Topic: MQA is it possible?

Hi Guys

this is not supposed to be a discussion about the pros and cons of MQA!!

I just want to know if a software implementation of MQA decoding for the RME Dac is possible or maybe even already planned?

Re: MQA is it possible?

Is MQA free software or is a license fee required ?

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:

Is MQA free software or is a license fee required ?

From the wiki

Commercial MQA-capable playback devices require payment of a royalty to MQA Ltd per unit sold. Based on information from Auralic, a manufacturer of Audiophile Wireless Audio Streamers, Meridian Audio prohibits digital output of unpacked MQA in any digital format, only allowing the unpacked data to be fed to an on-board MQA-compatible DAC and output in analog form. Some claim this to be a part of DRM process[15], which allows a proper MQA file to be authenticated and the full quality of the signal decoded only on commercially licensed equipment.

_

RME HDSP9652 | | RME Babyface Pro

4

Re: MQA is it possible?

RME units will not support MQA for the forseeable future.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: MQA is it possible?

Was wondering if there's been any change of prospects here? My ADI-2 is my favourite piece of hardware, period.

Giving it the ability to perform the final unfold (perhaps a purple Spectral Analyzer colour when MQA is detected and played?), would mean squeezing every last bit of juice out of some songs in my library.

Re: MQA is it possible?

I don't want MQA support because it would raise the price of the device.

7 (edited by ramses 2020-07-18 20:02:51)

Re: MQA is it possible?

I see more of a marketing hype in MQA than really the potential for any improvement.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: MQA is it possible?

Luckbad wrote:

I don't want MQA support because it would raise the price of the device.

Me neither... MQA is marketing BS, I personnaly avoid all brands with the MQA logo...

ADI-2 DAC (with stock PSU) - Neumann KH 310 A monitors - Cheap USB and XLR cables

9 (edited by Curt962 2020-07-19 05:21:20)

Re: MQA is it possible?

100% in Agreement with Ramses, and Noob.    I perceive MQA as simply the most modern effort to extricate $$$ from the end user. 

Have we forgotten "HDCD"??   smile smile

20+ yrs ago....The Promise of Sonic Glory!!!     And?? (Drum Roll)  More Hardware, and Specially Labeled Discs to Buy!!!

No Thanks!

I would prefer that a Music Industry "Quality Standard" be implemented rather than yet another expensive "Tech Tweak" that allegedly undoes poor workmanship in the Studio, simply via Data manipulation.  Get it?


Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

10 (edited by KaiS 2020-07-19 14:18:37)

Re: MQA is it possible?

Curt962 wrote:

...another expensive "Tech Tweak" that allegedly undoes poor workmanship in the Studio, ...

"poor workmanship in the Studio" - as a general statement about music production?


This knocks down my colleagues an me, who are fighting for the best possible quality in recording every day.
And this is not limited to technology - which is on much higher standards than any layman can imagine - but to work with the artists to breath into the recording the maximum amount of musicality possible.


Bad sound can be traced down to one single reason: loudness war.


The jackass is on the side of the customers (represented by the sales persons and in consequence even by the artists themselves) who still don't hear the difference between better sounding and louder.
They force us to destroy perfectly sounding masters by squeezing out the last half dB ouf loudness, trashing every quality.


You can hear the result of this still raging "loudness war" everywhere.


Guess what - in audiophile forums I can read high praises about these obviously distorted recordings as "audiophile references".
Surrounded by cable discussions.


Even gemstones of music history become "remastered" in the same stupid manner, replacing the originals in the streaming services' catalogues more and more.
I'm starting to listens to CD's again these days, really!


This all is not the idea of us producers and recording engineers - it's the customers represented by the marketing department of the record industry.


Plus, it's super-stupid as most streaming services use loudness managment that dials down these loud masters back to the service's internal reference, changing such into a bad sounding master of average loudness.


I'm trying to teach this for ages, but it's really hard to come through.

The typical aswer is: "OK, I understand, but can't you simply make this louder than recording xyz?" - which usually is the most loudness war crushed recording on the market.


Fortunately 80% of my work is with music styles where sound quality still counts and stupid high loudness not requested, but I feel sorry for my colleagues on the front of the loudness war.

So - don't bash the studio people, we have to do what our clients demand.
Customer is king.

Re: MQA is it possible?

As always, stupidity is boundless..

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

12 (edited by Curt962 2020-07-19 16:36:30)

Re: MQA is it possible?

