Originally Posted by Cordy
What's everyone's consensus on MQA? Currently using Tidal for Hi-fi music which is great. But currently Denon doesn't support MQA. Can get around that by using something like a Dragonfly Red with my phone or a Node 2i into the AVR. Just not sure whether there is a noticable difference in quality for the added investment.
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I would determine why I am asking the question. If you are asking because you just want some general conversation, then this is a good place to ask. If you are asking to determine if MQA makes any audible difference, than you will not get that answer here. The only answer you will get here will be random opinions.
If you want to know if it makes an audible difference, then I would start with the wiki page for MQA.
You will see that is a lossy compression. Once compressed the lost information is gone forever never to return. MQA then recreates the lost information, which likely creates artifacts since the information is lost and interpolation is used to attempt to recreate it. You will see quite quickly there is strong dissent for MQA.
The next question I would ask is, why would I employ a lossy compression is there are many lossless compressions containers for music? I would then look to see why 16 bit 44khz was chosen for CD recordings. Keep in mind a significant amount of research by scientist and engineers went into this decision.
Spoiler alert, cd resolution is twice the resolution of human hearing. So the I would ask myself, why would I need a resolution four times or more what humans can hear (high rez) and then have it compressed lossy and then have lost information recreated, which is going to have artifacts, when I can have lossless compression that reproduce the original signal and does not have licensing fees for a resolution that already exceeds human hearing (cd quality)?
The next step would be to see if there is any proof that there is a difference in how humans hear high rez or cd quality music. To do this you must employ double blind tests. The following Ted talk on how the body perceives pain is a good resource to understand why a test must be double blind, that is the subject must not be able to see the source or know which source is playing.
It goes into the fact that there are no pain receptors in the body, just nerves and the brain uses surrounding and historical information to determine if it should be pain and how much.
Another good video that shows the influence the brain has on hearing is the following:
Those should make it clear that you have to be double blind when performing A B tests for hearing. Hearing memory is also very short. I have not seen any studies that suggest anything but random when A B tests are done. If you do decide to look, be very cautious of websites unless they are by a science or engineering group.
To further illustrate how bad people’s assumptions are with hearing, a study was done on the top violin players to determine if there was a preference for new made violins or the Strats made many years ago. The consensus was that the old Strats are better so a blind test was done to see if that held true. Keep in mind these are arguably the top in their field for hearing detail. That study came be mostly random with a very slight preference for the new made violins.
If I were making this decision I would trust the engineers and scientist before I ever trust some random person on the internet. I would also be extremely cautious of any who begs the question “have you heard both formats” as their only argument if you are looking for a real technical answer.
A short side story, I refinished a 1977 Boston whaler to include stripping and regel coating. I did a ton of research prior in a popular whaler forum to determine my path forward. What I discovered was at least 90% of the information was incorrect. I periodically visit that forum since I sold my whaler and that same misinformation is now being quoted by new people who clearly have never done the work before. Unfortunately, when it comes to real information, it appears to be at least as bad here. For a forum that the “S” in “avs” stands for science, there is nearly none here and anytime someone tries to bring some there is an immediate reaction to try to kill it with the “I say so with no resources and the engineers and scientist are wrong” argument. I prefer science and this gets me on the ignore list of some but it is the ignorance of them that pushes so much misinformation.
Either way you want to ask your question is fine, but it will determine if you should use this as a resource or actually do the legwork yourself.
-To be an audiophile you must abandon all research and science.