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MQA - any experiences yet?

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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
91
45
18,570
Barbapapa said:
@ davidf: True, I've also had the vague impression that CD in this way did not play as well as it could/should. This even though I'm of the belief that bits are bits. I should try to rip the CD and then play the FLAC through the Bluesound Node, to compare accurately to the MQA version. I'll see when I'll find time to do so.

@ shadders: That would be a nice experiment. Presently I don't think I've got one of the MQA albums in hi-res (other than a few test tracks from 2L). I'll see whether I can find an album that might be suitable for comparison. Probably classical as I'm most familiar with that kind of material, although I found the Pink Floyd I listened to also quite enjoyable.
Hi,

Thanks if you can. If the difference is minimal, then hopefully MQA will not ingress into standard CD.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

Al ears

Moderator
shadders said:
Barbapapa said:
I posted my experiences in an earlier post somewhere. For the purposes of this thread I did a quick comparison of Renaud Capucon/Khatia Buniatishvili Franck, Grieg, Dvorak: Sonatas for violin & piano (which I have on CD as well).

- Bluesound Node 2 using internal DAC with MQA

- Quad Vena DAC streaming from Bluesound Node 2 MQA through optical.

- Quad Vena DAC from cheap Philips Blu-ray player playing CD through Coax.

The CD clearly sounds worst: in comparison the sound seems muffled (not softer; I tried increasing the volume).

The two MQA options in comparison are much clearer; it is indeed much more like the violin is in the room. I find it difficult to distinguish the Quad Vena DAC and the Bluesound DAC: there may be the tiniest of differences, but not quickly noticeable. Maybe I would find some difference after extensive listening, but then I might as well imagine things. This is in fact similar to non-MQA music which I also find sounding similar through either DAC.

Provisional conclusion: the improvements (if any) may in this set-up be due mostly to the 'remastering' part of MQA and/or the higher resolution once unfolded. The MQA-qualified DAC in itself doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

Now some caveats:

- I didn't do blind A-B tests, furthermore the Quad Vena takes about half a second to switch inputs.

- The DACs used are quite modest to hifi standards; it could well be that better DACs would give clearer differences.

- My whole set-up is quite modest (fairly cheap speakers) which could be the reason why I can't distinguish the two DACs in MQA.

I also did a quick test using my Sennheiser 598 headphone (which I find quite revealing), again there is only the slightest of differences. Then I got bored and decided to just enjoy the music instead (lovely album, can really recommend it).
Hi,

Thanks. It would be good to see if high resolution differed by much compared to MQA. Do you have the material to compare with MQA?

Regards,

Shadders.
A pointless exercise I feel, downloads are not where MQA is at.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
91
45
18,570
Al ears said:
shadders said:
Barbapapa said:
I posted my experiences in an earlier post somewhere. For the purposes of this thread I did a quick comparison of Renaud Capucon/Khatia Buniatishvili Franck, Grieg, Dvorak: Sonatas for violin & piano (which I have on CD as well).

- Bluesound Node 2 using internal DAC with MQA

- Quad Vena DAC streaming from Bluesound Node 2 MQA through optical.

- Quad Vena DAC from cheap Philips Blu-ray player playing CD through Coax.

The CD clearly sounds worst: in comparison the sound seems muffled (not softer; I tried increasing the volume).

The two MQA options in comparison are much clearer; it is indeed much more like the violin is in the room. I find it difficult to distinguish the Quad Vena DAC and the Bluesound DAC: there may be the tiniest of differences, but not quickly noticeable. Maybe I would find some difference after extensive listening, but then I might as well imagine things. This is in fact similar to non-MQA music which I also find sounding similar through either DAC.

Provisional conclusion: the improvements (if any) may in this set-up be due mostly to the 'remastering' part of MQA and/or the higher resolution once unfolded. The MQA-qualified DAC in itself doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

Now some caveats:

- I didn't do blind A-B tests, furthermore the Quad Vena takes about half a second to switch inputs.

- The DACs used are quite modest to hifi standards; it could well be that better DACs would give clearer differences.

