MQA: No need to worry (:

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AmpDesigner333

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MQA: No need to worry (:
« on: 16 Jan 2017, 07:38 pm »
We've been receiving questions about MQA recently, so I'd like to address this "new" CODEC.  I'll start out with simple "truths"....

MQA is just a CODEC (code-decode).  It's an algorithm, a.k.a. "software".  It's a "lossy" format, meaning compressed, like MP3.  It's purpose is to conserve transmission bandwidth - which is less of an issue every day.

The device (PC, streamer, transport, etc.) that drives your DAC runs software that decodes various formats and passes them along or converts them to some other format.  Ultimately, there's a hardware connection to transport the data to your DAC.  The stream being transported is typically PCM or DSD.  The "transport connection" is typically USB or SPDIF.

In the case of a PC streaming MQA, the data can be passed along to the DAC or decoded by the PC and converted to a "usable format" for your DAC.  This means your DAC doesn't need to support MQA for you to listen to MQA.

Let's take JRiver for example.  JRiver plays files (or streams), and can convert just about anything to PCM.

So, whatever you use to playback audio files or stream audio should provide a way to convert to PCM.

Here's the "controversial stuff"....  MQA is yet another "new" standard in the search of license fees, and many manufacturers are rejecting it.  There's just a lot of hype surrounding it currently, possibly due to lack of other industry news.

IMHO, Lossless high rate, high resolution PCM (not DSD, as I have discussed in other threads) remains the highest quality audio.

The DAC DAC excels at reproducing a super clean signal, uncompressed.  It takes PCM data up to 192kHz/24-bit.

Just thought I'd get the ball rolling on this subject.  More later, but please feel free to comment, but let's stick to facts, please....

- Tommy O

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jan 2017, 07:51 pm »
Thanks for clarifying, good post.

Steven Stone

Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jan 2017, 09:16 pm »
You should watch this video to find out more info on MQA. Real info, not pre-release stuff. The goal was to produce a digital process that added no more distortion than a meter of air would. Go to the 30 minute point to start - https://www.facebook.com/AESmontreal/videos/1174201429344035/

AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #3 on: 17 Jan 2017, 10:01 pm »
You should watch this video to find out more info on MQA. Real info, not pre-release stuff. The goal was to produce a digital process that added no more distortion than a meter of air would. Go to the 30 minute point to start - https://www.facebook.com/AESmontreal/videos/1174201429344035/
I was about an hour in when I had to take a break.  I did skip forward after that.  That is one looooong winded low detail video (audio was not so great).  Definitely not geared toward a skilled electrical design engineer.  I'll stick to technical....  It's a compression algorithm.  It's being pushed very hard, and the bottom line is that the bandwidth issue is not in the future.  Maybe for Dr Dre's headphones....  If I want to play 192/24 content, I play it, and MQA can't beat it.  I'll treat it the same as DSD.  Convert to high rate PCM and enjoy (:  The 56k modem guys may disagree.   Thanks for your post.

djd

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #4 on: 9 Feb 2017, 02:44 pm »
Still say you missed an opportunity !
The guys over at ComputerAudio forum disagree with you !
So yes i enjoy first step MQA unfolding on your Dac .. But would like to get all 3 steps ie : a MQA dac
I mean is going to be included in most DAC chips moving forward .. so hopefully you will be offering us an upgrade path ?
And i'm told the MQA chip wont cost an arm or a leg
Looking forward to the day you advise us the good news.
Take your engineering hat off and just listen .. Tidal Masters is great with no up $ charges .
The only debate on ComputerAudio form revolves around  MQA and the DRM issue is or isnt it ..
This is a great opportunity for you to sell more DAc Dac's .. just do it for F sakes

AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #5 on: 17 Feb 2017, 10:02 pm »
Still say you missed an opportunity !
The guys over at ComputerAudio forum disagree with you !
So yes i enjoy first step MQA unfolding on your Dac .. But would like to get all 3 steps ie : a MQA dac
I mean is going to be included in most DAC chips moving forward .. so hopefully you will be offering us an upgrade path ?
And i'm told the MQA chip wont cost an arm or a leg
Looking forward to the day you advise us the good news.
Take your engineering hat off and just listen .. Tidal Masters is great with no up $ charges .
The only debate on ComputerAudio form revolves around  MQA and the DRM issue is or isnt it ..
This is a great opportunity for you to sell more DAc Dac's .. just do it for F sakes
Thanks for your post.  Wearing "business hat"....  All this reminds me of Dolby Labs back in the 1990s.  Now THERE'S a company that did licensing right, with their hands in the pockets of the studios, equipment companies, theaters, chip makers, and video game producers....  They did this by being the standard on DVD.  Then years later, DTS comes around, tail between their legs, with an obviously better format, and cried (well, technically not crying, it sure seemed like that) until they would up on Blu-Ray....  Feels neat taking off the engineering hat....  Well, engineering drives all this, so I'll look into the cost involved, but adding hardware for something that obviously can be done in software is just inefficient and feels like I should be reading a ransom note rather than a licensing agreement.  By the way, I worked in HD Radio for years, and I'm surprised they "survived" but very similar issues there.  The lack of customer demand made it necessary to convince radio stations to buy transmitting equipment so they are "stuck holding the ball", forced to pick up the marketing on their end.  There was even the promise of a future power increase (if you have HD Radio, you'll know why this is important) that never happened, so it was like, "someday your radio won't be annoying".  I cound go on and on....

djd

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #6 on: 3 Mar 2017, 03:32 pm »
Hi Tommy
LOL .. well not a ransom note , just disappointment .
So I've got your dac upfor sale now as this whole MQA / Tidal masters  streaming thing got me into a Back to basics mode ., bought a high end Turntable/ cartridge combo for the first time  and BAM Holly vinyl Batman !! .. I'm like a kid in a candy store .. Hooked on Vinyl .. where the Hell have my ears  been ?

AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #7 on: 8 Mar 2017, 02:47 pm »
Prediction: After some other (not Tidal) streaming service offers lossless high-res content, MQA will be obsolete.  Modern data rates can easily handle it, and no special hardware or license fees jacking up the D/A price.  We shall see....

JakeJ

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #8 on: 8 Mar 2017, 04:51 pm »
So DSD is also a lossy format?  No need for a lengthy answer if a link will point me to some straight poop.

Also if PCM is the one true lossless format then how high is the current sampling rate that the technology supports?

Thanks.
JakeJ

AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #9 on: 8 Mar 2017, 11:06 pm »
So DSD is also a lossy format?  No need for a lengthy answer if a link will point me to some straight poop.

Also if PCM is the one true lossless format then how high is the current sampling rate that the technology supports?

Thanks.
JakeJ
DSD is a different modulation method (PDM) where the data represents either full scale positive or full scale negative. High state (1) is positive and low state (0) is negative.  Averaging is used to "reconstruct" the audio. 1xDSD has an effective resolution of 6 bits (!) at 20kHz.

Here's some PDM info:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-density_modulation

When "working" on DSD data (volume, filtering, etc.), it is converted to PCM.

Thanks.


JakeJ

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #10 on: 9 Mar 2017, 01:46 am »
Thank you, Tommy.

Mike in NC

Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #11 on: 9 Mar 2017, 04:39 am »
Tommy-- I wasn't familiar with your company, but I saw your sensible comments on MQA, and now I'm interested. I agree with all your points.

MQA reminds me very much of HDCD. The audio press was agog over it. It was the future of digital audio. It was amazing. Today, with Pacific Microsonics out of business, HDCD is almost impossible to decode properly, and people are beginning to notice the flaws when playing back un-decoded HDCD. And, of course, we now have higher-rate (and better mastered) digital content.

The last thing high-end audio needs is another proprietary codec.


AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #12 on: 20 Mar 2017, 07:18 am »
Interesting Andreas Koch "self interview" regarding MQA on PFO:
http://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/questions-answers-mqa-interview-andreas-koch/

"Most importantly, our scheme does not solve any problem that the world currently has right now...."

