iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread

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iFi Tyler

iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« on: 9 Oct 2017, 07:45 pm »
Dear AudioCircle community,

1) We have decided to include MQA in future products (and seek to upgrade older products*) based on our previously announced policy that we will support any format with a substantial installed base and where demand from customers exists. And where a technically feasible will upgrade older products is possible.

Just as we support DSD extensively, despite its being less ubiquitous than PCM format, we now see MQA support as an important option to allow our customers free choice of music sources, without being tied to a specific format we impose on them.

With a large library of MQA encoded recordings available on Tidal and regular requests from our customers, we feel the time to add MQA support has come.

2) The iDSD nano Black label is a new product based on the iDSD nano and will be the first to feature MQA functionality. This involved a number of hardware changes from the iDSD nano beyond those applied for improved sound quality to allow for MQA.

3) That said, we are exploring the possibility for upgrades applied to older units with MQA and we are looking hard to make that happen.

*However we CANNOT at this point make any formal commitment or announcement as nothing is finalised and we have no final confirmation that upgrades of older products are technically feasible.

If upgrades for older products are feasible and are forthcoming, it will be announced at the earliest possible point.

======================

Additionally in this new iFI & MQA thread we should post an appeal to discuss things politely.

All those participating in the discussion should remember that no-one is forced to listen to MQA, not even on Tidal, non-MQA versions of all MQA titles appear available. Just as one may prefer headphones over speakers, there is no ‘right or wrong’ and so long as the choice is there, everyone should be satisfied.

While a discussion of the merits of MQA and its addition to iFi products is acceptable, it should be based upon fact, without getting emotional and leaving rudeness and name-calling outside.

Our passion remains in the best sound delivery WITH as much choice as possible (within reason of course!) – so we ask everyone here (and on other forums) for their understanding that by participating on the AMR/iFi audio, one is bound by a code of conduct that is polite, respectful and open.

Thank you for your kind understanding. :thumb:

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #1 on: 9 Oct 2017, 08:29 pm »
Hey iFi, thanks for posting this. Great to see you will offer upgrades to previous products where possible. Makes me feel like I won't need to keep buying a new Dac every 5 years.  :thumb:

After seeing Tyson's endorsement of your current dac I have high hopes for your new MQA Black Label DAC. Did you exhibit the new DAC at RMAF? How did the show go for you? Thanks

BTW, will this DAC be bluetooth ready so I can use my tablet for streaming?

wushuliu

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #2 on: 9 Oct 2017, 08:47 pm »
Personally, I'd like to hear more than 'customers requested' as a reason for supporting MQA. Any chance someone like Thorsten will weigh in? Given the lengths to which he has gone in articles and other forum posts regarding his views on, say, DSD, and DAC/software design, I think it would go a long way to hear his thoughts on the merits of MQA. Especially if it's inclusion is now to be extended to mutliple products. Seems like a big decision that warrants more than 'by popular demand' as a reason.

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #3 on: 9 Oct 2017, 08:59 pm »
Personally, I'd like to hear more than 'customers requested' as a reason for supporting MQA. Any chance someone like Thorsten will weigh in? Given the lengths to which he has gone in articles and other forum posts regarding his views on, say, DSD, and DAC/software design, I think it would go a long way to hear his thoughts on the merits of MQA. Especially if it's inclusion is now to be extended to mutliple products. Seems like a big decision that warrants more than 'by popular demand' as a reason.

+1

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #4 on: 12 Oct 2017, 02:17 pm »
Any idea when the new dac will be available? Will it be bluetooth friendly? Any additional upgrades over the current model? I saw a review on Amazon of your current model and someone posted it was better than the Chord Hugo 2, that's quite an endorsement. I also noticed its on sale at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/iFi-iDSD-Black-Label-Headphone/dp/B01MTNK3ZT/ref=sr_1_1?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1507817838&sr=8-1&keywords=ifi+black+label


iFi Tyler

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #5 on: 12 Oct 2017, 08:58 pm »
Personally, I'd like to hear more than 'customers requested' as a reason for supporting MQA. Any chance someone like Thorsten will weigh in? Given the lengths to which he has gone in articles and other forum posts regarding his views on, say, DSD, and DAC/software design, I think it would go a long way to hear his thoughts on the merits of MQA. Especially if it's inclusion is now to be extended to mutliple products. Seems like a big decision that warrants more than 'by popular demand' as a reason.

Our Mr Loesch is busy handling and running the R&D team as iFi audio always has at least several projects in the works. Although he isn't available to reply on forums in person, we can assure you that Mr Loesch’s input is evident in every tech file/post we publish. In short, he's aware of what's going on in here as we relay comments back to him. :-)

Getting back to the original question, as is common with technologies today, many of the details MQA provide to their partners are covered by NDAs (which work both ways to protect the IP of MQA's partners as well). This means that even if iFi wanted to say anything, it would have to be cleared by our legal department and the people at MQA et al, etc.



