CES Begins with Hi-Res Revelations from MQA, Qobuz, and More

For John Atkinson and me, CES began with a trip to the Hi-Res Pavilion in the Las Vegas Convention Center's enormous Central Hall. John must have been a dog in a past lifetime, because his ability to find the booth in the middle of that huge glittering morass, which could be euphemistically characterized as high tech on steroids, smacked of a sixth sense.

Marc Finer (left in photo), President of the Digital Entertainment Group and Executive Producer of the Hi-Res Pavilion, began a well-attended press conference by declaring, "This isn't about Hollywood; it's about music, and the emotional connection to music…Hi-Res has achieved some major milestones." Detailed in a report issued last fall by the NPD, US sales of hi-resolution devices in dollars increased 77% since 2014, and unit sales increased by 118%. Nearly 11 million consumers were expected to shop for a hi-rez music player during the 2017 holiday season.

With phones considered the gateway device to high-resolution audio, Finer touted new, MQA-enabled mobile devices from LG and Sony. He also pointed to a Revel-equipped Lincoln Continental, which was introduced by Jim Buczskowski (right in photo), a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and Director of Research and Advanced Engineering for Ford Motor Company. Since cars serve as the main listening environment for many people, the Lincoln Continental is now equipped to stream music from Tidal and other partners.

Lest you consider streaming to be a millennial/post-millennial phenomenon, 60% of all baby boomers get their music from streaming. According to a recent MusicWatch survey, 30 million streaming customers are potential consumers of "studio quality" premium services that stream high-resolution audio.

Next, Oana Ruxandra (center in photo), Senior VP Digital Strategy and Partnerships, Universal Music Group, pointed out that younger listeners may not be audiophiles, but they definitely want deeper engagement with the artists they love. Hi-Res, she said, was the means to achieve that.

Flanking the stage of the Hi-Res Pavilion were exhibits from hi-resolution providers MQA Ltd., Astell&Kern, Audeze, AudioQuest, Audio-Technica, Bluesound, dCS, Definitive Technology, DTS, Elac, Kimber Kable, LG, Marantz, Mytek Digital, Pioneer, Onkyo, and Sony. Tidal and Qobuz, the latter being the biggest streaming service in Europe, were also on display.

Of special interest was Qobuz's revelation that they have entered the US market, and will begin streaming 1 million hi-resolution tracks (up to 24/192 FLAC) by the middle of the year. The company offers various prices for its streaming tiers, with $350/year for high-resolution and $220/year for CD quality, and includes liner notes plus their own commentary. While MQA is not yet part of their streaming plan, they do offer WAV, FLAC, and AIF downloads for the same cost that other services offer MP3 downloads. Qobuz can currently be accessed via Audirvana Plus and Android UPnP.

While I couldn't stay for any of the Hi-Res Pavilion events—panel discussions that were sponsored by the Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing, executive roundtables sponsored by the RIAA and MQA, and special appearances by artists—I did have a chance to cover some of the new products on display. Those reports appear elsewhere here on Stereophile.com.

COMMENTS
spacehound's picture

However,
the biggest high-res outfit in Europe (a bigger market than the USA) is not using MQA.

They are using FLAC streaming at up to 192, which is already easily streamed in most parts of Europe. My 'no better and no more expensive than average' service can stream twenty 192 WAV streams simultaneously already and could do the same for more than 30 FLAC streams. And they are increasing the existing speed by 25% in the next few days at no extra charge. The USA will eventually catch up on its infrastructure too.

And it's REAL high res, not just bit-depth reduced, lossy, and upsampled stuff like MQA is. And there are no MQA fees to pay by anyone. Or new DACs to buy.

I told you so. Often. Looks like I will be discarding my recently started three month Tidal free trial before it expires.

allhifi's picture

Uhh, good for you that "You told us so" !

Now, carry on with something meaningful to say.

pj

spacehound's picture

Everything I have posted about MQA is factual.

And facts don't depend on your approval of them.

deckeda's picture

are somehow wanting hi res, according to Universal Music Group? That must explain why lossy sales and lossy streams overwhelmingly dominate the industry.

“OK, so we’ll fly you to Vegas, where you’ll meet with folks organizing some stuff for audio dorks. Say something vacuous and pithy for a quick quote. I’ll text you the talking points.”

spacehound's picture

It's all BS from increasingly desperate people. Amusing to read though.

Who goes to CES to look at audio anyway? Only a few days ago Stereophile itself said there were hardly any 'audio' people there, neither manufacturers nor potential customers.

Lincoln Continental a popular car in the USA is it?

This is a laugh:
"30 million streaming customers are potential consumers of "studio quality" premium services that stream high-resolution audio."

That's less than the total Tidal customer base, both 'regular', which is the vast majority, and the double the price "studio quality". And Tidal has only got one percent of the streaming market.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The Hi-Res Pavilion is in the Central Hall of the LVCC, where the majority of CES's visitors go. Their number totaled 170,000 in 2016. They may have come with automated flush toilets on their mind, but most of them were listening to music on their portable devices as they flew in and out of town and whenever they weren't texting and walking into people and cars. Those who entered the pavilion when the lights were on learned a lot.

Second correction. This is an industry show. Consumers mainly interested in high-end audio often can't get in, and instead gravitate to regional shows in their country of origin (or a huge show like Munich High End.) Exhibits in the Venetian mainly target dealers and distributors.

Yes, Qobuz has not yet moved to adopt MQA. But things take time.

spacehound's picture

Jon Iverson's "What if they gave a show and nobody came" was wrong was it?

And as for your "industry show" how is a few industry people looking at each others stands going to sell anything? And you yourself said it was hard to find.

As for Qobus why should they "move to adopt MQA" once they've already adopted FLAC, which unlike MQA is pure, unadulterated high-res and of which we can transmit multiple streams already, even over phones, though not so many multiple streams as fixed broadband.

We can only listen to one at a time after all.

And I repeat this, a quote from your report and my reply:

"30 million streaming customers are potential consumers of 'studio quality' premium services that stream high-resolution audio."

That's less than the total Tidal customer base, both 'regular', which is the vast majority, and the double the price "studio quality". And Tidal has only got one percent of the streaming market.

allhifi's picture

Hmmm, quote: " .... adopted FLAC, which unlike MQA is pure, unadulterated high-res ..."

Uh, FLAC is "unadulterated" pure 'hi-res', is it ? Please, do tell us more. lol

pj

spacehound's picture

The 'standard' method of digitising 'sound' is PCM. Even DSD is a form of PCM. Note that music is a subset of sound.
PCM is used for many things, not just sound. Examples are signals transmitted to control space probes, satellites, etc., receiving signals from them, and the control of model planes.

PCM for sound, which of course includes music, was developed as a joint effort by IBM and Microsoft, initially for NASA.
Its main application is WAV, which is PCM in an 'envelope' that allows tagging so you can tell what it is that you have recorded, be it the sound of a rocket exhaust or Beethoven's 9th.

PCM is 'perfect' within the bit depth you have chosen for the accuracy you want. Provided the Shannon Nyquist Sampling Theorem is obeyed the orginal analog data is recovered completely - there are no 'gaps between the samples' and nothing is missing. Nor is the output 'stepped' in any way, unlike what the common pictures of a sine wave and its digital equivalent very misleadingly show.
If people don't believe this (it is very non-intuitive) they will have to read up on the theorem. But they will need to be fairly competent in pure mathematics to understand it.

