Do You Think MQA Offers an Audible Benefit? - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: Do You Think MQA Offers an Audible Benefit Versus CD Quality Audio?
MQA sounds better than CD quality audio 56 36.84%
MQA sounds the same as CD quality audio 67 44.08%
MQA sounds worse than CD quality audio 29 19.08%
Voters: 152. You may not vote on this poll

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post #31 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 03:05 PM
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Although I totally get you about DSD's noise, my recollection is this "folding" process they do also has issues.

Gotta go for now but I'll be back.

Last edited by m. zillch; 02-08-2018 at 09:35 PM.
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post #32 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
I get your point but according to 2L the master source is DXD:
" All our albums originally recorded in DXD are now available in a wide range of resolutions, including DXD, DSD64 and DSD128, along with physical products like CD, SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray and vinyl. "

You may say "But all DXD starts as PCM "and while that's true we don't know for sure what their MQA track and stereo tracks provided for download comes from. If I recall correctly the sampling rate convertor they use is hardware based not software.

If they are taken literally on that page and the one for this album then the master for both is DXD "Original source
DXD (352.8kHz/24bit)" and you are right, it adds HF noise, however it would be exhibited in all their versions.
The noise as shown in your graph is typical for DSD64 recording (The original sample rate DSD started with).

DXD containing DSD recording with a 128 or 256 times sample rate have lower noise floor and the noise hump is outside the audible bandwidth.

DXD is basically 24bit PCM with very high sample rates. If a an original DSD128 or DSD256 recording stored in a DXD format is converted back into DSD128/256 than the audio would have less DSD noise issues.

So no for each different DXD source the HF noise would not be exhibited the same in all the various available downloads..
You need to check the spectrum for each to determine suitability for comparison as the site is not clear what the actual DXD source is.

Stereo is simply Multichannel light.

Last edited by Frank Derks; 02-09-2018 at 01:35 AM.
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post #33 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 03:21 PM
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I'm a 58 yo blue collar average joe and not an acoustic scientist so do know or care how MQA works. I have a very good 2 channel system. Just for reference, my MQA chain; HP laptop running Tidal HiFi MQA>Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC which does the full unfold>Pangea Balanced XLR cables>Balanced Audio Technology VK-33 tube pre amp>Musical Fidelity M8-700 mono blocks>Aerial Acoustics 7T's. I am going to say without reservation that the spacial imaging is much better and instruments sound more natural than standard high rez. If you could care less about MQA that's fine but don't tell me it's all BS until you have heard it in a proper setup for yourself.

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post #34 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g_bartman View Post
I'm a 58 yo blue collar average joe and not an acoustic scientist so do know or care how MQA works. I have a very good 2 channel system. Just for reference, my MQA chain; HP laptop running Tidal HiFi MQA>Mytek Brooklyn+ DAC which does the full unfold>Pangea Balanced XLR cables>Balanced Audio Technology VK-33 tube pre amp>Musical Fidelity M8-700 mono blocks>Aerial Acoustics 7T's. I am going to say without reservation that the spacial imaging is much better and instruments sound more natural than standard high rez. If you could care less about MQA that's fine but don't tell me it's all BS until you have heard it in a proper setup for yourself.
Your Balanced Audio Technology VK-33 tube pre amp limits your systems resolution to about 14 or 15 bits equivalent so I would not consider it a proper setup for good evaluation.


If the difference you hear is actually real it's more likely to be caused by the fact that the mqa file without unfolding is actualy degraded in comparison to a 16 bit file without the MQA encoding.
Comparing MQA version with original cd version can reveal a difference but that is most likely different mastering.

Stereo is simply Multichannel light.
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post #35 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 03:49 PM
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Its hard to get exited about processing refinements when mastering is so often malpractice.

Here is a an image of Adele's Hello CD (Dynamic Range Database 4).

I am sure it sounds much better at 192/24.
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/105216


The good news, it that MQA should have no problem folding in all those zeros.

CD's are full of unused potential because of poor mastering and MQA is not the solution.

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post #36 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiRez24 View Post
Well I think this is a very loaded question as I am sure was its intent.

