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scoots_mcgoo

scoots_mcgoo Avatar

Location: Portland, OR


Posted: Apr 9, 2021 - 3:05pm

After enjoying RP for many months on my NAD C658 (milestone product btw) I was startled & thrilled today to see the MQA logo displaying. Sounds stellar. After following the mqa 'controversy' in Stereophile mag for a few years now, I much rather to sit back & enjoy it. I also became a paid monthly subscriber today as a result of the MQA addition. Super duper! 
Hifiguy1752



Posted: Apr 8, 2021 - 1:57pm

MQA is fantastic! Love the sound quality - space, the final frontier. Way to go Bill & Rebecca Goldsmith for being first! And way to go BlueSound for making such excellent products for us music lovers and committed audiophiles. Thanks! Hifiguy in Vancouver, Canada.
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 8, 2021 - 10:11am

Just saw the new MQA streams in BluOS...
Will check out the streams this weekend to see how they sound/differ. 
reneng

reneng Avatar

Location: Purmerend, The Netherlands
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 8, 2021 - 3:02am

MQA@RP
Wowww.......after last update on my Bluesound were able to listen to RP in MQA!!!
Thanks Bill and your team for making this possible.

René and Lies (music lovers from the Netherlands)
BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 6, 2021 - 2:47pm



 jbuhl wrote:


 BillG wrote:




Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 —
 

Is it possible that we will get the 24/192, 24/96, 24/48 as a strait FLAC stream? Maybe Just mixed in with the current FLAC option  and maybe with a little metadata indicating bit rate?  Roon already gathers displays the current rate.  Be cool to get the higher res stuff in there as well.  How about it uncle Bill yeah huh huh.....


 
When we're ready to launch a hi-res stream, it will be available as straight FLAC as well as MQA. 

Due to the nature of how we deliver our audio, it will never be a mix of different sample rates & bit depths. Everything needs to be standardized to the same rate, probably 24/96. Even if the only master we have is 16/44.1 it will be upsampled to 24/96 and will read out as such on your DAC. 

Because we mix songs together into a continuous flow, there is absolutely no way around that. 

jbuhl

jbuhl Avatar

Location: Boulder,CO


Posted: Apr 6, 2021 - 2:23pm



 BillG wrote:




Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 —
 

Is it possible that we will get the 24/192, 24/96, 24/48 as a strait FLAC stream? Maybe Just mixed in with the current FLAC option  and maybe with a little metadata indicating bit rate?  Roon already gathers displays the current rate.  Be cool to get the higher res stuff in there as well.  How about it uncle Bill yeah huh huh.....


BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 6, 2021 - 7:12am



 HFH21 wrote:


 BillG wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
 

MQA will be available only via BluOS-enabled hardware like your Bluesound Node. The BluOS update for that is rolling out on April 7. 
 
Excellent, so in other words, any MQA encoded tracks as supplied by the "rights holders" would only be served to BluOS enabled devices, and all other devices shall receive a straight PCM track stream from RadioParadise, unadulterated?



 
That's not quite how it works, but you're essentially correct. Our FLAC audio is straight Redbook PCM.

black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 5, 2021 - 11:31am

Some more on MQA from Benchmark, one of the better DAC manufacturers.

A LOOK INSIDE THE MQA CHAIN

To those of us who are interested in the best possible musical playback, the small details are important. The promise of "improved sound" always catches our attention.

But, at the present time, I remain skeptical of the sonic advantages of MQA and even more skeptical of its commercial viability. There is no question that MQA degrades the quality of the audio for users who do not have an MQA decoder (of course this doesn't apply to RP, as the other non-MQA streams will remain). The compatible portion of the MQA signal is equivalent to about 13 to 15 bits at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. The loss of resolution is due to down sampling, dither noise, and pseudo-random noise from the high-frequency compression channel which occupies the lower 8 to 11 bits. When fully decoded, the resolution of MQA is limited to 17 bits at 96 kHz. Miska has shown that an MQA file actually occupies more space than a lossless 96 kHz 18-bit PCM file! Why settle for 17 bits when you can have an 18-bit file in a smaller package? MQA may be promising a sonic benefit and file-size benefit that it cannot deliver!

https://benchmarkmedia.com/blo...

mob

mob Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 3, 2021 - 6:14pm

Hi Bill,

Is there a chance/plan that MQA streaming comes to other platforms in the future other than BluOS? I appreciate MQA (although i own 16TBs of hi-res PCM) and that’s the exact reason i spend more time nowadays on Tidal than RP, honestly (but i miss the curation) ðŸ˜. I speculate that even without an unfolding DAC, MQA tracks are more accurate to the source; without altering..So, bringing MQA as a radio to the mainstream will be a revoulution, even not everyone understands/appreciates how big this is, now.

 BillG wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
 

MQA will be available only via BluOS-enabled hardware like your Bluesound Node. The BluOS update for that is rolling out on April 7. 
 