FLAC.
FLAC is a compressive encoding process for PCM. It is mathematically proven that a FLAC file when decoded recovers the original PCM file perfectly. Which is why it is called "lossless".
For those who don't believe mathematical proofs, and therefore presumably don't believe Pythagoras' triangle theorem or adding 1 and 1 makes 2, FLAC has been tested in practice, often.
A typical example is taking a PCM file containing music data, converting it to a FLAC file and back to PCM and doing a 'bit by bit' comparison of the original with the result. They are always identical, even when this process is done 250,000,000 times.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The Hi-Res Pavilion is in the Central Hall of the LVCC, where the majority of CES's visitors go. Their number totaled 170,000 in 2016. This year, some may have come with automated flush toilets on their mind, but most of them were listening to music on their portable devices as they flew in and out of town and whenever they weren't texting and walking into people and cars. Those who entered the pavilion when the lights were on learned a lot.

Second correction. This is an industry show. Consumers mainly interested in high-end audio often can't get in, and instead gravitate to regional shows in their country of origin (or a huge show like Munich High End.) Exhibits in the Venetian mainly target dealers and distributors.

Yes, Qobuz has not moved to adopt MQA. But things take time. If more hardware and software companies choose to become equipped for MQA unfolding and playback, and if the majors all issue MQA-encoded files in increasing numbers, things could change.

For a video report on how MQA sounds on the dCS Vivaldi One, stay tuned. It may take some days to edit the footage.

spacehound's picture

.....and adding your own 'further opinion' about Qobus, plus introducing dCS to the pot won't change reality.

Being about to be going to high-res FLAC instead of (or as well as) 44.1 there is no logical reason for Qobus to go to MQA, which is merely an 'intermediate' step that for streaming has already missed the boat in the continent where it was developed. And the USA is not going to stay still on transmission speeds 'forever'.

As for dCS I use a Rossini. I installed their free MQA 'upgrade' last week.
At least it works properly. Unlike the Mytec Brooklyn you don't have to fool around manually in the menu to disable MQA. It it's not seeing an MQA file it goes back to non-MQA and also reverts to whatever regular' filter you have previously selected automatically. And of course it will go back to MQA when it sees the next MQA file.

Opinion.
It's all subjective of course. Down to personal preference, not 'sound quality', which means 'high fidelity' which in turn means 'accuracy'.
And nobody actually records in MQA, unlike the MQA people claimed. They just let the MQA process mess with the recording afterwards, often a very long time afterwards when there is nobody left around to 'authenticate' it.

1) Playing 'straight' high-res WAV, FLAC, or DSD sounds best.
It has to, it's all lossless and it isn't reduced in bit depth, which is also a 'loss'. MQA isn't lossless. And for those who don't hear any difference between 44.1 and hi-res, MQA included, all high-res is a waste of time money, and effort

2) Setting Tidal to do the unfold so the DAC works in its 'regular' manner is quite good. Sometimes I even prefer it - it gives a totally false 'liveliness' to some music that can be enjoyable. But all the time I am aware that that it isn't 'real'. I suspect it is down to the 'aliasing' that gets splashed across the entire audio band by MQA and which everyone on Stereophile (and TAS) don't like to talk about.

3) The full MQA process (Tidal 'passthrough') is a waste of time though it's not inferior to 44.1.

CG's picture

It's funny you should mention this. I've been pondering this for more than a week and was going to post a comment following one of the MQA analysis articles, but thought better of it. But, since you brought it up...

Think about the entire conversion process.

Imagine that you're sampling at 44.1 KHz at the analog to digital conversion end. Any signal above half that frequency will be added into the encoded bitstream of the spectrum as an "alias" below 22.05 KHz.

That's the way the process works. (A zillion references will tell you as much)

This is why a filter is (supposedly) part of the conversion process. A filter prior to the converter will reduce or eliminate energy above half the sampling frequency before conversion. Therefore, no alias signals in the encoded bitstream.

The hitch is that making a very steep analog filter that is flat with good delay response up to half the sampling frequency but then drops like a cliff above there is difficult, at best. That's a combination of the associated math as well as the limited Q of components that you can buy. In addition, component value tolerances really wreck the filter response in the real world.

One solution to this is to move the sampling frequency much higher. For example, if you go to 192 KHz then only signals above 96 KHz will be added as alias signals in the converted bitstream. I've never measured, but I've read that there's probably not much in the way of sound energy that high coming out of musical instruments. Plus, most microphones start rolling off well below that frequency, so their roll-off acts as a filter by itself. So, there's nothing there to alias, as long as you keep bats out of the room.

Anyway, the alias products in that 44.1 KHz bitstream primarily appear at the top end of the 22.05 KHz output spectrum, since the alias spectrum is inverted relative to the desired spectrum. That is, if you somehow let a 30 KHz signal be converted, the alias would be at 44.1-30 KHz , or 14.1 KHz. (Another product appears at 44.1 +30 KHz, or 74.1 KHz, but most people won't hear that...)

It should be obvious that the only alias signals that appear in the desired 20-20KHz spectrum are those that are high in frequency - like harmonics of cymbal crashes and so on. Even then, they alias into the upper reaches of the 20-20 KHz range. If there were much higher frequency signals, like 43.9 KHz, they'd appear in the bass range (44.1 - 43.9 KHz, or 200 Hz).

The same thing happens in reverse at the conversion from digital back to analog. It's possible to use a digital filter to suppress the energy above and below the 22.05 - 66.15 KHz region found in a 44.1 KHz sampling system, and most DACs do just that. How great the suppression is below 22.05 KHz is a function of the filter roll-off. (Coincidentally, the shape of that filter also determines the shape of the desired passband frequency response, too.) Note that this contrasts somewhat with having a steep filter following the actual converter. See above for why those filters aren't normally used.

But, here's the thing... The alias energy at the tinkly part of the audio band is time synchronized with the original signal, like that cymbal crash. It appears right when you'd hear the high frequency frequency harmonics, if they were actually there (like in higher sampling rate systems). These may not be true harmonics, but there's some tinkly sounds there. I have no idea how your brain perceives these tinkly sounds, but there's a decent chance that a lot of people like that and find it desirable.

I've often surmised that this was the appeal of NOS DACs that were a rage for while.

So, you have a system that takes the high frequency components legally present in high sample rate systems and pushes them around until you get similar alias patterns within the 20-20 KHz frequency range. Measurements show this. (Along with additional dithering of the noise floor, which has long been known to affect the perceived sound.)

Maybe this is ok. Everybody has their own aural perception engines that are programmed differently. Maybe it's not ok.

spacehound's picture

You have increased my knowledge. I thought it was something like that but I wasn't 100% sure.

CG's picture

"There will be no charge" - Jacques Clouseau

allhifi's picture

spacehound: You first tell me (all readers) your expertise level is (at least -lol)comparable to MQA's Robert Stuart, then turn around and thank someone (here on this forum) for clarifying and "increasing your knowledge" !!!!!

At least I thought there was some integrity.

pj

omasciarotte's picture

On January 11, CG wrote:

Imagine that you're sampling at 44.1 KHz at the analog to digital conversion end. Any signal above half that frequency will be added into the encoded bitstream of the spectrum as an "alias" below 22.05 KHz.

Hey CG,
Usually that is not the case, as you said: all ADCs have anti-alias filters to remove input signals above Nyquist. Granted, some ADCs feature low order or slow rolloff anti-alias filters, and those do trade off letting some aliasing components through in exchange for better temporal response (lower group delay).