I listen to MQA tracks through tidal via Roon and an Oppo 205 so I am not even actually getting a proper unfolding of the MQA but I am getting a 24bit as opposed to the 16bit. I can say for sure that the 16bit vs 24 bit does make a difference. I was always convinced that the bit depth was much more important than the sampling frequency.

As far as MQA in general is concerned I dont think it will sound any better than an SACD, DVD-A (MLP) or any other hi res flac and or wav file. But if by MQA being the new standard it means that I have access to hi-res streaming that is at least as good as other hi-res formats than I am all for it.

I am sure I will have a more defined opinion once I actually hear a proper MQA unfolding.
What difference? I am not aware of any test revealing an ability to distinguish between 16-bit and 24-bit.
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post #37 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuteTibiImperes View Post
Comparing the same album side by side on Tidal through a Bluesound Node 2, MQA vs CD quality, I can hear a difference. Of course, I can’t do it blind by myself, so it could by psychoacoustics, and there may be a slight difference in levels, not sure as I don’t have an SPL meter.
It's not psychoacoustics - that's something very different.

And if you can't differentiate blind, then you have your answer. Sighted listening means nothing.
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post #38 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Meridian, which makes money from the adoption of MQA, states that there are audible benefits to their MQA processing over unprocessed CD quality, even to some degree without a decoder being used during playback. For example, here:
"No decoder? You don’t need a decoder to enjoy our ‘standard’ sound quality – which is now widely agreed by mastering communities to be superior to CD."

Also
:
"According to MQA Ltd, playing the un-decoded version still enables the consumer to benefit from the deblurring processes used in the creation or folding of the track. "

Also in this interview with their founder, Bob Stuart:
"One thing we haven’t talked about is backward compatibility. . . . If you don’t have a decoder, you can play it back without a decoder because it is PCM. MQA turns PCM into PCM. When you play it back, it’ll play back on a legacy system sounding better than a CD. . . . So you get great sound on legacy players, and it means that you can take the single mechanical and put it in your car, you can put it in Sonos, you can put it in iTunes, you can put it on a phone, and get better-than-CD quality."

He's right about one thing. If you have a good ear like I do, perhaps from having sold very expensive, top-flight, audiophile-grade gear for literally decades, it does indeed sound different. MQA sounds worse and here's the proof:

[^Each vertical mark is a 6 dB increment. Frequency in Hz is shown across the bottom of the graph.]

I am indebted to the measurements of the Meridian Explorer2 performed by Archimago. His original work I took these screen grabs from here:
http://archimago.blogspot.com/2016/0...-meridian.html
Or search for this MQA decoding device by name at his blog if the link expires.

Speaking of authentication, anyone can verify my double-blind, Foobar ABX test log and my resulting perfect 10/10 score, by cutting and pasting it in its entirety, meaning including "foo_abx 2.0.1 report" at the very beginning and concluding with the signature number:
6da7bffa67cfdca34ec62e752f99e8d203f52d7e
And inserting this entire copied text into the signature check verification page to be sure it is valid and has not been tampered with.
Archimago has more on MQA as of 3 February 2018: http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/0...g-and-why.html

And the news for MQA is, if possible, even worse...
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post #39 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrtheta View Post
What difference? I am not aware of any test revealing an ability to distinguish between 16-bit and 24-bit.
J, I don't presume to know you or your experience in audio but a quick glance at your last 10 post have asked different people to produce test results.

While I don't have test results to share with you I am sure I could find 10 that support what I say and you could find 10 that say something to the contrary. I think I will skip all of that and let guys who are much more passionate than I take it on.

I did the whole ab ABX double triple blind tests in my 20s and 30s in my 40s I just kind of like to enjoy my setup and listen to music.


Enjoy!


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post #40 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks View Post
DXD noise as shown in your graph is typical for DSD64 recording (The original sample rate DSD started with).

DXD DSD recording with a 128 or 256 times sample rate have lower noise floor and the noise hump is outside the audible bandwidth.

DXD can als be 24bit PCM recording with higher sample rates. The DSD128 or DSD256 derived from that would have less DSD noise issues.

