Eye-opening analysis on Tidal MQA

ddude003

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@DanDan, Did you "Master" some Mary Black recordings? Did anyone contact/consult with you regarding MQAing (Master Quality Authenticating) these Tidal "versions" you refer to?
 

Todd Anderson

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I am pretty sure you will find a few folks that know what they are talking about in the links from the description section of the video on YouTube... Just hit SHOW MORE to reveal lots of reference material...

And if you look around the net enough you will even find Studio Mastering Engineers that have had their work MQAed that were never contacted/consulted about MQA "mastering/re-mastering" or "authenticating"... So, provenance is suspect...
I was reading through the thread on ASR where the YT guy is discussing his findings. There seem to be a few places where he's making some assumptions. His testing and results might be A+ rock solid. But, this where I start to get hesitant to make blanket statements about fraud. When you're making definitive science-based claims, there shouldn't be grey area. It doesn't help that both he and MQA (in their response) dig deep into some very technical details that are bit hard to understand... and the YT guy says he's not an engineer.

One thing: that band of distortion that he highlights in the lower regions of his test track might be a digital watermark. I'm fairly sure that digital watermarks are in most streamed music we listen to (https://www.mattmontag.com/music/universals-audible-watermark).

He also definitively says that information at 20kHz is in the audible range. **Technically** that's true. But let's be real, here... 15kHz is basically impossible for people over the age of 40 to hear... that drops to 12kHz by age 50. Teenagers top out in the 17s.

I'm not defending MQA. Not in the slightest... but if they have artifacts, or are burying information in the frequencies above 20kHz, does it matter?

I get the fact that people are concerned about the end results in the YT video not being a bit for bit representation of a music file. At least the files the YT guy looks at aren't showing that. MQA, in their response, layout explanations and I'm not fluent enough in the world digital music files to make total sense of what they're saying. Perhaps someone here is, and we can clip their response from the video and start to pick it apart?

All this said, I've been digging through quite a bit of informaiton on the net (and watched the video several times)... doesn't paint a great picture. Though, I don't get the sense that MQA is unique in how it treats its proprietary technologies.

I've reached out to MQA and got a response. I'm hoping to have a conversation with them next week (which will probably result in nothing, but I'm curious to see what they have to say).
 

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Really good of you to do the investigation Todd... looking forward to your final thoughts, although I won't go back to Tidal, more so because I don't need it than anything else.
 

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Really good of you to do the investigation Todd... looking forward to your final thoughts, although I won't go back to Tidal, more so because I don't need it than anything else.
I wish I had a better grasp of the technical jargon -this whole issue is complex.

The amount of damage this will inflict on MQA/TIDAL could be huge. You’d think MQA is preparing a response... right?
 

DanDan

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"@DanDan, Did you "Master" some Mary Black recordings? Did anyone contact/consult with you regarding MQAing (Master Quality Authenticating) these Tidal "versions" you refer to?"
No. The Mary Black album No Frontiers was not 'Mastered' in the sense we now use that word. It was done by an Abbey Road Engineer, me present, bit for bit unaltered from the Mixes. By the Time it gets Dark, the previous album, also mine, was also not 'Mastered'. I know with certainty that No FrontEars was adopted by the UK HiFi community, then world wide with particular relish BECAUSE it was not 'Mastered'. I know the guys, who discovered and championed it. Mission Electronics sent out 10,000 CDs to their dealer and media networks containing these Tracks. The Pure Drop. The current versions? No idea, it was a long time ago. I don't know what happens when 'Masters' are submitted to Tidal. But I do know that that Audio I have here is from the original untouched CDs. What I hear on Tidal is not the same even on a quick listen. I could perhaps do a free trial and download theirs and do a simile null test. That said the Tidal sounds pretty good for a lossy stream.
 
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AJ Soundfield

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We just have to make sure that the person doing the analysis knows what they're talking about and their method isn't introducing issues.
Anyone familiar with information theory agrees with this...about Bob Stuart et al.
As all the valid analysis since Master Quality Aliasing was introduced, shows.
Those who do not understand information theory, are the target of the blue Pavlov light.
Btw Todd, logic 101, the burden of proof is always on the claimants, not the "disprovers".

cheers,

AJ
 

AJ Soundfield

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The amount of damage this will inflict on MQA/TIDAL could be huge.
Not at all. This, nor anything else, would ever dissuade the koolaid brigade. There will be zero effect.
 

ddude003

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I'm not defending MQA. Not in the slightest... but if they have artifacts, or are burying information in the frequencies above 20kHz, does it matter?
That is an interesting question... I wonder what amplifiers and speakers think of extra garbage being sent at 20kHz and above... My guess is that with my Martin Logan ESLs and their interesting impedance vs frequency response, depending on an amplifier's design, it might be pushing pretty hard...
 