Plus, most microphones start rolling off well below that frequency, so their roll-off acts as a filter by itself. So, there's nothing there to alias, as long as you keep bats out of the room.

You are right in that dynamic mics certainly have poor HF response but, for well recorded acoustic events [from 2L, Water Lily or Reference Recording as examples], there is small but significant ultrasonic energy captured in the file. If you have a highly resolving playback system, you can introduce a low pass filter and hear what those ultrasonics contribute. For me, they inform my brain about the acoustic space in which the recording was made, as well as create more true–to–life sounding transients. Also, the various analysis apps that are out there for music enthusiasts, I use MusicScope, will show you just how much signal there is past 20 kHz in a high quality HRA file.

But, here's the thing... The alias energy at the tinkly part of the audio band is time synchronized with the original signal, like that cymbal crash. It appears right when you'd hear the high frequency frequency harmonics, if they were actually there (like in higher sampling rate systems). These may not be true harmonics, but there's some tinkly sounds there. I have no idea how your brain perceives these tinkly sounds, but there's a decent chance that a lot of people like that and find it desirable.

Actually, you probably do. It’s called distortion, intermodulation distortion, and it’s distortion that’s highly correlated to the actual signal. Your brain is quite good at picking out that particular form of damage because it doesn’t appear in nature. It sounds awful, even in vanishingly small amounts.

Maybe this is ok. Everybody has their own aural perception engines that are programmed differently. Maybe it's not ok.

Yup, each to his own!

CG's picture

I think I wasn't as concise and thorough in my comment as I should've been.

Yes, you are completely right about the use of anti-alias filters. My explanation was to try to describe what alias products are and where they fall with regard to the common sampling rates.

In the case of resampling and the kinds of things MQA purports to do, the filters used for the resampling are obviously digital computation based. The MQA folks have chosen to use shallower than "brick wall" filter slopes in their design. (Not a criticism - just an observation) So, I'd think that a lot of what was originally very high frequency tones above 22.05 KHz or so would show up in the high end of the first 0-20 KHz segment.

~~~~

A couple years ago, some clones of a 70's vintage solid-state preamp became available on eBay. The guy who originally designed this preamp even commented on a web forum that he was amazed and impressed how an Asian manufacturer could produce something like it for so little money. Being curious, I bought one.

What I found was that in some ways, the sonic presentation was remarkable. Too much so. On some recordings, it bothered me.

Other people also discovered that the preamp was marginally stable and had tinkly tones above 15 KHz. That's what I saw, too.

So, I took it apart, drew a schematic of what was actually on the board and compared it to the original JC-2 schematic. It seems that a part was missing. I modeled it in LTSpice and was able to reproduce the problem pretty easily. Adding the missing compensation capacitor fixed everything up.

Real life even followed the theory. Amazing.

I then found an official schematic for the preamp I bought. At one time, there apparently was a compensation cap in the right place of close to the right value. A note in the schematic was to not install the cap, since it hurt the sound.

These tinkly tones weren't exactly IMD products, but certainly were time synchronous with actual music being played. That shows that some people like this effect. As you said, each to his own!

omasciarotte's picture

On January 18, CG wrote:
…The MQA folks have chosen to use shallower than "brick wall" filter slopes in their design. (Not a criticism - just an observation) So, I'd think that a lot of what was originally very high frequency tones above 22.05 KHz or so would show up in the high end of the first 0-20 KHz segment.

Yup, that’s possible assuming that the ADC used was MQA-equipped. If not, then an industry standard MI or pro ADC would have been used, with its own anti-aliasing filter. Any aliasing would have been “baked in,” along with the group delay, (Gibbs) ringing and other “color” inherent in the digitizing process. Unless I’m mistaken, only Mytek Digital has recently shipped an MQA–enabled ADC, so the number of files available to consumers that were digitized via MQA ADCs is vanishingly small.

Though not germane, MQA encoding attempts to compensate for those first two sources of distortion, but does not address aliasing. MQA’s anti–image filter attempts to counteract those two factors in the reciprocal D/A process. Also, MI & pro ADCs generally go with standard, high slope anti–aliasing filter topologies due to (gasp) cost. So much for “pro” performance. ;) One only gets to choose flavors of anti-image filters, like slow roll or low group delay, in better quality CE DACs.

A couple years ago, some clones of a 70's vintage solid-state preamp became available on eBay…I found was that in some ways, the sonic presentation was remarkable. Too much so. On some recordings, it bothered me.

Other people also discovered that the preamp was marginally stable and had tinkly tones above 15 KHz. That's what I saw, too…Adding the missing compensation capacitor fixed everything up…

These tinkly tones weren't exactly IMD products, but certainly were time synchronous with actual music being played. That shows that some people like this effect. As you said, each to his own!

Fer sure! One dude’s ringing is another dude’s sparkle. Ain’t cost cutting great? Those tinkly tones were most likely extended ringing; undamped oscillation resulting from a seriously under–compensated gain stage. I used to work at an MCI/Sony beta site, and received a then new Sony mixing desk that sounded dark and wooly. A walk through the schematic revealed the use of over–compensation (!) to prevent oscillation no matter what. I replaced those compensation caps in the first few strips with less draconian values. After it’s maiden voyage on a John Mellencamp remote, I was told that the producer thought those first few strips sounded great, but the rest - not so much. As a result, the whole record had been recorded through the mod’d circuitry.

CG's picture

Let me try again.

I was only discussing aliasing as an example to explain how the process works.

I'll never do that again. Promise.

With high resolution masters, tones above 22.05 KHz are encoded into the digital stream. That's part of the process, right? Part of the point?

When you start moving these bands all around, you use digital filters to limit what is inside each of the bands. If the filters don't adequately suppress signals outside each band, these tones will land someplace you might not want them to. Just like alias tones from the A-D process. In fact, the results are fairly similar.

~~~~~

The high frequency tinkly stuff in that preamp example was the product of instability, which could potentially cause ringing, as you suggest. Upon measurement and analysis, the phase margin was way less than 40 degrees. Maybe not the best situation.

From the official preamp manufacturer schematic, it was made clear that the proper compensation was compromised by choice, based on the sonics. I don't really think that they were really trying to save on a single 5 cent cap per channel. They could've easily charged a buck more for the preamp, with nobody ever saying a word, to more than recoup the capacitor cost.

allhifi's picture

Uh, perhaps at the other end of the audible spectrum is where you may find some "cues" to the acoustic space (of a recording).
HF "extension" would have no impact whatsoever.

pj

RE: "If you have a highly resolving playback system, you can introduce a low pass filter and hear what those ultrasonics contribute. For me, they inform my brain about the acoustic space in which the recording was made."

allhifi's picture

Hmm, very nicely articulated (written).

pj

tonykaz's picture

Lincoln is quite popular. It's a quiet Car.

I'm certain that the entire Automotive Industry is aware of the marketing benefit behind branding their High-rez interiors for commuting customers who do the lion's share of their listening in their Cars. Now it might be with their smart phones.

Perhaps I should remind that the Car Dealers sell more HighRez audio gear than anyone else, far more, except that we suddenly have competition from phones. whew, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Progress in the form of MQA is better ( for most of the World's population ) , it's uncertainly better for the argumentative and nitchy Audiophile, like us.

The "Big Tent" at CES is something that would blow you away. It's one hell of a Show. ( bring your ear plugs )

Heat Wave in thawing-out Michigan

tonykaz's picture

Lincoln is quite popular. It's a quiet Car.