So no for each different DXD source the HF noise would not be exhibited the same in all the various available downloads..
You need to check the spectrum for each to determine suitability for comparison as the site is not clear what the actual DXD source is.
Gents, I think it's time to clarify a few misconceptions about DXD. From the DXD Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita...eme_Definition

"DXD is a PCM signal with 24-bit resolution (8 bits more than the 16 bits used for Red Book CD) sampled at 352.8 kHz – eight times 44.1 kHz, the sampling frequency of Red Book CD. The data rate is 8.4672 Mbit/s per channel – three times that of DSD64."

and

"Today, DXD is also used as a music distribution format in some HD web stores, due to its great pulse response without the significant noise characterizing DSD."

DXD is not a type of DSD. DXD has no inherent noise issues and is the most pristine version of PCM. When distributed to the public it will be in a FLAC container. 2L uses DXD because it provides the best possible fidelity.
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post #41 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:06 PM
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without taking a position on the poll question, why would mainstream companies like Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopt MQA in some of their new products if they did not see (hear) a benefit? is it purely commercial hype?

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post #42 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by marcusb84 View Post
How can something sound "better than the master"?
Good question.

You alter the master to sound different that some may prefer more.
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post #43 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
.. is it purely commercial hype?
Would that be out of the realm of possibility?
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post #44 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jsrtheta View Post
... Sighted listening means nothing.
It means the tester's subconscious bias was not accounted for.
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post #45 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiRez24 View Post
... I just kind of like to enjoy my setup and listen to music.
Enjoy!...
Then it matters not what the bit depth is, right? But if it matters, then you are beyond enjoying the music and into numbers.

Or, if you need 24 to enjoy more, then testing is in order to be sure.
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post #46 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks View Post
Your Balanced Audio Technology VK-33 tube pre amp limits your systems resolution to about 14 or 15 bits equivalent so I would not consider it a proper setup for good evaluation.


If the difference you hear is actually real it's more likely to be caused by the fact that the mqa file without unfolding is actualy degraded in comparison to a 16 bit file without the MQA encoding.
Comparing MQA version with original cd version can reveal a difference but that is most likely different mastering.
I guess I don't understand how the DAC does the conversion from bits to analog yet a tube pre amp limits the resolution. Even if it does, when I used the Brooklyn as a pre amp connected directly to the MF amps, I could discern a difference on most MQA vs standard recordings.
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post #47 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
without taking a position on the poll question, why would mainstream companies like Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopt MQA in some of their new products if they did not see (hear) a benefit? is it purely commercial hype?
Not necessarily they just don't want to lose any potential sales because they didn't
Support it. It's a very competitive industry.

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post #48 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 07:02 PM
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I honestly think the dac process is important. I almost think my old office system with a msb dac(dlink) sounds better on some material even tho its 20 years old.

maybe good old Kal can post some insight....https://www.stereophile.com/digitalp...234/index.html

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post #49 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
without taking a position on the poll question, why would mainstream companies like Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopt MQA in some of their new products if they did not see (hear) a benefit? is it purely commercial hype?
Based on user requests or a marketing strategy compared to other audio related products. For example Oppo Digital added support for MQA audio files on the UDP-205 last November. For some time AVSforums users have suggested that to be added. Is it due to a audible improvement, no, but its more in line with increasing the perceived value of a product by adding features which is why you have Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopting it.
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post #50 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torii View Post
I honestly think the dac process is important. I almost think my old office system with a msb dac(dlink) sounds better on some material even tho its 20 years old.

maybe good old Kal can post some insight....https://www.stereophile.com/digitalp...234/index.html
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post #51 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by grasshoppers View Post
Not necessarily they just don't want to lose any potential sales because they didn't
Support it. It's a very competitive industry.
^Yes. It's the same reason many speaker makers put bi-wire binding posts on their speakers: They don't want to lose any sales to people who think it matters even though they don't think it makes a difference. I've had designers tell me this off the record and some brands even state it on the record.
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post #52 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
without taking a position on the poll question, why would mainstream companies like Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopt MQA in some of their new products if they did not see (hear) a benefit? is it purely commercial hype?
That sounds like taking a position to me.

I didn't vote in the poll, because "it depends" is not one of the options.

I own two Bluesound Node 2s, one feeding an Anthem and Parasound rig, one going directly into a Crown amp. I subscribe to Tidal and have A/B'd MQA against their 16 bit versions of tracks. I can hear a clear difference on either system. The MQA has more space and layers are much easier to hear. That is my interpretation of my experience. Someone else who heard the same changes I have might believe it sounded worse because hearing individual instruments means they're not as cohesive in the mix. Either way, it does sound different, and I think most people given a proper demo would say better.

