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Adding a music streamer to my hi-fi system has been a revelation NO MQA?

djh1697

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Nov 27, 2008
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Becky Roberts does an article with the name of this thread
https://www.whathifi.com/features/adding-a-music-streamer-to-my-hi-fi-system-has-been-a-revelation-and-a-frustration
Bemoaning the fact the MQA is unsupported, there are other master quality formats that are superior to MQA. MQA would have been a great system 20 or 30 years ago when memory and and storage was at a premium, and super fast internet speeds where not so common. MQA uses complex algorithms to "fold" the music to fit into a smaller size, something that would have been useful at in the 1990's and 2000's, today we have cheap storage and memory. There in no need to compress music, a 192/24 FLAC file might be ten size the size of a MQA file, but it doesn't matter!

Get an A4 piece of paper and fold it in half three times, unfold it, and it does not look the same as the original, so the same for MQA

Trust me Becky, you are not missing out by not having MQA compatibility! When Bob Stuart demonstrates MQA he has NEVER compared it against other high definition music formats, ask yourself, why not?
 

drg_hifi

Active member
Jan 10, 2021
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There in no need to compress music, a 192/24 FLAC file might be ten size the size of a MQA file, but it doesn't matter!
My opinion is that dedicated bandwidth still costs. Compression has few other benefits besides smaller sizes: you can afford to loose few bytes per transfer and still decompression will still be 100% accurate due to a small recovery area included in the compressed file. Also, there is DRM involved, so the file will still suffer some kind of transformation while on transit, why not add compression too. A second point: cellular data is still very expensive while being in roaming and even if not in roaming not many people have big/unlimited 4G/5G data plans.
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Becky’s piece was very good. And Paul Rigby from theaudiophilmean has actually been more controversial. In more cases than not the CD sounds just that bit better than the equivalent rip.

I also agree with drg_hifi in that MQA has its merits in compressing streams for >CD quality. Streaming 24/96 or 24/192 is a waste of bandwidth anyway you cut it - it uses more than a good 1080p video stream. It’s just a complete waste of resources for what may or may not sound better.
 

drg_hifi

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Jan 10, 2021
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Becky’s piece was very good. And Paul Rigby from theaudiophilmean has actually been more controversial. In more cases than not the CD sounds just that bit better than the equivalent rip.

I also agree with drg_hifi in that MQA has its merits in compressing streams for >CD quality. Streaming 24/96 or 24/192 is a waste of bandwidth anyway you cut it - it uses more than a good 1080p video stream. It’s just a complete waste of resources for what may or may not sound better.
Thanks manicm. I will like to add a bit more. Compression is in many places over the Internet, invisible to the naked eye. But it makes sense in certain places and in some it doesn't. Examples: an email server where there are many email accounts and where the email 'database' is stored. There it makes sense to turn compression on through different technologies to avoid waste; also more important than this is a technology called deduplication. This is a bit lengthier introduction to the audio part. Deduplication makes sure that one email sent to 100 of the addresses stored in the mail server does not occupy 100 times the space of it but 1 times the space and just pointers to every account or vice versa: pointers from an account to the file. This way you can save lots of space. Besides deduplication there is compression that you can turn on after analysis for the mail system. Not always compression is a good idea.

Now back on topic, there are some compression technologies available and wav files can be compressed quite well. Instead of streaming 100 MB of file you can stream just 40 MB of FLAC or more for MQA.
Some figures from Tidal statistics:
https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002599997-What-Audio-Quality-Does-TIDAL-HiFi-Offer-
"Below are examples of file sizes for a 3½ minute song:
Normal - 2.5MB
High - 8.4MB
HiFi (lossless, 44.1 kHz sample rate) - 20 MB
MQA (lossless, max 352 kHz sample rate) - 26.25 MB"

and WAV being on average 60% more than FLAC -> WAV file would be 32 MB.

Now there are special algorithms for compressing sound like AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, MQA and more. And there are general purpose lossless algorithms that you can use for any type of file: zip, gzip, bzip, bzip2, cz, lzma, lzop, rar, 7zip, etc.

The thing with them is that at the time they were invented not many thought to streaming so not all are very fit for this purpose. That is why MQA had to be invented. To conclude, at very large scale every megabyte matters. Probably sometime in the future compression of audio will disappear but who know how far fetched is that.


https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/05/mqa-explained-everything-you-need-to-know-about-high-res-audio/4/
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
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Thanks manicm. I will like to add a bit more. Compression is in many places over the Internet, invisible to the naked eye. But it makes sense in certain places and in some it doesn't. Examples: an email server where there are many email accounts and where the email 'database' is stored. There it makes sense to turn compression on through different technologies to avoid waste; also more important than this is a technology called deduplication. This is a bit lengthier introduction to the audio part. Deduplication makes sure that one email sent to 100 of the addresses stored in the mail server does not occupy 100 times the space of it but 1 times the space and just pointers to every account or vice versa: pointers from an account to the file. This way you can save lots of space. Besides deduplication there is compression that you can turn on after analysis for the mail system. Not always compression is a good idea.