I'm certain that the entire Automotive Industry is aware of the marketing benefit behind branding their High-rez interiors for commuting customers who do the lion's share of their listening in their Cars. Now it might be with their smart phones.

Perhaps I should remind that the Car Dealers sell more HighRez audio gear than anyone else, far more, except that we suddenly have competition from phones. whew, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Progress in the form of MQA is better ( for most of the World's population ) , it's uncertainly better for the argumentative and nitchy Audiophile, like us.

The "Big Tent" at CES is something that would blow you away. It's one hell of a Show. ( bring your ear plugs )

Heat Wave in thawing-out Michigan

spacehound's picture

It's an intermediate process before the inevitable 44.1 and above 'regular' streaming appears. It's already available in Europe.

Cars.

I wouln'ts say no to a 1960s 'President type' black convertible Lincoln, without the platform for the security men which would be a bit 'over the top' at the supermarket.

Or a 1930s Cord or Duisenberg. The rest you can keep :):)

I could have had the 'Burmester' audio option in my Mercedes but as it only came as a package with the 'magic roof' which I didn't want I didn't bother.

-Rudy-'s picture

UMG can't even press a set of vinyl discs without screwing them up. If the mastering isn't poor, the discs are pressed on the cheap and are full of defects. UMG is not the type of company I would trust to get high-res right either. Pushing mqa is proof of that...

deckeda's picture

... did a fine job of pressing Rufus Wainwright’s "Out of the Game" on 2 LPs, if you didn't mind Side 3 actually being Side 3 of Florence + The Machine's "Ceremonials."

That was a fun one to explain to the record store. All I wanted was to exchange it, but insisted on the store opening up another copy. To their credit, they did so even though it meant eating every copy since labels no longer take back stock. They couldn't find a copy that wasn't also screwed up.

I've always wondered if customers who bought Ceremonials LP got what they expected.

Of course, all of this is also on United's shoulders just as much as it is for UMG being deaf to core production problems like this. There wasn't even a way to email anyone at Decca about the problem. It's like making a computer program that you can't envision ever being bad, you don't make a way to fix it, either.

AJ's picture
Quote:

US sales of hi-resolution devices in dollars increased 77% since 2014, and unit sales increased by 118%. Nearly 11 million consumers were expected to shop for a hi-rez music player during the 2017 holiday season.

I wonder how many people buying say, a LG V30 phone for example, are buying it as a latest and greatest "Phone", with a really good camera, email, texting and internet capability, etc, etc, etc.....rather than a "Hi Rez"/MQA music player??
Hmmmm....

spacehound's picture

And the Android ones, which are in the great majority, are all Samsung ones or cheap ones of 'minor' makes.

Not a single one is made by LG, not even the cheap ones, and LG has a vanishingly small share of the European market. I'm eccentric enough to have purchased a Chord Mojo to attach to mine, though I mostly bought it to use in my car which doesn't have a digital audio input, only a notably insensitive analog one so it needed a DAC which has a high output, thus the Mojo. That doesn't do MQA and I doubt anything Chord ever will as their well-known chief designer, Robert Watts (not known as 'Bob') is very much against it.

None of the people I know have the slightest interest in sound quality. My wife, who came complete with a Sony music system and a huge pile of pirated CDs from her son, had the two speakers on top of each other as she doesn't know or care what 'stereo' is.

None of them, some in their teens, have ever heard of Tidal or MQA, though some use the free, advertising supported, version of Spotify, whose advertising is not excessively intrusive.

Therefore to me anyone who thinks MQA will 'get off the ground' via mobile streaming is in cloud cuckoo land.

I suspect Stuart knows it too, which is why MQA now seems to be focused on the home hifi market, to which his original publicity paid almost zero attention. He hadn't made up the term "deblurring" then either :):)

allhifi's picture

Space Cadet: Who do you "hang" with ?

For sure, most people have not sampled/tasted the better things in life. Not to say they wouldn't thoroughly enjoy (and respect) it, once experienced appropriately.

We all know that indifference abounds. We also know it is those with finer 'tastes' that seek out superior experiences -whether in food, clothing or sound.

Since there are more than a few "kids" messing with turntables (and vinyl records) I question how accurate your assessment of "nobody cares" really is ? In your circle, you've made it quite clear. Mercifully, there are many who do know "better" exists and will seek it out when practically possible. Depending on how successful MQA is with enrty-level audio/phone sound quality, it should expose its (SQ) characteristics rather quickly -and plainly.

Remember, MQA is an 'end-to-end' "system"; I'll guess there is much to be gained by matching A/D and D/A characteristics (along with digital filter type)that can be easily heard, even by untrained ears.

Now, to your comments:

"None of the people I know have the slightest interest in sound quality."
(Expand your social network/environment)

" ... My wife, who came complete with a Sony music system and ... as she doesn't know or care what 'stereo' is."
(Seriously ?)

" ...None of them, some in their teens, have ever heard of Tidal or MQA".
(Introduce them to it)

pj

spacehound's picture

....reasonably 'normal' people though their education level is possibly higher than average. I suspect most of us have sampled the 'better things in life' up to a certain point - I would like a superyacht but can't afford one :-)

My wife lives in a world of her own. She is not unintelligent but has zero interest in anything 'technical' or anything that doesn't personally or immediately affect her. (EG- we are British and live in the UK. Ask her the name of the US President and she would neither know not care.) This was one of the things that attracted me as I am both technically minded and also know lots of pointless things that nobody else has any interest in - such as the one-time Chairman of the USSR, Nikita Kruschev, being in the battle of Stalingrad. For her part, she likes that she is the only one in her 'circle' who owns a genuine nerd :-)

Kids.
They bought turntables because they are currently fashionable. They sold their skateboard, which they had got bored with, to buy their turntable. That's all.

MQA would be fine if it worked. It doesn't, for four simple reasons:

A) If it did there would not be all this controversy about whether it sounds 'better' or not.
B) It's not about sound quality, it's about personal preferences. MQA causes some audible 'artifacts' that would not have been in the original recording and some people like these. On some records I like them myself. But being artefacts they are 'fake'.
C) MQA is pointless anyway. My 'no better than average' broadband connection can already transmit twenty 192 PCM or FLAC files simultaneously with zero interruptions. And the average mobile service can do about five. And it's getting faster by the month. That is true of most 'advanced'countries.
D) The claimed "authentication" is simply not happening in most instances. If it was (and it could with new material but even then it mostly isn't) it would be beneficial. And that's the only part that really mattes, all the 'folding' etc. is simply not needed.
And any manufacturer can 'authenticate' their process - Mytec and dCS already do, as they make both studio and 'home' equipment so they don't need MQA to do it, though they both support MQA as it's another 'label on their box' that will hopefully attract more customers.

allhifi's picture

Space Hound: You are a really good guy. That's clear.

So, we'll stick with audio (MQA, FLAC).

You state: " And any manufacturer can 'authenticate' their process - Mytec and dCS already do, as they make both studio and 'home' equipment so they don't need MQA to do it ..."

Myte(k) and dcs are equipment manufacturer's; your comment that they can "authenticate" thus makes absolutely no sense.

MQA is a "recording" system; employing an end-to-end profile they feel is critical for authentic sound reproduction quality. You must appreciate (if nothing else) the extensive, latest research MQA has undertaken.
That "you" don't feel it's important or necessary is irrelevant. I have no MQA anything at the moment; perhaps I never will. Maybe I'll enjoy it as another hifi 'option'; via streaming, for example. Maybe not.

