Meridian MQA support forthcoming in the DirectStream?


#1

One of the great pleasures I’ve had with my DirectStream over the past few months is listening to lossless cd-quality music streamed from Tidal. CD Quality streaming from a music service fulfills a longtime dream for me.

I have been reading about Meridian’s MQA data format and the promise of being able to stream high-bitrate audio at the same bandwidth consumed by current CD-quality streaming. Tidal has pledged to adopt this format for it’s high-bitrate streaming offerings later this year.

As awesome as CD-quality streaming is, high-bitrate streaming over the internet is what I’ve been waiting a decade for… it is the pinnacle of what I want to use my DirectStream to listen to. That said, are there plans to support MQA in the DirectStream? This really seems like the killer-app format we’ve been waiting for… Without MQA, the bandwidth requirements for streaming high-bitrate over the internet becomes too onerous.

A few articles on MQA for those that are interested:

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/robert-harley-listens-to-meridian-mqa/

http://www.stereophile.com/how-is-ted-coding-the-fpgaent/ive-heard-future-streaming-meridians-mqa


#2

I believe Ted said that MQA would need to be dealt with in the player app rather than the DS. Hopefully the Tidal app will take care of it for you (so in effect the stream has already been decoded when it gets to the DS). Unless your are using the Bridge, other formats, like FLAC, are decoded before being sent to the DS–same idea.


#3

@trim sorry for being off topic, but how do you stream Tidal to the DS?

I am using Squeezebox Touch for Tidal at the moment, but the SQ is much worse than when the same song played from local nas via the bridge…


#4

[unnecessary quote deleted. ELK]

Not to butt in but I use an Auralic Aries as a bridge to my NAS and to stream Tidal to my DS. I have also used AirPlay to connect my iPod to the Aries and stream music from my iPod but I don’t use it that often.


#5

[unneeded nested quote deleted. Elk]

Yes, I also use the Auralic Aries, which has a Tidal client built into it. I connect the Aries network streamer to my DirectStream via USB. With a premium quality USB cable and upgraded Ethernet cabling, sound quality from the DirectStream is excellent, particularly with the latest DS firmware. I struggled getting Tidal to stream from my PC over the network bridge and pulled the trigger on the Aries. Cost is not trivial, but I’m very happy with sound I’m getting with Aries + DirectStream. The Tidal client built into the Aries works very well. Also, sound quality is a step up from the network bridge 1.0 for music locally streamed from Jriver or my NAS. Lossless is also supported, so concert albums flow naturally.


#6
stevem2 said I believe Ted said that MQA would need to be dealt with in the player app rather than the DS. Hopefully the Tidal app will take care of it for you (so in effect the stream has already been decoded when it gets to the DS). Unless your are using the Bridge, other formats, like FLAC, are decoded before being sent to the DS--same idea.
@Ted: Is this something that you can speak to Ted? To be honest, i'm not completely sold on MQA as a format that i would want to archive my own recordings with as it sounds like another compression scheme (I try and find native DSD versions where possible), but it appears that Tidal is firmly on board, along with the industry as a whole in one form or another. If MQA makes Tidal sound better than CD quality, I'm obviously in support of that (I'd rather just stream DSD lol) since i stream a great deal of Tidal music. In terms of hardware, however, I'm still unsure how it would be dealt with in the "player" as Meridian seems to be presenting the proposition that MQA is to be decoded by the DAC / adjusted in an implementation-specific environment. It seems for MQA to be able to work on DS, it would have to either be decoded in the hardware or through the Bridge II in some form or another...perhaps I am mistaken, however.

#7

I don’t have the complete technical specs on hand for MQA (tho we’ve asked) so I’m just speculating: But at the simplest tautological level - why would a DAC that can be modified with software be worse off than those that can’t? In so far as MQA works with current hardware it will definitely work with the DS.

If indeed MQA requires new A/D’s and new DAC’s for best quality we probably will be able to accommodate it with the current DS hardware via a software update. Actually I doubt seriously that it will be in anyway superior to DSD or at least double rate DSD and in that case DSD DACs in general will do justice to MQA if MQA -> DSD transcoders are added to JRiver MC, foobar2000, etc. like MP3, flac, dts, HDCD, etc. decoders. I also suspect that 24/192 or 32/352.8k will do justice to MQA so once again software transcoders to those formats will enable a broad class of current DACs to work well with MQA. I’d still like to think the DS could do a better job of transcoding than generic transcoders, but if Meridian were to offer reference transcoders they should do the job well.

BTW DSD is being streamed in some trials and I suspect that will be working well long before MQA DACs and A/Ds are common. (http://dsd.st/en/)


#8

an MQA specific thread contains some more information :

http://www.psaudio.com/forum/general-discussions-and-miscellaneous-ramblings/meridian-audio-launches-mqa-master-quality-authenticated/

[edit : ted already replied, so edited for brevity; contained speculation on uptake in Redbook CD’s (quick, if free to encode on standard CD’s, since same discs used for Redbook CD playback can contain MQA; MQA business model (charge for licensing DAC’s) may limit DAC supplier uptake; and some speculation that MQA may not realise better sound in the DS, depending on whether there is any interpolation by Ted in the DSD when up-sampling to 28Mhz 1-bit format (10x DSD)]


#9

Ted, Green, thank you both for your posts. Ted, thanks for the DSD link. I’ll be following MQA with some interest mostly because of the Tidal (and apparently Roon) integration, but I agree with you that it seems that it should be supportable in software, and of course the wisdom of the FPGA may lend itself to this scenario if needed. It sounds like the ball’s now in Meridian’s court to get you the specification information you need.