- My whole set-up is quite modest (fairly cheap speakers) which could be the reason why I can't distinguish the two DACs in MQA.

I also did a quick test using my Sennheiser 598 headphone (which I find quite revealing), again there is only the slightest of differences. Then I got bored and decided to just enjoy the music instead (lovely album, can really recommend it).
Hi,

Thanks. It would be good to see if high resolution differed by much compared to MQA. Do you have the material to compare with MQA?

Regards,

Shadders.
A pointless exercise I feel, downloads are not where MQA is at.
Hi,

I have 7 high resolution blu ray discs, at least 24bit/96kHz. There are others such as SACD, or indeed, high resolution downloads.

The test is to determine if the MQA solution is significantly better than existing high resolution source material, or just a slightly different interpretation.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

bubobubo

New member
Nov 9, 2016
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0
i dont know what is going on with people nowdays, i had listen to all format (exept reel to reel) and i feel so confortable with cd, is like a freedom to feel that cd is enough for me so i dont look further, but instead i narrow my search sometime to the cd limit like mfsl masterings even when not nessesary means better and cd styles like blu- spec cd that i can rip to wav and listen with my bluray player, and yes is more clear but like i said i dont care about what format it going to came exept a revolutionary format that is still not here and i listen most old stuff so maybe when that revolutionary format came to existence when all these reel to reel originals master tapes, are in a such bad shape, i feel is good then to digitalise all (for me is 16 bit 44 or 48 more than enough)
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
0
18,890
Thought I'd bring a Bluesound Node II home, firstly to see if my Classé Sigma SSP will decode MQA via the digital out of the Node, and if it did, listen to some MQA via my own system. The good news is, the SSP does decide MQA, so currently listening to RHCP's BloodSugarSexMajik at 96kHz via my trusty 40+ year old JR149s.

I've mentioned somewhere before that I've always liked the raw sound of the album on CD, despite its harshness in places. The MQA version seems to give it a more "polished" feel, almost like it was meant to sound like most other albums do - not more processed, just better produced. It also gives it a vinyl-like smoothness, as well as a more three dimensional soundstage that I usually find one of the benefits of vinyl over most digital productions. Is it better conveying the acoustic of the empty mansion it was recorded in?

But is it losing something, or subduing something? The usually harsh sounding Give It Away now sounds "soft" and easy on the ears. This would no doubt be preferable for those who don't like the album because of CD's harshness, but what about those like me who are used to the piercing guitars during the chorus? I'm not saying either is right or wrong, just different, but it's bugging me a little as it's one of my favourite albums. One thing I do notice though, is that you're able to hear everything more equally, rather than certain instruments taking over others. Then again, the title track is sounding pretty awesome right now.

I think whether you like MQA or not, it is going to give some hope to the future quality of audio streaming. Despite initially being against audio streaming (I still am in some ways), I'd happily pay £20 per month for a good choice of stuff I listen to - currently there's not enough, but what there is is extremely promising.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
739
298
5,270
The library is 30,000 tracks. The bad news is that the tracks don't show up as Masters quality until you play them. There is only a small number of albums (circa 400) in What's New tab. I haven't verified it myself looking for tracks that are MQA and not in What's new section.

I have re-listened to Blood Sugar Sex Magik the other day and liked it all the way through. I'm not sure why I felt that the SQ changed midway through. One thing I might add regarding MQA is that it makes me appreciate production more than ever.
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
0
18,890
insider9 said:
One thing I might add regarding MQA is that it makes me appreciate production more than ever.
It'd be nice if TIDAL could get some respected producers on board to confirm their support for the platform. And I don't mean producers getting paid to say this is what they were aiming for...if Rick Rubin said that the MQA version of BSSM is the best representation of what he produced, that'd be more than enough for me. Come on producers, do it for the good of the industry...
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
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manicm said:
I don't see MQA success widespread, it will remain niche like DSD.
I don't know. DSD, hi-res etc have always needed specific discs, and usually specific processing in order to be used. If the likes of TIDAL can eventually replace their whole catalogue with MQA titles, that puts it in the mainstream. It's more easily accessible than those other formats.