Here's the rub. To play an ACTUAL 16/44 CD requires different equipment. Either the conversion will be different (unless you're just talking about a transport), the gain staging will be slightly different, it will be assigned a different input on your preamp..etc. than your digital, MQA capable signal path, so it becomes very difficult to compare.

I think ACTUAL CD's at 16/44, played on my system, sound better than 24 bit MQA through Tidal. I think 24 bit FLAC files on my system sound better than MQA through Tidal. I think MQA through Tidal sounds better than 16 bit through Tidal (which is clearly NOT CD quality, regardless of how they pitch it). Most importantly, I think MQA through Tidal sounds better than any other streaming service's offerings I have heard to date. Clearly so. Because of this, and because this is how I consume the majority of my music, it's a winner in my book, even if it does get trumped by a shiny disc.
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post #53 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDEATON View Post
I’m old, 64 next month and a life long audiophile. In the 80’s when CD’s arrived and were touted as “perfect sound forever”, I wanted to love digital audio, but found CD’s to be harsh, thin and cold sounding, the opposite of warm, lush and engaging. I found myself not listening to a whole CD.

Over time CD audio improved some, better players, better A/D converters I suspect, but 16/44 CD quality Digital audio never provided me the engaging experience of analog.

Then SACD, and DVD-audio arrived. Big improvement for me. Hi-res discs we much more satisfying than CD’s. I jumped in with both feet. I loved the 5.1 surround capability and purchased as many surround DVD-audio and SACD discs as I could afford. Then, they were pretty much gone.

Next up was HDTracks with Hi-res downloads. I was intrigued enough to buy a Meridian Director DAC and purchased a few HDTrack albums. Hmmm… I liked what I heard. Much more analog like than CD for me. However, purchasing HDTracks albums gets expensive quickly.

Finally along comes, MQA, Tidal, and Roon. I think the concept of being able to stream thousands of Hi-res quality albums for only a $20 monthly Tidal subscription is a wonderful thing. Now I own a Mytek Brooklyn (MQA capable) DAC. My Hi-res library audio has gone from hundreds to thousands. There are now nearly 10,000 MQA titles available with many more coming.

Check out this link: http://www.meridianunplugged.com/ubb...&Number=268318

Yes, I think MQA sounds better than CD.
Some of the early CDs sounded lousy for a very good reason - engineers applying preemphasis because they falsely believed the high frequency rolloff they were used to with analog tape was also a problem. But it wasn't. And they didn't always expressly call it preemphasis. It was more like habit. (As late as 2000 I still saw engineers goosing the HF out of habit.) Hence, the early problems.

Not all were that way - Sting hopped onto digital early, and his CDs always read "DDD," not "AAD" or even "ADD." And they were all beautifully recorded.

Nonetheless, the people like me that I knew, who had lived with LPs for all their lives, jumped for joy when we heard our first CDs. Most began the process of creating a duplicate library of their albums, but now on CD.

There is no contest between the two formats for accuracy, frequency extension and reliability.
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post #54 of 301 Old 02-08-2018, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrtheta View Post
Archimago has more on MQA as of 3 February 2018: http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/0...g-and-why.html

And the news for MQA is, if possible, even worse...
Thanks. A good read.

Part way through it I had an epiphany why Meridan pretty much has to adopt this ridiculous assertion that MQA can actually "improve" the sound of the original master itself : if they don't hold this stance then they have a huge problem on their hands they'll have no answer for when astute testers start noticing their patently lossy process is nowhere close to "audibly transparent".

People like Archimago are measuring increased noise and distortion through MQA: "Notice the MQA filter actually worsened the THD+N from the DAC! . . . .this increase in distortion is not just with the Mytek Brooklyn, it's also present with the Meridian Explorer 2. . . ", and people like me with a good ear can pick it up in double-blind audibility tests, as I documented earlier. So how will Meridian explain the adulteration? Simple, like this: "That's the deblurring algorithm in action so the change you guys are measuring/hearing is the improvement our magic circuit does to make the sound more like it was before it even hit the studio master tape. It's like more analog and stuff so it's more natural, just like the two best audio formats are LP and analog tape, probably because they were both invented in the 1940's back when people really cared about hi-fi quality instead of convenience, as we showed in this format comparison graphic:

Image source although it was originally taken directly from Meridian.

