MQA Contextualized

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.—Yogi Berra

Over one busy week in 1986, Karlheinz Brandenburg laid the foundation of a technology that a few years later would upend the record business. Brandenburg, a PhD student in electrical engineering at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, was figuring out how to code digital music efficiently enough that it could be delivered over digital telephone lines. A patent examiner had concluded that what the application proposed was impossible, so over a week of late nights, Brandenburg produced the proof of concept and more. It was another decade before the technology—MPEG-2 level III, more commonly known as MP3—would find its true home, the Internet.

MP3 was first envisioned as a profitable business. The Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media—one of 60-plus applied science institutes supported by the Fraunhofer Society for the Advancement of Applied Research—and resellers would sell MP3 encoders for real money. Decoders would be cheap or even free. Then, in 1997, an Australian graduate student used a stolen credit card to buy MP3-encoding software, and posted it on an FTP site with a .readme file saying, "This is freeware thanks to Fraunhofer." In the ensuing years, the illegal sharing of MP3 files via Napster and other websites decimated the record business (footnote 1).

In time, it became clear that the culprit wasn't Napster per se—or MP3, for that matter—but the Internet itself, combined with a new kind of information-based commodity. Previously, cultural artifacts had always been objects: paintings, sculptures, books, recordings. But in this new world, a song or a symphony was ephemeral; you could give it away again and again but still own it. Music was especially vulnerable because the digital code was readily available in unprotected form, buried in the pits of Compact Discs.

What's Old Is New Again
As I noted in the February 2018 issue, some critics have drawn unfavorable parallels between MP3 and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), the music-distribution codec invented by Peter Craven and J. Robert Stuart. Those critics have drawn attention to the "lossy" nature of both MP3's compression and what MQA Ltd. calls its codec's "audio origami"—its folding of ultrasonic information into the frequency range below it, in the bits beneath the noise floor. It's a superficial comparison—and ironic, in that MQA is intended, in large part, as a solution to problems introduced by MP3 and the Internet. "We now see a plethora of file types, we see a huge percentage of the music-buying public just plain pulling out," Stuart wrote to me in an e-mail. "It is too complicated. It isn't satisfying. There are other things to do. Audiophiles still survive on the dregs and niche releases."

To fully grasp the extent of the problem, audiophiles need to look at the big picture. First, a healthy music industry is important. As Spencer Chrislu, MQA's director of content services, told me in an interview in 2016, "It's important . . . to protect the interests of studios. If a studio does their archive at 24-bit/192kHz and then uses that same file as something to sell on a hi-rez site, that is basically giving away the crown jewels upon which their entire business is based." The metaphor seems mostly apt, although crown jewels have the profound advantage of being physical objects; they can't be given away and still owned. Plus, jewels are harder to alter than a music file.

Another big-picture item: Audiophiles need to recognize that we're a small minority among music consumers. When have our interests and opinions influenced any high-level decision in the music industry? The cases I can think of were all eventual failures: HDCD, SACD, DVD-Audio. The best we can hope for is a system designed to serve the interests of others—the industry, musicians, and casual (and mobile) music listeners—but that is also good enough that we can live with it.

With MQA, record companies can supply consumers with versions of recorded music that sound at least as good as the best-quality master recordings in their archives—MQA claims that they sound better—without sharing actual digital masters. An era of music distribution dominated by MQA begins to seem like a sort of post-apocalypse version of the peak era of vinyl, when music was issued almost exclusively on black discs (there probably were some open-reel tapes around), which sounded fine, or not so good, or great, depending on many factors. Those legendary master tapes were kept hidden away in musty vaults (footnote 2). MQA proffers a simpler world in which a single, back-compatible distribution format serves all needs, and in which consumers no longer have access to those high-resolution PCM masters.

That, anyway, is the vision of MQA Ltd.

To most audiophiles who experienced the pre-Internet music world—that is, most of us—that vision is pretty appealing (though I do like my 24/192 downloads). MP3, loudness wars, earbuds, Beats, convenience over quality, dead record stores, playback rituals destroyed—has anything good happened in music technology since, say, the Replacements broke up? Buying online, downloading, and managing a digital music library are not nearly as much fun as a weekly expedition to the neighborhood record store. Few 21st-century experiences can match that of carefully pulling a new prize from its paper sleeve, putting it on the turntable, brushing off the dust, and lowering the needle.

