MQA: A perspective from someone at Linn


#1

https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music


#2

A Linn person’s take on MQA, it’s not pretty.

https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music


#3

While I tend to agree with the article, I am finding partially unfolded MQA on Tidal Masters to sound quite good.

I still think we may see a complete software version of MQA, as most dac manufacturers don’t want to turn their dacs over to MQA to have it implemented. And who can blame them.

Think about it, if Tidal hadn’t offered Master files partially unfolded to 24/88 or 24/96, nobody would have been talking about it, or caring. But it has been a hot topic on most forums.

Now we will have to see if Tidal raises prices to access the Masters. They can’t do it yet as there are only a bit over 500 files.


#4

MQA went back on their decision regarding profiling of DAC’s as the only viable solution.


#5

I am certain Meridian was fully aware software implementation was as viable, and more easily implemented, but sought to install its product in hardware as it would bring the most money and provide greatest control.


#6

There did seem to be a somewhat spiteful tone to the article, but he made some good points - some of that, if true, would account for its surprisingly broad and rapid acceptance by labels and some top reviewers. It would be a means of “Making the Music Industry Great Again”, so to speak.

Every major player in the music industry has wanted to own the future.

The difficulty I have is that the limited explanations they have given for how it does whatever it does are inadequate. Which makes you wonder what they are not telling us. Started out with the notion that it “plays well with everybody” and ends up – “Yeah, well, but if you want the Real Deal, you have to buy into the ecosystem”.

I suppose they were hoping the acceptance among manufacturers would be rapid and comprehensive enough to make acceptance by consumers moot.

I asked a couple of basic (perhaps somewhat pointed) questions of reps at Axpona last year, and it was more cheerful obfuscation. How, in God’s name, can they “see back into the studio” so to speak, to the mics used, etc.? Even the notion of it being tweaked to the DAC used (even when known) for the master/remaster seems iffy. Especially when they won’t say how that magic happens.


#7
Elk said

I am certain Meridian was fully aware software implementation was as viable, and more easily implemented, but sought to install its product in hardware as it would bring the most money and provide greatest control.


I mixed up the Meridian and MQA companies in a Bob Stuart FAQ on the CA forum and got framed for it so there seem to be a heritage only but no affilation between the two.

#8

Regardless of who owns MQA technology at this point, both companies were well aware at all times software implementation was wholly viable. They merely hoped they could force hardware implementation.

(My understanding is Bob Stuart developed MQA at Meridian with Peter Craven, and the technology was spun off to a company called, confusingly enough, MQA. I may very well have some details wrong and happy to have the facts corrected.)


#9

Elk, that sounds right, as I seem to remember reading the same thing. Started as Meridian, then made into a separate company.

Who knows what kind of deals they had to make, if it goes belly up, that way Meridian is protected. To get Warner on board, they must have made some big promises.


#10
jeffstarr said

… I am finding partially unfolded MQA on Tidal Masters to sound quite good.

I agree with the “sound quite good.” smiley-music005_gif But be careful…don’t say that too loudly without first issuing a ‘trigger warning’. It’s rather amazing the emotional tsunami that the release of Tidal Masters has caused. Understandably, audiophiles are a passionate group but recent reactions to MQA, in various audio forums and threads, seem to border on a new variety of bigoted opinion. I’ve been told in more ways than one, that MQA is bogus and 100% marketing hype, improved SQ is attributable to different archive files, that I really don’t know what “good” audio sounds like, and that hearing/listening (ears) are inferior to “objective” scientific evaluation of MQA using one’s eyes and waveform images.

jeffstarr said Think about it, if Tidal hadn't offered Master files partially unfolded to 24/88 or 24/96, nobody would have been talking about it, or caring. But it has been a hot topic on most forums.

Again, more than “hot.” Interestingly, what it seems to have accentuated is the RIFT between those whose “audio identity” is built upon substantive ego/wealth investment into personal analog and hi-res libraries (including playback equipment with the latest ‘secret sauce’) and those audio “deplorables” who listen to streaming music. While MQA remained in the realm of theory, blood pressure levels were manageable. But the landscape continues to shift. Being reported 2/16/2017, Universal Music Group has signed on to MQA. According to some “experts,” everyone seems to be losing their minds.

UMG backs MQA and predicts 'Half a Dozen’ hi-res streaming launches in 2017


#11

Here is an accurate quote from Bob Stuart’s FAQ:

<'Q76. Don’t blame Meridian

A76. At several places in these questions posters refer to Meridian. MQA is developed, owned and operated by MQA Ltd, a completely separate company with its own shareholders, offices and employees. Meridian is one of MQA’s many licensees.’>

Reading between the lines it appears that Bob Stuart seems a little annoyed with this mixup. That everything startet with Meridian I believe is entirely correct, though (as correctly stated in the above posts).


#12
Frode said

Here is an accurate quote from Bob Stuart’s FAQ:

Reading between the lines it appears that Bob Stuart seems a little annoyed with this mixup. That everything startet with Meridian I believe is entirely correct, though (as correctly stated in the above posts).

