What Is Up With MQA?

I completely screwed up my photos of the MQA press event so I offer this oddly appropriate approximation of reality

MQA causes more intellectual hemorrhaging and un-righteous indignation than any other thing in hi-fi. It is, in some circles, more suspicious than expensive cables and tiny room treatment devices and I had more than one exhibitor lean in close to ask, "What do you think about MQA?" as if they were asking me about my connections to the Illuminati.

Of course, some manufacturers who do not support MQA had lots of very not nice things to say about it. The thing is, in my experience the majority of the time these same people do not know what the heck they are talking about. Que Sera, Sera.

Here's what I can tell you about MQA from the press conference they held on the first day of RMAF 2016:

  • The entire Warner Music catalog has been converted to MQA (yea, the whole thing)
  • If everything goes according to current plans/contract negotiations, the other Big Two label's (Sony and Universal) catalogs will be converted to MQA by next Spring
  • Tidal, as well as other streaming services who shall remain nameless at this point, will be streaming MQA content. When? I don't know.
  • MQA offered A/B comparisons
My takeaway from this is MQA is a train that has left the station and has the momentum to deliver. If this bothers you, I'd suggest putting MQA on ignore. If you're interested in very very good sounding streaming, better than CD-quality in terms of sound quality even with CD-quality recordings, you should stay in the MQA loop.

COMMENTS
Anton's picture

I think the reason for the nay saying are claims about its superiority that...

1) Oddly mimic the 'perfect sound forever' type of breathless insider hype we saw with the introduction of CD...which let us down.

2) The relative over-supply of reviews of it's greatness in the absence of its actual existence.

3) The similarity to SACD, Blu Ray audio, DVD Audio, etc. that have all floundered in the marketplace and left behind a legacy of format specific playback gear we had to run out and buy to get the benefit of the new paradigmatic sound.

4) The inability to agree or disagree based on substantive personal experience. "It's great, take our word for it" is a tough command to obey.

I wish MQA would take me off ignore!

Fetuso's picture

That was very well said and funny. You made valid points. I think, however, that this could actually be different. Converting the entire Warner catalog, and the other two by the spring, is quite a bit different than the relative paucity of titles that came out on sacd and the like. I really believe MQA is gonna be all about streaming. The record labels see streaming as the revenue stream of the future (pun intended). Let's not forget that one of the big benefits of MQA is the reduced bandwith needed to stream the file.

Anton's picture

I agree with you completely.

I've got my Tidal, my Explorer 2, and I am ready to stream!

I am actually quite amazed by how good some things sound on Tidal already.

I streamed Peter Gabriel's "Live Blood" and it made me pause and wonder if MQA had landed!

Cheers!

Fetuso's picture

I haven't made the jump into streaming yet. I don't know why, but at this loint I'm gonna wait see how this all plays out. I'm all for anything that helps music sound better.

monetschemist's picture

... it's the concept of letting some third party (not the musician, not the label, not the distribution, and not the user) own the sound packaging technology so that anyone who uses it must license the technology.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...available today. MQA have been demoing at shows and offered A/B comparisons at RMAF for anyone who was interested in multiple rooms. MQA is unlike SACD etc. because it will be implemented in streaming, so no one has to re-buy or even buy albums. And if you decide to skip buying an MQA-enabled device, you can still listen to the same stream. I would suggest that some audiophiles simply enjoy complaining while others feel entitled to make unrealistic demands.
Anton's picture

I don't know how to do the download thing, so here I sit waiting for streaming.

(Sounds like I should be able to make a limerick out of that.)

;-D

200 downloads, eh? That should about cover Tito Puente!

I really am looking forward to it. This must be one of those really 'slow opening' kind of business things.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I know that converting the majority of recorded music to MQA, getting streaming services to adopt a new technology, and getting hardware manufacturers on board sounds like it should take a few months but I think there were some unexpected setbacks related to...reality ;-)
Anton's picture

I think it must be a real task to try to time one's press push with one's product availability. I am glad I don't have to shoulder that load.