KaiS wrote:
Curt962 wrote:

...another expensive "Tech Tweak" that allegedly undoes poor workmanship in the Studio, ...

"poor workmanship in the Studio" - as a general statement about music production?


This knocks down my colleagues an me, who are fighting for the best possible quality in recording every day.
And this is not limited to technology - which is on much higher standards than any layman can imagine - but to work with the artists to breath into the recording the maximum amount of musicality possible.


Bad sound can be traced down to one single reason: loudness war.


The jackass is on the side of the customers (represented by the sales persons and in consequence even by the artists themselves) who still don't hear the difference between better sounding and louder.
They force us to destroy perfectly sounding masters by squeezing out the last half dB ouf loudness, trashing every quality.


You can hear the result of this still raging "loudness war" everywhere.


Guess what - in audiophile forums I can read high praises about these obviously distorted recordings as "audiophile references".
Surrounded by cable discussions.


Even gemstones of music history become "remastered" in the same stupid manner, replacing the originals in the streaming services' catalogues more and more.
I'm starting to listens to CD's again these days, really!


This all is not the idea of us producers and recording engineers - it's the customers represented by the marketing department of the record industry.


Plus, it's super-stupid as most streaming services use loudness managment that dials down these loud masters back to the service's internal reference, changing such into a bad sounding master of average loudness.


I'm trying to teach this for ages, but it's really hard to come through.

The typical aswer is: "OK, I understand, but can't you simply make this louder than recording xyz?" - which usually is the most loudness war crushed recording on the market.


Fortunately 80% of my work is with music styles where sound quality still counts and stupid high loudness not requested, but I feel sorry for my colleagues on the front of the loudness war.

So - don't bash the studio people, we have to do what our clients demand.
Customer is king.


Indeed Kai.   

I have had drinks with Artists who said much the same as you when asked..."what happened"???

The response was that the Release did not even resemble the Recording they had invested so much Time, and Energy into.   Of course the Studios do nice work...but some "Genius" in the Boardroom had other plans.

This is Sad, and I do believe that Marketing, and a largely un-caring, Volume-Addicted, Media Glutton Consumer is what drives this Slaughter of Sound.   Quantity over Quality.

MQA won't fix it.  God Bless RME for dismissing it.

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: MQA is it possible?

If you use Tidal desktop app or Roon, you can do the first MQA unfold in software. The remaining unfold is just a low-quality up-sampling. I had a MQA dac before RME, and I noticed that unfolding in software and optionally up-sampling in software gave better sound in my system so I preferred a non-MQA DAC when I bought RME (no money for MQA that would just lower price/performance).

14 (edited by Curt962 2020-07-19 19:33:32)

Re: MQA is it possible?

Nothing touches the RME where Price vs Performance is concerned.

The discussion however has nothing to do with Sample Rates.

The "Train Wreck" that describes most modern releases is the same no matter how much resolution you "think" you've thrown at it.

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

15 (edited by rado 2020-07-19 21:44:34)

Re: MQA is it possible?

I don't think you can really hear MQA "benefits", especially its 2nd render.
Tidal is able to do first unfold via software (to 88,2/24 and/or 96/24) for master quality albums.
So RME is already getting nice 96/24 stream.
MQA DACs can also do second render, and move it a bit, up to 192/24, apply some "hinted oversampling".

Well, personally, I cannot hear the difference between 96/24 and 192/24, after second render.

But I do appreciate better overal DAC with better options, better functionality, better outputs, better filters, etc., that is why I switched from Pro-Ject S2 Digital w/ full MQA support to RME ADI-2 DAC FS Pro w/ no MQA support.

In fact, Pro-Ject S2 MQA support and firmware was buggy, I had to do first unfold via Tidal anyway, not rely on S2, otherwise the music would skip sometimes. Mytek Digital Liberty had this problem as well. Never had this problem with RME, with its SteadyClock FS.

So, not looking back. smile

Still, I *would* appreciate RME offering full MQA support one day, as Tidal is my main listening source, but it is not a deal breaker (at all!) if it does not have it now.

Re: MQA is it possible?

You do not get higher quality by upsampling. The initial quality is what counts.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

17 (edited by Curt962 2020-07-19 22:51:53)

Re: MQA is it possible?

@ Ramses

Amen!

+1

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

18 (edited by KaiS 2020-07-20 06:41:54)

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:

You do not get higher quality by upsampling. The initial quality is what counts.

RME ADI-2's EQ sounds better with higher sample rates.
I tested by switching ADI-2's internal Sample Rate Converter.

