Products > Dodgy Technology

MQA: the HD audio standard that isn't

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The company trying to prevent independent testing puts it into the really dodgy category...

MQA is a lossy compression algorithm, it's basically meant to be better than MP3 or similar for streaming audio - that's the intended use - but obviously it can't be as good as lossless compression, which FLAC is. Of course it's worse than FLAC. How could it be not? FLAC is freaking LOSSLESS!

Does the company really claim it's as good or even better?

Edit: I looked at the company's web site with the little info they give:

This is "music origami". Enjoy.

There is more to MQA than the codec, which in theory could be lossless up to CD quality and only lossy at ultrasonics, but in practice it doesn't yield effects equivalent to CD because there is more to MQA than the codec :P

The claim about sound quality better than PCM is based on the presumption that MQA artifacts are less audible than "industry standard resampling" artifacts. Not sure if they have an answer to "what if I get the original master with no compression and resampling whatsoever", other than the fact that most studios will not release their masters because how would they make money reissuing the same material over and over again in new formats in the future ;D

MQA is garbage BS.  I wouldn't trust it at all.  I have more faith in high bit-rate AAC audio.  Though the standard is protected, the source algorithm and example encoder/decoder code and specs are available for test and review.  Properly done .MP2 (mpeg 2, layer II audio, AT&T model) at 384kbit, discrete stereo encoding appears to render better results than that stupid MQA as well as 320kbit .mp3.

Personally, I have my CD collection encoded in .flac, period.  It's been like that since then inception of FLAC well over a decade ago and I used a public domain encoding GUI which also automatically decoded the .flac after encode to do a BINARY compare with the source .wav rips from my CDs to ensure that the encode was dead bit perfect.

MQA is awful. An attempt to make the whole audio chain subject to licensing fees and lock-in. Proprietary encoders, decoders/digital filters and of course only their algorithm. (Digital filters - normally oversampling at 2^n - used to be an area of expertise where different vendors could invent better stuff and compete with their products.)

Soundwise MQA is also awful. The entire thinking behind the encoding is wrongthink. I highly recommend the external link #17 from the MQA Wikipedia page, titled "Digital Done Wrong". A very long read, but most informative.

Companies like Tidal offering MQA are not doing it for the musical enjoyment of their customers, but rather to get the lock-in of the format. Also avoiding to give away the crown jewels like a real Hi-Res version of the master tapes (24/96 or even higher SR).


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