“Reading [the meaning] between the lines…” can be tricky. “Accurate” most often means ‘in context’. Q76 appears under the Section heading: MQA MYTHS, RUMOURS AND WORSE. The fully meaning of “blame” isn’t self-evident, but that it had adverse connotations is rather plain.


#13
dansmedra said

. . . what it seems to have accentuated is the RIFT between those whose “audio identity” is built upon substantive ego/wealth investment into personal analog and hi-res libraries (including playback equipment with the latest ‘secret sauce’) and those audio “deplorables” who listen to streaming music.

Dan, please tone down the rhetoric and avoid pejorative labeling/ad hominem comments. We get along quite well here, including when discussing topics on which people have strong beliefs.

Sharing your experiences with MQA is more than welcome.

The fully meaning of "blame" isn't self-evident, but that it had adverse connotations is rather plain.
What adverse connotations are these?

#14
dansmedra said

“Reading [the meaning] between the lines…” can be tricky. “Accurate” most often means ‘in context’. Q76 appears under the Section heading: MQA MYTHS, RUMOURS AND WORSE. The fully meaning of “blame” isn’t self-evident, but that it had adverse connotations is rather plain.

My exact question at that time was this:

'Q48. If my understanding is correct, DAC profiling would imply that the DAC model in question has to be sent from the manufacturer to Meridian for certification. Is this really a viable route from an IP standpoint and a practical way of doing it? Seems like a cumbersome and time consuming procedure in my view.

A48. This is not a Meridian question, MQA is a separate company (see Q76). The hardware and mobile licensing involves verification (which is normal in this industry) and we also work with our partners to optimise the conversion interface. We think it is viable. Perfection takes a bit longer.’

  • History (CES 2017) has shown that MQA went back on this statement, which is good. One still need profiling to get maximum SQ, though (i.e. multiple unfolds >96kHz).

By accurate I meant that it is an unedited and exhaustive cut & paste from their response.


#15
Frode said By accurate I meant that it is an unedited and exhaustive cut & paste from their response.
I have always found your posts to be accurate, fair and well-thought out.

Even when I disagree with you. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


#16
Elk said

Dan, please tone down the rhetoric and avoid pejorative labeling/ad hominem comments. We get along quite well here, including when discussing topics on which people have strong beliefs.

Sharing your experiences with MQA is more than welcome.

My bad. Sorry, my literary descriptions weren’t written to describe anyone here, rather elsewhere. I apologize if someone personalized the descriptive “rhetoric” and became offended. The “deplorables” term was a self-reference, based on the subtle and not-so-subtle contempt that seems universal for those “sharing experiences with MQA.”


#17

Dan, the only other forum I regularly visit is the Audio Asylum, and since the Tidal release of the Masters, the only negativity I have picked up on is about content. Not enough classical, but I haven’t read every post. Before the Tidal release there was a lot of negative posts. And those mostly had to do with the hardware, and replacing content for the third or fourth time.

And it is a good point, that not knowing the source, we never know if we are comparing apples to apples.

My problem with some people is that they make statements as absolutes, when there are so many variables. I mentioned to friend that someone I had recently met said analog, meaning vinyl is the best. My friend said that his answer to that would be it depends. And it does, there are very few people who have identical systems, and even when they do, you still have major variables. Starting with the room, the electricity, and with some products quality control.

I am enjoying Tidal for free at the moment, and I do like being able to listen to music, without having to buy it. If that was all it offered, it would still be a good thing. When I started buying records, it was often after hearing one song, or I knew the artist, and sometimes the cover made it look interesting enough to purchase. Now, I can audition and then seek out the best version if I really like it.

I quit reading most forums, due to the hostility and the trolls. And I am not just talking about audio forums. I used to be involved in a couple of bicycle groups. Just mention helmets and watch them go nuts.

This place is the nicest bunch on the internet. I am getting too old to debate with people who’s opinions I don’t agree with. My favorite line in the Bill Murray movie “Meatballs” was the chant “it just doesn’t matter”. And it doesn’t.


#18

Thanks Jeff, and we’re glad you’re here, sharing with us.


#19
dansmedra said My bad. Sorry, my literary descriptions weren't written to describe anyone here, rather elsewhere. I apologize if someone personalized the descriptive "rhetoric" and became offended. The "deplorables" term was a self-reference . . .
Thanks, Dan

It us easy for such descriptive labeling to go bad, especially when combined with a political reference.

It astounds me how people discussing listening to music (an art form) can be so aggressive. One would think we would be a mellow bunch.

I wonder to what degree MQA’s original plan to require its technology to be incorporated in hardware is the source of the controversy. Often those who opine the sound is deficient are the same people offended by MQA’s approach. My guess is if MQA was rolled out as a high definition version of MP3s, claiming both lower bandwidth requirements and actually better sound than conventional files we would all be skeptical but at least willing to listen.


#20
jeffstarr said

Dan, the only other forum I regularly visit is the Audio Asylum, and since the Tidal release of the Masters, the only negativity I have picked up on is about content. Not enough classical . . .


This is always a frustration for those of us who listen to classical, but it makes sense; we are a small part of the market. I am delighted to learn this is the major Masters controversy on Audio Asylum.

And to echo Paul, thanks for your posts. You have been bringing a lot of good stuff to us.