I forced the SRC in and out by external clock switching, higher sample rate sounds "finer" with EQ treble boosts.

I did NOT measure if EQ frequency response curves changed (might happen), but the changes didn't sound like that anyway.


So, the recording itself did not change of course, but the DSP might benefit.
This is coincident with my studio experience, where some plugins benefit from "oversampling" too.

19 (edited by ramses 2020-07-20 08:05:17)

Re: MQA is it possible?

My focus was upsampling of audio material.

In regards to PEQ processing.
Is this proven by performing blind or double blind tests or is this only a subjective perception ?

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

20 (edited by KaiS 2020-07-20 12:27:58)

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:

My focus was upsampling of audio material.

In regards to PEQ processing.
Is this proven by performing blind or double blind tests or is this only a subjective perception ?

No, not proven.

It's been the other way round, I did this accidentially when trying to find a universal setup:
Listening to an SPDIF source, while switching USB source to different SR rate for another reason.

I noticed a subtle sound change, then investigated in the reason.

Currently I'm using a different setup that allows for simpler source switching, so it's not big enough a difference to justify the hustle.

I do much listening to Tidal Master's high-res music, so ADI-2 Pro is on higher SR then anyway.


For those wondering:
No, one cannot compare Tidal Masters' high-res releases with the "normal" ones, often the high-res are different, new masters with different EQ and Dynamics processings made.
Might be new made transfers from analog sometimes too, that would be the correct way to generate a high-res releases of older productions.


Maybe I should put it in the "Request Feature" section of the forum:
"Use the SRC for internal Oversampling".

Re: MQA is it possible?

KaiS wrote:

RME ADI-2's EQ sounds better with higher sample rates.
I tested by switching ADI-2's internal Sample Rate Converter.

I forced the SRC in and out by external clock switching, higher sample rate sounds "finer" with EQ treble boosts.

Well - realtime SRC is a very different beast compared to "offline SRC", RMEs implementation being no exception. I would examine this "variable" to begin with, before arriving at any conclusion. Working at a higher samplerate than the source material negates the need for decrampling filters, but i'm sceptical of this phenomenon alone being responsible for the changes you are perceiving.

Rune Borup @ FishCorp
Producer / Engineer / Composer
RayDAT > 2 x ADI-8 QS | AES+SPDIF > ADI-2 Pro

Re: MQA is it possible?

Haha christ on a bike. Calm down people. A lot of people feel the same about DSD, and that is included.

After a simple question about the prospect of a feature getting added to a swiss army knife of a DAC, we've got people simply writing stuff like "As always, stupidity is boundless.." rather than respecting subjectivity.

Get a grip.

23 (edited by KaiS 2020-07-26 00:49:28)

Re: MQA is it possible?

Post #4 has the final answer for the topic starter's question.


So why not going further, just for fun, discussing what comes up?!

I feel the need to clear up the the statement about "poor workmanship in the studio", as I'm one of those people giving our best to make recordings sound good.

An average layman has no idea how a recording is done, so it's easy and natural to make the recording engineers responsible for the multitude of bad recordings out there.
Fact is, it's not that simple.


These all aren't questions of live or die, but still discussions can be quite passionate.
No problem for me as long as it doesn't get personal.

- PEACE -

(No bits where hurt during the making of this thread)

Re: MQA is it possible?

MC wrote:

RME units will not support MQA for the forseeable future.

Hi MC,
It's been a couple years since this was posted. Any chance the horizon of the "foreseeable future" has expanded to include a possibility of MQA support? I know it's controversial and everyone has an opinion they're not interested in challenging, but MQA is now quite deeply integrated into one of the most popular streaming services (Tidal). I love my RMEs because they do virtually everything. Except this is the one thing they don't do. Kind of wish they did, and I'd be willing to pay for some kind of upgrade fee.

Thanks,
N

25 (edited by ramses 2021-03-05 19:34:44)

Re: MQA is it possible?

MQA is not lossless .. I see no point in it.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: MQA is it possible?

Hi

my 4 points:

JayZ sold Tidal just now.

MQA lowers the quality (is lossy and obscure).

My guess MQA is a dead horse. Never ride a dead horse!

Upsampling does not imrpove quality.

Peter

27 (edited by nickchop 2021-03-06 01:10:45)

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:

MQA is not lossless .. I see no point in it.

The point is that it exists, as plentiful on a popular streaming service, and performs optimally on an MQA DAC.

