Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 16 February 2017

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The good folks at MQA have done a great job at getting their technology and message out. Never mind about the benefits of the “authentication” process or the technical merits of the “origami” folding of ultrasonic frequencies within the bandwidth available to streaming companies, they’ve succeeded in convincing a couple of the major labels (and a number of smaller ones), some hardware manufacturers, and production studios to endorse and collaborate with them.

As I opened my email this morning, I clicked through to a press release issued by MQA and Universal Music Group. The title “MQA and Universal Music Group Collaborate on Advancing Hi-Res On-Demand Streaming” means that UMG, holders of one of the largest and most valuable catalogs of music has joined Warner Brother Records in support of MQA. With the world rapidly moving away from digital downloads to streaming, the move to associate “hi-res audio” — made possible by MQA processing — with the new distribution paradigm is interesting. Brace yourself for the second wave of “so-called” high-resolution audio/music promotion.

On the other side of the coin, I also received a heads up from a friend about an article written by Jim Collinson of Linn titled, “MQA is Bad For Music. Here’s Why”. You can click here to read this very compelling argument against the MQA technology. His take is rooted in the fact that MQA is great news for the labels, for the streaming services that will extol the virtues of “hi-res” and potential charge more or attract more subscribers, and MQA but doesn’t provide any real benefit for end users. His article is well worth the read.

And finally, I read a couple of posts at Archimago on the technical aspects of MQA. In early February, he authored a couple of well-documented articles. The first “Musings: Discussion on the MQA filter (and filters in general)…” drills into the bit-depth basis for timing accuracy. He successfully addresses some of the confusing and incorrect claims made about sampling in other publications as they apply to MQA. His other piece is “COMPARISON: Hardware-Decoded MQA (using Mytek Brooklyn DAC)“, which uses an MQA enabled Mytek DAC to evaluate hardware MQA decoding. Those of you who are more technically minded will appreciate the information and graphics in these posts. They confirm many of my apprehensions about this technology.

The labels are all about trying to license their catalogs again — this time under the banner of “hi-res” streaming. They extracted many millions of dollars during the “hi-res” download period (2007-2016) and are looking at reaping the same windfall as TIDAL and others play the fidelity card. The reality is that the world doesn’t really care about fidelity. They want convenience over sound quality. If adding an extra imperceptible octave to a recording from 50 years ago using MQA floats your boat then it’s time to get excited. As far as I’m concerned, streaming CD-specification sound surpasses my own requirements. If you want real high-resolution audio/music, avoid streaming.

The press release reads as follows:

LONDON AND SANTA MONICA | FEBRUARY 16, 2017 – Music technology company MQA and Universal Music Group (UMG), the world-leader in music-based entertainment, announced today that the companies have entered into a multi-year agreement that will encode UMG’s extensive catalogue of master recordings in MQA’s industry-leading technology, promising to make some of the world’s most celebrated recordings available for the first time in Hi-Res Audio streaming

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the launch of the cross-industry marketing campaign “Stream the Studio”, launched at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and spearheaded by The DEG: the Digital Entertainment Group, to raise awareness of the advantages of Hi-Res Audio streaming.

Mike Jbara, CEO of MQA, commented, “We’re very pleased to be working with Universal Music to achieve our goal of moving studio-quality sound into the mainstream. Universal’s timeless catalogue and impressive artist roster will fuel music streaming services worldwide and enable the premium listening experience for all music fans.”

Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG, said, “The promise of Hi-Res Audio streaming is becoming a reality, with one service already in the market and several more committed to launching this year. With MQA, we are working with a partner whose technology is among the best solutions for streaming Hi-Res Audio, and one that doesn’t ask music fans to compromise on sound quality for convenience. We’re looking forward to working with Mike and his team at MQA to make our industry-leading roster of artists and recordings available to music fans in the highest quality possible.”

MQA – the award-winning technology which delivers master quality audio in a file small enough to stream – debuted on global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL, at the beginning of this year, and is also available internationally on several music download services.

About MQA
Using pioneering scientific research into how people hear, the MQA team has created a technology that captures the sound of the original studio performance. The master MQA file is fully authenticated in the studio and is small enough to stream, while also being backward compatible, so you can play MQA music on any device. MQA’s award-winning technology is licensed by labels, music services and hardware manufacturers worldwide and is certified by the RIAA. MQA is a UK-based private company.

