16 bit/44.1 kHz MQA Files Not Decoding Correctly

MQA Ltd never explained anything Just repeated their marketing. So we can wait a long time.

I still have faith in Damien but I don’t know if he has a chance to say anything about this.

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They claim that during the 1st unfold the corrections of artefacts during the recording process is performed. They apply a correction profile based on the recording equipment used if the MQA mastering could not be done interactively. This is resolution agnostic and it’s sufficient to know the equipment used during the recording process (ADC).

“Artefacts” refers to quantisation errors and time-domain smearing. Something they call “de-blurring”.

When I said I can hear a difference was in comparison to the decoding done in Roon or USB Audio Player Pro for the same file from Tidal. I don’t claim I can hear ultrasonic frequencies and all the fake hi-res as you mention (my wording could have been better).

Personally, I find the sound in Audirvana better than Roon for most songs, but for these songs it is the other way around and noticeable.

So if I understand correctly you are saying the final analog output from my DAC is not 16-bit/44.1Hz even if the decoding information was sent correctly?

I know the DAC will always receive a 16-bit/96 or 88.2kHz file the MQA unfolded file regardless, but afterwards out of the DAC it will be 44.1 kHz? So you are saying a signal which was 16-bit/88.2khz has no difference from a 16-bit/44.1kHz signal? Then why send the correct sampling rate to the DAC in the first place?

I totally agree it’s a fraud. I either have to go find an actual non-MQA 16-bit track, and if I can’t find it I have to deal with this.

For the 24-bit MQA range, if the actual song FLAC file is 24-bit/44.1 kHz, and it is being transmitted at 24-bit/44.1 kHz, making an MQA version out of that…would you consider that a fraud as well for the 44.1kHz case? Or is their some added benefit?

I am saying the final analog output from your DAC is 16/88.2, even if the decoding information was sent correctly.

No. the final analog output is 16/88.2. Now, in the case we are discussing, the 88.2Hz sample rate is not the result of decoding but rather the result of upsampling. That is to say, there was no ultrasonic frequencies contained in the original 16 bit 44.1Hz stream.

What I was saying before is this. Whether or not the DAC received the rendering info, in the case we are discussing (16/44.1 → 16/82), the audible sound would be the same.

I thought it went 16/44.1 → 16/82 → 16/44.1
as in FLAC → Audirvana output → DAC output.

And that an upsampled signal would sound differently if it wasn’t.

Sorry, if I am not good at this. Just trying to understand it correctly.

In the case of 24-bit MQA, what is added is that the software decoder is decoding the ultrasonic frequencies packed into the lower 8 bits. and combines this with the other frequencies to produce a (normal) PCM stream. This is where the debate begins. I don’t want to relive the debate.

It goes from 16/44.1 to 16/88.1. That’s it. It doesn’t go back to 16/44.1. And in this case, there is no more musical information contained in the 16/88.1 stream than there was in the 16/44.1 stream.

Also, the DAC received the 16/88.1 stream and it will sound the same, whether or not the DAC received the rendering information.

I see. Now it makes more sense and it seems all is fine. I actually initially thought the fact I was seeing a red light was a clear indicator I was receiving 16-bit/44.1kHz and MQA is not really doing much for it. It’s just when I saw a different color on the other software which got me worried.

So if they fix it in Studio, all that really happens is the DAC still renders with same quality except now I get a magenta LED…

Thanks for the clarification.

Now I got a 24bit/88.1kHz file to the DAC for another 16bit/44.1kHz song…

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Quantisization errors are the result of the D/A conversion. The only thing that can be done with this is to move them out of the audible range by using higher sampling rates.

“Time-domain smearing” and “deblurring” are terms of MQA Ltd’s marketing speak. All that is done in respect of the time-domain, is that MQA uses a minimum phase filter. That is all.

Higher sampling rate is not for the ultrasonics, it’s for better time domain resolution.

I disagree. I don’t know how to prove it to you, so I am going to have to agree to disagree.

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It’s almost impossible to prove one way or the other. That’s why I go by what they officially claim.

What one shouldn’t expect is to encode ultrasonic signal and have it faithfully restored.

The burden of proof falls upon MQA Ltd. to establish their claims. To-date, we have not seen any such proof from MQA Ltd.

It’s so interesting that after all these years, it’s almost impossible to prove how it works.

MQA is not very technologically groundbreaking. It is a number of existing theories combined into a total solution.

The encoding and decoding of data in the noise floor is not a bad idea, but also not unseen and also not necessary in the current era. The Marketing department that called origami folding is the most special of the function.

It has not yet been proven that the second and third unfold actually recover data or that it is only an upsampling step with variable filters. And that the unfolding there is no more than selecting the right filter from the encoded data in the noise floor. If the latter is correct then that is again nice, but not really what the world is waiting for and a breakthrough. The chosen filters are also not free of discussion. There are people who like it and also who don’t like it at all. This too was existing knowledge and already largely applied.

The Authenticity of the stream means nothing because we don’t get a QR code where we can find which source material has been used, who approved it and it is not secured in a blockchain.

The fact that they don’t add anything new but still push their license through the entire chain goes against what I believe in.

I have no problem believing that if you optimize everything from recording to playback for MQA you can achieve a very nice result. But this is also the case for DSD, but also for PCM.

MQA Ltd does not prove what they do. Repeat their self-invented marketing ‘jargon’, play the authority card in the field of knowledge and ridicule opponents.

That’s true but at what bit-rate?

Does that matter? For the vast majority of music consumers, master quality doesn’t matter. And are MQA files already unnecessarily large.

On the other hand, streaming is not the most logical solution for the niche market of audiophiles who want quality above all else. And don’t worry about downloading a few GB more or less.

MQA has really nice technical opportunities, but it’s really a solution looking for a problem.

I agree. For me it doesn’t matter, but if you’re a streaming service like Tidal it does matter. There are additional benefits for them, like storing only one file and covering all tiers.

For the marketing department of Tidal it is or was a unique opportunity for a USP. I get that. For record companies there must also be an advantage. Still unclear to me.

What I hope is that MQA got Apple and Amazon (Spotify’s hi-fi?) to go ahead and take that potential advantage of Tidal and go along with the marketing of the high-resolution streaming. But at a good price and without licenses on codecs.

Then MQA has brought us a lot.

They get to sell you the same content once more. In Japan you can find MQA CDs, and are quite popular. It’s a way of providing “hi-res” content on an old medium.

If no major player in the streaming space picks it up, it will probably fail. I’m talking about Apple, Spotify or even Amazon.