However, I'll bite. Of all the arguments against MQA, the "it's lossy" argument is the weakest one. MQA isn't lossy in the same way MP3 is, if that's what you're worried about. While technically lossy, its's only lossy in the high res portion. In other words, it's CD-quality + additional data and therefore superior to CD-quality while still being lossy.

But there is very little of musical significance in the high res portion to begin with, most of it being inaudible noise that can be safely destructed with zero impact on audio quality. Arguably the only real benefit of high res is that it allows you to run slower filters with better time domain performance without roll off in the audible spectrum. While lossy, MQA facilitates this.

Further, MP3 is lossy relative to what a studio released. MQA *is* what the studio released, or signed off on. In this regard, it isn't lossy. MQA also retains data about its encoding process, which is lost in standard PCM. In this regard, standard PCM loses something MQA doesn't.

But this is beside the point. MQA exists and is plentiful. The preponderance of high res content today is MQA. All things being equal, it's better for a DAC to support it than not.

Re: MQA is it possible?

pschelbert wrote:

Hi

my 4 points:

JayZ sold Tidal just now.

MQA lowers the quality (is lossy and obscure).

My guess MQA is a dead horse. Never ride a dead horse!

Upsampling does not imrpove quality.

Peter

Point 1 is irrelevant.

Point 2 is false. It's also irrelevant.

Point 3 is false.

Point 4 is based in a false premise. MQA isn't merely upsampled, as if you're upsampling Redbook. MQA retains information about the ultrasonic content.

Re: MQA is it possible?

I must admit that I was not aware of mqa.
I was just interested in the discussion, so I was reading along.

After reading the thread, I thought, ok, let's do a small research on the subject.

I, firstly, read the wikipedia article.
After reading the codec's technical description, I thought, ok, this is just some kind of clever(?) manipulation of dithering, embedded with a two-edged "safety" precaution, i.e. if you pay us, we 'll give you the key to "true" music (dithered proper file). If you don't, you 'll be stuck in the mud (undithered downsampled file)

I, then, thought, ok, let's see mqa's take on it.
Here's a quote from mqa official site:

Why is MQA Audio so Special?

Based on pioneering research into human neuroscience, the award-winning British technology captures every element of a recording’s resolution and timing. This level of detail recreates a natural sound. It enables the listener to position the instruments and performers to build a 3D sonic picture.

Using a unique ‘origami’ folding technique, the information is packaged efficiently to retain all the detail from the studio recording.

The 'origami' folding technique got me!!
This is as far as I got... I, then, burst into laughter!!

Then I posted, here!

RME Gear: Digiface USB, HDSP 9632

Re: MQA is it possible?

It's too much ! I piss my pants off !
It enables the listener to position the instruments ...!
Does that mean I can (during listening) repair the Beatles and finally place the instruments to the right place ?
Origami folding ? Aladdin StuffIt expander embedded or what ?
Super Snake-Oil !

M1-BigSur, Madiface Pro, Digiface USB, Babyface silver

Re: MQA is it possible?

MetalHeadKeys wrote:

I must admit that I was not aware of mqa.
I was just interested in the discussion, so I was reading along.

After reading the thread, I thought, ok, let's do a small research on the subject.

I, firstly, read the wikipedia article.
After reading the codec's technical description, I thought, ok, this is just some kind of clever(?) manipulation of dithering, embedded with a two-edged "safety" precaution, i.e. if you pay us, we 'll give you the key to "true" music (dithered proper file). If you don't, you 'll be stuck in the mud (undithered downsampled file)

I, then, thought, ok, let's see mqa's take on it.
Here's a quote from mqa official site:

Why is MQA Audio so Special?

Based on pioneering research into human neuroscience, the award-winning British technology captures every element of a recording’s resolution and timing. This level of detail recreates a natural sound. It enables the listener to position the instruments and performers to build a 3D sonic picture.

Using a unique ‘origami’ folding technique, the information is packaged efficiently to retain all the detail from the studio recording.

The 'origami' folding technique got me!!
This is as far as I got... I, then, burst into laughter!!

Then I posted, here!

The 'origami' thing is silly marketing, but all it is is putting additional samples in the 17th to 24th bit. Thet part, capturing the "high res" component, is lossy compressed, and then its re-rendered together.

Also, im not sure how you can concluded that the MQA process is just dithering. The major sonic benefit is achieved by using information about the encoding process to correct time domain errors. MQA claims--and here is where it's closed nature is frustrating--DSD-like transients and nearly perfect impulse response performance.