For more information visit www.mqa.co.uk

About Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company. Find out more at: http://www.universalmusic.com

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(24) Readers Comments

  1. Yes, the labels want once again sell us Sinatra and The Doors by umpteenth time and lock us to streaming monthly fees forever.

  2. And no more lossless Redbook from the streamers for us either.
    We either pay up for the MQA hardware/software decoding and get something that “may” sound as good as a original uncompressed HDA file, or you get a lossy, less then 16/44 SQ sound. Everybody’s on this new money train except of the end consumer who gets to pay more for less. 🙁
    A similar concept to the end result of DRM to me.

    • You’re right. Redbook streaming at 44.1 kHz/16-bits can sound great. Moving to MQA doesn’t give you anything more if the original source wasn’t high-res — and virtually everything isn’t high-res.

  3. Basically, I see MQA as really only useful as a replacement for MP3 on streaming content, most notably, Internet Radio. For instance, WCRB in Boston streams the live concerts of the great Boston Symphony, every Saturday night during the season. The broadcasts are very high quality (for MP3) at 192 Kbps, but that still isn’t as good as straight, non-compressed 16/44.1. KHz. It would be wonderful to have access, over the Internet, to hi-res live concerts like this, at quality so high, that it is actually better than what Bostonians can get over the air via local FM.
    This would open up a world of high quality LIVE music from around the world! Imagine being able to hear the BBC Proms live in glorious fidelity from the Royal Albert Hall in London, or a Puccini opera live from La Scala in Milan. While my interest is classical, other musical interests would be served as well: Rock, jazz, world music, etc.

    • There is sufficient bandwidth these days to stream at CD spec.

  4. Hello Mark
    As a consumer, If I do not trust the quality of the product I can shop elsewhere. I thought the main interest in MQA was the promise or guarantee that I was downloading an original, not a copy. In the old days your reputation for selling high quality products was sufficient. If AIX sells lousy recordings, the word will spread and the business will fail. Is it really that hard to buy high quality downloads with honest and accurate documentation of the recording process?.

    • MQA states that they are preserving the original fidelity as heard in the studio. They say “studio quality”. Well, which studio? The mixing studio, the mastering studio, or the studio where the safety tape copies were digitized? This is all marketing spin to benefit the labels and MQA. The quality of the original transfers to a 96 kHz/24-bit PCM file and then losslessly compressed to FLAC format (an open standard) will eclipse the MQA version. And yes, it really is that hard to buy high quality downloads.

  5. I am so tired of the Government and Companies spouting ‘Alturnitive Facts’ trying to make people believe whatever BS they want. The most upsetting thing about their use of alturnitive facts is that people believe what they say.

    Very Sad Times
    Mick

    • I’ve purposefully avoided all hints at political discussions and will continue to do so. But “alternative facts” have no place in audio, music, and life. Lies are lies. Misrepresentations are misrepresentations. And those people or companies that purposefully spout them should be called out at every turn.

      • I only said Government because they coined ‘Alternative facts’ . My wish is that people would understand that you cant put back the fidelity after it has been removed through conversion, format limitations, mastering/remastering,
        ect. Music has to be recorded as Hi-Res to be Hi-Res, the bi bucket conversion does’nt make it Hi-Res. MQA cant make a track Hi-Res by adding a meta-data EQ’ing scheme and people should understand that MQA is all marketing hype.
        I Love your True Hi-Res albums, the 17 I have and the other 20 I will be purchasing as funds allow.
        Everyone I let listen to your music Loves what they hear as well.

        Mick

        • Thanks Mick for the comment and encouragement. The people at the DEG, The Recording Academy, labels, and consumer electronics companies are pushing high-resolution audio quite hard. They need — and want — a reason for people to purchase new equipment and replenish their catalogs.

  6. You say in your post that “the world does not care about fidelity” and from my experience I would agree with this. I think most people recognize high-res fidelity when they hear it but will not go out of their way at all to get it.

    I will question whether the world cares about Tidal as well! I bring them up as you mentioned that company in relationship to the MQA streaming. Not a single person that I know (and I ask frequently) has even heard of Tidal let alone listen to them. This includes friends in Europe who live in Finland who have never heard of the company. Contrast that with Spotify or Pandora and everyone knows about them and for the most part are happy with the free lowbrow service not the upper tier ( paid higher fidelity) service.

