Let’s assume that MQA delivers on its claims. According to Jason Victor Serinus’ article on the recent Stereophile.com site, the process has been used on the entire catalog of Morten Lynberg’s 2L catalog. If you’ve never heard one of his amazing productions, you owe it to yourself to download a track or a sample and listen. They are absolutely terrific recordings…with or without MQA. 2L has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards over the years…the label’s work is that good. So why would recordings this good need to be “scrubbed and clean and born anew with MQA”?
I asked myself the same question. I have a catalog of almost 100 albums that might undergo the same MQA process. For me it might mean getting some terrific recordings onto TIDAL or other “high-res” music streaming sites. But until proven wrong, I’m hoping that my tracks will sound exactly like they do when played in my studio. I honestly don’t want the fidelity to be changed…in any way.
Yesterday, I hosted a close friend and one of his important musician friends. I don’t want to mention his name but trust me this guy is the real deal. He was the music director for one of the world’s biggest music celebrities for over a decade (he’s played the SuperBowl). He’s been spending a lot of time in China working on a variety of projects in the high-end audio and streaming distribution.
They arrived at about 12:30. I gave them the royal tour of the new studio construction, the Astound studio in the middle of the building (front cover of MIX magazine a couple of years ago), and the smaller project studios located in the rear of the building. Finally, we arrived at my main room. The size of the room and the array of 5 B&W 801 Matrix III speakers made an impact. He is endorsed by PMC. He and Greg Morgenstein, the engineer for Astound, got into a lengthy conversation about how amazing the PMC line is.
I sat the guest of honor in the center position and proceeded to unleash a few of my favorite recordings. I played John Gorka (“Let Them In”, The Latin Jazz Trio (“Mujaka”), Jennifer Warnes (“So Sad”), and a few others. Within the first few minutes of hearing real high-resolution, surround music tracks made without any artificial processing or mastering, he sat back in the chair and uttered, “These recordings are the best I’ve ever heard, this is better then sex!” I’ve never had anyone make that comparison but it’s pretty high praise, indeed.
He liked the sound of the B&W speakers too.
I heard a sample of a 2L track for orchestra and choir in the MQA suite at the show. It sounded amazing, really! But Morten’s unprocessed tracks sound amazing as well. Is the world of real high-resolution music the target for the MQA process? Most of what I’ve heard from them has been archival stuff from the 50s and 60s. Those sources originated on analog tape…which might be more fertile ground for the process. Again, with the goal of preserving every bit of fidelity that existed on the masters…but not “enhancing them”.
But remember that the MQA process results in a new file that has the ultrasonic stuff and metadata about the ADCs cleverly encoded into a standard bandwidth container. That means that the catalogs of the major labels will have to undergo MQA processing. Think about it for second. PonoMusic and HDtracks sell the “high-resolution” output from the major labels. At last count, there are about 7500 albums that have undergone the process of “remastering” from analog tape to “hi-res” files. This has happened over the past 8 years! And now to move to MQA versions, all of those albums will have to be sent back into the studio. And what happens when MQA 2.0 comes along?
Does anyone else see a problem here?