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MQA, worth it?

joe23

Well-known member
Jun 4, 2009
8
8
18,525
Yes, I saw this video last night too after it was posted on a Roon forum on Facebook (and removed soon after).

I've had my suspicions about MQA for some time and this video backs them up. I was very much on board with MQA in the early days of it. I had a demo of a few of the early remastered tracks which were all originally analogue recordings, played back on a high end Meridian system and it completely blew me away, so I was hooked from that point onwards and bought both an MQA equipped DAC and a portable audio player with MQA built in. Then when Tidal announced they were going to be streaming MQA, things got really exciting and I thought this was the future.

Then the MQA tracks started coming thick and fast from Tidal and that's where things started sliding downhill for me pretty quickly. I was finding that everything seemed to have a 'house sound'. All of the recordings, no matter what genre or how they were recorded seemed to have this lower mid range bloom to them which made them sound a bit overly hi-fi and took away the original traits of the recordings that in many cases I was very familiar with so I was getting bored of listening to MQA tracks and started straying away from them. I began to wonder whether the remastering of all of these tracks was more a case of them being passed through some sort of automatic plug-in rather than having the care taken over them that MQA's initial claims of 'Provenance' were suggesting. After some exploring of the MQA catalogue it became abundantly clear to me that the whole claim of 'Provenance' was nothing more than marketing BS. I was finding albums where left and right channels were reversed compared with both my CD and vinyl copies of the albums and other albums where there were audible glitches or noise in some tracks, so the 'white glove' treatment had clearly gone out of the window if it had ever existed.

Something that also occurred to me which I don't like one bit is the fact that there is never any like for like comparison available i.e. the MQA playback vs the same mastering in FLAC format side by side. It was quite obvious from the start that even in the demos I'd had of MQA, they went to lengths to ensure you could only compare apples with oranges and the fact that there are no publicly available encoders for MQA certainly set the alarm bells ringing.

I've ended up ditching my Tidal subscription for Qobuz and I have to say that Qobuz, to my ears at least, is much closer to music as I remember it sounding. Before I'd seen that video I had completely lost any faith and trust I had in MQA, but seeing that video and the practices MQA employs when coming under the spotlight has ensured that I won't be paying for any more of it.
 
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RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
158
68
170
Did you post the same over at PF?

Lengthy thread there (again). Started a couple of days ago and it already reached a stage were locking is probably an option soon.

I gave my thoughts there about it and won't inflict it here again.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
779
360
11,270
I agree with joe. There is a lot of normalisation going on. And plenty of glitches little pop and what not. Never noticed channel differences though.. And I did much prefer qobuz just there selection is a lot smaller. I’m not currently signed up to anything at the moment. Just waiting to see what Spotify do.
 

njprrogers

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2015
44
10
10,545
From my point of view, I have compared Spotify and tidal and couldn't really detect a sufficient difference to give up Spotify connect and a superior app.
Found tidal through play fi and bubble upnp too much of a faff for a jump in quality I couldn't hear.

Looking forward to Spotify hifi. Fingers crossed it's good.
 

iMark

Well-known member
May 16, 2008
403
200
19,270
I'm also waiting for Spotify HiFi. Hopefully they don't mess about with the sound and just upload CDs. Best thing would be if there were different masters from different years uploaded so we can listen to better masters from before the loudness wars.

Spotify Premium already sounds pretty good on our system through Spotify Connect on our Yamaha RN-602.. But I'm happy to pay a few euros more per month to get CD quality.

I already had serious doubts about MQA before I watched the video. We should not be supporting non-transparant proprietary systems. I really agree with the point about the bandwidth that is used by 24/192 streaming: it only takes about 5MB/s to stream hi-res audio. We don't need a form of lossy compression if we can already stream video at 4k. MQA is a non-solution for a problem we don't have. It's wasteful nonsense.
 