Fredly

Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #13 on: 21 Mar 2017, 03:41 pm »
If you've not seen this, its worth taking a quick look at;

http://schiit.com/news/news/why-we-wont-be-supporting-mqa


rbbert

Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #14 on: 21 Mar 2017, 07:25 pm »
Tommy-- I wasn't familiar with your company, but I saw your sensible comments on MQA, and now I'm interested. I agree with all your points.

MQA reminds me very much of HDCD. The audio press was agog over it. It was the future of digital audio. It was amazing. Today, with Pacific Microsonics out of business, HDCD is almost impossible to decode properly, and people are beginning to notice the flaws when playing back un-decoded HDCD. And, of course, we now have higher-rate (and better mastered) digital content.

The last thing high-end audio needs is another proprietary codec.

MQA is not like HDCD.  When HDCD was introduced, there were no commercial hi-res digital formats, and it offered potential to improve on CD audio (which was all there was iin 1995).  Here in 2017 we have DSD (up to DSD 256 in recording and 512 iin playback), PCM up to 24/352.8, and fairly common (in Europe, less so in USA) internet streaming speed of 8+ MB/sec.  There is absolutely no need for MQA, except for record companies to try another DRM scheme and also to try to get us to buy the same old albums for the umpteenth time in a "new, better" format

audio.bill

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #15 on: 21 Mar 2017, 08:11 pm »
... There is absolutely no need for MQA, except for record companies to try another DRM scheme and also to try to get us to buy the same old albums for the umpteenth time in a "new, better" format
With all due respect I couldn't disagree with this statement more. The benefit that MQA clearly provides is for streaming, and current users of Tidal's HiFi service are able to benefit from it at no additional cost to their current subscriptions. Some may not be interested in streaming and that's fine, but it doesn't mean that there's no benefit to others that should be overlooked. In my opinion some of the MQA opponents need to take off their blinders, but I understand that it's not for everyone.

AmpDesigner333

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #16 on: 21 Mar 2017, 08:55 pm »
With all due respect I couldn't disagree with this statement more. The benefit that MQA clearly provides is for streaming, and current users of Tidal's HiFi service are able to benefit from it at no additional cost to their current subscriptions. Some may not be interested in streaming and that's fine, but it doesn't mean that there's no benefit to others that should be overlooked. In my opinion some of the MQA opponents need to take off their blinders, but I understand that it's not for everyone.
Why not just stream hi-res?  Oh, that's right, then there would be no license fee.  Blinders off.  Mic dropped.

JRace

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #17 on: 21 Mar 2017, 09:14 pm »
With all due respect I couldn't disagree with this statement more. The benefit that MQA clearly provides is for streaming, and current users of Tidal's HiFi service are able to benefit from it at no additional cost to their current subscriptions. Some may not be interested in streaming and that's fine, but it doesn't mean that there's no benefit to others that should be overlooked. In my opinion some of the MQA opponents need to take off their blinders, but I understand that it's not for everyone.
The only need for compression in streaming is to save bandwidth.
And that is becoming less and less of an issues as high-speed internet is ubiquitous.

So why MQA over MP3?
What benefit does MQA have compared to MP3?

rbbert

Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #18 on: 21 Mar 2017, 09:33 pm »
MQA certainly sounds better than MP3, even (almost?) always better than CD, but that's not the point.  For hundreds of millions of potential listeners (and more every year if not every month), there is more than enough bandwidth available to stream 24/192 FLAC, which is my point about there being no need for MQA (for the consumer).

audio.bill

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Re: MQA: No need to worry (:
« Reply #19 on: 21 Mar 2017, 10:14 pm »
Wouldn't accessing high resolution files cost the streaming companies more than what they pay for 16/44.1 content and then result in higher prices to end users? I would certainly think so, but you guys appear to have all the answers so I'll kindly step aside and let you continue to impress your target audience with your mic dropping performances. Good listening to all and enjoy the tunes in whatever formats you prefer!