We, as audio nerds, are such a small niche, it doesn't matter much, I suppose. But, if it were a potentially big deal product, this would have been one of those 'Apple Maps' roll outs. Too little, too soon.

I think I would have waited to build the tension until I had a solid release plan.

This one feels like we got a big banner headline that proclaimed MQA's greatness with a small print disclaimer that says, "Coming soon means different things to different people, so trust us and buy stuff and we'll get it to you at some point. Really, we promise."

Putting it in place and then hitting the press button would have made the release feel like Christmas at Santa's girlfriend's house!

As I said, I am on board and eager to participate!

Boogieman's picture

What does it take, exactly, to convert an entire catalog of a major record label to MQA? Is it a matter of remastering everything, or just running some IT job behind the scenes for several months?

foxhall's picture

Even if it is automated batch encoding jobs, some record company executive will surely label it remastered.

Boogieman's picture

The market tells us that the majority of listeners don't care about sound quality. Since this material is already being / will be streamed, why are the record companies bothering to put in the resources to convert to MQA? Why not just stream the drek they got, since most people won't notice the difference anyway?

Doak's picture

Excellent question and supporting statements.
I would LOVE to see it addressed by the insiders who can best answer it.
That would be VERY interesting indeed.

Petter A's picture

1. Converting to MQA is not very difficult and could be automated from proper highres material.
2. There is some money to get from it. Even sound-nerds put money into the market and some are actually willing to pay a lot.
3. A lot of people in the music industry love great sound.

solarophile's picture

Simple.

It wraps up their music in something that's **marketed** as hi-res.

But not the **real**, **full** hi-res like the actual lossless 24/96 or 24/192 "studio master" which we can now already get.

Doing this means they have yet another "intermediate" file format to market and extract $$$ from IMO.

Petter A's picture

But, I think they are more along the lines that:
- MQA deliver full 24/192 resolution (you can maybe argue against that) using 24/48 bandwith
- MQA files are smaller so they can be dowloaded and streamed quite easily
- Streaming is the way most people listen to music these days so MQA offer a way to deliver great sound to everyone
- MQA DACs could rapidly be very common (NAD, Pioneer, Onkyo, Meridian,...) in normally prized gear

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...was a DXD original (24/352.8kHz) streamed from Tidal without a hiccup. I think we need to think about that for more than a minute ;-)

We will see MQA-enabled DACs in all price ranges (as low as $100 or so but don't tell anyone).

Anton's picture

Increased bandwidth will make hi rez streming 'not an issue' in the future.

Then, I may end up with another Hi Fi fossil or two sitting around the house.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
MQA's value proposition is better sound quality + high-res streaming.
Boogieman's picture

Sure, but who finds VALUE in that? From what I see, the overall market doesn't care one bit - music just helps them multi-task. Is it just a very small niche of us, audiophiles?

Furthermore, from my experience - unfortunately - most downloads SUCK compared to most remasters by Mobile Fidelity and Analogue productions releases.

So unless the record companies remaster their materials AND release it in MQA format, seems like a bunch of audiophiles will also not be interested (as mentioned here in this thread).

Any other market segment interested in this to justify these "large" investments on the part of the record companies? how will they make money on their investments into mqa?

PS. I am agnostic here and just wishing for the best outcome to enjoy music even more.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...that MQA streaming via Tidal, for example, will be delivered at no additional cost, per all reports. MQA is also working with other streaming services and is yet to be seen how this will work out and how much extra, if any, it will cost. So for all intents and purposes, MQA can be invisible to users who are not interested. They'll simply continue playing their music as they always have.

I'm sorry but no one, in this universe, can say that "most downloads suck" (even if you use all caps ;-) because no one in this universe has the time to listen to most downloads; there are simply too many.