HFH21

HFH21 Avatar

Location: NYC
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 11:29pm



 BillG wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
 

MQA will be available only via BluOS-enabled hardware like your Bluesound Node. The BluOS update for that is rolling out on April 7. 
 
Excellent, so in other words, any MQA encoded tracks as supplied by the "rights holders" would only be served to BluOS enabled devices, and all other devices shall receive a straight PCM track stream from RadioParadise, unadulterated?



HFH21

HFH21 Avatar

Location: NYC
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 8:42pm



 Mikey78 wrote:
Preference wise, I guess it depends, if the FLAC is limited to 16/44.1 and the MQA is higher then yes it should sound better...
Once it's launched I'll give it a listen and see what I think.

BUT if it does sound better via BluOS and MQA then I will go that route, I'm sure RP would not go down this route if they didn't feel there was a reason to do it, and sound quality can only be the reason IMHO.

Cheers
Mikey

"Higher" is therefore better? So a number in a display, as reported by metadata in the stream is automatically "better"? This sounds exactly like the stance of TAS, or Stereophile, and based on nothing more than the go-to "subjective" take that of course can never be refuted in any way, doesn't it?

What if the reason were purely that of financial gain at the expense of consumers? In other words, what if this were a transfer of money to RP, by Bluesound, via MQA, with the ultimate goal of consumer acceptance and market monopoly?
BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 7:31pm



 HFH21 wrote:


MQA tracks simply do not play back as normal 16/44.1, however if I'm understanding you correctly, this is a non-issue because you won't be substituting any MQA encoded material for PCM on the non-Bluesound streams, is that accurate?

In other words, those of us who wish to listen to unadulterated PCM on non-Bluesound platforms can continue to do so, and you won't be mixing in any MQA garbage that standard PCM DACs would then play as a semi-crippled effective 14-bit resolution because we've refused to pay any hardware manufacturer an MQA tax?

More succinctly, the Radio Paradise FLAC streams not on Bluesound hardware will not be encoded with MQA in any way, so we won't have to be concerned with the same situation as exists currently with TIDAL and the widespread substitution of perfectly good Redbook PCM  with Master Quality Approximated?

I thank you in advance for your response and hope to remain a staunch Radio Paradise supporter.

 

Yes, you understood correctly. Our normal FLAC stream is unadulterated 16/44.1. No MQA involved at any point. 

Bluesound users will also continue to have our normal FLAC stream as an option. 
HFH21

HFH21 Avatar

Location: NYC
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 6:33pm



 BillG wrote:


 Pete_1 wrote:


 
Will this mean that many tracks will be MQA and those who choose not to use MQA equipment will still be playing MQA tracks but not unfolded?

 

No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 

In neither case will be be forcing people — like Tidal does — to play MQA streams via non-MQA DACs.  In theory, MQA files play back as normal 16/44.1 on non-MQA gear, but there are some who challenge that, and in our case it won’t be an issue.
 
MQA tracks simply do not play back as normal 16/44.1, however if I'm understanding you correctly, this is a non-issue because you won't be substituting any MQA encoded material for PCM on the non-Bluesound streams, is that accurate?

In other words, those of us who wish to listen to unadulterated PCM on non-Bluesound platforms can continue to do so, and you won't be mixing in any MQA garbage that standard PCM DACs would then play as a semi-crippled effective 14-bit resolution because we've refused to pay any hardware manufacturer an MQA tax?

More succinctly, the Radio Paradise FLAC streams not on Bluesound hardware will not be encoded with MQA in any way, so we won't have to be concerned with the same situation as exists currently with TIDAL and the widespread substitution of perfectly good Redbook PCM  with Master Quality Approximated?

I thank you in advance for your response and hope to remain a staunch Radio Paradise supporter.

Bambudist



Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 1:29pm

Super news, I'm excited!  Thanks for thinking about your listeners and offering them options.  Just sent another donation.  Keep it up! 

We very much appreciate your continuing hard work for your listeners.



BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 5:05am



 Cebolla wrote:

 BillG wrote:
No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 
 
Is that an oversight or will the MQA encoder that you've been provided with actually only produce 16bit/44.1kHz MQA (aka MQA-CD)  from the 24bit/96kHz hi-res input, so not the expected 24bit/48kHz MQA which contain all the higher frequency data encoded in the (missing) lower 8 bits?

 

Sorry. 24/48 is correct. 
Cebolla



Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 4:30am


 BillG wrote:
No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 
 
Is that an oversight or will the MQA encoder that you've been provided with actually only produce 16bit/44.1kHz MQA (aka MQA-CD)  from the 24bit/96kHz hi-res input, so not the expected 24bit/48kHz MQA which contain all the higher frequency data encoded in the (missing) lower 8 bits?

BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 7:31pm



 Currawong wrote:


 BillG wrote:
The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process. In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

This supposed "voodoo", while arguably possible using recently made recordings, is impossible on a lot of music, as mixing and mastering involves multiple stages and much digital equipment, all of which may add different types of distortion to the music. That makes it impossible to correct for in any meaningful way. When you add things such as most of the original mastering engineers not being consulted, let alone the artists, and a lack of genuine masters from companies such as Universal (after a fire destroyed most of them over a decade ago) then their claims become deeply suspect.

After much technical analysis by a number of capable people, it seems that albums that have had "white glove" treatment, such as The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, have carefully had compression added to them that enhance the quieter sounds, resulting in what you've been hearing. Most other music on TIDAL, where the majority of MQA is, has been batched processed. Of the numerous albums I've tried there, almost all have a loss in detail alongside boosted bass, with a few having odd pitch and other changes, suggesting that they are doing this to ensure that MQA "sounds different" to the originals, since if it didn't, people would just ignore it.

Claims of "original resolution" above 17 bits and 96 kHz are also false. The MQA system only has one real "unfold", after which it is just up-sampling using very short digital filters that have the effect of making the music seem more forward. Those filters also have the effect of smearing the music in the time domain, completely counter to what MQA actually claims.  So, overall, what you're hearing is mostly either just some cleverly applied DSP (or EQ in the case of the TIDAL "Masters"), but packaged in a sophisticated technological package to make it sound special, when really most of it is BS.

It is a very sophisticated effort at trickery, with the hope that it will become a standard and the MQA group will make a killing licensing the tech to everyone and their dog (and recoup the 10's of millions of dollars they have lost over the years trying to get it there).

Please have absolutely nothing to do with this bait-and-switch effort that is trying to destroy music for profit.

 
Our decision to offer our streams via MQA on BluOS is based solely on my opinion that their encoding improves the listening experience. Again, that is an entirely subjective opinion. However, it definitely is not based on anything as simple as dynamics compression or equalization. To my ears, something more sophisticated than that is going on. 

Unlike Tidal, we're not describing MQA encoded audio as an accurate delivery of the original master,  or a faithful presentation of the artist's vision. We're describing it as something that we think sounds really great, and that our listeners will enjoy. 

MQA's business practices and promotional methods are a separate issue as far as I'm concerned. We regularly utilize the services of companies that could be fairly characterized in far harsher terms (Google & Amazon, for instance). Where do you draw a line like that?

We will never offer MQA as a sole delivery option. That's where I'd personally draw that line. 



Currawong

Currawong Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 5:37pm



 BillG wrote:
The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process. In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

This supposed "voodoo", while arguably possible using recently made recordings, is impossible on a lot of music, as mixing and mastering involves multiple stages and much digital equipment, all of which may add different types of distortion to the music. That makes it impossible to correct for in any meaningful way. When you add things such as most of the original mastering engineers not being consulted, let alone the artists, and a lack of genuine masters from companies such as Universal (after a fire destroyed most of them over a decade ago) then their claims become deeply suspect.

After much technical analysis by a number of capable people, it seems that albums that have had "white glove" treatment, such as The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, have carefully had compression added to them that enhance the quieter sounds, resulting in what you've been hearing. Most other music on TIDAL, where the majority of MQA is, has been batched processed. Of the numerous albums I've tried there, almost all have a loss in detail alongside boosted bass, with a few having odd pitch and other changes, suggesting that they are doing this to ensure that MQA "sounds different" to the originals, since if it didn't, people would just ignore it.

Claims of "original resolution" above 17 bits and 96 kHz are also false. The MQA system only has one real "unfold", after which it is just up-sampling using very short digital filters that have the effect of making the music seem more forward. Those filters also have the effect of smearing the music in the time domain, completely counter to what MQA actually claims.  So, overall, what you're hearing is mostly either just some cleverly applied DSP (or EQ in the case of the TIDAL "Masters"), but packaged in a sophisticated technological package to make it sound special, when really most of it is BS.

It is a very sophisticated effort at trickery, with the hope that it will become a standard and the MQA group will make a killing licensing the tech to everyone and their dog (and recoup the 10's of millions of dollars they have lost over the years trying to get it there).

Please have absolutely nothing to do with this bait-and-switch effort that is trying to destroy music for profit.

Melvin

Melvin Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 4:01pm

Bill, Neil Young pulled his catalog from Tidal because of MQA. Here's what he had to say about that magic voodoo .. Neil Young Archives - MQA/Tidal
BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 11:02am



 Pete_1 wrote:


 
Will this mean that many tracks will be MQA and those who choose not to use MQA equipment will still be playing MQA tracks but not unfolded?

 

No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 

In neither case will be be forcing people — like Tidal does — to play MQA streams via non-MQA DACs.  In theory, MQA files play back as normal 16/44.1 on non-MQA gear, but there are some who challenge that, and in our case it won’t be an issue.
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