FLAC: FLAC uncompressed I have not 'sampled'. FLAC "compressed" (level 1-9) is clearly, audiblyinferior to a WAV file. This I can hear on my $75. (seventy-five dollar) computer speakers!

Some say I'm hearing the "renderer's" interprtation of the FLAC file (vs. WAV), others say this, that and the other.

I'm currently enjoying a very recent foray into hi-fi audio streaming. The choice of Ethernet cable (from switch box to Raspberry Pi3B -running Rune Audio) has proven VERY critical.
Three (actually four) cables are on hand:
Cable 1 and 2 are CAT5 and CAT5e -likely 20-years old. Cable three (3) is a no-name "CAT-6", the fourth an Amazon (flat) "CAT-7" - I should have known better.

Changing out the Ethernet cables can easily be likened to someone messing with "tone" controls (treble/bass). My system has no such controls, btw. The point being that the audible differences are not only obvious but at times profound.

Bottom line; some will wolf-down a basic (grease induced) fast-food burger and delight in its flavor. Others will delight in by-passing such fare. (I must admit I kind-of enjoy both -lol. One for its raw, caloric energy and the other for the nuanced, textured flavor as it dances upon our palettes)

And so it goes ...

pj

spacehound's picture

And it falls into two parts. The "authentication" and the transmission process.

I have already given reasons to you why the MQA "authentication" is not actually being performed in many, maybe most, cases.

FLAC works. Period.
There is a remote possibility that noise may be created by the FLAC to WAV conversion process in a poorly designed renderer. But it is increased noise only, not any 'incorrectness', which would appear as a distinct, easily audible, pop or click, not any form of gradual degradation.

And in any case this can be avoided by having the player software (which is in my case is JRiver Media Center) decode the entire FLAC file into PCM (WAV) before it sends it to the renderer. This process is very simple and quick so even the time taken to convert an entire 35 minute track (the longest I have) is not noticeable

As for differences in the 'sound' of 'digital' cables that is something I am not getting into as such discussions never achieve anything.

allhifi's picture

spacehound, quote:

"As for differences in the 'sound' of 'digital' cables that is something I am not getting into as such discussions never achieve anything."

WRONG. It tells/achieves everything; specifically ones experience, understanding and 'acuity' in the field of hi-fi.

pj

AJ's picture

I have an LG V20. LG sells plenty phones here. You may want to chill a bit, your anti-MQA fervor here is a bit over the top.
Leave the rabid foaming at the mouth stuff to believers, try to comport yourself a bit more calmly, on the rational side, we're with you on this.
Peace.

spacehound's picture

It's a response to the constant pushing of MQA by the Stereophile staff and their refusal to comment on its known and proven failings/false claims.

But I am getting bored with it.

John Atkinson's picture
spacehound wrote:
I am getting bored with it.

:-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

spacehound's picture

:-) :-) :-)

allhifi's picture

Touche' !

pj

allhifi's picture

Space Cadet: Could you clarify (succinctly) your assertion of :

" MQA's proven failings/false claims." ? Clarify its "failings" and 'false claims' if you would. Could.

Oh, and your engineering/listener credentials.

pj

spacehound's picture

What's more, it has been remarked that I've done it too often, I am inclined to agree, and posted a reply to JA saying so.

But since you specifically asked :-) :
The studio "authentication" and "signing off" the MQA people claim is mostly not happening. It can't be - much of the material is old, the musicians/recording engineer/producer/etc. has moved away from that studio/retired/died/etc. and the ADC/etc. they used went to the local dump/crusher 5 or more years ago.
So most MQA material has just gone though a NON-"authenticated" sausage machine process.
Furthermore, it is on record (he has posted so on several forums) that Brian Lucey, a well-known mastering engineer, refused to have anything to do with MQA, "signed off" nothing, but the MQA people put his material though their 'sausage machine' anyway, so call it "authenticated" when it most certainly wasn't.

Technical:
1) MQA is lossy. It reduces everything to 17 or less bits per sample when most studio original are 24. This has been demonstrated several times and Bob Stuart himself eventually admitted it is lossy in this manner though he denied it at first.
2) MQA is lossy in other ways too. For example, on 192 studio material it downsamples to 96 by omitting every other sample. This omitted data can never be recovered, obviously - it's just 'gone' from the MQA recording.
3) MQA places false imaging (often incorrectly called "aliasing") across the 20Hz-20KHz audio band. This has been demonstrated many times. It does not exist on the original studio recordings.
4) "Deblurring". This is a solution to a non-existent problem (Stuart initially called it "de-ringing" in his 'white papers' and in early publicity material).
Why non-existent? Because all ADCs, including quite old ones, incorporate filters to ensure the Shannon/Nyquist Sampling Theorem is obeyed.
And when it is obeyed ringing simply doesn't occur.

My qualifications? As good or better than Stuart's. And 30 plus years professional experience in digital signal processing with a large and very well-known US corporation.

What's a "listening qualification"?
All I can say is that I have been using 'hifi' for 40 plus years and have the same number of ears as most people.

allhifi's picture

Space Cadet: What would we do without you ????

Impressive.

On several points. The (almost) most obvious, this one:

"4) "Deblurring". This is a solution to a non-existent problem ...

...Why non-existent? Because all ADCs, including quite old ones, incorporate filters to ensure the Shannon/Nyquist Sampling Theorem is obeyed. And when it is obeyed ringing simply doesn't occur."

I see. And what if, by chance (and for example), the digital signal is recorded "clips/overs" beyond the 0-db. point ?
Are the Nyquist "laws" maintained ? Does it remain predictable ?

Yes, or No (Mr. Stuart equivalent) ? And then, tell us why.

And that brings us to your most salient remark:

" My qualifications? As good or better than Stuart's. And 30 plus years professional experience in digital signal processing with a large and very well-known US corporation."

I'm not sure to laugh or cry. You've got to be kidding !
A good-guy you may be. But bright ?

I'm not sure if it occurred to you, but your world-class digital expertise would best be served in a community of peers, not a freebie, free-for-all forum such as this. Why are you not on a more compelling site -for experts as yourself ? Very strange.

Finally, it's understood that most of us have two ears, but it's what integrates it all that is most important -and telling. And it is here, at this juncture, that it can be deduced that most people do not have the necessary hardware required.

In closing, what do you really think of MQA ?

pj

spacehound's picture

Nyquist/Shannon will possibly not be maintained as it depends on the rise time/fall time of the resulting flat-topped waveform. Remember 'time domain' and 'frequency domain are merely reciprocals of each other so a clipped bassoon will stay within the theorem but cymbals may not. Also remember that microphones have a limited frequency response and thus a limited rise time too.
However:
Some entirely 'pop' studios don't appear to care about this stuff and so don't set their ADCs properly.

Either way, MQA in 'practical use' won't fix it though it won't make it worse.

What do I think of MQA?
Even with its known faults it is probably 'better' than 44.1/16.

The problem with that is many people find 'high-res' no better than 44.1/16. I have tried to convince myself that high-res is better and all my purchased downloads are 96 or 192, plus some DSD. I have found that what you hear is far more influenced by your mood, time of day, whether you have eaten or not, etc. that it is by whether it is 44.1 or high-res and though I really want to tell the difference I am not entirely sure I can.