Most of the downloads I buy sound great.

I see no point in guessing at the motives of the record labels. I would suggest they are implementing MQA because they feel it to be a good business decision.

Since MQA delivers improved sound quality, and I say this based on months of experience listening in my own system, if you're looking to enjoy music even more and this enjoyment is reliant upon sound quality, you'll be a happy camper.

Boogieman's picture

Sir, I appreciate you being candid and having on open discussion about this as it all evolves.

Also, for the record, I do not mean ALL downloads suck! I agree that you never know what you will get, and many are great.

But what I am saying definitively is that I will take a regular, remastered CD by an audiophile label, such as Mobile Fidelity redoing Kind of Blue vs. the Sony hirez download anytime. (unless I am playing the original record :) - I hope it's ok to say this on a digital site :) )

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...so it's more than OK by me to share our love of listening to LPs.

I never said "you never know what you will get".

Have you compared the high-res mono reissue of Kind Of Blue to the CD? Of course it depends on one's DAC and system, but the the high-res mono reissue of Kind Of Blue is pretty fabulous.

2_channel_ears's picture

When they told me the record companies were trying to figure out how they wanted to deliver MQA. to the consumers I saw $$$ floating away.

Mark Tarone's picture

AWESOME photo.

...and appreciate the info. Those are some BIG bullets you shared.

Mark Tarone's picture

Back to the BIG bullets..."the other Big Two label's (Sony and Universal) catalogs will be converted to MQA by next Spring. . .Tidal, as well as other streaming services who shall remain nameless at this point, will be streaming MQA content."

So, the catalogs of all three majors will be available in MQA format. Those three majors own a major stake in Spotify. MQA is coming to Tidal and another streaming service. So, MQA streaming is expected to come to Spotify. That's GREAT news. If Tidal goes under, we will still have a high-res streaming option (hopefully, that will allow Roon integration one day).

My guess - the major labels are not going to license MQA files to Apple and use high-res streaming as an exclusive point of difference. I'd love to see that approach, although worried about its effectiveness. If releases of the most popular artists like Adele are compressed to death, MQA will not impress anyone - junk in, junk out.

In Bob Stuart's meetings w/ the majors, he should be trying to convince them to do second mastering passes of new albums (with dynamics left in) to use for MQA and vinyl versions of the albums.

brianls's picture

Hello,

I'd like to step back just a little and comment on what I see as a major problem with how we talk about MQA. I'll simplify greatly by talking about the '2 sides' of the argument, cheerleaders and nay-sayers.
The problem is that both sides tend to completely ignore the legitimate arguments of the other side, and then fire pejoratives based on the presumption that the other side has no legitimate points.
Cheerleaders say that they've heard the A/B comparisons and it sounds better. But the truth is that very few people have. I was at one of the MQA rooms at RMAF this year. The music sounded great. And while the people running the room knew which tracks were MQA and which were not, there was no talk of a comparison of MQA/non-MQA tracks. So I think the anxiety felt by some is legitimate because it sounds like the entire industry is about to change long before the majority will experience for themselves what difference it could make to SQ. Ironically, the cheerleaders talk about these huge announcements of complete catalogs being converted as if it will calm people down. The truth is that it only exacerbates the anxiety.
Based on my reading, it is a fact that if all music is converted to MQA, those without MQA DACs will only get to hear music at 16/44 or thereabouts. Full stop. This is a legitimate argument. We can say that those people should just get a new DAC, or that they should just be happy with Redbook and then add some comment about how MQA Redbook sounds better than non-MQA Redbook - Whatever.
Nay-sayers sometimes imply that if the MQA folks are in it for the money, then it's not a good move in any case. The MQA defenders point out that without a profit motive, very little of the audio industry, or any other, would exist at all. That is totally legitimate and correct.
I've gone on too long. My point is simply that the way we talk about MQA on both sides is just broken. Can we acknowledge that both sides have legitimate arguments and are not just ignorant boobs or members of the Illuminati?

