MQA or CD

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
Hello, my setup is the next:
-Samsung S10e with integrated AKM DAC
-Sony WH-1000XM3 wired
-Wavelett app

MQA is very popular in Tidal, many albums in my library are masters. However I don't consider them to be great on my setup, some CD quality tracks tend to be better for me. I'm aware I'm not having full MQA decodification, I don´t want an external DAC. Which one is the most natural and similar to the original master?
 

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
Hi and tricky question! On my system it varies. My TEAC does full second unfold MQA and in most cases that significantly improves on CD. There are a few exceptions, such as pink floyd, where I would load the CD every time as I don’t like the MQA mastering. Cd can also beat some regular Tidal offering which are inconsistent in SQ to my ears. The TEAC can also upsample 16/44.1 upto 352.8 and then apply a choice of filters. That works very well with Radio Paradise FLAC stream. Sorry, not really much help and both CD and Tidal offer an enjoyable listen.
 
I'm highly skeptical that hi res bests CD-quality unless you have both a highly revealing system and very good listening skills. I base this on not being able to tell the difference between SACD and CD on my own system, despite giving it a good try and really hoping I would be able to.

Do a back to back and see if you can tell the difference, but with someone else choosing the format so your expectations are not a factor.
 
D

Deleted member 116933

Guest
MQA and red book is an argument as time it’s self. ( not really but you get my point)

Really all you can do is listen and make your own mind up.

In my experience when streaming is done right (and I doesn’t mean expensive) red book vs cd theres no difference in sound quality.

Higher res tracks do have more, ummm, impact! Not bass but more attack and drive and are slightly clearer and have more texture. It’s like glare and you’ve put some polarised specs on.

You Especially hear it with voices. But I couldn’t reliably point out tracks.

In all honesty just enjoy the music and don’t worry about its format. I gave up caring and I’m much happier for it. A bad recording will always be a bad recording you can’t polish a poo.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SteveR750

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
Hi 12th Monkey. You have a highly resolving system and respect what you hear. I have @45 SACDs and apart from a few whose original recordings were a bit iffy, eg Tubular Bells, offer advantages over CD to my ears. Much like MQA, it is my personal experience and not a statement of fact. PS Audio over in Boulder, Colorado have acquired the old Sony Sonoma DSD recording gear and are beginning to offer freshly recorded SACDs. According to this months HiFi news, they offer outstanding SQ. I’m not going to take a punt as yet as$29 plus $19 shipping. Ouch. Called Octave records.
Octave
 
Last edited:
I'd qualified my post at its beginning because I object to people saying I imagine hearing differences in other areas, and therefore shouldn't do the same to others! The qualifier I could add is that the SACDs were played on my OPPO blu ray player as I haven't ever had a CDP that is also an SACD player. I guess you can't be sure unless you hear both on the same player, or at the very least using the same DAC. What I can say for definite is that the CD layer on my CDP sounded identical to the SACD layer on the OPPO. Half tempted to re-run the exercise, as that was on the old Arcam, not the MF.

I do suspect that the wider world deludes itself a little, and that the differences on modest kit are likely to be an illusion - but I pass no comment on those here who say they find differences.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
Hi and tricky question! On my system it varies. My TEAC does full second unfold MQA and in most cases that significantly improves on CD. There are a few exceptions, such as pink floyd, where I would load the CD every time as I don’t like the MQA mastering. Cd can also beat some regular Tidal offering which are inconsistent in SQ to my ears. The TEAC can also upsample 16/44.1 upto 352.8 and then apply a choice of filters. That works very well with Radio Paradise FLAC stream. Sorry, not really much help and both CD and Tidal offer an enjoyable listen.
I understand, some tracks have a different mastering. I had an experience with MQA, the sound is really good sometimes since we are not listening to different qualities. For me CD quality, is great the sounds is warmer. Bass and vocals are more pronounced without being excesive. Masters have stronger highs, and a lack of body in my setup.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
Hi 12th Monkey. You have a highly resolving system and respect what you hear. I have @45 SACDs and apart from a few whose original recordings were a bit iffy, eg Tubular Bells, offer advantages over CD to my ears. Much like MQA, it is my personal experience and not a statement of fact. PS Audio over in Boulder, Colorado have acquired the old Sony Sonoma DSD recording gear and are beginning to offer freshly recorded SACDs. According to this months HiFi news, they offer outstanding SQ. I’m not going to take a punt as yet as$29 plus $19 shipping. Ouch. Called Octave records.
Octave
Yeah, the mastering and recording quality is essencial and even CD could de reference quality if it is well produced.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
I'm highly skeptical that hi res bests CD-quality unless you have both a highly revealing system and very good listening skills. I base this on not being able to tell the difference between SACD and CD on my own system, despite giving it a good try and really hoping I would be able to.