And IF there really is no difference between CD and 24/96, and people struggle to hear any difference, MQA is different, in that the difference is pretty easily discernible - I heard stuff I've never heard before via an MQA album through a pair of £700 speakers and a Bluesound PowerNode II - whilst not exactly cheap, it's not a "high end" system by any means. I'm looking forward to more of my favourite albums being reissued in MQA so I can hear how they sound.

Nice to see the MQA titles now being specifically listed on the BlueOS app under "Masters" :)
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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manicm said:
I don't see MQA success widespread, it will remain niche like DSD.
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, sound quality wise, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
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18,890
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
 

Al ears

Moderator
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
I'd agree MQA could make a significant difference vin the world of streaming if the person receiving the streams has the physical hardware required to decode it fully. This hardware is becoming cheaper in its basic form. I fail to see it is going to make any difference to downloads though.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
1
0
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on  :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
 

bubobubo

New member
Nov 9, 2016
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drummerman said:
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit'...
is all about money *shok*

I wonder if someone had compare the hdtracks, the cd and the mqa remastering of Buena Vista Social Club?
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
557
42
18,920
drummerman said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
Except Meridian, the problem is I don't know of any major MQA enabled DAC. NAD have modules that can be added to their newish amps. But no Cyrus, Naim. Benchmark have rejected it, Linn will almost never do it either. It would be interesting if firms like Marantz adopt it. So in the mean time, what is Hifi News going to review? WHF gave the Meridian Explorer 2 a lukewarm review, but it is a portable dac.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
1
0
manicm said:
drummerman said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
Except Meridian, the problem is I don't know of any major MQA enabled DAC. NAD have modules that can be added to their newish amps. But no Cyrus, Naim. Benchmark have rejected it, Linn will almost never do it either. It would be interesting if firms like Marantz adopt it. So in the mean time, what is Hifi News going to review? WHF gave the Meridian Explorer 2 a lukewarm review, but it is a portable dac.
Audioquests Dragonflies will get it soon. The problem, as I understand it, is that there is a strict protocol on what devices wishing to add MQA can and can not do, such as what outputs they provide, which perhaps will exclude a number of products. I would also imagine that MQA will charge for the licensing, which in turn, will almost certainly increase the cost. It will be interesting to see if Audioquest will pass that on to punters.

For my liking there are, at present, just a tad too many ifs and buts though I wont exclude the possibility of adding it to my music in the future ... if it takes off.
 

Al ears

Moderator
manicm said:
drummerman said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
Except Meridian, the problem is I don't know of any major MQA enabled DAC. NAD have modules that can be added to their newish amps. But no Cyrus, Naim. Benchmark have rejected it, Linn will almost never do it either. It would be interesting if firms like Marantz adopt it. So in the mean time, what is Hifi News going to review? WHF gave the Meridian Explorer 2 a lukewarm review, but it is a portable dac.
I think you will find some Mytek and Auralic dacs are MQA compatible, not a lot I admit, think it will be streamers that will benefit from it most.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
557
42
18,920
Al ears said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on  :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
I'd agree MQA could make a significant difference vin the world of streaming if the person receiving the streams has the physical hardware required to decode it fully. This hardware is becoming cheaper in its basic form. I fail to see it is going to make any difference to downloads though.
You've answered your own question. If a person has the hardware - read DAC actually - then it's the same for streaming or downloads.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
557
42
18,920
Al ears said:
manicm said:
drummerman said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on  :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
Except Meridian, the problem is I don't know of any major MQA enabled DAC. NAD have modules that can be added to their newish amps. But no Cyrus, Naim. Benchmark have rejected it, Linn will almost never do it either. It would be interesting if firms like Marantz adopt it. So in the mean time, what is Hifi News going to review? WHF gave the Meridian Explorer 2 a lukewarm review, but it is a portable dac.
I think you will find some Mytek and Auralic dacs are MQA compatible, not a lot I admit, think it will be streamers that will benefit from it most.
Auralic has been rejected by MQA, on technical grounds. I think MQA requires a DAC with analogue output, and Auralic's architecture does not conform. But if they've cracked it like Shadders suggests, I'd like to see the results and legal outcome.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
91
45
18,570
manicm said:
Al ears said:
manicm said:
drummerman said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Without an MQA enabled DAC I won't get the full 'benefit' as Tidal's software only unpacks part of it. That's as I understand it.