Regrettably, it's hard to envision a future that includes bricks-and-mortar record stores. But perhaps some sanity—and some profitability—can be restored to music production and distribution. Sure, we've always known that the major labels cared more about profits than about music, musicians, and us. Without them, though, we'd have missed out on those wonderful experiences. Surely, a revivified music industry would be good for people who care about music, even if we audiophiles remain an afterthought.

Lurking just below the surface of the argument I'm making is a vulnerability—or an entire class of vulnerabilities. I'm looking backward. So, in a way, is MQA.

I'm somewhat, if not yet entirely, convinced that MQA is based on a real, advanced, sophisticated technology. It's optimized for streaming, the dominant music-delivery system of our time for better or, more likely, worse. MQA's ideas about time-domain performance and its origins in post-Shannon sampling theory reflect cutting-edge thinking. I find its focus on neuroscience less convincing, but that, too, makes a compelling story. In many important ways, MQA looks forward.

And yet—MQA is a locked-up, proprietary technology in a world that, influenced by information technology, has come to expect open sources and standards. And that locked-up technology is aimed, apparently, at restoring an old-fashioned, label-dominated musical economy—which is surely why the three major record companies are all now stockholders. Even MQA's notion of "analog to analog"—microphone feed to DAC output—can seem old-fashioned in assuming that music starts its life as analog in an increasingly digital world. Not all music comes into existence as vibrating air, and even when it does, it often matures largely in the digital realm.

Audio Files for Audiophiles
Napster and MP3 aren't the only changes wrought by computer technology. The growing Internet has swallowed ever-larger slices of culture and commerce, employing ever-expanding hordes of IT workers. Traditional audiophiles may not have noticed, but somewhere along the line, people who listen to music via computers have come to outnumber those of us who listen through serious home audio systems, the ranks of which have shrunk over the same period.



Footnote 1: See The Appetite for Self Destruction: the Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, by Steve Knopper, Free Press, 2009.—John Atkinson

Footnote 2 . . . where, unfortunately, they were all too often lost or damaged by floods, neglect, or time.—Jim Austin

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
John Atkinson's picture
T.S. Gnu wrote:
The author has not "lied about his name." Rather, he/she has truthfully stated that it is not his/her name. You appear to have graduated from arguing from authority to ad hominem, or should that be ad nomenem as well.

All I have said is that as an editor, I strongly believe that writers should not hide under an umbrella of anonymity and have done so for decades. I am not prepared to abandon that belief and policy.

T.S. Gnu wrote:
Your claim to have "published a lot of analysis on MQA" has been difficult for me to corroborate and I would love to have some links to support that. What I appear to have found is that you have published a lot of opinion on MQA and a lot of anecdote in addition...

Thank you for studying our coverage. But as I said earlier, there will be more analysis in future issues: some practical aspects in the April issue; DRM in the May issue; the leaky nature of the MQA filter in the June issue; the time-domain aspect of the MQA system in the July and/or August issue.

T.S. Gnu wrote:
Future articles notwithstanding, many would state that a prudent approach would be to attempt to address the results by either reproducing them or showing them to be irreproducible before attempting to question the credibility of the contents of the article...

One aspect of the MQA that is addresses in the anonymously authored article is the leaky nature of the MQA reconstruction filter. This has been examined at length in Stereophile. See, for example, figs.10-22 at https://www.stereophile.com/content/aurender-a10-network-music-playerserver-measurements.

T.S. Gnu wrote:
. . . which you have not done so at any point yet — you merely question that of the author.

That is correct. When an author is not transparent about his identity, I reserve the right not to pay him the respect of arguing with him. You disagree? So be it.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

T.S. Gnu's picture

I do not disagree with your "right to not pay him the respect..." Your response, however, is useful in that you have tacitly accepted the fact that you have issues with the credibility of the person but not with the content. Refusal to argue with an author is not the same as refusal to test a claim. The former is your privilege, but the latter is an abdication of your right to question the content. You can't have it both ways and come across looking good, particularly in a public venue. As someone touted as being wise said recently: You disagree? So be it.

Thank you for the response. It is appreciated.

