters" sound like with the DSP applied to "correct" time-domain parameters in the studio before "encapsulation" takes out the lowest bits.


I have to agree with him that this 'corrected time smear' is actually some form of DSP. Correcting time smear after the recording has embedded the smear in the finished product is akin to sharpening an out of focus image. The sharpening DSP might improve the sense of clarity, but in actuality the DSP increases contrast at the colour transition boundaries...it is not really increasing focus since you can't really do that after the picture is taken.

So there's no real 'time smear correction' going on...just a sharpening tool being applied to increase dynamic contrast. And it seems that in the process the lower 8 bits are lost, in a sense losing the dynamic range it attempts to enhance.

I can see it being useful for streaming services, but rolling it out as the next advance in studio mastering is a little over stated, IMO.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:07 am 
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ripblade wrote:
tube54 wrote:
ripblade wrote:
What do they mean by "time smearing"? And how does MQA correct for it after the AD and DA conversions take place?


Time smear is another name for jitter, skew and drift in the sampling rate during playback. According to Meridian, the MQA files are already time smear corrected so even if you don't have the MQA dac to encode/unfold it you will still hear the improvement of the sound quality of the reconstructed signal.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-smearing- ... uses-of-it

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/mqa-ge ... n/8204/125
Thanks for the links. Exploring the 2nd one a little further I found this, the author of which, after some testing, posted this conclusion:

Quote:
1. First, there is a "de-blur" DSP being applied which supposedly improves time-domain accuracy (presumably based on measured parameters of the equipment / processing steps used in the studio). I think this is the primary audible component. This is why they claim even an undecoded MQA file played through a standard DAC sounds "better"; the DSP effect is already "baked into" the sound even without the decoding process to expand the ultrasonics.

2. Etc...

3. Etc...

Given that I believe Step 1 above is the most likely to change sonic quality, I really wonder what standard 24/96 or 24/192 "digital masters" sound like with the DSP applied to "correct" time-domain parameters in the studio before "encapsulation" takes out the lowest bits.


I have to agree with him that this 'corrected time smear' is actually some form of DSP. Correcting time smear after the recording has embedded the smear in the finished product is akin to sharpening an out of focus image. The sharpening DSP might improve the sense of clarity, but in actuality the DSP increases contrast at the colour transition boundaries...it is not really increasing focus since you can't really do that after the picture is taken.

So there's no real 'time smear correction' going on...just a sharpening tool being applied to increase dynamic contrast. And it seems that in the process the lower 8 bits are lost, in a sense losing the dynamic range it attempts to enhance.

I can see it being useful for streaming services, but rolling it out as the next advance in studio mastering is a little over stated, IMO.


Agreed, as the theory behind the MQA file is to compress a hi-rez file in a lossless file format which then can be easily streamed to any regular user using computer and or cell phone. But then the greed got in a way...


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