Incidentally Ted I love this product. I hope that i get a chance to meet you in person sometime to shake your hand for the great work.


#10
patentpending said Incidentally Ted I love this product. I hope that i get a chance to meet you in person sometime to shake your hand for the great work.
Thanks. I'll be at T.H.E. Show at Newport and RMAF (probably around the PS Audio rooms most of the time.) I am always happy to meet and talk to people.

#11

Has anyone here heard MQA?


#12

Only reports I’ve read are Henry1224 (post #25 in the link above) and the other three mentioned in beginning of post #27 (TAS / Stereophile, basically). All raving reviews. So, 100% from a very limited sample.

Recall reading there was a store on (west?) coast doing demo’s and someone else was heading there a few months ago…

In principle, accepting Ted’s “no such thing as a free lunch” premise, it’s not clear where the compromise resides for the MQA encoding scheme, since it does appear to be a free lunch… encoding lossless-ly within CD quality 16-bit the full schema for higher resolution music.

Still, I cannot tell the difference b/w 24-bit FLAC recording of Vulcinara (bowers and wilkins sound society - 24 good cheap high quality recordings per year for 60 pound per annum) and 16-bit Redbook CD of Vulcinara through the DS, thanks to Ted’s awesome algorithm, so perhaps the MQA is also better than 16-bit CD, but without the magic (interpolation?) sauce in the DS; perhaps making them about equal (when specially encoded MQA streams available, compared to existing redbook CD’s with the DS)… As far as I’ve read, there is no suggestion that MQA is better than 24-bit music.

What might be very interesting for the new PS Audio based version of MQA style encoding system would be 16-bit music from 8-bit encoding, connected to the PS DS algorithm in FPGA-based PCI-e cards… but I digress …


#13

I’ve seen the reviews/articles. Harley, for example, loves anything which involves digital - room processing, resampling, decimation, computerized point of sale at McDonald’s.

This is why I asked if anyone here has heard the product.


#14
Elk said computerized point of sale at McDonald's.
LOL

#15
Elk said decimation, computerized point of sale at McDonald's.
Always Entertaining, Mr Elk.

I’ve not heard, since no nearby demonstrations possible in Oz at this point.

leaving only @henry1224, to the limit of my recollection


#16

Munich High-End commentary from Johnnie Darko (who seems to leave out the “Hollywood” aspect that seems a common style in audio-land):

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2015/05/munich-high-end-2015-is-meridian-mqa-the-new-dsd/

(basically, he says, he is still reserving judgement, despite hearing it in person)


#17
Elk said I've seen the reviews/articles. Harley, for example, loves anything which involves digital - room processing, resampling, decimation, computerized point of sale at McDonald's.

This is why I asked if anyone here has heard the product.


I have. We were given an audience with Bob Stewart and his guys at Meridian in Munich. I liked what he had to tell us and then went in for a demo of several tracks. Indeed, they were better. One track had a piano and was played live to an audience. In the non MQA version the piano sounded ok and the audience not all that apparent. In the MQA version the audience sounded more in the room as well the piano sounded live.

I did not fall off my chair. It was noticeable and would be good to have as a weapon in the quiver. I spoke with Ted about all this and he pointed out something interesting. All the reduction of post and pre-ringing it does isn’t always a benefit to every DAC and much depends on the DAC it is being used on. In this case we had Meridian everything, products I am not always enamored withy, so what I can say is it made the Meridian sound better and noticeably so.


#18
Paul McGowan said
Elk said I've seen the reviews/articles. Harley, for example, loves anything which involves digital - room processing, resampling, decimation, computerized point of sale at McDonald's.

This is why I asked if anyone here has heard the product.

I have. We were given an audience with Bob Stewart and his guys at Meridian in Munich. I liked what he had to tell us and then went in for a demo of several tracks. Indeed, they were better. One track had a piano and was played live to an audience. In the non MQA version the piano sounded ok and the audience not all that apparent. In the MQA version the audience sounded more in the room as well the piano sounded live.

I did not fall off my chair. It was noticeable and would be good to have as a weapon in the quiver. I spoke with Ted about all this and he pointed out something interesting. All the reduction of post and pre-ringing it does isn’t always a benefit to every DAC and much depends on the DAC it is being used on. In this case we had Meridian everything, products I am not always enamored withy, so what I can say is it made the Meridian sound better and noticeably so.


@Paul: Any idea if Meridian give you what you need (tools / specification information) to Ted to see if it is worth pursuing on the DirectStream? I’m curious if it makes Meridian hardware sound better if Ted can work his magic on the data to make it sound even better on the DS

#19

Thank you, Paul. This is exactly the real world feedback I had hoped for.


#20

+1. It would be interesting to see if the tools are provided to you, and if so whether there is enough information there for Ted to make an assessment as to whether an equal benefit could be made on the DS.