DH's picture

JA, essentially you are making a sly ad hominem attack that subtly tries to delegitimize the article by questioning the author's preference to hide his identity.
Instead of making his identity an issue, try to remark on the testable claims and analysis in the article. His identity has no relation to the truth or untruth of his claims and analysis.

arve's picture

All I have said is that as an editor, I strongly believe that writers should not hide under an umbrella of anonymity and have done so for decades. I am not prepared to abandon that belief and policy.

My personal take is: This is a view you need to challenge. Publishers, journalists, reporters, sources, activists and members of the public discourse have a right to protection, both of their privacy and of their (extended) personal privacy. These groups have been persecuted, harassed and assassinated throughout history, be it Aleksander Litvinenko, William Nygaard, Jim Leslie or any of the countless number of people who have been wounded or died as a result of them being publicly visible.

Beyond that, and I think your reluctance against nome de plumes is in "undisclosed relationships" and "integrity". Adding a name doesn't improve that one bit. Unless we, as the public, are given full insight into the full life of the writer in question, including phone records, transcripts of transcripts of all meetings and conversations the journalist has, we have absolutely no reason to trust this person. Put another way: I don't know what conversations you may have had with Bob Stuart at 3AM, whether you received direct or indirect financial compensation, whether MQA, Ltd. agreed to advertise based on your spin on MQA.

To be clear: I'm absolutely not making any accusations here - I'm trying to illustrate that "putting a name behind something" is in no way any reasonable guarantee that the people or organization behind the name isn't corrupt, influence, coerced or downright forced into publishing a particular point of view, unless the public has full view of the financials of the author and the organization that publishes the author's words.

I sincerely hope you will re-evaluate your views on publishing under a nome de plume, because I find that view to be wrong on pretty much every level.

T.S. Gnu's picture

The article you are attempting to delegiimize includes a summary of measurable, reproducible claims that you an your ilk have not addressed either via omission or commission.

Your concerns as restricted to your editorial function and your personal travails on the internet should not be used as a platform to subtly carry out ad hominem attacks simply based on the presence of a pseudonym. Your strong feelings while being noted are merely that — feelings. The author you attempt to denigrate has provided methodology, results and a set of conclusions. He is, unlike yourself, not arguing from authority. In many ways, this is a position that ought to engender greater credibility than comfort than that which you appear to have taken.

You have abdicated the responsibility of addressing the content of the article. You have the ability and opportunity to reproduce the methods and the exults as outlined in the readily available corpus of information. You may then choose to debate the conclusion that the author has arrived at. That you have abdicated the responsibility to reproduce and either confirm or deny the results but, rather, have chosen to question the integrity of the messenger is a highly unscientific position to take. It is also dangerous, in that it could lead to a potential loss of your credibility, although there is a low probability of that occurring on those who trust your written word based solely on your authority...or to put it simply, your name...which you appear to be trading on with your line of reasoning here.

Indeed, readers are entitled to transparency — that of experimental design, methodology and results obtained thereby — which they have been provided by the author in question. Many of your readers would request, possibly even expect, you to establish the veracity of the statements therein, especially if you deem them to be controversial. I hope that you do not do a disservice to us and in near future address whether you find these claims reproducible or not. The conclusions you draw would be a useful addition to the corpus.

From a personal viewpoint, your comments are also somewhat frustrating to read. If in the past, someone had not decided to eliminate a vowel, I would be posting as T.S. .Guno or T.S. Gano and would have preestablished a bonafide with a well-respected First Nations monicker. As it stands, the loss of that vowels would have people such as yourself questioning my argument merely because my name "sounds funny." I do really wish for and request an answer to one question:
Do you think your comment really has any less value if it were posted and signed by a Mr. Atkin Johnson?

If the answer is "no" then the name of the messenger is really irrelevant if the message is correct. If the answer is 'yes' then you are implying that argument from authority is more credible than the scientifically rigorous methodology presented (which you have yet to address, let alone refute) and surely you would agree that we are not living in an age where the high priests are the only oracles of wisdom. I, and many of your readers would be grateful if you could reflect on that and address it.

Regards,
T.S. Gnu

dalethorn's picture

That's a lot of accusations to throw at someone who is merely not impressed with an article hosted on a forum known for extreme vitriol and banning people who reveal things they'd rather keep quiet.