Brian.

2_channel_ears's picture

Okay with a lot you said. Would like to add what I heard in the 3 rooms where MQA had a precense.

One room they were playing straight MQA encode/decode files and pointed me next door for an A/B comparison. In that room you had to ask for an A/B and had to challenge them when the player display didn't show file resolution equivalency. When they finally played equivalent files MQA was an improvement. A bit to my ears, not mind blowing. I visited here twice and same thing both times.

The third room was the Mytek room and they very actively ran A/B comparison's through a Manhattan II. They could do this "on the fly". It was convincing in what decoding MQA does. Nice, but agin, a step improvement similar to what I get going up the resolution path. I'll take (maybe, depends on cost), but still hold onto my vinyl.

brianls's picture

Hi - I was in that room, but didn't know the A/B was on offer. I love those Mytek DACs, though - Pretty sweet for the price.
A question, though. You said that they could switch between MQA and non-MQA on the fly. If I understand correctly, if they turn off MQA during playback they'd have to jump to a Redbook-like resolution. So if they start with, let's say for argument's sake, a 24/192 MQA file and then 'turn off' MQA, you'd get not only the non-MQA technology, but also a significant drop in resolution. If you started with Redbook, it would be a better test. Can you describe a little more what the 'on the fly' switch-over looked like?

Thank you -

Brian.

2_channel_ears's picture

Late Saturday they posted a little sign outside for an A/B demo, though they did one too when I was in there on Friday. Anyway there's a switch on the front of the DAC, the big knob looking thing. When they flipped the switch the display indicated 'Enabled' or not. There was a little half second delay, then it played in encode or decode mode. I don't recall the resolution but it was the same file (off of Muddy Waters Folk Singer) folded or unfolded, same number of bits and resolution. The only difference they described was the folding, on or off. I think, I could be wrong, but that Michael mentioned changing on the fly somewhere about the Manhattan. Or I'm sure the Mytek folks would be glad to give you more info. Hope that helps.

Richard

PAR's picture

The fact that Warners and , allegedly, the other two majors are converting their catalogues to MQA does not automatically mean that it will result in commerically released MQA encoded material.

A wholesale conversion would not be an economic proposition for download services ( as not all catalogue material is made available for this type of distribution) although it may make more sense for streaming. However as no streaming services yet offer MQA streaming and its success or otherwise remains to be tested it would be irrational for any record company to convert its entire repertoire at this early stage.

What is being overlooked is that these giant majors have internal needs for the distribution of master quality files rthroughout their company. Say the New Zealand division of Warner wants to produce a compilation album of 1970s rock music. How much easier will it be for them to avoid the supply of copy master tapes etc. from , perhaps, several countries and instead just log in to a central database and download them. Of course the resulting rock compilation may only be sold to the public as a 16/44.1 option.

For such purposes MQA does offer a solution in practical terms.

So, this scenario would mean that all future releases from that company, irrespective of format, would emanate from MQA encoded files. Just as virtually all vinyl releases from the majors are now mastered from digital sources.

foxhall's picture

Thanks for posting this news. I was under the impression the controversy had potentially retarded MQA momentum but it sounds full speed ahead. I'm a TIDAL customer without an MQA capable DAC but that could change.

I keep thinking about how some big players like PS Audio are hesitant to move forward with their implementations. Also, I'm not completely confident TIDAL will be a long term product as it seems their leadership really wants to sell.

Wavelength's picture

All,

My 2cents

I had not really heard much that I could say MQA yes or no. Before RMAF I had only head MQA tracks. But let me tell you this is the real deal.

The only way to describe it is the way Jim Jordan of Vaughn Loudspeakers said to me. Jim makes Plasma speakers the tweeters xover at 7K, make real imaging big. Anyway... Jim and I got the the room on Thursday, powered everything up and I forgot to turn on the Plasma tweeters. Jim said the difference between MQA and nonMQA was that big... like here you have big sound stage and real extension (with MQA) and when it's nonMQA it's like the damn Plasma's were turned off.