Do a back to back and see if you can tell the difference, but with someone else choosing the format so your expectations are not a factor.
I could tell the difference between MQA and a CD. It gets really complex when you add SACD, DSD and Hi Res 96 Khz 24 bit. But in my reality, I just have Tidal and some old CDs. I'm not planing to buy higher quality equipment.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
I'd qualified my post at its beginning because I object to people saying I imagine hearing differences in other areas, and therefore shouldn't do the same to others! The qualifier I could add is that the SACDs were played on my OPPO blu ray player as I haven't ever had a CDP that is also an SACD player. I guess you can't be sure unless you hear both on the same player, or at the very least using the same DAC. What I can say for definite is that the CD layer on my CDP sounded identical to the SACD layer on the OPPO. Half tempted to re-run the exercise, as that was on the old Arcam, not the MF.

I do suspect that the wider world deludes itself a little, and that the differences on modest kit are likely to be an illusion - but I pass no comment on those here who say they find differences.
Maybe that a reason SACDs were not very popular.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
MQA and red book is an argument as time it’s self. ( not really but you get my point)

Really all you can do is listen and make your own mind up.

In my experience when streaming is done right (and I doesn’t mean expensive) red book vs cd theres no difference in sound quality.

Higher res tracks do have more, ummm, impact! Not bass but more attack and drive and are slightly clearer and have more texture. It’s like glare and you’ve put some polarised specs on.

You Especially hear it with voices. But I couldn’t reliably point out tracks.

In all honesty just enjoy the music and don’t worry about its format. I gave up caring and I’m much happier for it. A bad recording will always be a bad recording you can’t polish a poo.
I do enjoy the music, I just wanted to talk about this for fun. Formats are very interesting.
 

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
agree, it is for fun. Right now, I’m listening to radio paradise mellow mix and it sounds very good indeed. Does not have to be hi Res. There are surprises with MQA. 50 year old recordings by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, deep purple and America sound amazingly good, so guess those original Masters were.works of art. Others not so much. The Beatles superb, stones more varied. Keith Jarretts Koln Concert, live recording from1974, beats my 1984 CD by a country mile. If you are into classical, then Norwegian label 2l have hi res tracks that unfold to 24/352.8 and are the best that I have heard. I am just delighted that, having been suckered into digital in 1984 on false marketing hype, it finally delivers beautiful music
 

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
Hi 12 monkeys, I bought a pioneer universal disc player in 2004 and some SACDs to play on it. The 5.1 was mostly a gimmick and SQ no improvement probably due to the pioneer av amp. It was a decade later that I bought a Marantz sacd player by which time the availability of the discs had diminished. I no longer had access to the Asian market, where they remain popular. A format that deserved a better fate.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
33
18,920
I don't think my ears are golden, nor un-golden; an observation generally in day to day life they're more than average sensitive amongst family friends, if that counts for anything. I really can't hear the benefit of hi res over CDA after hours of listening and comparison, unless the track has been remastered fully in the hi res format. Tidal Masters v CDA version v J River v MusicBee; tbh, the music player has more influence, from what I can hear. The Amazon HD music joke strongly suggests that most of the benefit of HD music is psychological and not real, and that generally fold will believe their ears, not the data laid out in front of them! Arguably, bit perfect is a pointless aspiration for home audio.
 

angelmf2704

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2020
96
16
545
agree, it is for fun. Right now, I’m listening to radio paradise mellow mix and it sounds very good indeed. Does not have to be hi Res. There are surprises with MQA. 50 year old recordings by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, deep purple and America sound amazingly good, so guess those original Masters were.works of art. Others not so much. The Beatles superb, stones more varied. Keith Jarretts Koln Concert, live recording from1974, beats my 1984 CD by a country mile. If you are into classical, then Norwegian label 2l have hi res tracks that unfold to 24/352.8 and are the best that I have heard. I am just delighted that, having been suckered into digital in 1984 on false marketing hype, it finally delivers beautiful music
America and James Taylor music sounds amazing in master quality MQA. Some new releases may not have an noticeable between MQA and CD.
 
If a difference is heard sometimes and not others (discounting poor recordings) that could suggest the mix is the difference, rather than the format.

If so, hybrid SACD would be the acid test, as both mixes should be the same - which is where I came in. I wonder whether the mixes are made deliberately different in some cases to encourage subscribers - if they hear a difference it must be worthwhile.

Agree with OF about my limited 5.1ch experience - I had a single DVD audio (and it's perhaps not wise to judge on a single sample, I know) and it was just awful. In separating the stereo strands, it had become muddled and rhythmically dead.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts