JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
As for stereophile I consider them to be paid influencers. If not paid in cash, paid in access, gear loans or industry-priced, and a one hand washes the other mentality that makes their magazine pointless to me anymore.

just my thoughts on this nothing personal.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
The first link was interesting but one persons opinion. I’m getting old snd crotchety and don’t understand why one persons subjective opinion should persuade me of anything over my own subjective opinion which I’ve already formed doing my own comparisons over time. I sincerely don’t like MQA anymore. It sounds falsely exaggerated to me. Like when you are watching somebody else’s TV and they have that motion smoothing effect on that gives everything a strangely fake look. And once I got that in my head I couldn’t shake it.
Who said I was trying to influence you? It's a discussion on MQA, and what I thought he wrote was interesting. I'd also like to hear MQA at its best.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
That piece leaves a lot to be desired in the area of clarity.

There is no attempt to make any mention of provenance with the disc sources, so if different source tapes or masterings were in play, then all bets are off with any comparisons anyway, not that one wouldn't like or prefer one or the other, just simply that it's not an apples-to-apples comparison unless the source and mastering are the same, with the only variable being the MQA encoding on that disc.

Additionally, he mentions then streaming these tracks from TIDAL, but does not say whether he streamed the 24-bit version, or the 16-bit version. In terms of the proper comparison of MQA-CD vs. TIDAL MQA streamed, it would need to be the 16-bit version in TIDAL and even then I'm not sure how one would know if the MQA-CD was the exact same source encoded or not. So again while one can certainly prefer one or the other, that doesn't mean conclusions can be made on an apples-to-apples basis.

Lastly, he states that "For the comparison, an MQA encoded DAC was used" and what he actually meant was an MQA decoder DAC was used, but he makes absolutely no mention at all of using an MQA-CD player, which are rare in the wild, but a requirement for decoding MQA-CD.

Without an MQA-CD player, that disc would be crippled to roughly 14-bit playback resolution, no minor detail. So stating a preference for the MQA-CD without ever mentioning it's properly decoded playback and on which disc player is... interesting to say the least. He also makes no mention of using an SACD player, so one is left to wonder if the Redbook layer of those discs is what was compared. Further, there are no SACD/MQA-CD players available, so any comparison made there is using two different machines, more or less voiding that comparison. The same can then be said for the TIDAL stream comparison, unless of course the SACDs had been ripped and the DAC in use was both MQA and DSD capable, otherwise he'd be playing the SACD from an SACD player, and the TIDAL stream from a DAC. Apples-to-oranges.

Again, he and everyone else are free to like what they like and state their preference, but when an article like that is void of so many important details, it's not very helpful at all in allowing anyone else to learn much from it. I certainly did not.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Who said I was trying to influence you? It's a discussion on MQA, and what I thought he wrote was interesting. I'd also like to hear MQA at its best.
It’s not a remark on you. I just couldn’t care less, personally, anymore, what another person thinks something sounds like when I’ve heard it myself. Though admittedly I haven’t heard an MQA encoded CD, I don’t see why it should be different if it’s “authenticated”
 

JoeThePop

Known member
The first link was interesting but one persons opinion. I’m getting old snd crotchety and don’t understand why one persons subjective opinion should persuade me of anything over my own subjective opinion which I’ve already formed doing my own comparisons over time. I sincerely don’t like MQA anymore. It sounds falsely exaggerated to me. Like when you are watching somebody else’s TV and they have that motion smoothing effect on that gives everything a strangely fake look. And once I got that in my head I couldn’t shake it.

I'm older and crotchetier. I don't think you should pay much attention to 1 persons subjective opinion at all, unless you have some familiarity with that person. I read subjective opinions of a few reviewers because they have a long track record and you can get a feel for their likes and dislikes. So their is some value there for me, especially with speakers, which I believe for competently designed audio equipment have the widest variety of sonic signatures. Even with that, I still want to see measurements (e.g. Stereophile, SoundStage! Network) as a means of a check on the subjective review and as a check on manufacturers specifications.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Btw, out of curiosity, who here has tried MQA encoded cds running through a high quality MQA dac? I can't say that I have.
No one has, thats not a thing.

MQA-CD can only be output from an MQA-CD player's analog outputs. MQA prohibits it's decoded material to be output any way other than USB, or analog, so what you are describing is a unicorn, there are no MQA-CD players with USB output, and if they do have an SPDIF output, it is disbled when playing an MQA-CD.
 
