MQA continues to spin their thread of sonic improvements through “origami” and removing “time smear” with high-end equipment manufacturers, audiophile reviewers, and streaming services. Among professional audio engineers and equipment designers, the jury is still out on the merits of MQA. I’ve made my position pretty clear over the past couple of years — they have developed solution to a non problem. There is no need to enhance fidelity beyond high-resolution PCM, FLAC encodes are DRM free and open to everyone and deliver better compression, and virtually all tracks consumed on disc or via streams aren’t high-resolution to start with and therefore can’t possibly benefit from MQA. Not to mention the minor detail that Robert Stuart and his team offered to encode a number of my own high-resolution tracks, lend me an MQA capable DAC, and let me evaluate the before and after for myself. I uploaded a bunch of AIX Records files almost 3 years ago and stopped pestering Robert and other company representatives many months ago. I gave up.
In my humble opinion, the only people that will benefit from MQA are the principals at MQA, their investors, audiophile writers (they have something new to write about), and content companies that will be able to resell their catalogs once again at premium prices.
A recent chapter in the debate happened without anyone knowing about it. I turns out that the head of a very well respected manufacturer suggested that he would like to be the moderator for an informative seminar on MQA with panelists representing informed points of view at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. He offered to do this given the high level of interest in this topic. Show attendees would welcome the opportunity to learn more about MQA and this would benefit the show. Both pro and con representatives were approached and politely asked to participate. I was asked to participate and accepted the offer as did LA mastering engineer Brian Lucey. After several false positives, everyone from MQA declined. I was asked if I knew others — both pro and con — that might want to be part of what would ultimately be a very informative event at RMAF. I passed along a number of names: audio engineers, mastering engineers, high-end equipment designers (that have included MQA and others that refuse to), record company executives, and bloggers. With a few exceptions, everyone declined.
The following are some quotes from the email exchange that I had with the moderator:
“Anonymous…is another very intelligent designer who has no use for MQA.”
MQA wrote “that they wouldn’t have any presence at RMAF this year according to Spencer Chrislu, an MQA representative.”
One pair of electrical engineers and designers, “…sent thoughtful individual messages declining because they don’t want to dignify MQA with their presence. They both think it is a total scam and their positions are already on record.”
Mike Jbara, head of MQA,”subsequently decided not to have anyone participate because of the intemperate tone of prior MQA groups.”
So the organizers decided to cancel the Saturday noon panel on MQA. Frankly, I was surprised and more than a little disappointed. It seems MQA is fine with one-sided presentations and photo ops — I been to several of Robert’s presentations, seen the photos of Mytek and MQA, and viewed testimonials videos on YouTube by Grammy winning engineers. But if it comes down to an open and honest discussion between intelligent individuals on both sides of the issue, they get cold feet. MQA and their promotional strategy nedd to be willing to debate others that oppose their technology. Apparently, some in their camp don’t believe that their message can survive critical analysis and open debate.
I sent the article above to the moderator for his review and approval. He granted his consent and asked that I include the following additional information:
“There is one point that I’d ask you to include. Before I pitched this seminar to RMAF I assumed that MQA would be represented on the panel. I reached out to Spencer on August 16th. He wrote back that he wasn’t certain that anyone from MQA would be going to RMAF and not to count on someone from MQA participating.
I wrote back the same day:
“I’m sorry you won’t be at RMAF. Could you please suggest a few people who can best advocate for MQA on the merits of the technology?” On September 5th, Spencer wrote that he was still searching for a name. Shortly after that I expressed my concerns to the show that a seminar wouldn’t viable without someone from MQA. I am certain this is why the show cancelled it.”
There you have it — a look from the inside of the MQA debate.
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