    • Larry, TIDAL is trying to use fidelity as a way to segregate them from the others. But you’re right, the world is enjoying Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. The thought that WB Records and Universal will “lock” their new transfers up in MQA-only versions is good for the labels but not good for consumers.

  7. Hi Mark

    I think that MQA is a non starter. To come from a long way back, if we start at the HRA definitions 2 or so years ago, I believe you mentioned that the categorization of HRA included a category that basically permitted the use of any recording to be put into a high resolution container and it became Hi Res.

    MQA basically does the same but, as far as I can tell, gets the original master to pass on to us. Either way the source is not Hi Res.

    Whilst I have an MQA enabled DAC and have used the “Master” playback function of Tidal and have enjoyed the sound, I simply cannot get behind it, because it remains the same old same old.

    I have to say that I was about to at least praise them for raising the quality level of streaming playback, when I read this piece and the comments and agree that quite simply redbook flac will render the same results and the only difference will be the quality of the playback devices.

    As purely a personal opinion, I would prefer if you could spend more of your posting time talking about projects that are promoting the recording of high fidelity music (specifically 24/96).

    Alas I fear that the old adage of “the main stream isn’t interested in high fidelity” will actually ring true. Not that you will continue to post the same thing just that the brick wall of ignorance needs to be hit until it succumbs.

    I feel that yourself and others like minded need to nurture the next generation in to high fidelity recording studios/techniques/output and bring down the barrier of cost (not a business man so don’t have suggestions on the finance side of that) so that we and everyone can break free of the monotony of new formats (sic) and catalogue regurgitation.

    More power to the elbow, as we say in England, to you and 2L for example.

    I for one will not be signing up to Tidal because I have a large collection of music and the means to take it with me, size of file is not an issue.

    Looking forward to the release of your book and your posts.

    Gordon

    • Gordon, thanks for the comments. You’re one of the few people that I know that actually has an MQA enabled DAC and has not made “over the moon” statements about their experiences. You absolutely right that any MQA processed stream has been created from a standard-resolution “master”. And those masters in virtually every case are not new transfers from an archival tape. That process has already been done for “so-called” HD audio download sites. I already talked about the fact that many of those transfers were not done from the original approved masters because they can’t be located or have been worn out. As I understand it, MQA processed tunes are done from the existing transfers — and while they boast high-resolution specifications, they maintain their decidedly standard-resolution fidelity due to the provenance of the analog production process. Yes, MQA is a boon for streaming services. Bob Stuart was very astute in developing a technology that could bring the myth of hi-res audio to the new delivery paradigm. Too bad the source material isn’t all like AIX or 2L, then we might have something to praise. A well made FLAC encoded high-resolution transfer of an analog master will equal or surpass the fidelity of an MQA version. The MQA process raises the noise floor in the audio band to accommodate the “origami” fold of the ultrasonic frequencies — of which there are none worth reproducing.

      I understand that perhaps I should tailor my posts to the positive things that are happening in hi-res audio/music. But in all honesty, I don’t see any. I made a very serious attempt to create a process and catalog of “better than CD” albums. I demonstrated those to the Recording Academy, to other engineers, artists, and to label executives in an attempt to show them that fidelity can be a major selling point. Many heard the tracks and raved about the amazing quality and then went right back to producing overcompressed, heavily mastered, commercial sounding tracks. Why can’t 2L win a Grammy? Because Morten and I are on the outside of the mainstream music business and that’s where it counts.

      The book is coming. Stay tuned.

  8. Mark, did you happen to read my piece on DAR?

    • I didn’t see it…but I’ll do a search and let you know.

  9. I think you are all so focused perceived malevolent motives by MQA that you do not countenance an alternative possibility – that MQA have in fact found a way to fix a key problem inherent with digitally encoded music which, as I and many others can clearly hear as better, but knowing , as stated by several posters, that most people don’t know or care about this improvement, have sought to find a way to persuade greedy record companies to pay for MQA.

    They have cleverly presented MQA to record companies as a way to deliver hi-res music without “selling” their DSD masters. Which is nonsense really since if the MQA file sounds just as good as the DSD master, who needs to ever pay more for the DSD master? MQA are selling an illusion to them. Thus I can get to listen to premium high res music while paying for a CD grade file. To do this I have to pay a small amount to buy a MQA capable DAC ( so far DAC upgrades to MQA are free to the end user or the selling prices are the same. ) The undoubtedly veniel greedy record companies can not charge me any extra for that decoding since I pay for the decoder and the file is dual use, so the selling price is largely determined by the basic CD price.