Bob and the gang at MQA are really inspired to make this happen. They have a really great team and are really dedicated to make this happen. When the switch gets turned on there will be tons of hardware and software available for everyone.

This is not like SACD which just confused the dealer base. It's the real deal.

Thanks,
Gordon

divasson's picture

Gordon,

Your comment here is the single most important info I take from RMAF!

Not what it says, but who says it, is the important thing here. Thanks!

Timcognito's picture

So, how did the entire Warner catalog get converted that fast? Surely not some engineers sitting in in front of a console playing the tens of thousands of original tapes. High speed digital conversion on mass scale on many converters, I suspect, or with software, more likely. Many interviews and articles, including those from Mr. Stuart, it is stated that any digital source of any reasonable size can be made to sound better with MQA, enhancing its time domain properties and also shrinking its file size. The streaming aspect seems legit from business standpoint. From my perspective the big elephant in the room is the lack of a home “end-to-end” converter to make the music we already own sound better and fit more of it on our devices even if it’s not the ultimate “authenticated” reproduction. Seems that was good enough for Warner. It smells of a conspiracy to make us buy our favorite music once again. Sure if I want to finally hear Elvis Costello “My Aim is True” release in all its glory (every format issued so far sucks for SQ) MQA may be the answer, so perhaps I’ll buy the MQA download if it ever happens. But I doubt that Mary Lou Williams’ “Roll-Em” will get there unless I can convert it in my living room. From what I have been reading, I believe that MQA could be the next big new thing in SQ but fact the technology is not directly marketed to the consumer for the music I have already purchased stinks.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
For around $20/month people will be able to stream millions of MQA-encoded albums. No one has to buy downloads unless they want to.
Timcognito's picture

I said streaming was legit and I'll add great way to distribute MQA music. Soon I will indulge in it, with entire Warner catalog I hope. But the purpose of the technology as understand it to enhance music quality and skipping loyal purchasing audiophiles, especially by a Meridian guy, by not having and end-to-end box or app is my gripe. Clearly its not that difficult if they can convert the Warner catalog in a few months. Thanks for keeping us up on the topic

Tim

PAR's picture

The MQA process of improving the sound of the recordng is not some kind of bolt-on gizmo that could be implemeneted as a univerally applicable black box. It is a process that depends on knowing exactly which ADC was used to make the master recording at the studio. It then corrects the time domain abberations introduced by that particular ADC's digital filter.

Being able to identify the particular ADC used requires knowledge that is only available to the record company.

The rest of the process concerns folding hi-rez data into a package suitable for downloading or streaming without a requirement for huge bandwidth. I cannot easily imagine what purpose a home user may find use for this if given the opportunity to do it beyond, maybe, sending copies via the internet to friends ( of non- copyright material, naturally).

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...that the MQA decoder corrects for issues based on the specific DAC in use on the user end. This means the decoder must know what DAC it's talking to.
PAR's picture

for that useful comment.

I would, however, think that the necessity of knowing the DAC and its characteristics may mitigate against a practical software MQA decoder. Such a decoder has been mooted as necessary for use with streaming services where, for example, the service's player is installed on a PC or Mac and Bob Stuart has indicated such a software solution as feasible.

I find it hard to think of how MQA in its fullest sense could be implemented in this kind of scenario as the number of alternative DACs would be vast, bearing in mind that these DACs would be out in the field and would mostly not have any MQA firmware installed or any kind of licensing relationship. I do remember Bob Stuart saying that the practicality of dealing with the ACDs is possible due to the comparatively small number of models. This is not the case with DACs.