44.1/16 does up to 20KHz perfectly. And any human being who thinks he or she can hear above 20KHz is fooling himself/herself, though his cat will be able to tell the difference as their hearing goes up to 70KHz :-)

Conclusion:
As we can't hear above 20KHz all the MQA 'folding' etc. is pointless. The "authentication" might be worthwhile if it was actually carried out, which it mostly isn't.
And even an "authenticated" MQA-capable DAC manufacturer is provided with a fixed set of MQA filters and chooses the one he likes best rather than the originally claimed MQA company performed 'DAC tailoring' process.

allhifi's picture

SH: (RE: signal;"overs") You're wrong -clipped (beyond 0-db.) is "overed" -period. And Nyquist/Shannon no longer applies whatsoever. It becomes an entirely new mess (digitally speaking).

Your comments regarding preserving (or not) music signal content above 20-KHz (specifically 20-50 KHz.) tells us you have no clue to its relevance.

When you state:

"The problem with that is many people find 'high-res' no better than 44.1/16. I have tried to convince myself that high-res is better and all my purchased downloads are 96 or 192, plus some DSD. I have found that what you hear is far more influenced by your mood, time of day, whether you have eaten or not, etc. that it is by whether it is 44.1 or high-res and though I really want to tell the difference I am not entirely sure I can."

...it reveals many a thing. Personal belief/honesty being one.

However, your assertion that: "The problem with that is many people find 'high-res' no better than 44.1/16." is highly questionable.

Many people ? Within your circles this you've made clear. Without knowing your personal listening skill-set or hi-fi equipment may hold partial clues.
In addition to your assertion that "time of day/mood" impacts SQ you may fail to recognize that one's immediate (and constant)environment is also implicated (for better or worse, some would decry).

Conclusion: Although this exchange has been somewhat entertaining, "unfolding" it further is indeed pointless.

pj

allhifi's picture

RE: Digital recordings over the 0-db 'level'.

spacehound said: "Nyquist/Shannon will possibly not be maintained".

Possibly? IT WON'T BE MAINTAINED. Period.

And everything "known" about digital/SQ goes out the window -a free for all in such recording occurrences.

pj

allhifi's picture

Good gawd man I was kidding.

"As we can't hear above 20KHz all the MQA 'folding' etc. is pointless."

(I know what I'd like to "fold", lock and chuck though)

" 44.1/16 does up to 20KHz perfectly (Delusional.)and any human being who thinks he or she can hear above 20KHz is fooling himself/herself .." (and what about those whose IQ barely squeaks by "20" -dey fool'in dem-selves too?)

pj

allhifi's picture

The more I read your asinine words, the more I'm stunned -particularly from a self-proclaimed "expert" in the field.

Let's see, where do we start ? Oh, here's a good place:

"Technical:

1) MQA is lossy. It reduces everything to 17 or less bits per sample when most studio original are 24. This has been demonstrated several times and Bob Stuart himself eventually admitted it is lossy in this manner though he denied it at first.

(THE only thing "lossy" are the dead synapses trying to 'spark' in the ol' noggin.)

... is lossy in this manner though he denied it at first."
(IT's clear that you've been Denied.)

That's it for now. You comments (although entertaining) is simply too much of a good thing -all at once.

pj

ok's picture

Watching Jason’s saga of MQA-related show reports I found myself dreaming of catchy titles such as “The Empire Strikes Back” (appealing to anti-MQA resistance fighters), “Revenge of the Filth” (for hi-end purists), “The Alias Menace” (for "spacehound" exclusively - no offence man!) etc. Ok, just a thought..

allhifi's picture

Touche ' !

pj

spacehound's picture

Just another lossy encoding process. It uses less space/transmission bandwidth by two simple processes - reducing bit depth and downsampling.

As such it's in principle no different from MP3 or AAC. The MQA people have just chosen a different balance between saved space and reduced quality than those two.

allhifi's picture

SH: Stop referencing "It says so here; Stereophile". (link)

Use some of your own reasoning -unless that's pushing it too far ?

pj

spacehound's picture

Surely that is better than my saying "I have measured it and that's what it does" as you don't know how 'expert' I am.

I could give references from other than Stereophile and its immediate 'children' (eg Audiostream) but we have to remember that this is a 'comments' section not a 'free posting' forum so Stereophile may not like it, which is fair enough.

And 'reasoning' is not necessary. Even a child would understand that omitting alternate samples (downsampling) loses data. And that missing data is not recovered by later upsampling (inserting a content-free sample where those discarded samples were), again obviously.
And the same goes for discarding at least 7 bits of the 24 bit samples you have retained.

dclark2171's picture

I cannot think of any reason, outside being compensated from the MQA group, for Qobuz to go MQA. MQA files, as they stand now, are too big to stream thru a cellular network anyway without reaching your carrier's bandwidth limit before throttling. Qobuz streams fine (even with 24/192) with general DSL/Cable internet. Plus, one needs special equipment/software to play full benefit of MQA. It's been a year and TIDAL still has a limited selection. Where pretty much anything available as a hi rez title somewhere is available as a hi rez stream on Qobuz. NOW, if the recording groups who are teaming with the MQA people decide to stop releasing non-MQA hi rez content and only go MQA, then something may change.

allhifi's picture

dclark: You say:

" I cannot think of any reason, outside being compensated from the MQA group, for Qobuz to go MQA."

And I say, "thank you for your insightful input" .

pj

spacehound's picture

Qobus has gone directly to FLAC. MQA is a backward step from that to an 'intermediate' position.

Only a personal view but I will change from Tidal to Qobus when my three month Tidal free trial expires. And Tidal doesn't actually have many MQA files anyway. I recall that someone who could be bothered to look for them all stated that it is presently only 0.25 percent of their total.

ednazarko's picture

Kohler was showing an internet-connected, Alexa based, voice command toilet, and it also plays streaming music. Did anyone get over there to check if it's MQA, or even high res?

-Rudy-'s picture

Maybe American Standard will make a competing model. Pure high-res, though. With the mqa logo baked right into the porcelain as a "target." ;) Although I feel some sort of articulating LCD screen would be a better bet, as I prefer to read when I'm in the "reading room"...

allhifi's picture

No way ! What is it, where is it ? How much ?

Must have MQA though.

pj

eatatjoes's picture

I read through the comments here and am at a loss to go out and buy a service or a device to feed powered speakers with internet based streams. Can someone bring this down to earth please? I am a consumer and ready to buy, right now. I have ATC speakers and a good internet connection.

allhifi's picture

Hi EaJ: No worries/concerns discussed here should stop you from enjoying what you have now.

Put another way (if interested), try changing any cable in your system (yes, even Ethernet and/or AC power cable -any cable lying around/spare) and connect. Listen.
(As in listen for obvious sound quality distinctions; bass "level", vocal clarity, naturalness and an overall sense of musical 'flow'. I'll bet it's easy to "pick-out").

The point? Such everyday (audiophile) "tweaks" often have a profound impact upon SQ -greater than file formats (i.e. MQA or not), for example. That's not to say file format, compression algorithms, digital filters, CD-quality or 'hi-rez' are not important -far from it.

BUT, if you are not interested in the (your) system tweaks mentioned above, MQA (or not) is likely irrelevant for your application.

pj

spacehound's picture

I looked at the ATC site and see that ATC speakers have only 'analog' inputs. That's good - you aren't saddled with inbuilt DACs that are likely to be quickly overtaken by whatever the present 'DAC du jour' is :-)

So:
You have three choices -
1) A 'network player' with an inbuilt DAC.
2) A network player without an inbuilt DAC.
3) A computer. You've obviously got one already unless you are posting in company time :-)

Computer. It will do everything including all the streaming services but you will need to buy a DAC, the internal DACs of computers are poor.