Our R&D department is maxed out and does not have the bandwidth to furnish us with an MQA. Plus, there is plenty of debate on the subject already, some of it fuelled by lack of understanding, without our adding to the chorus! We prefer to concentrate on delivering MQA on as many of our devices as possible and getting long outstanding products into release.

With probably more MQA titles available than DSD, and with many mainstream artists recording new material likely to be available on MQA, the signs are that it is here to stay. The best example is TIDAL and MQA - it is certainly becoming more ubiquitous and cannot be ignored.



What we can say about MQA, is that for MQA titles to play as intended by the mastering engineer, MQA support is required.
As always, iFi will implement MQA in such a way that MQA support does not compromise the PCM & DSD performance our DACs are justly renowned for.

In our universe, all music formats can co-exist quite happily without compromise - it is not a case of PCM or DSD or MQA – we give you the option to choose.



If a customer does not like MQA, then there's no need to play MQA titles and the same goes for PCM and DSD formats.
But at the same time, we want to be sure that if and when you change your mind, you can play whatever you like with the best possible results.





RandyH

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #6 on: 13 Oct 2017, 12:57 pm »
Seems like a reasonable approach.  More choices for the consumer. 

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #7 on: 13 Oct 2017, 05:00 pm »
I find flexibility of choice is key. Any idea when it will be available?

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #8 on: 16 Oct 2017, 01:02 pm »
How to master in MQA is being offered at the AES meeting in NYC. This will be a standard in about 24 months as all labels start mastering in MQA:

http://www.aes.org/events/143/specialevents/?ID=5624

witchdoctor

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #9 on: 16 Oct 2017, 01:04 pm »
Personally, I'd like to hear more than 'customers requested' as a reason for supporting MQA. Any chance someone like Thorsten will weigh in? Given the lengths to which he has gone in articles and other forum posts regarding his views on, say, DSD, and DAC/software design, I think it would go a long way to hear his thoughts on the merits of MQA. Especially if it's inclusion is now to be extended to mutliple products. Seems like a big decision that warrants more than 'by popular demand' as a reason.

Have you listened to MQA through a proper DAC yet or will this be your first time?

iFi Vicky

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #10 on: 31 Mar 2018, 08:12 am »
EXTRA ORDINARY MQA EASTER EGG





INTRODUCTION
With Easter just around the corner, iFi audio has delivered an eagerly anticipated upgrade option as a very special Easter gift.

iFi first introduced MQA into its product mix with the nano iDSD Black Label in November 2017. Since then, iFi customers across the globe have been asking when this option would be available in other iFi products. The good news is that the latest improvements to the nano Black Label firmware version 5.30, ‘Cookies & Cream’, does just that.

MQA FOR ALL
This latest firmware flavour not only adds the latest scoop to the nano iDSD Black Label sundae but it also dishes out MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio to the full range* of iFi audio products going back to 2013!




This ‘legacy’ update means that you can now download the MQA upgrade (PC and Mac) straight from the Support section of iFi’s website at no extra cost.

MQA OPTIMISED
Firmware version 5.30 will optimise your device for MQA and can handle up to DSD256 and PCM384. Enjoy the MQA magic like never before.

AND FINALLY…
None of the above would have been possible without the MQA software engineers who worked tirelessly alongside the iFi software team to make this unique opportunity happen. Thank you.

Go to https://ifi-audio.com/audio_blog/mqa-firmware/ to enjoy your upgrade.

This firmware provides MQA rendering as this is the ideal solution for portable products and those with power considerations. This means the workload is shared between the host (the computer) and the client (the DAC).  The listener will still enjoy full MQA experience. 

For more information on MQA, go to http://www.mqa.co.uk/customer/how-it-works

Enjoy! Any questions guys, just ask!!!

« Last Edit: 31 Mar 2018, 10:01 pm by iFi Vicky »

iFi Vicky

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #11 on: 31 Mar 2018, 10:13 pm »
Setting up MQA for your TIDAL account can be a bit confusing. We made this video to help you out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-rMsoORSbw

Enjoy!!!

iFi Vicky

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #12 on: 31 Mar 2018, 10:23 pm »
And finally for today - MQA LEDs on 'legacy' iFi gear.

Please take note of the following guys:

Magenta is the official MQA LED colour on iFi machines. However, on legacy machines without the Magenta LED option, when an MQA file is played, the LED colour will be White/Yellow corresponding to the 384kHz file being played. The LED is cosmetic as once firmware v5.30 is installed, the correct MQA filter in use when required.

