My new article series on MQA.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by LeeS, Jan 9, 2018.

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  1. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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  2. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

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  3. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

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    Let us know when you write an article about MQA that tackles the concerns about the format instead of regurgitated marketing talking points. I'd also be interested in reading about comparisons of playback of files pre and post MQA processing, but this? Meh.





    Note, just so you know I'm not a hater, I am a follower PTA on facebook and enjoyed the PTA top gear article posted a couple weeks ago.
     
  4. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    Sorry you don't like the article but these are not "talking points." I interviewed Ken Forsythe for 5 hours and took four pages of notes on both the business model and the technical workings. These are my own words at describing what I see as leading to more hirez files. The second article will go over how MQA is encoded and why the approach is used. The third article will involved listening tests on tracks I recorded in hirez, pre and post MQA encoding. Spence, who leads engineering for MQA, has agreed to encode some of my recorded tracks that I am really familiar with so that should be fun.
     
  5. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

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    If MQA was simply a technology to provide well-mastered hi-res music with clever streaming-friendly data compression (as this introductory article suggests), it would have been a smash success welcomed with open arms and quickly adopted.

    Instead it's a hairball of marketing jargon and hype tangled up with semi-opaque technological claims and confusing proprietary protocols and copy-protection. Or at least that's what the best fair-minded critics I've read are still arguing three long years since the initial MQA rollout.

    I'll read the rest of the series with an open mind, but I'm afraid that this ship has already sailed.
     
  6. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    I think the fact that the three big labels and Merlin representing the independent community is a "smashing success" from an adoption standpoint. I'm not sure that any other format has done that yet except for LP but LP which I also like is seeing limited releases of the catalog whereas the contracts on MQA involve the whole catalog.

    Also, there is no copy protection or digital rights management at all. I think some of the confusion was due to the evolving nature of the complex technology and the MQA not doing a great job explaining it well. I am going to do my best to explain the process in very plain English.

    Also, the MQA approach does limit revenue for mastering engineers so many of them are struggling with that.
     
  7. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

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    Will there be a fourth article to review concerns and counter points about the format?

    This line gave me enough of a chuckle that I almost left a comment on the article itself.
    Because the labels are striving for ways to make things sound better. :laugh:
     
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  8. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    One more thing:

    On the "well mastered" part of your quote...mastering quality still varies but what MQA does is put in place digital filters that attempt to improve sound quality by minimizing time distortions and also compensating for the different characteristics of ADCs, DACs, and other devices in the chain which have their own sonic signature. The idea is to greatly minimize these sonic signatures and get closer to the performance.

    In terms of a high quality streaming delivery vehicle, you have to decide yourself but I will share what I am learning with the MQA team and critics in the next article.
     
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  9. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    I plan to address some of the counterpoints and concerns in the follow-up articles but not sure I will discuss that separately.

    Normally I would agree that labels are not exactly concerned with sound quality on many releases. However, I learned the extent that the labels went to testing the technology from a sound standpoint when I met with Ken. I think the extra attention here is because they are making a substantial investment in encoding the catalog and wanted to make sure they received a good ROI.

    My guess is the label's are in agreement that streaming is very important and they want to get the details right if they are making large investments. The encoding and fees to MQA are not insignificant (no good business is) and they are taking much time out of their engineer's schedules and that is quite costly labor.
     
  10. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

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    I've read that when Warner Bros signed on and 'opened their vaults' to be the first label to allow access to their golden hoard of albums that the master tapes were simply run thru the MQA encoding process as a batch job. Presumably these were simply MQA encodings of flat transfer masters?

    IF MQA offers all of the claimed benefits for time/deblurring of the ADC-DAC process, doesn't that still leave open the 'remastering' game where we have future rebuys of previous MQA releases with new and improved mixes?
     
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  11. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

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    If your series take on the tests and criticisms that @Archimago has posted on his site that would be great (and a first).
     
  12. tomd

    tomd Forum Resident

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    Where’s Sony been as far as MQA goes? Have yet to see any A list artists/tracks from them
     
  13. ribonucleic

    ribonucleic Forum Resident

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    Swell! I eagerly await the ABX tests.
     
  14. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    My understanding is that they agreed to encode their entire catalog.
     
  15. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

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    No doubt, they're working on a competing format. Totally incompatible and will only license it if no other are included on the same machine....

    CJ
     
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  16. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    Sony backing it? That is most probably the herald of MQA death.
     
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  17. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    Sony releasing LPs has not killed LPs.
     
  18. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

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    Remind me who won between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, again.
     
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  19. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    Which only proves that even a broken clock can show the correct time at least once a day.
     
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  20. BSC

    BSC Forum Resident

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    I think one of the most boring things about the MQA "debate" is the absolute stance taken as it to be the work of the devil without any back up first hand experience explained. I've read some articulate and informed criticism which is 100% spot on but some of the posts on the subject just actually do seem to be a case of minds made up.
    I see a lot of flaws in the format and understand concerns and I have indifferent experiences with what I have had heard of MQA but I would like to hear the full MQA experience before I was fully sure it was a dead dog.
     
  21. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

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    I don't understand all the hostility here towards MQA. No one is forcing you to adopt the technology and even CDs encoded w/MQA can be played as if it wasn't included according to what I read.

    If you don't want to buy the new MQA CDs no one is forcing you to.

    Give Lee a break, he's just writing about technology that you may or not agree is better than what we have today or heard in the past.
     
  22. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

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    Your missing the point of this forum.
     
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  23. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

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    No I'm not, I just see hostility and skepticism. Lee isn't offering an opinion one way or the other.

    I wonder how many have sat down and did an A/B comparison in your home for any length of time to discern the differences.
     
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  24. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

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    I jumped into this thread with skepticism but zero hostility.

    And I participated in and closely followed the aforementioned @Archimago blog coverage and testing, which included an A/B test that had ambiguous results. The non-hostile conclusion of that testing was not at all unfavorable to MQA sound quality, but strongly suggested that it offered no clear advantages over non-MQA music files. Raising this question: Whose problems does MQA solve?

    If MQA turns out to be something cool that makes music sound better, I’ll be very, very happy. So far, I ain’t seeing it, but I’ll follow Lee’s series and see where it leads.
     
  25. LeeS

    LeeS Roll Tape! Thread Starter

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    Thanks Mike. I don't understand the hostility either. I can understand some criticism on the approach perhaps but I don't see the downside of having more hirez of back catalog. It seems to me that writing an article that provides detail on the MQA contracts and the fact that that means millions of new hirez tracks would be a cause for celebration.

    Also, for the "first unfold", the cost of entry is very low, just get an MQA-able software app. You don't even have to buy a new DAC to get some of the benefit.

    But more about that in the next article...
     
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