MQA Controversy


#1

As we’re still making our minds up about MQA and its possible inclusion in our own equipment, there arrived this interesting announcement and the follow up by John Darko, in my email box.

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

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/05/schiitting-on-mqa/

Thoughts?


BridgeII MQA update available
#2

Thank you, Paul! An excellent read.

It is wonderfully refreshing to read a straight forward fact-based description and analysis instead of the hyperventilating fluff we have been seeing in the Absolute Sound and elsewhere.


#3

I am neither for or against MQA, although I agree with some of the parallels drawn against DSD, DTS, etc. The industry will always rebel against one company trying to control the entire value chain. We’ve seen that movie in the PC industry and no one liked the ending (except Intel and Microsoft). I see no need to rush to be the first with an MQA DAC. If the content eventually is there in volume at reasonable prices, and if your ears tell you it sounds good, especially for streaming, there is plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon.


#4

Not a big fan of Meridian or of proprietary formats. Heck, I’m still angry I can’t easily rip the DSD files off of the SACDs that I PAID FOR. So I won’t be buying into MQA. I expect it will probably die a pretty quick death.


#5

I too am not on the MQA bandwagon and appreciate Schiit’s analysis and list of reasons why they are not drinking the KoolAid. The part about it that bugs me the most is MQA’s insistence on being intimate with the DAC (and at the cost of the manufacturer of the DAC) in order to provide their higher quality (higher sample rate) data stream to it. Perhaps they can ‘fix’ some DACs, but that gets into DSP, which should be unnecessary or even deleterious for a high quality DAC. I see no reason that they cannot deliver their generic, unprocessed unpacked higher sample rate data stream from a qualified player to ANY DAC capable of handling the sample rate. The breadth and depth of their meddling reach just reads to me as greed and an overreaching control fetish.

J.P.


#6
Paul McGowan said As we're still making our minds up about MQA and its possible inclusion in our own equipment,
Paul, I thought earlier you (and Ted ?) had mentioned in the other MQA thread that PS audio has experimented with MQA and it made the sound of DS worse. Is it not the case anymore ?

I like Schiit stance on this (and its not based on MQA technology itself) and I very much appreciate their transparency about their product and what to expect.

"But we thought it best to clarify our position on the proposed format, as a service to our customers or potential customers. They should be made aware of our decision, so they can choose another manufacturer who intends to support MQA, if they find the format valuable.”

I have no doubt that MQA will improve the sound quality (hey, that’s the whole fuss about) but at what cost of ownership ?


#7

Miska at the CA forum (inventor of the Signalyst HQPlayer) said the following, quote:

‘They call it “authenticated”, but that’s just marketing trick to avoid saying “DRM”. It is DRM as long as you cannot freely completely decode or convert the content to another format as you please.’

Needless to say Miska supports Schiit’s decision/position regarding MQA impementation. The business strategy side of it should not be underestimated, though.


#8

So far MQA decoding has only been worse and that has not changed. We suspect (as do they) that it’s because the tricks they’re using with filters to try and make the sound better (closer to the original source material in their parlance) screws with our own in the DAC. They then suggest they need to tune their decoder to our filters for best results.

If that’s all true then we’re out. As you’ve seen with Torreys, Ted and the engineers continue to improve the state of the art with digital filters on a regular basis - and one of the whole reasons we went to an FPGA based DAC in the first place was the freedom to improve the product’s performance over time. If we were restricted in what we could to future developments, held back because everything in the USB chain had to be “fixed” by the MQA engineers first… that would be nuts.

They’ve never said that has to be so and I am merely speculating as we wait for an answer.

I too wish they’d just release this as software so the compressed file could be decoded and leave the DAC design to us.


#9
Paul McGowan said I too wish they'd just release this as software so the compressed file could be decoded and leave the DAC design to us.
This would resolve any quality control concerns they may have. The implementation would always be correct. But they would no longer have control. Users could also easily side-step their licensing requirements by pirating the software.

#10

As I recall Auralic was all set to demo MQA on the Aries, which would seem to suggest the decoding does not have to be done in the DAC. As you said, that would have meant losing complete control.