Network players need to have the streaming services you want embedded
in them. Problem is they won't cope with any new service unless they do a firmware upgrade and these can be very slow in coming and may never occur if the manufacturer doesn't think the service will survive, as many don't. (Mine has two no longer operating streaming services, Spotify which is low-res, no Tidal, though it has been 'promised' for months, no Qobuz, and no Deezer.

My first choice is a computer plus a DAC. The DAC MUST have a volume control.
So: Ethernet connection --> computer --> USB connection --> DAC --> XLR connection --> speakers

Don't believe all this nonsense about a network player sounding 'better', it's all down to the DAC and if it is inbuilt you are stuck with it. Unless it has a 'digital passthrough' function that allows you to attach an external DAC, and then you have wasted your money on the inbuilt one.

PS: I see ATC use 'balanced' XLR connectors so buy a DAC with a XLR balanced output. It is possible to run unbalanced (RCA) to balanced XLR but you will need to alter the cable and you may get hum (see ATC manual). As you are presumably using the speakers probably you have a suitable DAC already.

eatatjoes's picture

I had a peachtree inova that allowed me to get a glimpse of just what all this buzz is about. Now I am wondering the difference between the network streamers that have a volume control and dac built in and my arrangement that requires usb connection on the digital side. The only thing I don't like about the current experiment is the "good" usb cable I have is only .5m long, and I am not yet proficient with Tidal so I am back to having to do a lot of getting up to change the music. But I do hear the reason this is all coming forward and will push ahead.

BTW- thanks so much for taking the time to post an answer!

spacehound's picture

After 30 plus years in computer design and development I have yet to see price in a scientific or engineering equation.

And most high-priced USB (in particular) cables aren't proper USB cables at all as they don't meet the USB specification, not having the 'certified' USB logo on the connectors. Remember our USB equipment is designed FOR certified cables.

You've got some good speakers there. ATC are among the best in the world for 'accuracy' which is what high fidelity actually means.

allhifi's picture

After 30 plus years in hifi audio consulting, installation, sales and endless product evaluations, I have yet to see price not a factor in experiencing better hifi.

Yet, I see, there remains the "scientific or engineering equation" crowd that simply can't get their heads around the fact that they simply might not (they do not) understand the elements/factors at play that any honest listener can attest to -without the weakness of requiring graphs/measurements to prove it so.

Any USB cable will "pass" a signal (if its ends are connected). Yet any usb cable (even the cruddy/throw-in ones) WILL sound different.

In the end, there are those who spend a lifetime with their heads buried in books, theory, and accepted, antiquated knowledge.

Ohh, it's space cadet !

ATC loudspeakers are indeed a respected manufacturer. Yet, without musical equipment 'feeding' those accurate' transducers, the resultant sound quality will be far from "accurate". In fact, it could sound like 'poop' -(and often does). You getting me?

pj

-Rudy-'s picture

Shoving mqa down our throats...again? It's hard to believe any of the high end press in all this since at every turn, we are being continuously force-fed their opinions on how great mqa is. For most of us consumers, once again, it is an answer to a question that nobody has asked. I can stream Qobuz in full high-res without being fed some lossy equivalent that only the high-end press seems enthused about. (Manufacturers and record labels, of course, add support because they are not going to be outdone by competition; pure marketing.)

It also helps none that any time bob stuart's or mqa's feet are held over the fire, they run away, cowering. They will do controlled interviews or release white papers are way too wordy, verbose and full of technobabble that none of us really want to take time to wade through--give us the tl;dr version, and quit running away and hiding any time you're challenged (*cough* RMAF *cough*).

We (the consumers) smell a rat...multiple rats...and we're tired of having mqa shoved down our gullets any time this topic hits our newsfeeds. Remember, it is only the opinion of the high-end press that mqa is better; it is not a fact, fellow consumers.

Lighten up already. It's getting old.

allhifi's picture

What ? "Shoving mqa down our throats...again?"

You read too much -of the wrong (and same)thing.

pj

John Atkinson's picture
-Rudy- wrote:
Shoving mqa down our throats...again?

This was the news at CES on the first day. Would you prefer we censor what you don't want to read?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

allhifi's picture

JA: No kidding.

pj

tjf's picture

-- this rabid anti-mqa stuff brings me back to the days of the audiophile press distrust of CD back in the early 80's: "perfect sound forever", etc., etc., etc....
-- lots of high end mags and their reader's comments claiming CD's to be the devil's spawn and/or technically flawed...
-- here it is 30 years on and we're seeing it all over again...
-- arguments against Bob Stuart's evil plan for domination of the world's music delivery systems, tech criticisms of mqa's "lossy" encode designs, etc., etc., etc....

It's just another step in the evolution of media access, trading tech perfection for convenience - convenience wins every one of these contests...it's the future already -- get used to it...

Stop the "King Canute" play acting: trying to hold back the "ocean of tech commerce" & corporate (Warner, Universal, Sony,etc.) profits...
That ocean will never recede...

allhifi's picture

tjf: Good points.

However, referencing early CD-sound was more about the horrific SQ from CD's, and not on any "distrust" musings you may have/had referenced in your opening remarks.

But, I'm not sure MQA fits here:

" It's just another step in the evolution of media access, trading tech perfection for convenience - convenience wins every one of these contests...it's the future already -- get used to it..."

"Tech perfection" may in fact not be entirely "lossless" (as its been known/considered for the longest time)
In which case, MQA MAY well be an attempt to redefine the term "lossless" (yes, employing technology/algorithms considered 'lossy' (in the conventional sense).

Personally, I have no MQA anything -I'm sure I'll survive and continue enjoying (deeply) my hi-fi, with/without it. If it proves enjoyable, I'll take a look/listen. If not, life (and music -mercifully) goes on.

Yet, your final words bear repeating (it's good), quote:

"Stop the "King Canute" play acting: trying to hold back the "ocean of tech commerce" & corporate (Warner, Universal, Sony,etc.) profits...
That ocean will never recede..."

Indeed.

pj

spacehound's picture

But the rest of the world doesn't have to take any notice of his unique new definition. And won't.

Let him go tell IBM and Microsoft, who jointly developed 'sound' and 'image' PCM for NASA and see how far he gets :-)

And while SOME tech 'perfection' (or at least 'adequacy') may not need PCM if 100% accuracy to the original is NOT required, since when will 100% accuracy do any harm? It's not as if MQA is any smaller than the 100% accurate FLAC.

allhifi's picture

Funny: "But the rest of the world doesn't have to take any notice of his unique new definition. And won't."

I see, and you, for example, are one who does not "take note" ? And remain so 'bent-out-of-MQA-shape' ???

pj

spacehound's picture

This thread is about MQA, it's not about me, though your attempt to make it about me is a way for you to avoid answering this:
"And while SOME tech 'perfection' (or at least 'adequacy') may not need PCM if 100% accuracy to the original is NOT required, since when will 100% accuracy do any harm?".

But I will answer you nevertheless.

MQA has several demonstrated failings, demonstrated at the user's end both by mathematics and by relatively straightforward measurements, and at the studio end by absolutely 100% clear evidence that most of the time the claimed "authentication" is not taking place.

It's just another lossy format, and it results in a file no smaller than lossless FLAC or ALAC at the same resolution.

So I don't see the point. Furthermore, if it is widely taken up it has the potential to result in only MQA-degraded music being available.