Furthermore some DACS (like my own) do not have fixed characteristics as their firmware, including things like the digital filters, is updated at intervals. Oh, and I have up to 6 digital filters of very different characteristics, each one selectable. So any software MQA decoder would somehow need to know which I had chosen. Still Bob Stuart is very clever....

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...this is exactly what bob Stuart/MQA have said.

A software decoder could certainly receive information about what USB DAC it's talking to. In terms of digital filter choices in one's DAC, it is my understanding that MQA processing would bypass any such filtering. Non-MQA data could still utilize custom filters.

PAR's picture

Thank you Michael. I am assuming that a software decoder would be situated in a PC or Mac ( where else?). So the decoded MQA stream is then passed to the DAC for conversion to analogue. If " In terms of digital filter choices in one's DAC, it is my understanding that MQA processing would bypass any such filtering." How could this be? For nearly all DACs the processing of all incoming data involves the use of a digital filter. You may be able to switch between different types but there is no "no filter" option ( except for the limited number of filterless DACs).

I can only see this working if we all have to buy new DACs with either manual or automatic filter on/off switching for full MQA replay. Legacy DACs just won't work with a software, computer installed, decoder as described.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The Mytek Brooklyn DAC offers PCM filter options but when you enable MQA-decoding, these filter options are not available.

Oops - doing too many things at once. I have not heard a detailed explanation of how a software-based MQA implementation would address legacy DACs that employ filter options. Good question.

Timcognito's picture

After the MQA process is complete at Warner or elsewhere the new yet to be released black box, lets call it Explorer 3, with internal DAC and Ethernet or WiFi looks at the file after the Cd is loaded. Then it looks at an internal file or to the internet or even from a generic algorithm based meta data, applies that the front end of the end-to-end MQA and plays it and saves it in the smaller package. I just want to play the music that, as Michael often points out, I and others have spent tens of thousands of dollars to collect and get MQA. We are in the digital age after all and everyone wants to be there, except for those analog guys. That begs another topic, the scarlet letter "A". How come very few people writing the industry describe how MQA compares to Analog the gold standard to many?

PAR's picture

... but I wonder about record industry wide databases to populate some kind of lookup table which, in whatever form, is ultimately required. I spent much of my final decade in the industry working on elements of databases for metadata and, boy, was that hard and inconclusive work.

Still , great concept.

v1m's picture

Whether the cash-hemorrhaging Tidal, put up for sale without a taker, will be streaming anything in six to twelve months is an open question. Given its leaking business model ($28m losses and counting), rolling out MQA material for the audiophile market will likely be a lesser priority, second to keeping the lights on.

Meanwhile, the cause of good sound is likely to take another setback with Amazon's announcement today of its gourmand service. Amusingly enough, according to PC Week the sound quality of files offered in the unlimited streaming service is "unavailable at press time." Imagine that.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...is the streaming business model across the board. How many hundreds of millions has Spotify lost?

If you have some inside info on Tidal and MQA, please share your sources. Otherwise, I'll stick to the information I get from Tidal and MQA ;-)

Musicman77's picture

Hi all,

My take as of today after RMAF 2016 this last weekend. Yes, I was in all 3 rooms where MQA could be heard/compared. In the big room there was a nearly $90,000 DAC (not real world to me). Next door was a $17K or 18K DAC. Yes, while there was a difference in the limited files played, it was slight at best. They were playing a very limited selection of music as well. In the room where the Mytek demo could be heard, there was the opportunity to hear a switched on the fly sample between enabled and unenabled MQA track, however what has not been told so far, that when the MQA sample was enabled there was a significant change in volume (louder) when the MQA was enabled. So what are we hearing?? Any increase in volume ALWAYS sounds better. While this is a more real world priced DAC (Mytek Manhatten), the difference was not nearly as significant as we have been led to believe or was heard out of the $90,000 MSB DAC.

