As I already own a MQA DAC, I would like to know if upgrading to Audirvana Plus 3 brings me any benefits compared to version 2. Thanx!
We all want to know what v3 brings - and there are specific questions on the “Will version 3 include?” Thread, so ask your questions there in the hope Damien will respond…
Main reason for the v3 release is MQA-decoding. I only want to know what (and if) other improvements are planned, as for me MQA doesn’t add any value because I have a MQA-DAC.
Is that a fact? I know it is a significant feature, and that adding MQA is a selling point, but has Damien actually said that is the reason for it? There are lots of us desperate for other problems to be fixed with the library that I think we have all hoped and expected Damien to have been working on a redesign of parts of the library, leading to v3
As for MQA, you have hardware MQA DAC don’t expect better from this - my understanding is that full decoding can only be achieved with an MQA DAC, and added software decoding is superfluous.
Also, don’t believe all the MQA hype - there are artefacts left after the decoding that the designers assume you won’t detect, but in a high resolution system and with good/trained ears that is far from certain to be true. It is unlikely to be as good as full (i.e. Non-lossy-compressed) HD, and rally is only a potential benefit where bandwidth is limited: if downloading simply download the unadulterated hi res, and if online streaming full hi res is available, like from Qobuz, then if internet npbandwidth allows stream that.
apparently some people have commented that it Sounds ‘better’ - however that includes popeople playing through without even any decoding, so is clearly of doubtful meaning, and could simply be a preference for the effect on the sound signature, rather than actually better sound quality. And as the difference between hi res and red book is far from clear amyway, sometimes one sounding better than the other and vice versa, seemingly more to do with mastering that the actual digital resolution, the whole question is rather murky. Believe the marketing and hype if you wish, but if you really want the best quality you will need to do very careful listening, and even then it could vary from one recording to another…
I sure hope MQA is not the main feature of v3. Why? Because MQA, like DSD, is a fringe standard not used by the vast majority of computer audiophiles. I don’t care about MQA or DSD one bit and hope this release addresses features and problems that affect all users, not just the fringe.
My limited understanding is that MQA was designed primarily to allow hi-res streaming with lower bandwidth. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Setting aside the perpetual debate about whether hi-res produces audible improvements (DISCLAIMER: I use 24/96 PCM), any algorithm and/or circuitry that reduces bandwidth (e.g. file-size) is a compression algorithm. Compression can be lossless or lossy. Lossy can be audible or inaudible. Which is the case lies in the ears of each listener. In audio, as in life, there is no free lunch. You don’t get something for nothing.
I have no doubt people who say MQA sounds better are hearing something different which apparently sounds better to them. What they are hearing are the changes caused by MQA encoding/decoding. These changes are analogous to any other DSP effect that can be used in audio reproduction. I think of the MQA-induced difference as processing artifacts. Or at best, adding some bass boost, or other processing.
What MQA is in reality is a way for the marketers of MQA to make a lot of money. It’s a DRM Trojan horse which requires users to buy new software, new hardware, more expensive streaming because streamers have to pay for it, and for the big labels to make millions selling the same old music again with the claim it’s remastered and sounds better. This is worse than the Emperor’s New Clothes, it’s attempted robbery. It’s all about selling you the same music, software and hardware one more time. If there is any gain at all, it is minimal not earthshaking. Non-technical types who are caught up in advertising hype will always go out and by the latest and greatest “improvement.” People who listen to MP3 will clamor for MQA (disclaimer: that’s not a knock on MP3, I have some 320 MP3 files that sound pretty darn good and they are compressed).
Every vendor has to make a choice: offer MQA and attract customers who want this great new feature, or don’t offer it and potentially loose customers. I find it hard to believe that software and hardware companies don’t know MQA offers very little real value to consumers for which they will pay dearly. But they can’t ignore the market. In a sense Audirvana and the rest are being black-mailed by MQA. It’s offer MQA or loose business.
I find all of this ironic. Memory and storage is getting less expensive every month, and there are signs that bandwidth is going to expand greatly in the near future while prices per Gb transmitted are falling. That being the case, who needs MQA? I’d like to think it will be a colossal flop but in our post truth society it could be the next big audio winner.