Maybe you should learn a bit more before posting.

Or if you really want to be rigorous, try it.

32 (edited by MetalHeadKeys 2021-03-06 04:48:44)

Re: MQA is it possible?

Hello, Nick!

Here is the Wikipedia article link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Qu … henticated
And here's a quote of the same article, under Codec Description:

MQA encoding is lossy;[11] it hierarchically compresses the relatively little energy in the higher frequency bands into data streams that are embedded in the lower frequency bands using proprietary dithering techniques but after the decoding the result would be the lossless archive.[12]

After a series of such manipulations, the resulting 44.1 kHz data, the layered data streams, and a final "touchup" stream (compressed difference between the lossy signal from unpacking all layers and the original) are provided to the playback device. Given the low amount of energy expected in higher frequencies, and using only one extra frequency band layer (upper 44.1 kHz band of 96/24 packed into dither of 48/16) and one touchup stream (compressed difference between original 96/24 and 48/16) are together distributed as a 48/24 stream, of which 48/16 bit-decimated part can be played by normal 48/16 playback equipment.

One more difference to standard formats is the sampling process. The audio stream is sampled and convolved with a triangle function, and interpolated later during playback. The techniques employed, including the sampling of signals with a finite rate of innovation, were developed by a number of researchers over the preceding decade, including Pier Luigi Dragotti and others.[13][14]

MQA-encoded content can be carried via any lossless file format such as FLAC or ALAC; hence, it can be played back on systems either with or without an MQA decoder. In the latter case, the resulting audio has easily identifiable high-frequency noise occupying 3 LSB bits, thus limiting playback on non-MQA devices effectively to 13 bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than "normal" 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes.[15]

Other than the sampling and convolution methods, which were not explained by MQA in detail, the encoding process is similar to that used in XRCD and HDCD.

However, unlike other lossy compression formats like MP3 and WMA, the lossy encoding method of MQA is similar to aptX, LDAC and WavPack Hybrid Lossy, which uses time-domain ADPCM and bitrate reduction instead of perceptual encoding based on psychoacoustic models.

This, to me, has to do with some kind of dithering manipulation between the master recording and the resulting downmixes.
For example, I can be recording in 96K, 32bit and I can, then, offer versions of 96K/32bit(undithered), 96K/24bit(dithered), 48/24bit(dithered), 48/16bit(dithered) or 44K/16bit(undithered)
Through a great DAC, you could pinpoint the differences between each version, simply by comparing each file to one-another.

With mqa, you don't have a solid point of reference(master file untouched) so that you can evaluate their claims!
And when I visited their site to check for any technical data or specs, I got the 'origami' folding tecnique! smile
Here's the link: https://www.mqa.co.uk/newsroom/qa/what-is-mqa

Also, from the above wiki article, there is this:

Other than the sampling and convolution methods, which were not explained by MQA in detail, the encoding process is similar to that used in XRCD and HDCD.

It is not explained, so I don't think that their claims carry any weight.

But, still, if I feel like it, I'll try it just for fun!

EDIT: I forgot to mention, that I said dithering manipulation, not just dithering! With certain plug-ins, someone can choose which frequency range will carry the most amount of noise. For example in Izotope Ozone, you can find many options for that!

RME Gear: Digiface USB, HDSP 9632

33

Re: MQA is it possible?

nickchop wrote:

Also, im not sure how you can concluded that the MQA process is just dithering. The major sonic benefit is achieved by using information about the encoding process to correct time domain errors. MQA claims--and here is where it's closed nature is frustrating--DSD-like transients and nearly perfect impulse response performance.

That is marketing BS and has been debunked several times on the web. It mainly comes down to using an insufficient / slow reconstruction filter on the DAC side.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

34 (edited by nickchop 2021-03-06 09:10:18)

Re: MQA is it possible?

MC wrote:
nickchop wrote:

Also, im not sure how you can concluded that the MQA process is just dithering. The major sonic benefit is achieved by using information about the encoding process to correct time domain errors. MQA claims--and here is where it's closed nature is frustrating--DSD-like transients and nearly perfect impulse response performance.

That is marketing BS and has been debunked several times on the web. It mainly comes down to using an insufficient / slow reconstruction filter on the DAC side.

My blind ABX tests (with repeated trials) have demonstrated for me that MQA yields a sonic benefit. But this beside the point. I really don't care what other people think of it. It's a format with a ton of content on Tidal, one of the most popular streaming services. MQA content performs best on a DAC that supports MQA, and it would be nice if my RME DACs supported it. I merely want to know if RME has reconsidered it's position as of two years ago when this thread was started, perhaps as a paid upgrade.