The bottom line for me and a lot of other customers here (I'm a customer):
1) This site gives greater weight to the sound than the measurements.
2) This site proceeds from a magazine that has a great and decades-long reputation.
3) You seem really angry, like the guys on that other site.

Until you reveal who you really are, your accusations carry zero weight. And don't forget, I'm a customer and I don't like your attitude. Try walking into a hifi shop (if you can find one) and accusing them of being "all wrong about everything". They'd throw you out.

T.S. Gnu's picture

I am unsure why you have directed this comment at me, but I will try to respond as best as I can.
1) It is possible to get better sound by altering phase/frequency response. Nelson Pass has talked about that on this venue in the past. The debate as to whether this is "authentic" has been brought up in this discussion by a content producer. What you omit mentioning is that speaker response and room response affect the in-room sound more than most things in the electronic chain. MQA, as it stands now, does not allow for digital correction for that. For someone who claims that the sound matters a lot, this should be a big deal.

2) This site is a product of a magazine that HAD a great and decades-long GOOD reputation. Even its founder, the very well-respected J. Gordon Holt, in his latter years decried the direction it was taking in these very pages. It still has a reputation, albeit one that comes with the baggage of enthused end effervescent ebullience over Shakti Holographs which, unsurprisingly, aren't mentioned much in the present.

3) I am not sure how and why my measured, yet pointed, comments are viewed as my wielding a keyboard in anger, but I can only assure you that I am not much past the "bemused" mark on the scale.

I'm not sure what exactly I'm expected to "reveal" about self and why exactly there is a need to do so. If my statements cannot be taken at their own merit, then the ought not to be given consideration no matter eat exposure on my part (excepting the possible indecent exposure OF my parts). Conversely if they can stand meritoriously, then they will.

A good hi-fi shop will actually listen to critical, yet well worded, comments often debating them and then either chooses to address them or not based on their mandate at the time, The bad ones...just don't stay in business in even the most remotely lean times. Interestingly, you will be surprised (but not ought to be surprised) to find that when the customer has a lot of money to throw around your "good hi-fi shop" will be glad to admit how wrong they are if that helps the inflow of aforementioned currency. While I admire your enthusiasm, I am afraid that I find it is more fruitful for me to temper mine with objectivity. I find that this is also an approach that is conducive to healthy growth.

dalethorn's picture

You should consider going somewhere else . . . [flame deleted by JA] You obviously don't like the direction this entity has taken in recent years. Look at it this way - the editors here, and some of the readers (customers in my case) are well aware of the article you and the others are promoting. You're not going to convince anyone of anything here by trolling the site with numerous long posts. I've only been investigating MQA for little more than a week, and I really don't like people who try to force their opinions on others.

Sound, the 3 or 4 dimensional thing we listen to, is extremely complicated. The music we listen to is Art, not industry. Your "science" is extremely limited and is easily digestible, unlike sound and Art which together are exceedingly complex. Now back to school for you...

John Atkinson's picture
T.S. Gnu wrote:
Your concerns as restricted to your editorial function and your personal travails on the internet should not be used as a platform to subtly carry out ad hominem attacks simply based on the presence of a pseudonym. Your strong feelings while being noted are merely that — feelings.

Thank you for that opinion. I refer you to my earlier response.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

T.S. Gnu's picture

Likewise. I refer to my reply to it.

Regards

T.S. Gnu's picture

A rational viewer might question your opinion on who is trolling and who is being trolled.I have no opinion on what "direction this entity has taken in recent years" and never expressed any opinion in my original posts. I am not promoting and have not promoted any article either.

What I have done is state that it is disappointing to read the editor of a magazine of repute (as you put it) make what appear to be arguments from authority and ad hominem attacks. John Atkinson (or whatever his name is...the point being that it doesn't matter to the context) may choose to address my comment, or not. I have merely availed myself of this venue to inform him of what could be a widely held opinion on this one issue.

I have also, in good faith, attempted to respond civilly to your invective mainly to clarify your misrepresentations of my comments. I have not forced any opinions in my original post other than stating that arguments from authority can be construed as being distasteful and self-defeating, despite what you think.

