Mastering Engineer Brian Lucey Rips MQA...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Fair Hedon, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    He was referring to Mid/Side processing that is sometimes done during the final mix process in a studio. Digital post-processing of a master can sometimes alter whatever mid/side mixing was originally preserved in the original master.

    The problem with all of the MQA-sanctioned/organized semi-public demos is that they appear to be very carefully structured to ensure only a predetermined result. The audio industry is rife with such B.S.
     
    riddlemay likes this.
  2. Fair Hedon

    Fair Hedon Active Member Thread Starter

    :D:D:D:laughup:
     
  3. Fair Hedon

    Fair Hedon Active Member Thread Starter

    It makes most of us ill....:idea:
     
    Agitater likes this.
  4. kevinsinnott

    kevinsinnott Forum Coffeeologist

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    Most interesting comment of the thread. HS, are you saying this balance between sides and mid is akin to M/S (mid-side) post production, where the stereo image is varied until it seems the best balanced?

    Fascinating.
     
  5. empirelvr

    empirelvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    As someone who has, I'll try and tell you what I hear.

    A pure mic feed as monitored in a well designed and stocked recording studio, while no substitute for live unamplified music, has a liquidity, ease, and solidity that is very beguiling. But once that gets captured, the change in sound is pretty drastic. Analog tape captures the liquidity and ease quite well, but noise (hiss), and wow and flutter reduce the solidity by an order of magnitude. Noise reduction like Dolby A or dBx also have their own discernible sonic signatures. Digital keeps that solidity, but the liquidity is reduced (drastically with standard 16 bit/44.1kHz, more subtly with higher res) and that "ease" is missing entirely no matter the sampling rate/word length. (At least that's what my ears tell me.) What you prefer (analog or digital) depends on your priorities but I feel confident in saying both can sound "good" and maybe even exceptional, but you'd never be fooled you were hearing the pure mic feed in an instant A/B comparison.

    And if the capture was multitrack, all bets are off on the mixdown master, especially if it's all analog. With analog, the mixdown will be just a pale shadow of the live mic feed. All the added limiting, compression and tinkering, cause a sound degradation from analog multitrack to mixdown so extreme (even if it's just technically one generation from the session master) that I sympathize with people who freak out over digital remixes of classic analog recordings. You get so used to the added noise, IM distortion and other "softening" that are in the finished masters that I can see why they would accuse the remix people of noise reduction and other digital manipulations. (Not that it doesn't happen, but I've been tangentially involved with some remix projects where it absolutely wasn't, yet was still decried as having been. That's how clean, quiet, and "present" the analog multitrack session master was vis-a-vis the final analog mixdown master everyone knew and loved.)

    Digital mixing and mastering can fare better than analog, especially if it can be kept in the high res domain from start to finish, but you still wind up losing "gestalt." By the time you get to a mixed, sanely mastered digital file you can still hear a "loss in translation" if you were there from step one.

    Not that I'm saying the finished product from either format sounds bad. But compared to the live mic feed, it's a difference even someone with the most tin of ears can hear without any kind of prompting. It's why direct-to-disc was such a revelation back in the day. By cutting out the "middleman" of tape, it was the closest a consumer could get to the live mic feed and it was a tangible thing.

    To use an Absolute Sound analogy, a pure mic feed sounds like Row C, the original capture (analog or digital) sounds like Row E, and the finished master can sound like it's from Row G or H. And if it's a digital file subjected to the loudness madness, it's out of the hall and into the toilet completely.

    As to MQA, I haven't heard it, so I can't comment on that.
     
  6. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    My guess is that MQA is claiming they get closer to the mic by fixing most of the timing distortions in digital such as Bob's apodising filter although I think there are pluses and minuses to that like anything else. I do hirez digital recording so I know how different mic setups in both omni, figure 8s, and ORTF can sound compared to the final product. In my experience, the better ADCs handle these timing distortions better and you get something closer to what you heard on the cans.
     
  7. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    The burden of proof should be on you to explain specifically how these demos were misleading. Take the LA Audio Show. The room was setup by an LA dealer Sunil Merchant, no MQA connection. The files were recorded by Peter McGrath live to two or four track, no MQA connection. Then Peter submitted the files to Bob's team and they were processed into MQA before the show, and then Peter simply played the non-MQA files first then for the corresponding movement played the MQA version.