Re: MQA is it possible?

MetalHeadKeys wrote:

Hello, Nick!

Here is the Wikipedia article link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Qu … henticated
And here's a quote of the same article, under Codec Description:

MQA encoding is lossy;[11] it hierarchically compresses the relatively little energy in the higher frequency bands into data streams that are embedded in the lower frequency bands using proprietary dithering techniques but after the decoding the result would be the lossless archive.[12]

After a series of such manipulations, the resulting 44.1 kHz data, the layered data streams, and a final "touchup" stream (compressed difference between the lossy signal from unpacking all layers and the original) are provided to the playback device. Given the low amount of energy expected in higher frequencies, and using only one extra frequency band layer (upper 44.1 kHz band of 96/24 packed into dither of 48/16) and one touchup stream (compressed difference between original 96/24 and 48/16) are together distributed as a 48/24 stream, of which 48/16 bit-decimated part can be played by normal 48/16 playback equipment.

One more difference to standard formats is the sampling process. The audio stream is sampled and convolved with a triangle function, and interpolated later during playback. The techniques employed, including the sampling of signals with a finite rate of innovation, were developed by a number of researchers over the preceding decade, including Pier Luigi Dragotti and others.[13][14]

MQA-encoded content can be carried via any lossless file format such as FLAC or ALAC; hence, it can be played back on systems either with or without an MQA decoder. In the latter case, the resulting audio has easily identifiable high-frequency noise occupying 3 LSB bits, thus limiting playback on non-MQA devices effectively to 13 bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than "normal" 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes.[15]

Other than the sampling and convolution methods, which were not explained by MQA in detail, the encoding process is similar to that used in XRCD and HDCD.

However, unlike other lossy compression formats like MP3 and WMA, the lossy encoding method of MQA is similar to aptX, LDAC and WavPack Hybrid Lossy, which uses time-domain ADPCM and bitrate reduction instead of perceptual encoding based on psychoacoustic models.

This, to me, has to do with some kind of dithering manipulation between the master recording and the resulting downmixes.
For example, I can be recording in 96K, 32bit and I can, then, offer versions of 96K/32bit(undithered), 96K/24bit(dithered), 48/24bit(dithered), 48/16bit(dithered) or 44K/16bit(undithered)
Through a great DAC, you could pinpoint the differences between each version, simply by comparing each file to one-another.

With mqa, you don't have a solid point of reference(master file untouched) so that you can evaluate their claims!
And when I visited their site to check for any technical data or specs, I got the 'origami' folding tecnique! smile
Here's the link: https://www.mqa.co.uk/newsroom/qa/what-is-mqa

Also, from the above wiki article, there is this:

Other than the sampling and convolution methods, which were not explained by MQA in detail, the encoding process is similar to that used in XRCD and HDCD.

It is not explained, so I don't think that their claims carry any weight.

But, still, if I feel like it, I'll try it just for fun!

EDIT: I forgot to mention, that I said dithering manipulation, not just dithering! With certain plug-ins, someone can choose which frequency range will carry the most amount of noise. For example in Izotope Ozone, you can find many options for that!

Playback on a non-MQA DAC is definitely not 13 bit. That's just flatly false. You can check that yourself right now by downloading some of the 2L test files. Now I too wish MQA was more open about how their product works, but the information poor environment has led to wild, irrationally-hate fueled speculation on the Internet.

Here's something better to do: Try it. I was a skeptic myself. I employed blind AB with 16 trials (on an MQA DAC with a set of MQA and high res PCM files that were by all indication from the same master, both played through Roon and randomized). In each trial I chose which I preferred, after which it was revealed that all 16 were MQA.

Or, alternatively, we can speculate from partial and incomplete information.

36

Re: MQA is it possible?

nickchop wrote:

Playback on a non-MQA DAC is definitely not 13 bit. That's just flatly false..

True, there seems to be something missing or wrong in the quote. The 13 bits statement is correct with MQA CDs, so this is not a simple typo or error.

And to answer your question: no change on our side, means no direct MQA support.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: MQA is it possible?

nickchop wrote:

My blind ABX tests (with repeated trials) have demonstrated for me that MQA yields a sonic benefit. But this beside the point. I really don't care what other people think of it. It's a format with a ton of content on Tidal, one of the most popular streaming services. MQA content performs best on a DAC that supports MQA, and it would be nice if my RME DACs supported it. I merely want to know if RME has reconsidered it's position as of two years ago when this thread was started, perhaps as a paid upgrade.