Sound is not as complicated as you appear to think it is. You are entitled to your opinion that music is art. It is one that I agree with and would gladly acce to as a fact. You, nonetheless, have to deal with the indisputable fact that music REproduction falls well within the domain of science (and engineering), even if you have difficulty understanding that.

Going all Horatio with science may be amusing, but strongly undermines the claim that it is easily digestible, especially when coming from someone who is misrepresenting the term "science" itself instead of what it conventionally means. The apparent conflation of music with sound does not inspire confidence in ones position. This even more so when one further categorizes science into the "your" and "my" bins. The quest for greater understanding of reality has no allegiances, despite apparently making enemies (such as yourself) along the way. It might be more productive for you if you accepted and understood that the period between life and death as one long learning experience; it would help you realize that one can't go back to school if one hasn't really left it.

John Atkinson's picture
T.S. Gnu wrote:
A rational viewer might question your opinion on who is trolling and who is being trolled.

Please refrain from posting argumentative statements like this. I have deleted the messages that followed this posting of yours as being an exchange of insults.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dalethorn's picture

"may choose to address my comment"

If there were one comment, even a long comment, that would be a good thing. But you posted several long comments as though the chief editor here had the time to read all of that and reply to you. He does not have that much free time.

The problem here is, when certain people are aware that a senior editor of a forum of this type is not able to read a lot of long comments and respond to all of them, it becomes an opportunity for them to flood the forum with a lot of negativity that contributes nothing to the topic.

Archimago's picture

"That is correct. When an author is not transparent about his identity, I reserve the right not to pay him the respect of arguing with him. You disagree? So be it."

Hello John,

Whether you show "respect" to my writings and opinions or not does not change some facts about this "format". I have shown you the courtesy of respect for your knowledge and ability to demonstrate the balance between subjective assessment and objective measurements over the years in my blog. Whether that is reciprocated (simply?) based on the fact that I use a pseudonym is certainly your choice.

I am not asking for heated arguments... But thoughtful intellectual debate about something that is relevant to the audiophile community. This is not personal. At issue is basically a software technique that claims many things but IMO has failings which can be factually demonstrated yet remarkably overlooked by the mainstream audiophile press.

If there is such a thing as an "ideal" when it comes to digital audio formats for preserving the highest fidelity (which I believe is of some priority for audiophiles), is MQA progress? Are we sure MQA is that path forward in the face of the objective findings, unclear subjective improvement given the same source material, and limitations to freedom in playback?

In this article, Jim Austin states that this debate "could shape the future of the music industry". I agree, which is why I think it is important for audiophiles to be aware of the concerns.

But he also claims that: "The best we can hope for is a system designed to serve the interests of others—the industry, musicians, and casual (and mobile) music listeners—but that is also good enough that we can live with it." This I do not believe as audiophiles we should concede to. I never thought Stereophile was about recommending what is "good enough" without strong consideration of the concerns expressed not just by me of course, but many of the voices all around.

I do hope in the days ahead, you and your staff will examine the concerns expressed which are clearly of relevance to many audiophiles given the strong opinions and controversies around MQA.

adamdea's picture

I have yet to see any cogent criticism of what Archimago has written in his article.

His tone is perfectly moderate and his attitude questioning. Even if he were sincerely mistaken in his findings, he would deserve praise for having asked at least some of the right questions.

Why do we need an amateur to do that?

dalethorn's picture

To make what you and many others call "cogent criticism" of the article requires accepting the premises it lays out as to what the issues are. It's like being in a debate and all or most of the questions are loaded questions. Or like reading surveys that offer statistics based on selective questioning. Yes, the charts and graphs spell out specific numbers as to distortion, bandwidth, overhead, etc. etc. But then follows a lot of interpretation, and those interpretations have to be correlated with listening. The last time I looked, even the anti-MQA people couldn't find fault with the sound of several albums, albeit some suggested "bright or harsh", which would be true of any remastering. There are facts - solid facts they be, but those require interpretation, and that's where listening takes over.

adamdea's picture

Plenty of people have said they don't like the sound of MQA. But that is beside the point. If you believe that there is no more of value to any article than reports of subjective experience then there is nothing to discuss (but why bother saying it?)