I also had a lengthy conversation with an accomplished recording engineer at the show (who shall remain nameless as I do not have his permission to name the person). He said that it was absolutely impossible to have gone back to the original masters at Warner and encoded them with MQA in such a short time. That would be a huge time consuming project and an expensive one at that (supposing that these masters could even be found)! From what I understand, MQA is supposed to let one hear what the ‘original’ recording session sounded like, not some down the line heavily compressed digital file that has been MQA encoded.

We audiophiles have been led down too many primrose path in the past over better sounds. My money stays in my pocket until there exists real MQA encoded files (from original masters) available in the music I like.

Here is a good article by others that have seen little or no repeatable difference: http://archimago.blogspot.com/2016/10/an-opinion-about-audio-mqa-by-agit...

If indeed the entire streaming market does adopt MQA and there are indeed millions of MQA encoded tracks, there will be plenty of time to purchase a DAC that supports the new standard. At that time most if not all DAC manufacturers will be forced to include the capability to decode MQA.

Thanks,

Alan

mrvco's picture

Has anyone from MQA discussed:

1) Did the Warner catalog 'conversion' process include hands-on re-mastering and optimization for MQA with their recording engineers for each title? Or was this a straight transcode/upconvert of existing masters?

2) Once a label has signed on with MQA, will non-MQA Hi-Res versions still be available going forward? Or does the MQA agreement ultimately require format exclusivity?

3) Has MQA addressed the 'software' decoding question? Will MQA license "software unfolding" to the likes of Roon, JRiver, Audirvana, etc.?

4) If some clever individual writes a bit of software than "unfolds" (legally purchased) MQA files or streams to a standard AIFF or FLAC format, will they issue a C&D and pursue them in court?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
1. The MQA encoding process does not involve re-mastering. Optimization is part of the normal encode.
2. MQA does not require format exclusivity. I addressed this exact issue here which is based on a conversation I had with Warner Music.
3. Yes. However the first steps of the MQA rollout do not include a software decoder.
4. I see no need to address this since it's based on pure speculation.
mrvco's picture

Thanks for the response... The real key for me is a software unfolding option. If that is a committed item on their roadmap, then most of my concerns are addressed and we don't have to be too concerned about MQA going the way of HDCD, DVD-A and SACD.

Steve Parry's picture

I hope Meridian, and everyone in the digital music business (HDTracks, etc.) realize that the promised MQA has made me stop buying downloads altogether until I see whether the major rollout actually occurs. I dealt with the SACD issue and don't want to revisit this sort of nightmare. I also have a Meridian Core 818v2 that can be upgraded to MQA (and more) and I refuse to spend that money until this gets resolved. So for now, I am just listening to what I have, and truly hope MQA happens! The upside is I am saving money not buying music all the time!

R1200CL's picture
Michael Lavorgna's picture
I read this yesterday. One change from the information provided at the RMAF 2016 MQA Press Event is that the Warner catalog has not been completely converted but *should* be done by Spring.
PeterInVan's picture

Tidal MQA works, but only through ROON...

I tried the new Masters using the Windows desktop, but could not get my Meridian Explorer2 to light up.

So I tagged the new MQA albums in Tidal, switched over to Roon, resynced to Tidal. Now I get the three LEDs to light up on the DAC, and play MQA.

Van Morrison's Moondance: the LED lights show Blue/White/White. Other albums show just Blue/White

Listening for a while before commenting on SQ improvements.

PeterInVan's picture

I overcame my initial problem by going into the DAC settings under Tidal Setup>Streaming, and checking all three boxes (Dedicated, Volume, Passthrough).

Now my Meridian Explorer2 sees the raw MQA stream from Tidal (blue LED)

Vinyl Rules's picture

This may be an ignorant question that has previously asked: If you are copying a CD to, say a Bluesound Vault 2, can you ENCODE the CD in MQA while ripping it to take advantage of the Vault's full playback capability. If this is possible, given my cursory understanding of MQA, it would seem one could end up with a better sounding copy than the original.

X