If MQA is used, sounds better because the file is 3-6 db louder than a same FLAC version of the file. MQA also adds a watermark, which hasn't been turned on yet.

Re: MQA is it possible?

nickchop wrote:
pschelbert wrote:

Hi

my 4 points:

JayZ sold Tidal just now.

MQA lowers the quality (is lossy and obscure).

My guess MQA is a dead horse. Never ride a dead horse!

Upsampling does not imrpove quality.

Peter

Point 1 is irrelevant.


Point 2 is false. It's also irrelevant.

Point 3 is false.

Point 4 is based in a false premise. MQA isn't merely upsampled, as if you're upsampling Redbook. MQA retains information about the ultrasonic content.

Hi

obviously you are not aware of the independent investigations.

MQA is  a pure marketing hype and technically a bad thing. It lowers quality which was proven by experts. Its just a mean to make money. In that way it is interesting tha Tidal was sold. The money machine is not working as expected which is good.

Therefore its clear that RME is not supporting a technology which lowers quality and will be disappearing. I agree fully at the RME policy.

Peter

39 (edited by KaiS 2021-03-07 03:21:11)

Re: MQA is it possible?

Whatever good or bad MQA is, isn’t it decoded to PCM in the host software anyway - at least here it is.

No need for MQA support in the hardware as far as I see.

Digital formats are changing all the time.
Software decoding to common standards like PCM is the way to go.

40

Re: MQA is it possible?

KaiS wrote:

Whatever good or bad MQA is, isn’t it decoded to PCM in the host software anyway - at least here it is.

No need for MQA support in the hardware as far as I see.

That is somehow true. One can do all the decoding and unfolding in software. By upsampling MQA can use the desired DAC (reconstruction) filter in the software domain, and the real DAC's filter is out of the way because now doing nothing relevant anymore (at 96 kHz or up). Or set it to Off (NOS)...

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: MQA is it possible?

klausi99 wrote:
nickchop wrote:

My blind ABX tests (with repeated trials) have demonstrated for me that MQA yields a sonic benefit. But this beside the point. I really don't care what other people think of it. It's a format with a ton of content on Tidal, one of the most popular streaming services. MQA content performs best on a DAC that supports MQA, and it would be nice if my RME DACs supported it. I merely want to know if RME has reconsidered it's position as of two years ago when this thread was started, perhaps as a paid upgrade.

If MQA is used, sounds better because the file is 3-6 db louder than a same FLAC version of the file. MQA also adds a watermark, which hasn't been turned on yet.

Umm no, it's quite simple to notice a 3-5 dB difference. The fact you think MQA is all coded louder than standard PCM counterparts just demonstrates that you aren't at all familiar with it.

Re: MQA is it possible?

MC wrote:
nickchop wrote:

Playback on a non-MQA DAC is definitely not 13 bit. That's just flatly false..

True, there seems to be something missing or wrong in the quote. The 13 bits statement is correct with MQA CDs, so this is not a simple typo or error.

And to answer your question: no change on our side, means no direct MQA support.

Thank you. Although it was not the answer I was hoping for, I appreciate your taking the time to answer it.

43 (edited by nickchop 2021-03-08 03:57:00)

Re: MQA is it possible?

pschelbert wrote:
nickchop wrote:
pschelbert wrote:

Hi

my 4 points:

JayZ sold Tidal just now.

MQA lowers the quality (is lossy and obscure).

My guess MQA is a dead horse. Never ride a dead horse!

Upsampling does not imrpove quality.

Peter

Point 1 is irrelevant.


Point 2 is false. It's also irrelevant.

Point 3 is false.

Point 4 is based in a false premise. MQA isn't merely upsampled, as if you're upsampling Redbook. MQA retains information about the ultrasonic content.

Hi

obviously you are not aware of the independent investigations.

MQA is  a pure marketing hype and technically a bad thing. It lowers quality which was proven by experts. Its just a mean to make money. In that way it is interesting tha Tidal was sold. The money machine is not working as expected which is good.

Therefore its clear that RME is not supporting a technology which lowers quality and will be disappearing. I agree fully at the RME policy.

Peter

You're only restating your prior conclusions with more words. This does not qualify as substantiation. I don't know why it's so hard to have a serious discussion about MQA before the know-it-alls jump in with (typically) a handful of misconceptions and a weirdly emotional reaction. It's like you think it's 1999 and Metallica is taking Napster away from you all over again on the behalf of the evil corporations. Something something Jay-Z! Marketing BS! It's lossy! DRM!