    In my experience, once you have heard an MQA decoded song it is hard to go back to plain vanilla CD. And I for one can’t afford to pay the going rate for music I want to listen to on DSD.

    • Mark, thanks for the comments. I don’t thing Meridian, MQA, or the labels have “malevolent motives”. For them it’s just a business opportunity — a way to stretch extract additional revenue in the streaming world from the hi-res audio hype that has been mission one for a number of years. If the recordings with MQA processing sound better than an exact equivalent at 96 kHz/24-bit PCM or FLAC, then great (it would be very difficult to make that comparison as the CD versions are not the source for the new MQA processed files — but that’s the only test that would be valid.). The “improvement” provides an extra octave of ultrasonic partials to be included in a CD bandwidth stream through a clever scheme of “folding” these frequencies into audio band. It also claims to cure “time smear”, which happens at the Nyquist frequency or half the sample rate. BTW there is more “time smearing” in your playback environment than in the worst offending digital file.

      If it’s possible to use an open source format and achieve exactly the same level of fidelity (which is definitely possible and it’s certainly not DSD), then why used a closed system that uses a lossy codec to “authenticate” the fidelity of a “master source”? It makes no sense to me. The music world will take a huge step backwards if MQA becomes the only way the record companies issue or stream high fidelity music. It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

      I don’t know what you mean when you say “DSD masters”. DSD is a coding scheme developed to archive analog masters. It was never intended as a consumer format. The professional audio engineering world doesn’t produce commercial music using DSD of any resolution. The masters owned by the labels are analog tape copies. The ones that have been digitized are done using high-resolution PCM. You’re not listening to “premium high res music” at all. You — and the rest of the listening world — are hearing standard-resolution audio masters digitized into high-res bit buckets that are for the most part empty. The ultrasonics are needed during the folding process because the original masters don’t have any ultrasonic frequencies to start with.

      I’ve heard MQA encoded music on a fabulous systems a number of times and can state without hesitation that a 96/24 PCM or FLAC file sounds as good if not better AND there’s not loss in either the undecoded file or MQA version.

  10. I felt I needed to chime in here and add a counterpoint to all of this “speculation”. It’s seem that there is a lot speculation on the outcome as things are just leaving the gate.

    I stream from 3 different service providers (2x @ Redbook, 1x @ MP3 [320kbps]) and I purchase physical media. I have, but I no longer purchase digital downloads.

    I am a TIDAL HiFi Subscriber and have been for over 2 years. At present, for streaming MQA, TIDAL HiFi subscription appears to be the only option. Since, I also have an MQA capable streamer in a Bluesound Node 2, I was able to sample and compare MQA. I had previously bought the Node 2 so that I could stream local hi-res content from a NAS that my Sonos components couldn’t. The fact that the Node 2 also supports MQA was a bonus.

    When I became aware of the MQA content back at the begin of January, I did check it out — because I could with the Node 2. Did I hear a difference — YES I did. Did I prefer the difference — YES, in some cases. Can I truly quantify the difference — NO, but in some cases it was more significant and noticeable than some of the other technology comparisons I have done.

    Could a non-audiophile friend hear a difference that I could hear — NO. And here in lies the first problem, and I think it’s part of the point of Mark’s post. Different people “hear” differently, or hear what they want or care to hear, or want to afford. Some people have trained themselves for what they want, expect, or prefer to hear. It’s important to note that MQA may or may not address any listening or preference deficits for some people. For a lot of people costs will prejudice their perception.

    The first point I want to make, based on my personal experiences, and the press/commentary over the last year, is that no one that I am aware of has yet to make a claim that MQA encoding/remastering/etc makes what they hear sound worse. If this in fact the case, there should be some acknowledgement for this alone. Let’s face it, there were 3 ways to respond to how we hear and MQA encoded track:
    a) sounds worse,
    b) no difference, or
    c) sounds better.