Now back on topic, there are some compression technologies available and wav files can be compressed quite well. Instead of streaming 100 MB of file you can stream just 40 MB of FLAC or more for MQA.
Some figures from Tidal statistics:
https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002599997-What-Audio-Quality-Does-TIDAL-HiFi-Offer-

and WAV being on average 60% more than FLAC -> WAV file would be 32 MB.
There are 9 different levels of FLAC and FLAC Uncompressed is actually bigger than WAV. So it all depends what level from 1-8 that you use.
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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There are 9 different levels of FLAC and FLAC Uncompressed is actually bigger than WAV. So it all depends what level from 1-8 that you use.
1. I'm not yet drinking the Kool-Aid but MQA promises > CD and close to Hires quality audio for the size of an average WAV.

2. There could be caveats to using more compression in FLAC. The higher the compression, the more processing required, and possibly affecting music quality.

3. It's clear that Naim added a lot of streaming processing power into their current Uniti series. But don't count on that in a 500 quid all in one.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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Guys, you need to stop referring to MQA as a format, it's a compression container that allows hi-res music to be
delivered/streamed at lower bit rates across the web or stored on smaller media that larger media would be used for and its the sole reason tidal use it, it still contains a standard FLAC WAV 16, 24, 96, 196 just uses special software and decoders to unfold the data properly to deliver the full experiance.

in other words, It delivers hi-res tracks to you at the size of a CD album but records and packages this on the fly in real-time in the studio. Clever stuff. Its sound benefit is that this compression doesn't harm the hi-res recording and it works.

In recent years they have actually reworded their description of it to try and stop the confusion.

TBH MQA really shouldn't matter to the consumer at all, but it does because you need special stuff. And that's it downfall.

This is what they say (what hi-fi)

"MQA aims to “fundamentally change the way we all enjoy music”. It’s a method of digitally capturing and storing original master recordings as files that are small and convenient enough to download or stream, without the sonic sacrifices traditionally associated with compressed files."

"MQA claims its tracks use a similar bandwidth to that required for CD-quality streams. So if you’re able to stream Tidal’s hi-fi tier with relative ease then the new Tidal Masters tier using MQA shouldn’t be a problem."
 

drg_hifi

Active member
Jan 10, 2021
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I listen to Tidal Masters though I have to compare it with the Amazon HD Music 192khz/24 bit when I'll get the chance, everyone is saying its superior.

In regard to FLAC compression, my mistake, but I bet they are using the best compression, because there is lots of processing power in the cloud nowadays. Even for small gains there is the CPU power so most probably they are using level 8.

Speaking for myself, I like MQA, its enough for my needs but again, I did not compared it with Music HD from Amazon. On a note here I think Amazon did not bothered with MQA because even if their streaming bitrate is high they own the biggest internet pipes in the world and many POPs across places where they don't have cloud services so for them it does not matter the gain MQA delivers, but for Tidal I think it matters to reduce some of the bandwidth costs and possibly servers.
 
Last edited:

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
755
145
19,070
Guys, you need to stop referring to MQA as a format, it's a compression container that allows hi-res music to be
delivered/streamed at lower bit rates across the web or stored on smaller media that larger media would be used for and its the sole reason tidal use it, it still contains a standard FLAC WAV 16, 24, 96, 196 just uses special software and decoders to unfold the data properly to deliver the full experiance.

in other words, It delivers hi-res tracks to you at the size of a CD album but records and packages this on the fly in real-time in the studio. Clever stuff. Its sound benefit is that this compression doesn't harm the hi-res recording and it works.

In recent years they have actually reworded their description of it to try and stop the confusion.

TBH MQA really shouldn't matter to the consumer at all, but it does because you need special stuff. And that's it downfall.

This is what they say (what hi-fi)

"MQA aims to “fundamentally change the way we all enjoy music”. It’s a method of digitally capturing and storing original master recordings as files that are small and convenient enough to download or stream, without the sonic sacrifices traditionally associated with compressed files."

"MQA claims its tracks use a similar bandwidth to that required for CD-quality streams. So if you’re able to stream Tidal’s hi-fi tier with relative ease then the new Tidal Masters tier using MQA shouldn’t be a problem."
MQA is a format actually. And it’s not simply a container, technically it’s a lossy compression technique, yes lossy. That ‘folding’ is a lossy compression technique. But Bob Stuart says that label is meaningless because of the proprietary technique involved.
 

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