    It's not credible for you to claim shenanigans without first hand knowledge and sharing details with us on the board.
     
  8. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Oh, please. Careful now. The only files that have processed into something allegedly better than whatever originals are extant, are those prepared specifically to show off MQA in structured demos. The proof of "shenanigans" as you put it is plainly evident in the fact that nobody except Bob Stuart knows what was done to the files during processing. There was no independent and objective observer of Mr. Stuart's MQA processing of the McGrath files. So, no basis for objectivity about the so-called MQA processing of the McGrath files. It's a black box, which in this case means it's also a prospective basis for future DRM.

    When Mr. Stuart et al invited Waldrep to submit original recordings for processing, that's exactly what Waldrep did. The files were left in limbo though, and Waldrep eventually (after more than a year, or was it two years?) stopped following up because he got tired of being ignored. That's another example which seems to point out that the only demo files Mr. Stuart and his team seem to be interesting in publicly playing with are the ones over which Mr. Stuart can maintain private control.

    It's a needless licensing fee scam. It's a needless 'new' format. Sometimes, for end users (i.e., music listeners at the retail 'counter') it results in different sounding files (but not better sounding files). Needless fees drive up costs to end users in the form of higher monthly fees for streaming subscriptions. Goosing DAC sales through Pavlovian blue light tweaks, license fee impositions, all for a needless new format, is just terrible. I'm trying hard to hear the improvements. Audioquest Dragonfly Red DAC/amp (with Audeze Sine and Fostex TH-900 headphones), Bluesound Node 2 DAC/streamer (with everything from a fully restored and upgraded Yamaha CR-2040 to a Unison Research S6, Kudos Cardea Super 10, AR3A and KEF 104aB speakers downstream), and a Lumin T1 DAC/streamer (feeding both Krell and LFD power, Falcon Acoustics LS3/5A and Harbeth Monitor 30.1 speakers downstream). Repeatedly. Friends trying to consistently hear an improvement rather than just differences too, on their own systems as well as mine. Repeatedly. No dice so far in our listening rooms and sound rooms and living rooms and spare bedrooms and rec rooms and dens and apartments.

    The audio industry has to serve audiophiles and music lovers better than this. Alleged improvements cannot possibly be this controversial and remain believable. Audibility in a good quality home listening room with demonstrably good quality components and speakers is where the rubber hits the road. That's the gold standard - not some carefully crafted setup engineered to produce a predetermined result.

    MQA just doesn't work for my friends and me in our home listening environments. Collectively, my friends and I spend a staggering amount of money on audio equipment every year. If you've a mind to do so, you can tell Mr. Stuart for me that he's not getting a farthing more from any of us (through Meridian product purchases or through MQA-licensed purchases). We were willing to happily and enthusiastically spend money - and we already have - on MQA DACs, and then take the time the check it all out through TIDAL Masters streaming and through costly 2L downloads. No dice. Usually sounds like nothing so much as a re-EQ for the most part, with occasional improvements usually only with comparative sources that cannot be verified as identical.

    Scam. After all the money my friends and I have spent on audio equipment, some members of the audio industry are now trying to foist B.S. on us in an attempt to squeeze still more cash out of us. That's how I see it, especially considering my friends and I can't hear the benefits that you and Harley and few others have thoroughly trumpeted (after being regaled at carefully structured demo sessions).
     
  9. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Then MQA is an inferior encoding scheme. The true test of an audio encoder purported to reduce bitrate is that it cannot be distinguished from the original. If the audio that comes out is audibly not the same as what went in, then they are fooling with the audio for the sake of marketing "sounding better" to some ears, or even to mask their encoding shortcomings.
     
    missan likes this.
  10. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    MQA proponents talking about credibility? Do my eyes deceive me??
     
    Agitater likes this.
  11. DaleClark

    DaleClark Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bexley, Ohio
    From what I've been told, many producers/engineers prefer to use RADAR system basically as a recording deck (I still believe you use PT on the front end for edits). Closest to combining the best of analog and digital
     
    empirelvr likes this.
  12. DaleClark

    DaleClark Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bexley, Ohio
    Lot's of audio scams in the world. More easy to fool the non audiophile general public (Monster Cable has been getting into hot water for years). I think this one, MQA, has been pretty much stopped in their tracks. Too much secrecy and "back room" style tactics. Plus, the audio rag editors are just "too giddy" about MQA. A bit over the top. The latest TAS is an MQA love fest-orgy.
     