Thankfully that wide take up doesn't seem to be happening, possibly because the major labels are having second thoughts - a search on the UK government's Companies House site (MQA Ltd is a UK registered company) is very interesting :-)

spacehound's picture

It's not just you - much of the popular media has it wrong too.
Canute was sick of his fawning courtiers and so deliberately demonstrated he could NOT hold back the waves.

And MQA is unlikely to be the future.
Have you not noticed that the only streaming outfit currently using it is the tiny 'Tidal' with only about 1% of the streaming market, and only 0.25% of their material is currently in MQA?

Also, while some the major labels claim to have converted most of their material they have to date released very little.
As the label/MQA contracts are all subject to NDA's it MAY be that the MQA contract price is based on albums released rather than albums converted and the labels could be having second thoughts.

tjf's picture

1) it's certainly likely that MQA dies if Tidal goes away (still waiting for evidence of Tidal's latest fiscal doom press). Readers- me among them, have speculated as much, (see blogstorm crated a few weeks ago about ECM's supposed "hi-res" content release on Apple Music with associated gnashing of teeth about MQA on Apple Music)...MQA must move to other platforms to survive...

2) "Masters" releases on Tidal to date have been slow in coming, and your theory of contractual issues may very well be the logjam.

3) The NDA and DRM issues associated with MQA, while being convenient targets for audiophile wrath about "access" to content, are key elements in the major labels offering content in whatever format is settled on for "higher-res" music at highest tier pricing levels. (Tidal's $20/mo. will be a fond memory cost-wise a few years from now, even Qobuz "sublime" $350-$400/yr. will seem a bargain by then)

4) Warner, Universal, & Sony are not interested your warnings about MQA's lossy format or control of "hi-res master" access, they own a piece of MQA due to it's ability to deliver a legally and financially secure means of selling "hi-res" streaming content-- we will all have to get used to "leasing" music collections, not "owning" them.

5) Lastly, I'm ever so grateful for your lesson on King Canute, but the analogy was only intended to show that the "ocean" of music industry commerce cannot be "held back" -- although I suspect you might get a gig as one of the "fawning courtiers" lobbying for the world's largest record labels to change their nature...

spacehound's picture

1) I'm in the first two weeks of a free three month trial and am quite pleased so far. With or without MQA I don't see myself buying many more downloads. And despite the many 'doom mongers' I think it will survive - if it gets into financial difficulties I think a bigger outfit may well buy it.
The hifi and 'master' (MQA) subscription is £20 here in the UK - dollars/pounds always seem to be 1:1 regardless of the actual exchange rate.
And the only alternative so far is Qobuz, who stream 'straight' FLAC at whatever the original sample rate was, up to 192/24, which MUST be 'better' than MQA. But the subscription is £350 annually (£30/month) and you have to pay the whole year in advance. Though you do get downloads at a good discount, but with streaming increasing I don't see many people wanting them so the discount doesn't count for much. And Qobuz must already have the rights or they could not stream them, so the downloads don't cost them anything.
In Europe streaming 192/24 is easy - most broadband services are fast enough to transmit about twenty 192/24 streams simultaneously and with mobile it's about four. And the USA is bound to catch up pretty soon, though the high European speeds are mostly due to an EU so-called 'incentive'.

2) Yes. And once the market gets bigger they will have the confidence to put the price up. This will happen with or without MQA because of ever-increasing transmission speeds. As I implied above, MQA has already missed the European boat because of that.

3) I'm not against MQA because of its actual 'audible' performance, which seems as good as 44.1/16 FLAC (WHICH was all it claimed at first) never worse, and better in a few cases. It's all the deliberate obfuscation and demonstrably untrue claims since then that I don't like.

4) We don't know if it is 'secure' yet - the main market, kids with mobiles, don't seem 'aware' of it and even the few that are, probably won't pay double the price of Spotify, and even more, the increased data charges (MQA isn't actually any smaller than a 44.1/16 FLAC file).

5) Canute was a noted figure in UK schools. He turned out to be a good king despite being a Danish invader and his showing the courtiers he could NOT turn back the tides was an example of his wisdom :-)

allhifi's picture

It's Official -spacehound just doesn't 'Get It' -lol.

pj

allhifi's picture

For your sake, let's hope so.

pj

ToeJam's picture

Part of my subscription’s value is that the learned, experienced, and connected inform me about new developments in the business. MQA is certainly an appropriate topic, and it’s omission would be irresponsible.

What I find boring are the crass attempts to denigrate the topic and the editors.

spacehound's picture

That with 192 FLAC streaming readily available in most 'civilised' countries the lossy, bit-depth reducing, 96K maximum, damaging 'false image' creating (all of which are proven) MQA is a backward step.

And the magazine editors such as John Atkinson, not bein stupid, must know it.

allhifi's picture

TJ: (Toe-Jam; that's gross -lol)

You are absolutely right.

Now, go get some cream for that foot fungus.

pj

spacehound's picture

...the MQA company has publicly stated that it will not 'engage' its critics, even though the critics are mostly correct.

And that also seems to be true of several editors and the staff of at least two major magazines.

allhifi's picture

Spacey: Enough now. Learn something:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/mqa-questions-and-answers-some-real-...

Graph # 11 and #12 for you.

In fact, do us all a favor and read you ridiculous (and untruthful) assertion that MQA/Bob Stuart refuses to answers his critics. What he rightfully refuses is to repeat himself over and over again to a (the same?) group (perhaps army?) of lunk-heads.

Read it. Learn something. Then rewind your 30+ years "experience", find out who was responsible for your glaringly incomplete knowledge base -and give'em royal heck -actually, you can make that "Royal" -capital "R", you see. Hmmm, royal heck and hack.
Has a 'ring' to it, don't you think?

pj

spacehound's picture

I used to buy such 'paper' magazines, on hifi, trout fishing, and motorcycles.

But due to the growth of the internet I no longer buy any paper magazines, and I am sure many other people don't either. So it is wise of the magazine business to produce 'free' online versions, which are funded entirely by advertising.

What do I see?
Reporting of new products, events, and so on, maybe with comments from the magazine editor and other staff.
Formal 'reviewing' of such products.
Reporting, often with comment as above, of music.
All of of which is fine.

But I DON'T see any 'journalism'. That's fine too, as 'journalism' is not really relevant to 'hobby' magazines.

MQA? That's also fine, but it has gone way 'over the top' in its pro-MQA approach. There is nothing truly analytic, its proven failings are not mentioned, and if these proven failing are brought up in readers comments they are not replied to.

We all know why of course, hifi magazines are totally dependent of the arrival of new products for their very existence, simply because the hifi market (as compared to fishing and motorcycles) is very small and may be in decline. And the ONLY people who can 'talk it up' are the magazines, the manufacturers can't do it.

And that's fine too, but of course it makes anyone with two brain cells to rub together fully aware that it causes the reporting of anything to have a positive bias whether the product is worthwhile or not.

And MQA, originally, seemed a 'good idea'. Its ONLY claims were the 'authentication' and that the result would be equal to lossless 44.1/16 but take up less space. And both appeared to be true, assuming the 'authentication' part, including the measuring of ADCs used in the studio and the DACs used by the end users are actually performed.

But the MQA claims since have gradually moved into (demonstrable) fantasy and that has attracted a lot of fully justified criticism.

ToeJam's picture

are all part of the human experience, and the Sound and Vision comment section is a microcosm thereof.

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