    So far, most of the dialog is in the (b) and (c) category. So, my opinion right now is that if I am paying for and streaming at HiFi quality, and I have the bandwidth, AND I have an MQA capable streamer, do I care whether it’s MQA or Redbook any longer? If I am not getting any degradation in the listening experience, I don’t care. The delivery pipeline in the streaming service providers, CDN’s and ISP’s might care, but for me I don’t see an issue that justifies creating back pressure against a technology from the consumers perspective. Where it matters the most is with the content publishers and whether they feel the need to license and remaster an alternative issue of their content with MQA encoding. Media storage is “cheap”, there is no need to be dialoging the format to be one or the other, both Redbook and MQA formats can be mastered and published.

    And I am not going to get into the licensing/proprietary conversation. This conversation needs to be addressed from the perspective of paying the bill and that’s the consumer. So, let the consumer decide.

    For now I can enjoy the benefits for no additional cost with TIDAL. At this point, for the few albums I have sampled and compared to Redbook, I preferred the MQA version. I do not know what exactly contributed to that difference. I doubt it has anything to do directly with delivering ultrasonic content (and for my age that’s anything above 15KHz). Maybe there was some actual remastering, maybe it’s the de-blurring, maybe it’s the result of moving the anti-aliasing effects into the ultrasonic bands by moving the Nyquist cutoff to a higher frequency, and maybe it’s all of the above?

    MQA encoding is much more than an alternative to Redbook or bandwidth compressed (lossy or lossless) delivery mechanisms. I see that MQA is about correcting inherent flaws in the ADC/DAC processing, and takes advantages of developments in neuroscience as it applies to how our brains interpret sound waves.

    Here’s the way I see it with comparing MQA to Redbook, or for that matter any hi-res content to Redbook. If MQA is delivering hi-res content as 24-bit/{44.1,48}KHz content, the inherent increase in dynamic range allows for remastering to address at least one basic Redbook mastering issue: normalizing peaks to 0dBFS. If levels are lowered to peak lower than 0dBFS, and should be to address inter-sample peak distortions, this is going to disrupt the ability for someone to perform a proper A-B comparison.

    No one is being forced to embrace MQA right now. I doubt there will become wide spread demand for MQA. It is clear that the market has shifted to streaming and for whatever the economic reason is for the labels to be remastering with MQA encoding, there will or will not be long term acceptance by publishers and consumers to continue. In streaming is the delivery format of the future, it makes sense that MQA is one of the options selectable just like how you select between Vinyl and a CD. I suspect that a preference may grow and develop organically as what happened with the transition from Vinyl to CD.

    The second point I want to make is a concern over replacing all Redbook content for consumption on Redbook only gear with MQA files. I’ve never liked this premise of MQA.

    From the MQA website it states: “MQA is a revolutionary end-to-end technology that delivers master quality audio in a file that’s small enough to stream or download. What’s more, it’s backwards compatible, so will play on any device.”

    This is a backwards compatibility assertion to garner acceptance and implies that MQA tracks can replace Redbook tracks. I certainly hope that does not happen. There should be the traditional mastering for Redbook and complementary mastering for MQA and hi-res. If my device is only capable of Redbook playback, I want the Redbook version, if my device is capable of MQA playback, I want the MQA version. If it’s any other combination, that should be my choice — I don’t want other people making that decision for me.

    Some of my initial observations related to MQA streaming with TIDAL is:

    1. Multiple albums issues presented for an album release in the catalog and no indicator on which is which.
    In one case, before MQA addition to TIDAL catalog, only 1 album issue was available. A remastered version.
    Following the MQA edition, 3 album issues are available now.
    Specifically added was the non-remastered issue, in MQA and non-MQA format
    >> Note this confirms a dual format delivery strategy

    2. Unless you are using the TIDAL desktop app, browsing “What’s News > Albums > Masters”, you don’t know if something is MQA encoded or not in the catalog.
    As of yet, there is No UI indicator during general catalog browsing to determine which selections are MQA, Redbook FLAC, or MP3/ALAC. This is the case with so far with the Sonos, Blusound, and TIDAL controller Apps.

    3. I have a Sonos Connect and a Bluesound Node2 streamer
    My Sonos streamer is only capable of processing flac files at max 16/44.1
    Yet, when I selected an MQA issue on the Sonos – it plays.
    What exactly is being delivered? It cannot be a 24-bit MQA FLAC file.. the Sonos will not process it.
    A substitution in the streaming service for my selection has occurred without my knowledge.

    4. Streaming an MQA encoded album does use more bandwidth (transfer bytes) than the Redbook FLAC version … I suspect mostly from using 24-bit in the encoding.

