MQA - A clever stealth DRM-Trojan (CCC talk)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ric-Tic, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I found this talk about MQA at Chaos Computer Club Conference from december 2017 very interesting. For instance, the scientific evidence referenced by MQA is experiments conducted on barn owls and rats.

    First part of the presentation is a historic overview of digital audio so most SH members can skip to 15 mins in to the presentation. Don't skip the QA in the end. A fun sidenote is that @Archimago is referenced in the talk.

     
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  2. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Skipped through parts and much as expected - thanks for posting.

    Think I can short-circuit many potential comments thus:

    Crowd 1: 'MQA is cynical, spurious clap-trap, and deserves its apparent slow death.'

    Crowd 2 (much, much smaller crowd): 'Major labels may release back catalogues and.... woahhhhh if you won't be missing out!... Ditch your current systems and buy a Dragonfly to feel the magic.'
     
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  3. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    MQA seems to be informally joining other formally banned topics here, mostly because it seems impossible for people to discuss and debate it without trolling via anger, accusations of fraud and dishonesty, conspiracy theories, and general outrage and invective on both pro- and anti-MQA sides. Sadly it's a poison-pill subject.

    Thus I predict this thread is not going to last.
     
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  4. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    Mongolian gerbil and barn owl. Oh, the wonders of neuroscience....

    Actually it's not very surprising as I'm familiar with dozen of papers that claim to advance science by feeding really disgusting and unnatural goop to innocent lab rats.
     
    Ric-Tic likes this.
  5. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I think the presentation speak for itself. It is up to SH members, or rather their debate tone, to decide if this thread is going to be closed or not. (Not forgetting the invisible hands of the Gorts).
     
    tmtomh likes this.
  6. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Great video. Thanks.

    Other than the poster that started the huge MQA thread are there really any proponents of MQA here? Actual members, well outside of the industry i.e. no possible financial incentives, that prefer MQA to other formats? If so, those are the people I would like to here from.
     
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  7. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I think it is about making an informed decision on what product or feature I want to buy. Marketing and media coverage makes people to desire shiny new things, and it is important to know what actually you are getting for your money. This forum is a great source for making such decisions about audio products.
     
    Shiver likes this.
  8. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I know. Guilty. IMO, though, MQA are only reaping what they've sowed.
     
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  9. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I have an MQA compatible DAC. At the moment at least, there isn't any way for me to use it with Tidal. So to try out MQA for myself, I'd have to get downloadable MQA files. I know of at least one website that could supply me with these.

    Now we get to the problem with MQA: In the scenario I'm describing, why do I choose to purchase that album in MQA instead of High-Res PCM or DSD? I don't believe MQA is actually claiming to sound better then these two formats I already have in my library. Maybe the file sizes are smaller, but that isn't a problem I'm out to solve. Regardless of what one thinks about the technology, I predict it dies out in short order due to lack of practical applications.
     
  10. MQA? That is SO “last thread I read about it”. What’s new? What’s hip? What’s now?!
     
  11. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    I watched the whole presentation - interesting in parts. As a former engineer who did my share of presentations, the second presenter (Anton) was pretty boring. I know English is his second language, but just reading the charts is not *presenting* the material.

    Anyway...my takeaways:
    * The MQA origami folding is a numerically lossy process and has nothing to do with any perceived audio improvements by itself; it is purely a means do reduce streaming bandwidth by some process not fully understood as MQA won't disclose the details.

    * The claimed 'secret sauce' of MQA for improving sound quality is in the deblurring/time smearing correction. But there is no proof to verify this claim.
    (Also the deblurring currently can only be done with MQA licensed hardware)

    * HiRes audio above standard redbook, from a listener perspective is, as presenter #1 says, "a waste of bits"

    * MQA is DRM despite claims it isn't
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  12. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Gotta stay tactful around this sensitive topic of course :angel:.

    Good for consumers to know about the implications of the file format in any event...
     
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  13. Sevoflurane

    Sevoflurane Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Yorkshire
    The leading article in this month's Stereophile, along with several of the published letters, express significant reservations about MQA. The audiophile press may be coming to its senses after its initial fawning admiration for MQA.
     
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  14. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Lol! How about kick back, relax and listen to the music, this is the golden age to be an audiophile? :)
     
    Pinknik likes this.
  15. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    Nice to see how calm and polite and even jocular this is going so far... Fingers crossed that continues.
     
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  16. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    I agree. I think as a format it's going nowhere despite the intense push that seems to be coming from the audiophile press. I tried it through the tidal app through an iFi DAC and found nothing revolutionary. I'm still playing with Tidal so maybe I will find something that changes my mind but I doubt it.

    As for as size of files goes I'd much rather have a FLAC and definitely not looking forward to more DRM nonsense.
     
  17. SquishySounds

    SquishySounds Yo mama so fat Thanos had to snap twice.

    Location:
    New York
    [​IMG]
    I was worried I wouldn’t have a chance to use this GIF again since Monster cable has disappeared.
     
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  18. tootull

    tootull John Norman

    Location:
    Canada
    Listening to a few SACDs is keeping me calm. :laugh: The Beatles LOVE DVD-A to remain calm, next. :pleased:
     
  19. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    I'm pretty sure MQA claims the "temporal de-blurring" produces better sound. It's just a crazy unfortunate consequence that this process has to be done prior and thus requiring licensed hardware to play it back properly.
     
  20. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    If only they were able to prove that the temporal blurring they identified as a problem is an effect that has any consequences or impact on the listener.

    MQA is like some car company claiming they identified a serious problem with fuel delivery to the injectors: it's called chaotic fluid dynamics, and they even have pictures and slides showing the vortex forming in the fuel pipes! It's terrible and we have been plagued by this disaster since we switched from proven steam engines to this newfangled internal combustion technology. Luckily they also have the answer: it's called sticking a new and improved fuel pump with careful tuned manifolds calibrated for a specific fuel octane. The car press is raving, there are even some serious petrol heads that claims to experience better handling and cornering with the tuned manifolds. other opinion leaders noticed no differences but had to admit filling up with regular fuel that may not be up to specs for the improved pumps.

    Some naysayers are flooding online forums claiming to achieve the same, or even superior performances using unmodified cars and regular fuels and seems to be outraged by the counter claim that the cars they bought are simply not expensive and refined enough to fully appreciate the advantages of the new pumps.

    Later examination of the scientific papers published prior to the new calibrated pumps show that the only research ever done involved scale model airplanes and rubber band motors.
     
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  21. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Stockholm
    The results from the talk suggests that the effects from MQA's claimed temporal deblurring needs further (independent) investigation. But that is the problem with proprietary software it is never disclosed for investigation. One question that has not been addressed (correct me if I am wrong) in the discourse about MQA is why in 2018 we need proprietary software to solve our *needs* in audio.
     
    Kyhl likes this.
  22. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Temporal deblurring seems to suggest it corrects timing errors, which is to say reduces jitter. So we're basically at the standard issue promise of all better digital. I'm fine with over-solving this problem on the hardware level vs monkeying with the music.
     
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  23. tootull

    tootull John Norman

    Location:
    Canada
  24. Dr Tone

    Dr Tone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    I doubt they can give us a reason why we need it, as a company wanting to make money like most other companies they have a reason why they want it propietary.
     
    Ric-Tic likes this.
  25. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I have a temporal deblurring, it's worse when I read about MQA.
     
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