By claiming the reference they are trying to replicate perfectly and transparently is not the studio master tape but rather is instead some mysterious, nebulous, unobtainable signal that only they, Meridian, get to define, they can claim "100% perfect success" and nobody can prove otherwise. Sneaky, huh?
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post #55 of 301 Old 02-09-2018, 01:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdkiller View Post
Gents, I think it's time to clarify a few misconceptions about DXD. From the DXD Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita...eme_Definition

"DXD is a PCM signal with 24-bit resolution (8 bits more than the 16 bits used for Red Book CD) sampled at 352.8 kHz – eight times 44.1 kHz, the sampling frequency of Red Book CD. The data rate is 8.4672 Mbit/s per channel – three times that of DSD64."

and

"Today, DXD is also used as a music distribution format in some HD web stores, due to its great pulse response without the significant noise characterizing DSD."

DXD is not a type of DSD. DXD has no inherent noise issues and is the most pristine version of PCM. When distributed to the public it will be in a FLAC container. 2L uses DXD because it provides the best possible fidelity.
DXD ia just a container. The noise floor of the recoding depends on the actual format used for the recording. For example a pure DSD64 recording containing the typical noise floor curve can be edited in a DAW and just by doing a gain change or some eq the outputted signal will/can be in DXD (aka hires LPCM). The noise floor of the original DSD64 input will be fully preserved in the outputted DXD signal.


This scenario is what mr zilch encountered with the test clip he used.

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post #56 of 301 Old 02-09-2018, 01:21 AM
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I guess I don't understand how the DAC does the conversion from bits to analog yet a tube pre amp limits the resolution. Even if it does, when I used the Brooklyn as a pre amp connected directly to the MF amps, I could discern a difference on most MQA vs standard recordings.
Well as it turns out evidence is piling up that MQA does indeed do something to the signal that can be perceived. But it's not in a good way.
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without taking a position on the poll question, why would mainstream companies like Sony, Bluesound, and Onkyo adopt MQA in some of their new products if they did not see (hear) a benefit? is it purely commercial hype?
Sony=commercial hype.


https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/13/...ntable-review/


If you look closely you might be able to notice the hires logo.
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I've never heard MQA (and probably never will), but everything about its marketing sets off all my BS alarm bells.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks View Post
DXD ia just a container. The noise floor of the recoding depends on the actual format used for the recording. For example a pure DSD64 recording containing the typical noise floor curve can be edited in a DAW and just by doing a gain change or some eq the outputted signal will/can be in DXD (aka hires LPCM). The noise floor of the original DSD64 input will be fully preserved in the outputted DXD signal.


This scenario is what mr zilch encountered with the test clip he used.
Sorry, no. DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) is just a fancy name for 24-352.8 HiRes PCM. DXD is not a container. The container is FLAC.

In this case, 2L recorded the music directly to DXD (PCM). It was never recorded in DSD so there is no DSD noise in these recordings. Here is a quote directly from 2L:

"Our 2L music store combines HiRes audio files and physical products in one shop. All our albums originally recorded in DXD are now available in a wide range of resolutions, including DXD, DSD64 and DSD128"

As you can see, 2L records this music directly into DXD (PCM) using their very fancy DXD capable mixer. They then use these ultra pristine, noiseless files to create all the other versions you can download such as DSD64, DSD128, MQA, etc.

I hope this clarifies the DXD issue.

As for MQA, a few of my friends and I have heard MQA demonstrated on two occasions at audio shows and each time we all thought the sound was either identical or slightly worse than the equivalent CD. Personally, I have no interest in MQA since it adds cost with no clear audible advantage. Lossless 16-44 FLAC is good enough for me.
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post #60 of 301 Old 02-09-2018, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Chebzin View Post
I've never heard MQA (and probably never will), but everything about its marketing sets off all my BS alarm bells.
But, but what about this clear, incontrovertible evidence Meridian's Bob Stuart presents in technical seminars?
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You aren't by any chance red/blue color blind are you? [Just kidding.]
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