Jason Victor Serinus posted an article about a press conference that was held at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I’m sorry I missed it. The title of the event was “MQA and Mytek Present: From Studio To Home” and it featured Bob Stuart of MQA, Ltd., the co-inventor of the technology, and Michal Jurewicz of Mytek. I wrote a blog post on my meeting with Michal a week or so ago about his new DAC. You can check out that post by clicking here. The new article includes more information about the collaboration between the two companies mentioned above and Tidal and AudioQuest.
I’m still waiting for Bob to get back to me with answers to questions that I posed via email back in June. I’ll have to reach out to him once again as more information starts to become available about the technology.
A reader quoted the article and sent me a heads up email. According to Jason, Bob Stuart stated the following at the press event, “You can take an MQA-encoded file, play it anywhere, and it will sound better than CD.”
That’s a bold statement to make. I would need to have some clarification on the provenance of any music track making its way to a CD or an MQA-encoded file. If the original recording was done on analog tape (which may in rare cases exceed the fidelity of a compact disc…but usually doesn’t) and was then digitized at 44.1 kHz/16-bits, all of the fidelity would be present…assuming optimal transfers, a great ADC, and proper clocking etc. To compare the CD to an MQA’d file would mean that the record company went back to the original source analog master and transferred it again with detailed knowledge of the ADC parameters that were used. The MQA process would then apply that knowledge to minimize any fidelity loss that could happen between the new transfer and the playback at home. That’s the “authenticated” part of MQA.
As I understand MQA, there isn’t any improvement or enhancement in the resulting file…just tighter specs and less loss from source to delivery. So to claim that any MQA-encoded file will sound better than a CD seems a stretch to me. I understand that marketing and promotion are different than the science stuff and specs but a great sounding CD probably doesn’t need MQA. The record companies are not likely to go back and redo all of their transfers again just to please audiophiles.
I’ve heard various assertions about MQA from qualified individuals that ask some meaningful questions. Here’s a segment of one of them:
“The value of the MQA system is that it can convey an extended frequency response and a better than 16-bit SNR over the 0 to 20 kHz frequency region while achieving a respectably low data rate. This is the first lossy format that attempted to capture an extended bandwidth. I suspect the band above 20 kHz has a reduced SNR.”
MQA will have very specific benefits to companies like my own and 2L, companies that actually deliver content with higher frequencies and greater than CD signal to noise ratios. But it might not help the huge catalogs of the major labels because their content doesn’t reach high-resolution standards.
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