I don’t feel blackmailed, audiobear. I’ve heard MQA for months now and it sounds very good, although I wouldn’t say better than the best hi-res. The real move for me is streaming via Tidal. More than 500 albums “Masters” albums are already available with more coming. Warner was the first big music owner to sign on, but now Universal has shown up too - with labels like Capital, Geffen, Verve and many more. There’s some opinion (the excellent blogger Archimago, for instance) that MQA software decoding can be better than hardware. A good MQA album played with Tidal’s own internal decoder already sounds fantastic. I figure Damien can top that any day. So yes, I’m really looking forward to Plus 3
I don’t think Audiobear meant the user is being blackmailed, rather the manufacturers and software writers, and I just hope it hasnt diverted Damien from more significant things. I agree with all Audiobear said.
As a music consumer and audio nut for roughly five decades, I’m partial to any technology that provides really good sound and a huge selection of albums for $20 a month (Tidal subscription cost.) It seems to me much more sensible that spending $20, or more, for a single high-res download. Streaming of very high-res music is a long way off, and may never happen at all if MQA becomes a standard.
I never really believed the streaming option could be sonically acceptable, let alone excellent, but now it’s happening.
I don’t want to start a quarrel with anyone on this or any other forum. There’s far too much of that. But I do find that some of the people with the strongest anti-MQA opinions are those who have never heard it.
It’s not about hearing it. It about how much content there is going to be. I look at how much high-res music is actually available today that is higher res than Red Book. And how much of that is actually not just upsampled. The odds of even one quarter of the labels getting on board is extremely low and almost all would have to get on board for it to be worth subscribing.
I try MQA on Tidal this mornig with Audirvana candidate release.
Comparing same HD files 24/88 Brad Mehldau Trio “Blues&Ballads” The MQA sounds better (more details and harmonics)
Dont’ have a MQA DAC
Well done Damien !
And please tell us, how did you get the Audirvana candidate release?
Seeing that decoding isn’t yet possible in Audirvana, nor in many other media, there’s undoubtedly a ajosity that haven’t heard it. However, of people who have, there seem to be numbers with high quality replay systems that don’t find it better, while numbers of people who have listened to MQA files WITHOUT ANY DECODING have said it sounds better. Personally I think it is too early to judge the sound quality, but what I question is what is the point of it? The only real beneficiaries are the online streaming providers, who will increase their profits because it reduces their bandwidth - for the recipient, only people in just borderline bandwidth areas would be able to stream MQA but not full high res files, and the only difference it makes to downloading is a shorter time per file. There is a rumour that Highresaudio has pulled out of supplying MQA files because of sound quality issues, but not confirmed (see Naim forum).
Anyone declaring sound is better or worse needs to declare if they are comparing with the original full hires file or the redbook (and bear in mind that if the latter there will be mastering differences), and the equipment they are listening through, including type of Mac.
The only benefit from MQA is the lizens fee we all have to pay
That’s fine. When you listen on Tidal or software decode it really doesn’t cost the user directly very much. The MQA marketing strategy does, however, make them a lot of money by charging everyone for a dubious improvement. It is a lossy compression algorithm. I find it bizarre that audiophiles who demand bit perfect reproduction could be seduced by MQA. Some are some aren’t. People vote with their pocketbooks. As I said in my post, there’s a good chance MQA could succeed without every improving quality. It is also ironic that several bloggers (can’t find the link right now) have reported MQA streaming having a wider bandwidth (more bytes) than the original file. Why that would be is a mystery but it’s not the way it’s supposed to work.
FWIW, I have heard MQA but not been able to do extensive testing. Honestly, I don’t hear any big difference. It’s not better, it’s not worse. If it saves some bandwidth and doesn’t sound better, that’s a win for the technology. But is it really worthing retooling all the hardware and re-proecssing all the software for a minute gain in bandwidth? Like I said, memory, storage and bandwidth are all getting cheaper. That makes MQA a solution in search of a problem. I will stick with my full res files…