  13. testikoff

    testikoff Forum Resident


    The same DXD vs MQA spectrum graphs + spectral delta (close-up) in logarithmic scale:

    - Spectra + delta:

    [​IMG]


    - Spectral delta (close-up):

    [​IMG]

    Equalization, eh? Nah... :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 3:06 PM
  14. Brian Lucey

    Brian Lucey New Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Are you listening to the source files?

    I have a responsibility to teams of people ... and I'm listening to my own work ... and it's not acceptable.
     
  15. Brian Lucey

    Brian Lucey New Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Inviting friends, is their approach, not inviting experts.

    Getting up to speed, what does that take you? It took me about 15 minutes to move from open minded and hopeful to being annoyed, and another day to see beneath the sales pitch.

    How much time are you thinking this analysis will take?
     
    LarryP likes this.
  16. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Seems like some phase distortion on the MQA.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 3:55 PM
  17. JBStephens

    JBStephens I am not a "peep", thank you very much.

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    I have not heard MQA, so I cannot expound upon my personal experience with it. But from what I've read, MQA is about time distortion, not frequency distortion. You can always... ALWAYS... instantly tell live music from recorded music. How? Because in live music, all frequencies arrive at precisely the same instant. Recorded music does not do this. It can't. There is always time smear. It seems to me that the purpose of MQA is to remove that deficiency in software prior to playback. If they can, more power to them. But I'm not interested in buying new hardware, and buying, AGAIN, the same album I've already bought five times in the last 40 years
     
  18. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Of course I am. In the case of the LA demo we have the unaltered source files from Peter who is a renowned recording engineer. Then we have the MQA versions which sounded noticeably better. No one here has presented any evidence that the demo was unfair. But given that my observation is different from the lynch mob mentality against MQA here, people are just speculating on test conditions without being there or having any empirical evidence to back up their claims the demo was rigged.
     
  19. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Brian, this is wrong. The MQA discussion facebook page was not set up by MQA. It was setup by Peter Veth who does not work for MQA. He's an environmental scientist. Hence, a good number of posts there are AES papers. And as I mentioned before, Peter is inviting folks like Steve Stone and I who are still exploring what MQA does and how it sounds.
     
  20. Why don’t you guys contact Peter on Facebook and ask for an invite to the MQA group? That’s what I am going to do. (I am already friendly with many industry insiders due to my work with my company).
     
    LeeS likes this.
  21. Regarding the MQA “licensing scam,” what do you all (including @LeeS ) feel about Auralic’s approach, wherein they have not licensed MQA (because they apply room correction and software volume control, which is not allowed by MQA) but rather detect the presence of MQA and then apply their own, in-house developed upsampling, deblurring, and apodizing filters?
     
  22. LeeS

    LeeS Audio Research Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I think its a valid approach however there is also value in MQA being supported by license fees in so far as it creates a business model that labels can be part of and then release more titles of interest.

    I think you have to consider that there needs to be some return for the labels to do "something extra" like spending money on new titles releases in better quality. I think some here are not applying a business lens to MQA.

    By the way, I communicated with Peter Veth a few minutes ago. Neither Bob nor his team set up the MQA discussion group. Peter is just an enthusiast. He invited Bob after he set up the group and Bob joined but has not made any comments as far as I know.
     
    Billy Budapest likes this.
  23. Fair Hedon

    Fair Hedon Active Member Thread Starter

    I really think you are clueless on the business end.

    Secondly, I know for a fact that Veth's group is simply not for "enthusiasts". This is a total and utter misrepresentation. There are dealers
    and Dutch reviewers in the group. These are industry professionals. Please be transparent. I have seen leaked posts in the group from members
    who have become disillusioned with MQA. I know the agenda, so please.

    Veth was banned from CA for shilling. That is a fact.
     
    missan likes this.
  24. Fair Hedon

    Fair Hedon Active Member Thread Starter

    They basically know MQA is burning through cash at blazing speeds, and legal action is unlikely, especially since they are a Chinese based company.
     
  25. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Lynch mob?

    Enthusiasts that are calling BS on the unnecessary income generator that the consumer is being foisted with are doing the hobby a service.

    Bit limiting, DRM ridden, lossy data wrappers being sold as the next big thing is a con. Call it what you will, but don't call it something it isn't. MQA does not solve a problem, but it surely creates one.
     

Share This Page