As long s 90% of streaming service users (or whatever high percentage it actually is) continue to use Spotify with a Bluetooth connection to headphones or "smart" speakers, all they need is Spotify. We frankly are very lucky these services provide higher res options at all. Frankly, if the record labels were smart one would think they would retain high res files for purchase only.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I'm older and crotchetier. I don't think you should pay much attention to 1 persons subjective opinion at all, unless you have some familiarity with that person. I read subjective opinions of a few reviewers because they have a long track record and you can get a feel for their likes and dislikes. So their is some value there for me, especially with speakers, which I believe for competently designed audio equipment have the widest variety of sonic signatures. Even with that, I still want to see measurements (e.g. Stereophile, SoundStage! Network) as a means of a check on the subjective review and as a check on manufacturers specifications.
I like subjective opinion on something I haven't heard. I read that stuff all the time, I enjoy the experiences of others. For some reason, on this topic, I just don't want to hear it -but that's my problem, not the fault of anybody else. I'm just in a bad mood as I have to sit through a 2 hour training course at work in 15 minutes that I'd forgotten about, on a topic that has been so beaten into everybody heads over the last year that everybody is about to purposefully become an asshole just to rebel against the forced niceness. I'm seriously sick of this modern world.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
No one has, thats not a thing.

MQA-CD can only be output from an MQA-CD player's analog outputs. MQA prohibits it's decoded material to be output any way other than USB, or analog, so what you are describing is a unicorn, there are no MQA-CD players with USB output, and if they do have an SPDIF output, it is disbled when playing an MQA-CD.
On the PS Audio video he was saying that you could play them on a regular CD player and the output over COAX would be recognized by a compatible MQA dac like the Mytek Brooklyn. I know the Toppings only do MQA over USB but maybe that's not a universal case?

I have no idea, just going by the video.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
No one has, thats not a thing.

MQA-CD can only be output from an MQA-CD player's analog outputs. MQA prohibits it's decoded material to be output any way other than USB, or analog, so what you are describing is a unicorn, there are no MQA-CD players with USB output, and if they do have an SPDIF output, it is disbled when playing an MQA-CD.
Sigh.
'Ok. Then let me correct and clarify my question. Then I will leave you guys to it.

Has anyone listened to a MQA CD through a MQA CD player, or listened to MQA files played through a high quality MQA dac, directly from their computer, and not through a streaming service?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
In this particular case it's pretty much a moot point, lacking all of the important details I mentioned above, no one can make heads or tails of that subjective comparison anyway. It's a very lazy poorly done piece.

For the record, both MQA-CD, and 16-bit MQA streamed over TIDAL are an abomination, markedly worse than Redbook. The entire idea and supposed efficacy of MQA revolves around using a 24-bit source file for the encoding. Could a pristine source tape and white glove mastering still manage to make it sound good? Sure it can, but that would have exactly nothing to do with the actual MQA encoding, and everything to do with the source and mastering involved.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
As long s 90% of streaming service users (or whatever high percentage it actually is) continue to use Spotify with a Bluetooth connection to headphones or "smart" speakers, all they need is Spotify. We frankly are very lucky these services provide higher res options at all. Frankly, if the record labels were smart one would think they would retain high res files for purchase only.
People keep betting on this notion that somehow masses of people are going to be persuaded that they need 'better sound'. Most people have all the sound that all of the gear they'll ever own can handle, and its not even CD quality, and they're perfectly happy with it. My guess is that Spotify is only doing a higher res tier to knock other players out of business - so instead of doing it to gain customers, its to lessen competition. They don't -need- to, but they can so why not? They'll gain customers when the super-slim margins of entries like Tidal, who are already losing money hand over fist, just fold because they can't afford the loss of even a few percentages of their base, and they need to grow, not shrink, to keep up a supply of money holding them (somehow) up.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Has anyone listened to a MQA CD through a MQA CD player, or listened to MQA files played through a high quality MQA dac, directly from their computer, and not through a streaming service?
I think that is an interesting question but not for any sonic curiosities. Though MQA downloads have been available for several years, I'm doubting anyone here has any, as the whole idea behind this technology originally was efficient file sizes that lend themselves well to cloud-based streaming.

MQA-CD? MQA-CD players? Stillborn.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
In this particular case it's pretty much a moot point, lacking all of the important details I mentioned above, no one can make heads or tails of that subjective comparison anyway. It's a very lazy poorly done piece.

For the record, both MQA-CD, and 16-bit MQA streamed over TIDAL are an abomination, markedly worse than Redbook. The entire idea and supposed efficacy of MQA revolves around using a 24-bit source file for the encoding. Could a pristine source tape and white glove mastering still manage to make it sound good? Sure it can, but that would have exactly nothing to do with the actual MQA encoding, and everything to do with the source and mastering involved.
The 40 minute video interview with Bob Stuart was one of the few cases I can remember where the creator of something talking about it actually solidly convinced me AGAINST the thing they were talking about.