I am waiting for someone like HifiNews to do a an in-depth test. Someone sooner or later will :).
Except Meridian, the problem is I don't know of any major MQA enabled DAC. NAD have modules that can be added to their newish amps. But no Cyrus, Naim. Benchmark have rejected it, Linn will almost never do it either. It would be interesting if firms like Marantz adopt it. So in the mean time, what is Hifi News going to review? WHF gave the Meridian Explorer 2 a lukewarm review, but it is a portable dac.
I think you will find some Mytek and Auralic dacs are MQA compatible, not a lot I admit, think it will be streamers that will benefit from it most.
Auralic has been rejected by MQA, on technical grounds. I think MQA requires a DAC with analogue output, and Auralic's architecture does not conform. But if they've cracked it like Shadders suggests, I'd like to see the results and legal outcome.
Hi,

I never stated that someone will provide a capability to decode MQA without paying the license fee. I have stated that someone can review the MQA process and reverse engineer the process and implement their own similar process on existing recordings. The recording studios don't need MQA, they just need to implement a similar process.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

Al ears

Moderator
manicm said:
Al ears said:
davidf said:
drummerman said:
Agree.

All this stuff only appeals to hifi die hards.

Still, good to have for some probably, at least once we all know what this 'magic' new Format actually does, which, at present, not many seem to agree on :)

I may or may not get 'in to' it once waters are clear and once there is a consensus but I wont spend money on it yet.
I don't know exactly what it does, but just listening can tell you it's doing something right! Have a listen if you can, see what you think...as I'm signed up to TIDAL because of the business, I'm seriously thinking of ditching the ZP90 to get a Node II. I'm listening to stuff I've not heard before, and some albums I've been meaning to get into for a little while now. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
I'd agree MQA could make a significant difference vin the world of streaming if the person receiving the streams has the physical hardware required to decode it fully. This hardware is becoming cheaper in its basic form. I fail to see it is going to make any difference to downloads though.
You've answered your own question. If a person has the hardware - read DAC actually - then it's the same for streaming or downloads.
There's not a question there, it was a statement.

I meant an MQA download is pointless.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
557
42
18,920
MQA downloads will not be pointless - not any less than hi res downloads especially for portable players/phones and DACs.

Also remember MQA is not really about compression even though the file sizes are much smaller than FLAC hires. It's being advertised for sound quality.
 

Al ears

Moderator
manicm said:
MQA downloads will not be pointless - not any less than hi res downloads especially for portable players/phones and DACs.

Also remember MQA is not really about compression even though the file sizes are much smaller than FLAC hires. It's being advertised for sound quality.
I guess sound quality will have to wait to be seen. As for file size that will not worry most people as storage media is relatively cheap. My portable media player uses micro SD cards which can easily be interchanged so no.problem there. If people choose to download to phones I would hazard a guess and say they will be happy with MP3.

To my mind MQA is all about compression and how they can create better sounding files primarily for streaming.

If I want to download decent sounding files I will stick to uncompressed DSD files rather than fork out for a portable media player that can handle MQA ( a tad short on the ground at the moment).
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
567
0
18,890
Anybody else heard it yet?

I had a listen to Alanis Morissette's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie album yesterday, and the first track (despite being one I normally skip during demos), sounded a bit different to how I remember it. I have it ripped from CD on my ZENith, so I'm going to compare the two today to see if it's just my memory or whether a different master has been used to the CD. Other than a few little bits I don't recall hearing before, most of the album seemed the same, just the first track sounded quite different.
 

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