#11

It’s true. They even demonstrated it at RMAF then got it nixed by the MQA folks because they decided to change course and require it in hardware.

MQA is a 100% software based solution on the receiving end - the requirement to have it inside the DAC is a choice they’ve apparently made and I believe it is because MQA has to be tuned to a DAC - so if it were in software, you’d never know what DAC was playing it. At least that’s what i understand from reading press reports. I haven’t any inside info.


#12

I expect DAC manufacturers to have a great deal of difficulty accepting both they they need to disclose specifically how their DAC works and cede final voicing control to a third-party.


#13
Elk said I expect DAC manufacturers to have a great deal of difficulty accepting both they they need to disclose specifically how their DAC works and cede final voicing control to a third-party.
If MQA is in control over the final voicing and tune filters to every Dac, then it could also mean that every MQA certified DAC would virtually sound the same. This would simply be a no go with most of the manufacturers.

#14
Avadia said Not a big fan of Meridian or of proprietary formats. Heck, I'm still angry I can't easily rip the DSD files off of the SACDs that I PAID FOR. So I won't be buying into MQA. I expect it will probably die a pretty quick death.
I agree with Avadia about the proprietary formats. I feel strongly about this and also about subscriber-only services.

I personally reject a subscriber service (roon) that doesn’t let you continue to use what you’ve already paid for. I’m sure that, in time, someone else will integrate music metadata and play-to functionality in a pay-for-version fashion. Jriver did it and they got my dollars. If the folks at AllMusic aren’t working on it now, they’re mad.

I have avoided iTunes, sacd, Roon and now MQA. If they prove their premise and work out a sensible business model AND back it up with a decent music catalogue, only then might it be worth considering. But not if it means bullying their peers into subordinate roles or treating their customers like dumb bank accounts.

The biggest need in my eyes is for more high quality music that isn’t ruined for radio or earplug playback. Until then a great format can seldom deliver to their full potential. I don’t have the years or the money to replace my large 44/16 collection even if enough DSD or MQA or MFFE (most fabulous format ever) music is available before I croak.

PS Audio, you’ve demonstrated how good music (esp cd quality) can sound at a price that must dismay the competition and didn’t attempt to control anyone. And you keep on giving through free FW upgrades, trade-ups, etc. I commend your consideration for your customers that seems second to none.

With respect to MQA, I recommend waiting. It’ll probably go away.

Apologies for the rant.


#15

I too don’t have the years or the money to replace my music library, I like my DS and just trying Torrey for free now.

As an end consumer, I have never cared about either Apple or Android or Windows phone, the only reason I chose Android was coz the sorta open OS and hardware options, I don’t wanna be slaved to anything again after my workhour…

I have a fortunate collection of redbook, high rez and DSD over 7TB, half my like of classical and jazz I haven’t listened and appreciated. Thanks for Paul and Ted constant firmware updates to make my music experience better and better, I need to hurry up to enjoy more good music. I’ll definitely leave the online streaming to MP3 kids, leave the biz to the corporate, who knows MQA might be lucky enough to be another Apple in this niche marketconfused


#16
billg said Apologies for the rant.
Not at all; it is a high quality rant.

#17
billg said

I personally reject a subscriber service (roon) that doesn’t let you continue to use what you’ve already paid for.

I agree with everything billg said but am confused about the part quoted above. Roon claims to use your existing music collection; what am I missing?

As far as MQA is concerned, there are many reasons not to jump on board, and others have expressed them very well so I won’t repeat them.


#18

Now that someone (here, a known manufacturer) has finally made clear what MQA actually means, it will be interesting to see what consensus develops among audiophiles.

MQA, Ltd./Meridian has been very crafty in obscuring what the technology is and how it will impact the industry and consumers.


#19

I am with you guys. My biggest concern in TIDAL. When TIDAL streaming services switches to MQA the thought is little should change for people without MQA installed since the default MQA is equivalent to Red Book CD, even if they’re streaming higher rez stuff. The problem for me is two fold: their compression scheme is lossy, and to my ears Red Book CD on the same track is much better.

Does that mean we lose TIDAL as a clean source of CD quality streaming music? More and more people are adding TIDAL to their libraries.


#20

Yes that would be a big time issue with me too.