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manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
939
216
19,270
I'm also waiting for Spotify HiFi. Hopefully they don't mess about with the sound and just upload CDs. Best thing would be if there were different masters from different years uploaded so we can listen to better masters from before the loudness wars.

Spotify Premium already sounds pretty good on our system through Spotify Connect on our Yamaha RN-602.. But I'm happy to pay a few euros more per month to get CD quality.

I already had serious doubts about MQA before I watched the video. We should not be supporting non-transparant proprietary systems. I really agree with the point about the bandwidth that is used by 24/192 streaming: it only takes about 5MB/s to stream hi-res audio. We don't need a form of lossy compression if we can already stream video at 4k. MQA is a non-solution for a problem we don't have. It's wasteful nonsense.
You’re wrong. Streaming at true 24/196 will require around 10mbps. And that’s more than 1080p streaming. And that to me is wasteful.

Also I’m waiting for responses to this video, before I condemn MQA.
 

anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
648
382
1,270
Amazon streams 24/96 uncompressed and it's ~7mbps if I remember right. That sucks up too much of my terrible 18/1 connection and combined with the terrible interface made me keep Tidal for now. I've had Prime for 12 or 13 years so I'm already invested in the Amazon ecosystem and the Amazon service is not only cheaper, it sounds better. I did A-B comparisons with Tidal MQA and Amazon 24/96 and to me Amazon was a clear sound quality winner. Amazon has up to 24/192 but I tested it right when the service launched and there weren't very many.
 

iMark

Well-known member
May 16, 2008
403
200
19,270
For me streaming at CD quality is good enough. I think it's good enough enough for everyone except a tiny small niche market. Spotify Premium already sounds very good through Spotify Connect.

I'm not surprised that Amazon at 24/96 sounds better than Tidal's lossy MQA. But there's an argument to be made for not streaming at very high bit rates especially in areas where there's not a lot of bandwidth available.
 

daveh75

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2008
603
29
18,920
MQA was pretty much fully debunked for the audiphoolery it is from its inception, so not sure why it's taken this latest video for some of you the realize it.
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
158
68
170
Thankfully the infrastructure gods are kind and I'll have 1gbps symmetrical fiber to the home with no data caps soon. At which time I might give Amazon another shot.
Where do you live?

We are at least 50 years away from that in the UK.
 
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anort3

Moderator
Dec 8, 2019
648
382
1,270
Somewhat rural Georgia. Coverage is so spotty here in the US. If you live in a city or heavily suburban area you have options but the infrastructure just isn't there in rural areas. But, thanks to some incentives from the government my electric company who maintain the wires anyway, is getting subsidies to run fiber alongside the electric cables. I'm just lucky to be in the country where they're starting it and should have it by summer.

I pay ATT almost $60 a month for 18/1 with a 150GB cap. The new stuff will offer 100/100 for $50 or 1gbps symmetrical for $80. No data caps.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
939
216
19,270
I don’t subscribe to Tidal, because MQA or not, I don’t think it sounds that great. Also why I‘m not interested in Qobuz either. I’m still buying CDs and ripping them, and on Spotify. Eager to hear their Hifi tier.
 
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RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
158
68
170
Both Tidal and Quobuz are far superior to the current Spotify 320kbs.

True Quobuz Hi Res files are superior to CD.
 
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ThisIsJimmy

Well-known member
Nov 11, 2020
147
65
170
I wont comment any further on MQA...I think i've already exploded enough on that in the other thread so i think everyone knows how I already feel about it :LOL:.

As for internet in the UK, i'm on the Openreach G.Fast FTTP Fibre network, so (although asyncronous) i'm getting 900mbps/150mbps (Down/Up) from BT. From my experiences so far their are very few services/servers that allow you to take full advantage of that. Max i have seen on Xbox live spikes is about 650mbps, but on average it's around 250mbps. The only time i've seen the full 900mbps was on my PC when i downloaded a 35GB update on World of Warships. Took around 5 1/2 minutes.
 

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