The nano iOne CAN be upgraded to full LED functionality, ie Magenta LED, BUT it will need to be returned to iFi audio. The MCU (Master Control Unit) needs to be updated and this is a special process. Please open a Support Ticket http://support.ifi-audio.com/

This table should help.



iFi Tyler

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #13 on: 4 Apr 2018, 05:22 am »
Anyone out there listening to MQA tracks?!  :scratch:

gerb0075

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #14 on: 5 Apr 2018, 11:31 pm »
Tyler,

Thanks so much for the fantastic firmware update. I have listened to some MQA files through Tidal and am quite impressed. It’s really fun to compare the MQA version of a file through Tidal with the high-res PCM file through Qobuz. Most instructive!

One question: Is it not possible to create a single firmware that supports MQA, 768KHz PCM, and DSD512?

Ed

garyalex

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #15 on: 7 Apr 2018, 02:24 am »
Hi Tyler,in

I've been listening to MQA titles after applying the firmware update to both of my iFi devices.  I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience.  I've had some reservations about MQA for a while but I have to admit it sounds very good, at least on those titles I chose.  There's a smoothness that I find very listenable. 

Thanks to iFi for making this available on older devices.  Not every company would do that, and it says something very good about iFi.

Am I correct that the first unfold is being done in Tidal?

Thanks

Gary

iFi Tyler

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #16 on: 8 Apr 2018, 07:20 pm »
Tyler,

One question: Is it not possible to create a single firmware that supports MQA, 768KHz PCM, and DSD512?

Ed

Yes.  That takes a bit more processing power than what is built into the current product line.

iFi Tyler

Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #17 on: 8 Apr 2018, 07:21 pm »
Hi Tyler,in

Am I correct that the first unfold is being done in Tidal?

Thanks

Gary

You are correct.  The iFi device is only the renderer in this instance.

iFi Vicky

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Re: iFi audio & MQA - The Official Thread
« Reply #18 on: 12 Apr 2018, 04:59 pm »
Hey, hey, it's one of the iFi ladies here, we thought we'd throw in some info on MQA, iFi products and measurements for you. We're using our new product the xDSD - check out its own personal thread for more info on the product itself.

xDSD - It's Measuring Time.

MQA VS NON-MQA STREAMS – HOW IFI DOES IT.



This official iFi audio tech release is here to explain one thing and one thing only:
MQA and non-MQA streams are very much alike!

We’re here to show that firmware 5.3 does not change the behavior of a DAC with non-MQA signals.
And we like our non-MQA signals unchanged.

The marketing department requested we share our measurements to illustrate that for non-MQA signals there is no audible difference in audio signals output between firmware versions 5.20 and 5.30. Currently, there is no agreed standard measurement that has been correlated with audible differences. Hence, we elected to perform a set of basic tests for ourselves as described below.

We feel our work below illustrates that electrically the test signals used are handled identically by both firmware versions; 5.20 and 5.30. As we also have access to internal firmware test versions that implement upsampling for all sample rates, though not actually using an MQA filter but our own proprietary experimental filter, we elected to show what the result WOULD BE, if (as has been queried) MQA processing was applied to all audio signals.

METHODOLOGY:

1.   We selected a random micro iDSD Black Label from the units available in R&D.

2.   The unit was set to Eco Mode, Positive Polarity and direct output.

3.   The unit’s RCA outputs were connected to our Audio Precision System 2 model 2322.

4.   Rigol DS2302A 300MHz oscilloscope was connected to the System 2’s monitoring outputs to capture a precise waveform reading to digital files.

5.   The USB input was connected to the PC hosting the System 2.

6.   The iFi Driver Version 2.26 was used, in order to support the System 2 this PC operates Windows XP SP3.

7.   Wavegene V1.5 by efu was used as digital signal generator, using ASIO sound subsystem.

8.   White noise at 44.1kHz sample rate and 24Bit word length was used as test signals. This clearly illustrates the actual shapes of the digital filters. This method was popularised by John Atkinson of Stereophile and originates with Jürgen Reis of MBL, in which the device under test decodes 44.1kHz data representing white noise. Additionally, an FFT of a -3dB 1kHz sinewave was performed. For contrast and to minimize time spent testing only standard and Bitperfect digital filters were tested.

9.   All settings in System 2 were unchanged, the only change was which version firmware was flashed onto the micro iDSD Black Label.

Below we present each set of graphs side by side, version 5.2 (left screen) and version 5.3 (right screen).

•   BitPerfect


•   Filter response: Standard vs Bitperfect


•   Standard


No measurements for MQA streams are presented as we have no MQA encoded test signals available to us.

It can be observed that the audio output for non-MQA signals is identical between 5.20 and 5.30 firmware within the limits of the test setup. We conclude that there is no measurable difference between the ways audio signals are handled in case of both versions. There are no differences in levels, noise-floor, distortion or digital filter responses.




For the full Tech Note, go to:
https://mediaportal.ifi-audio.com/Digital/xDSD/iFi_audio_xDSD_Tech%20Note_Measuring_Time(FINAL).pdf[/b
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