Paul McGowan said
Wow! What a great quote. Very illuminating and a constant theme I harp on with lovers of vinyl. It’s rare that we even compare apples with apples with comparing vinyl to CD. The mastering engineers were hard at work making changes.
Thanks for posting this!
I thought I would mention–an oft-overlooked point about MQA. A point Bob Stuart has emphasized (including in interviews I’ve done) is that the MQA folks seek the best and “most authentic” masters to encode. He even told me that in general he prefers (flat) masters–i.e., before the mastering engineers have done their job–quieter, less compressed, less tweaked. Some (on this forum) have disputed this–fine. I’m a realist: I know that with tens of thousands of albums to convert, they’re not usually spending hours and hours rooting through the vaults. But I have noticed quite dramatic differences in sound in some cases, MQA versus the CD. (In others, far less.)
Anyone comparing MQA to CD should keep this in mind: Comparing MQA to CD is perhaps not that different from comparing vinyl to CD. You may be comparing apples to oranges.
Some experts have held this out as a criticism–as if MQA had an obligation to release files that mimic recordings that already exist so that they could do a fair comparison. For that, look to 2L, and other small labels doing MQA for new releases. For other things, I’d much rather see them dig out and release better (or at least different)-sounding versions.
I suspect that much of the improvement people hear listening to MQA, is because they are hearing better recordings, not because the format is so much superior.
I would love to see MQA (and, for that matter, everyone else) do more reporting about provenance–specifically, what masters did they use? Not just with MQA but in general, there’s a ton of confusion out there–lots of contradictory information–as I’ve discovered lately in trying to sort out such issues with a couple of different recordings; different people, different liner notes, make contradictory claims. (Pro Studio Masters does a better job describing provenance than other download companies–but take a look at this description from a recent David Oistrakh release on DG: “96 kHz / 24-bit PCM – Deutsche Grammophon Studio Masters. This album contains high-resolution digital transfers of material originating from an analogue master source.” What the heck does that mean?)
So far, all MQA is doing with reporting provenance is a poorly populated blog topic with entries written by Bob himself. So far there are three entries. We know essentially nothing specific about the source of the other thousands of tracks. But we should assume, in general, that the source is significantly different than sources already in our library.