I was referring to an article making specific criticisms which show an inquiring and questioning mind. The author has also gone to the trouble of setting up a blind A/B preference test which has suggested no preference for MQA. He has taken the trouble to consider what the time domain effects of filters might be. He has considered the position of consumer thoughtfully. He has not relied on impulse responses nor has he sought to compare the size of an MQA file with the contents of a cd rather than a 16/44 flac. All of this was extremely worthwhile.

And of course Archimago did not set most of these issues, most of them were set by the MQA marketing machine.

dalethorn's picture

I've investigated MQA and read the article a few times. By and large, regardless of how "technically correct" it is or how much it satisfies your curiosity, it does nothing to answer the question "how does it sound?" All we audiophiles really care about is the latter question. Whatever you feel the value of those charts and graphs is, it's your feeling. The charts and graphs are facts, but the value of those are not fact - it's just your opinion about something that doesn't contribute to music listening. Neither are the "blind tests" fact. One thing is very clear - the article to some extent, and the many people who've come here to post diatribes have proven is that it stirs the passions of the people who like to argue ad nauseam. I care about good sound, but your appreciation for that article doesn't interest me at all.

Archimago's picture

"That is correct. When an author is not transparent about his identity, I reserve the right not to pay him the respect of arguing with him. You disagree? So be it."

Hello John,

Whether you show "respect" to my writings and opinions or not does not change some facts about this "format". I have shown you the courtesy of respect for your knowledge and ability to demonstrate the balance between subjective assessment and objective measurements on a number of instances. I might not agree with everything of course, but who agrees with every point anyways? Whether "respect" is bestowed (simply?) based on the fact that one uses a pseudonym is certainly your choice.

I am not asking for argument... But thoughtful intellectual debate about something that is relevant to the audiophile community. This is not personal. At issue is basically a software technique that claims many things but IMO has failings which can be factually demonstrated yet remarkably overlooked by the mainstream audiophile press.

If there is such a thing as an "ideal" when it comes to digital audio formats for preserving the highest fidelity (which I believe is of some priority for audiophiles), is MQA progress? Are we sure MQA is that path forward in the face of the objective findings, unclear subjective improvement given the same source material, and limitations to freedom in playback?

In this article, Jim Austin states that this debate "could shape the future of the music industry". I agree, which is why I think it is important for audiophiles to be aware of the concerns.

But he also claims that: "The best we can hope for is a system designed to serve the interests of others—the industry, musicians, and casual (and mobile) music listeners—but that is also good enough that we can live with it." This I do not believe as audiophiles we should concede to. I never thought Stereophile was about recommending what is "good enough" without strong consideration of the concerns expressed not just by me of course, but many of the voices all around.

I do hope in the days ahead, you and your staff will examine the concerns expressed which are clearly of relevance to many audiophiles given the strong opinions and controversies around MQA.

[Apologies if this post shows up twice. I made some edits and it ended up in the review queue last night and thus far has not shown up.]

dalethorn's picture

".....thoughtful intellectual debate about something that is relevant to the audiophile community."

I think you and the other people who are wrestling with Stereophile on this issue are missing the bigger points. Firstly, I'm a customer and I really don't care for your article and its negativity, never minding the actual facts, but mindful of how you and others interpret those facts.

Secondly, I've seen the same people under different pseudonyms intruding into what should be intellectual discussions on other forums, posting pure off-topic argumentation, some of which forums are mentioned with *derision* on your host forum.

Thirdly, your host forum and its comment threads that people who read your article participate in need to be cleaned up.

Fourthly, you need to take a closer look at the volume of argumentation posted here that serves to overwhelm the discussions with repetitive text and emotional charges, and realize that *your* voice would be drowned out in all the rest of that stuff.

Your article has been duly noted here, many many times. We don't need any more suggestions to read it or discuss it. We're all very much aware of the issues, and especially the issues that we're concerned about. We don't need you telling us what to be concerned about.

Archimago's picture

1. That's nice that you as a customer don't care. Others do. I think my interpretation of the facts appear reasonable. Not sure what you particularly have a problem with.

2. Sure, mud slinging goes both ways. But I have yet to see intellectual discussion pointing at the *facts* of what MQA is and how it actually works coming from those in support of MQA. Nor evidence to counter the arguments presented. Not sure I understand the second part of the paragraph.

