I heard from Robert Stuart of Meridian via email today. He sent a very nice note offering to provide additional information about Meridian’s new MQA technology AND to come by and demo the technology on his next visit to Los Angeles. We tried to connect during the AES sessions but his schedule, as you might imagine, is very crazy. He beat me to the punch. I was planning to write to him today and ask about the MQA process. I’ll keep you posted on what I learn. I may even be able to convince Robert to give me an online interview…I’m not promising, but I’m certainly willing to ask.
One thing that I did want to quibble about is the illustration that Meridian provided on its website showing the contrasting paths that “Quality” vs. “Convenience” have taken via the various formats that we’ve had over the years. I used the diagram yesterday but have reproduced it again below:
Figure 1 – An illustration taken from the Meridian “Music is Changing” website.
Maybe the individual that put together this graph is unaware of the actual specifications associated with the various recording and delivery formats, but I think it’s important to get our relative “quality” scales closer to the truth.
The highest gold colored “Quality” line is associated with Reel-to-Reel analog tapes. Then comes Vinyl LPs followed by DVD-A/SACD, compact discs, cassettes and finally streams. In terms of frequency response, dynamic range, crosstalk, distortion, speed accuracy, and other less obvious factors, the graph is completely wrong. It seems designed to please analog advocates at the expense of recent digital formats. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so nit picky but I prefer that illustrations…like words…be precise and accurate.
I’ve remade the illustration to show the different formats and their potential fidelity or “quality” levels. Take a look:
Figure 2 – The same illustration with the “relative” qualities plotted more accurately.
There is room for interpretation in this redone graphic. I would probably add another category higher for downloads…after all there are sites that are making available 352.8 or even 384 kHz PCM downloads (they call them DXD but because DXD is a marketing term and not a format and I don’t want to confuse the issue). But clearly DVD-Audio has the potential to easily eclipse analog tape. And analog tape doesn’t suffer from the compromises associated with vinyl LPs. SACD/DSD…I’ll just leave that for now.
Compact Discs actually do a great job of delivering both quality and convenience but real high-resolution PCM audio cannot be surpassed.
Got to run to the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society Annual Christmas Gala…back tomorrow with a full report.
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