    5. A good part of the MQA content that Warner has mastered and released to TIDAL is of a vintage and genre that I am interested in. I’d speculate that this older content and selection is favoured more by the demographic that represents audiophiles and was done purposely to gather more initial interest.

    Some of the universal challenges presented going forward:
    1/ Long term financial sustainability of TIDAL
    2/ If and when other streaming providers will embrace Redbook or MQA delivery (ie Apple, Spotify, etc)
    3/ Content availability in MQA encoding
    4/ Latency to remaster and release MQA issues
    5/ Label re-mastering/re-release/box set re-issue shenanigans
    6/ Label participation in remastering with MQA
    7/ Issue/release selection in streaming services
    8/ Issue replacements on streaming services
    9/ Still no provenance information — what exactly is being delivered for the selection?
    10/ Labels get on the band wagon, releasing content as MQA when do benefit can be derived from all of the MQA algorithms
    11/ Changing mastering techniques to not normalize to 0dBFS and to stop over compressing (DR) the content
    12/ Will a physical delivery medium with MQA content ever evolve?
    13/ Will subscriptions fees be increased to garner access to MQA content? And if so, by how much?
    14/ Believing that MQA is only an alternative to Redbook or bandwidth compressed (loss or lossless) delivery mechanisms

    Some of the challenges some people may experience
    1/ “renting” their music vs owning their music
    2/ Sufficient and reliable bandwidth and CDN’s to address streaming MQA content
    This could be addressed in allowing streaming appliance to download and store a local copy of content the same as the way they allow content to be downloaded and stored of mobile devices
    3/ Accepting $20/mo or more as a reasonable fee to “rent” their music in HiFi quality

    Speculated, but may not really be an issue (IMO)
    1/ Only MQA encoded content will be available in the future.
    As long as CD’s are being sold, a Redbook format will have to be made available.
    2/ Music will only be available via streaming in the future
    Broadband Internet is still not available everywhere
    3/ Having to repurchase your music library again
    I labels would stop pulling and replacing content on the streamers I would fully embrace streaming
    4/ Universal (UMG) may continue to watermark their streamed content (quality degradation) and still package it in an MQA container

    I have only listed these points in brevity to keep this post as short as possible.

    The market is where it’s at because that’s where the majority of customers has taken it. In most of the world today, we operate in a free enterprise system based on basic economic theory of supply and demand. MQA was not demanded by the consumer, but in every technology shift there are one or more entities that will take the gamble and see if there is interest, and if the demand warrants it sufficiently over time, basic economics will take over — regardless of how individuals desire the outcome.

    No pun intended, but this quote does seem appropriate:
    “Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.” –Malcolm Muggeridge

  11. A great article by Jim Collinson of Linn outlining the many negative aspects of MQA. His talk on the DRM like details of MQA are very close to the things I’ve been harping on forever. A great read over all. IMO.
    https://www.linn.co.uk/blog/mqa-is-bad-for-music

  12. As a past purchaser of a good number of excellent Meridian components, not least because I always found them a straight shooting company, I’m somewhat disappointed in Bob Stuart for indulging in the sort of smoke and mirrors marketing that I would normally associate with lesser individuals and organizations. The world just doesn’t need another format to further muddy already murky waters, much less one that so clearly fails to deliver an actual improvement. More power, then to the likes of Linn, PS Audio and Benchmark for a range of recent statements that put MQA into a more realistic context. And people wonder why vinyl has made such a strong comeback. A fallback, indeed, to a time when we didn’t have to suffer all the nonsense of the latest less than revolutionary digital format.

  13. Anyone willing to give MQA a listen?

    Meridian Explorer2 DAC is $299

    Download some free tracks from the 2L ‘Test Bench’.

    Try the 2L recording called “Remote Galaxy”

    Let us know what you experience.

    • I’m certainly not going to trade in my Benchmark DAC2 HGC for an MQA-enabled Explorer 2. They offered to provide me one AND encode a number of my native high-resolution recordings but never followed through — despite repeated requests and having uploaded the files to an FTP for them. Having experienced MQA at a coupe of CES shows and owning a state-of-the-art mastering studio, I fail to see how a lossy codec “improves” the fidelity of an original source tape. My experience steers me back to an open format that doesn’t suffer from the myth of high-res audio and reduces the fidelity of my music.

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