He's solving an entirely made up problem, whether he believes it or not. I actually think he does believe it, but the end result is the same either way. This idea of "digital blurring" is complete bullshit and his very explanation leaves me to believe that instead of 'authenticating' anything they're irreversibly changing something in a way that psychoacoustically sounds better to some, but absolutely is NOT what was intended by the original mastering engineer. There is nothing wrong with high res pcm or DSD/DXD/SACD. At all.
 
People keep betting on this notion that somehow masses of people are going to be persuaded that they need 'better sound'. Most people have all the sound that all of the gear they'll ever own can handle, and its not even CD quality, and they're perfectly happy with it. My guess is that Spotify is only doing a higher res tier to knock other players out of business - so instead of doing it to gain customers, its to lessen competition. They don't -need- to, but they can so why not? They'll gain customers when the super-slim margins of entries like Tidal, who are already losing money hand over fist, just fold because they can't afford the loss of even a few percentages of their base, and they need to grow, not shrink, to keep up a supply of money holding them (somehow) up.
It's really a shame that what drives a market isn't always what's best, but what the masses feel is "good enough" or convinced is. Marketing folks do their jobs exceptionally well. See it all the time with old consoles that people do a half ass refurbishing job on and add a $19 bluetooth receiver to. That's all it takes for 99% of people to think it must be ready for the digital age. Bluetooth has ruined music listening at so many levels and it has creeped into the recording of music by the artists on crappy inexpensive home recording studio gear in a effort to stay relevant. Hell, we cant even keep the one mobile phone in the market that used a good DAC with LG bowing out. Two easiest things to sell to the public customer = sex and convenience.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
It's really a shame that what drives a market isn't always what's best, but what the masses feel is "good enough" or convinced is. Marketing folks do their jobs exceptionally well. See it all the time with old consoles that people do a half ass refurbishing job on and add a $19 bluetooth receiver to. That's all it takes for 99% of people to think it must be ready for the digital age. Bluetooth has ruined music listening at so many levels and it has creeped into the recording of music by the artists on crappy inexpensive home recording studio gear in a effort to stay relevant. Hell, we cant even keep the one mobile phone in the market that used a good DAC with LG bowing out. Two easiest things to sell to the public customer = sex and convenience.
I actually think Spotify won because of its user experience design and uncanny algorithm. It just works better than the alternatives and in a world where people don't really care about ultimate fidelity beyond a certain point, they're going to pick the service that works best and has the most seamless interface. That's Spotify, to a lot of people (including me - I use it in the car and on my phone where I don't care about hi-fi as much). I also use it when I switch to a bluetooth speaker I use in the kitchen.

It was up to those same types of marketers at MQA/Tidal/Qobuz or whatever to make a case for higher resolution and they've failed miserably.
 
I actually think Spotify won because of its user experience design and uncanny algorithm. It just works better than the alternatives and in a world where people don't really care about ultimate fidelity beyond a certain point, they're going to pick the service that works best and has the most seamless interface. That's Spotify, to a lot of people (including me - I use it in the car and on my phone where I don't care about hi-fi as much). I also use it when I switch to a bluetooth speaker I use in the kitchen.

It was up to those same types of marketers at MQA/Tidal/Qobuz or whatever to make a case for higher resolution and they've failed miserably.
Same with me for most casual listening other than of course when Roon is the control platform. Plus the whole family is on the account. I like what it comes up for me in my recommendations and playlists, but then again I've given it a lot more to work with over time too. Something tells me that with a really really good DAC that does up to CD quality sound exceptionally, Spotify would be just fine. I wish Roon did Spotify.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
As for stereophile I consider them to be paid influencers. If not paid in cash, paid in access, gear loans or industry-priced, and a one hand washes the other mentality that makes their magazine pointless to me anymore.

just my thoughts on this nothing personal.
I'm in the same boat, and thats really too bad because I did enjoy several of their writers over the years, but they are all gone now and what remains is only of a slight passing interest.

I always thought the trade press were essentially paid influencers, their customers were much more so the advertisers, and less the reader, but as long as you knew that and took the reviews with a grain of salt, there was still plenty that could be learned/gleaned as a subscriber.

At some point I stopped feeling that way when my favorite writers were gone, and simultaneously the shrinking readership seemed to force the publisher into a more desperate attempt at being that paid influencer, it's worse than it ever was in my opinion. So I no longer subscribe and haven't in a good many years, though I'll occasionally pick up an issue on the newsstand.

MQA is a perfect example of that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, both TAS and Stereophile continue to double, triple, and quadruple down on the idea and stance that MQA is the best thing since sliced bread, and I find that disingenuous to say the least, they've lost all credibility with me.
 
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