Re: MQA is it possible?

nickchop wrote:

Umm no, it's quite simple to notice a 3-5 dB difference. The fact you think MQA is all coded louder than standard PCM counterparts just demonstrates that you aren't at all familiar with it.

Read this. More than enough stuff.
MQA is Vaporware: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topi … /#comments

Re: MQA is it possible?

klausi99 wrote:
nickchop wrote:

Umm no, it's quite simple to notice a 3-5 dB difference. The fact you think MQA is all coded louder than standard PCM counterparts just demonstrates that you aren't at all familiar with it.

Read this. More than enough stuff.
MQA is Vaporware: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topi … /#comments

Which of the 878 posts in this thread is relevant ?

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

46 (edited by rdfornasero 2021-03-08 18:41:45)

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:
klausi99 wrote:
nickchop wrote:

Umm no, it's quite simple to notice a 3-5 dB difference. The fact you think MQA is all coded louder than standard PCM counterparts just demonstrates that you aren't at all familiar with it.

Read this. More than enough stuff.
MQA is Vaporware: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topi … /#comments

Which of the 878 posts in this thread is relevant ?

Just start with the last 20 pages.

Say NO to MQA.

If you're serious about sound quality, switch to qobuz.

Re: MQA is it possible?

My decision is already set, I regarded it only as "funny" to refer to a huge thread where you can be sure that SNR is low wink

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

48 (edited by rdfornasero 2021-03-08 21:30:38)

Re: MQA is it possible?

ramses wrote:

My decision is already set, I regarded it only as "funny" to refer to a huge thread where you can be sure that SNR is low wink

A very smart member at AS reverse engineered MQA and debunked all of MQA's claims. MQA is a lossy codec. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. It's simply marketing BS.

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/ … ions-r701/

Why anyone would pay $20.00 / month for Tidal MQA when they can get real lossless CD and Hi-res FLAC for $15.00 / month from qobuz is hard to understand.

Edit: Added link to MQA A Review of Controversies Concerns and Cautions

Re: MQA is it possible?

rdfornasero wrote:
ramses wrote:

My decision is already set, I regarded it only as "funny" to refer to a huge thread where you can be sure that SNR is low wink

A very smart member at AS reverse engineered MQA and debunked all of MQA's claims. MQA is a lossy codec. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. It's simply marketing BS.

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/ … ions-r701/

Why anyone would pay $20.00 / month for Tidal MQA when they can get real lossless CD and Hi-res FLAC for $15.00 / month from qobuz is hard to understand.

Edit: Added link to MQA A Review of Controversies Concerns and Cautions

This is exactly the kind of confused anti-MQA arguments I'm talking about. Look, regardless of what you feel about MQA's business model, AN MQA FILE CONTAINS MORE SONIC INFORMATION THAN A CD EQUIVALENT. It's lossless up to and slightly beyond CD-quality. Only the high res component is lossy, which is harmless. There is very, very little energy in that range, most of it being high frequency noise and meaningless. In other words, in the very least it is superior to CD-quality. Whether or not it's superior to standard high res PCM will come down to whether or not you believe MQA's claims about better time domain performance.

And no, Archimago didn't "reverse engineer it". He's writting about it. He's thought about it. But ultimately MQA is a closed-source platform and his measurements are indirect. Yes, it's too bad that MQA is so secretive. It would be nice if we had proper end-to-end test files and great details about how it works.

But while we must speculate on how it works, WE DON'T have to speculate on whether or not it's better or worse. If you have the time and inclination, you can set up a proper ABX. It's amazing to me how strong people's opinions on MQA are, despite so few actually trying it a rigorous way. There is nothing scientific about ignoring experience, especially when we have the ability to record it in a rigorous and controlled fashion.

Try it. You might be surprised at the result. Or you won't be. Either way, you'll have learned something.

Re: MQA is it possible?

rdfornasero wrote:
ramses wrote:
klausi99 wrote:

Read this. More than enough stuff.
MQA is Vaporware: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topi … /#comments

Which of the 878 posts in this thread is relevant ?

Just start with the last 20 pages.

Say NO to MQA.

If you're serious about sound quality, switch to qobuz.

If you're serious about sound quality, attempt a rigorous ABX comparison with an MQA DAC instead of reading endless internet forum claptrap.