3. I can't speak for other threads. But I think the 9 pages of comments seem rather reasonable after the article. Forums are open opportunities to discuss issues... Of course they get heated time to time.

4. Not sure I feel my voice has been drowned out. There are many parts to the arguments and I'm happy that others also have different perspectives to add. It goes back to rational intellectual debate and being able to sift through the wheat and chaff.

Sure, maybe *you* don't need to be told about what to be concerned about. But what's wrong with some people raising concerns and opposing many of the assertions raised in an article like this? My article only came out less than a week ago and it's not like I've posted here repeatedly...

allhifi's picture

Archie: You state:

"Although there are likely other factors involved, let us focus on three major areas of contention:

1)" ...MQA takes aim at a foundational level positing itself as a viable and “desirable” format.
2) MQA tries to position itself as sounding “better” than what we currently have.
3) MQA over-reaches the role of a traditional data format and aims to be a “philosophy” with DRM concerns."

Chopping it down further:

"foundational level positing itself ..."
" ... MQA tries to position itself as sounding “better”
" ...over-reaches the role of a traditional data format and aims to be a “philosophy” ..."

And you go on :

" .. we see MQA aiming to disrupt the status quo as a new format”.

" ...Within this climate of epistemic tension, MQA heightens the strain by challenging established sampling theorem with claims that it goes beyond Nyquist/Shannon ...”.

I'm not sure to laugh, or cry. Fancy stuff Archie: "epistemic tension". I had to look that one up.

Your comments are nothing more than an emotionally-charged rant (along with a handy Thesaurus dictionary).

Your numerous references suggesting MQA a "format" is simply false, while the repetitive quotation marks is almost more painful to endure than the text.

You take some simple concepts/concerns and attempt to make a career out of it.

Other than concerns regarding accessibility/distribution of the original (digital) Master music files (non-MQA), there should be no concern over MQA whatsoever.

Suggesting it's a format is simply false, while your wild assertions about MQA's master-plan comes across as bitter, desperate and conspiratory.

If you wish to present a sensible argument, do so with some restraint -as Miska's January 10, 2016 comparison: https://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/entry/466-some-analysis-and-comparison-of-mqa-encoded-flac-vs-normal-optimized-hires-flac/

Find yourself a new hobby, take a writing class, vacation (Yoga?) or whatever it would take so you can reflect and decide upon a new direction.

Good luck.

pj

allhifi's picture

The only issue we should be concerned with is if the MQA-altered ADC algorithm is detrimental to the music played-back on a non-MQA DAC ?

Other than that, who really cares ? As long as consumer's can access 16-24/88-96 KHz (176/192?) as originally recorded, why would MQA bother anyone ? If you like it, you buy into it. No-like, no buy.

But my opening question remains concerning. Since MQA states that their system is an 'end-to-end' approach (i.e. ADC/DAC "matching"), MQA changes at the ADC level may in fact be better suited (sound better) with a a particular (DAC) digital filter type ? That would be concerning. BUT, if everyone agrees the MQA ADC changes are universally, undoubtedly superior to original (ADC), that's a good thing.

In any case, music (record company) vaults must have both the original and MQA versions readily available for distribution. This way, everyone is happy. I thoroughly enjoy my current (non MQA) sound system.

MQA bashing 'Archieamigo' linked a very interesting technical review (by Mika via CA)on encoded MQA files -played back with non-MQA decoder. The results indicated an inferior 'file' that the non-MQA DAC was presented. If his findings are accurate, that would be/is immensely concerning. And should never happen. In which case, access to the original recordings essential.

Additionally, Mika demonstrated a very sensible argument using 18-24/96-176 KHz existing FLAC files as a (open-source) alternative; at data rates below, and slightly above current MQA -with no trickery involved (full 20-24/96-176 KHz. FLAC). His sensible review seemed to be lost on host site computer audio's Chrissy -wondering the purpose of Mika's clever comparisons. No surprise there, really.

Moving on, soooo, unless MQA encoded ADC changes/impairs performance with legacy/non-MQA gear, I see no issue.

Yet, as many anti-MQA'ers correctly point out -MQA's "File FuXXing" must be transparent; What is MQA actually doing? But ONLY if it impacts upon non-MQA (standard) music recording and playback. Otherwise, we can take it, or leave it.

pj

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