Todd Anderson

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That is an interesting question... I wonder what amplifiers and speakers think of extra garbage being sent at 20kHz and above... My guess is that with my Martin Logan ESLs and their interesting impedance vs frequency response, depending on an amplifier's design, it might be pushing pretty hard...
unless it’s carved out of the signal by a processor, it would attempt to replicate it.
 

ddude003

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I am talking about the additional wear and tear and stress and strain on the speakers and especially the amp... It is one thing to have music reach up there once in a while... And what happens with constant garbage up there... I am thinking of the typical solid state amp that double power if you half the impedance...

Like microwaves, just because I can't see or hear them does not mean I want to be needlessly illuminated with them...
Maybe MQA should have a warning label... Caution/Warning: Needlessly leaking garbage at 20kHz and above... o_O
 
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serko70

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The tests run by this guy seem legit but MQA still sounds either no different or better to my ear. I think the noise introduced by MQA at 20KHz is inaudible for most of us unless there are teenagers among us who could and would afford high quality audio gear. And MQA is probably doing some good staff in the audible range. Bit perfect copy may not be the best possible sound according to some psychoacoustics.
 

Butter

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I'll probably keep Tidal, due to my Roon, FireTV and iOS integration. Their library is pretty deep.

But I was grateful to see the YT poster develop a step-by-step analysis of changes between files. So I'll be following this and will be looking to understand more about how the artists may have been affected. That might push me to drop it.

I don't think Tidal is expensive, among other items in my audio budget, so I'm fine to keep it while this plays out. Maybe I'll get Qobuz and look for all my favorite tracks.

I remember previous MQA analyses / debates in Sterophile and their very awkward forums. All to say I think this is a complicated topic with some half-answers before, but if someone says this MQA controversy is new to them or a surprise makes me wonder how technical they are.

But for me as a koolaid / nerd hybrid, honestly, I'm glad someone kept at this and did the next round of research.
 

DanDan

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Proprietary Audio or File Formats are disastrous IMO. Quad? the nonsense in iOS. Somebody said WMA, but I'm on Macs. The inference surrounding MQA is that it can reveal all the detail in the original Master, but at lower bit rates than full file playback. Given current Internet speeds, why bother, why not just listen to the real thing? Suggestions that it reveals detail which normal PCM playback will not seems absurd. If they are using audio 'enhancements' sorry, not interested, I can imbibe or smoke them myself in a controlled manner.
 

AJ Soundfield

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I think the noise introduced by MQA at 20KHz is inaudible for most of us unless there are teenagers among us who could and would afford high quality audio gear.
Correct, just like filtering at >20KHz, the bogeyman MQA purportedly "fixes". Inaudible to adult males. Bingo.

And MQA is probably doing some good staff in the audible range.
Do tell what that would be, given your above admission.

Bit perfect copy may not be the best possible sound according to some psychoacoustics.
Really? Evidence please.
 

Sonnie

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Proprietary Audio or File Formats are disastrous IMO. Quad? the nonsense in iOS. Somebody said WMA, but I'm on Macs. The inference surrounding MQA is that it can reveal all the detail in the original Master, but at lower bit rates than full file playback. Given current Internet speeds, why bother, why not just listen to the real thing? Suggestions that it reveals detail which normal PCM playback will not seems absurd. If they are using audio 'enhancements' sorry, not interested, I can imbibe or smoke them myself in a controlled manner.
So now I understand... you do realize that your Mac is not bit perfect... and it's lo-res... only around 12-bit / 32,000Hz. There are 2's in the bits... 00011020001100002, etc. What can we do to get you up to snuff with us country redneck hillbillies and try out a PC (Partial Computer)?
 

ddude003

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AT&T System V Unix plus Berkeley Enhancements... Toss a SmallTalk inspired user interface on top and you have MacOS... :nerd:Most US Scientific Labs and Universities use AT&T System V Unix plus Berkley Enhancements for their research... Friends won't let friends use MS Windoz and/or MS Excel for any number crunching...

Of course you can always run MacOS on PC hardware with Hackintosh Chimera/Chameleon... Pulling up my duel boots with spurs... :cool:
 
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ddude003

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:scratch: Can you loan me a conspiracy theory, all mine have come true... :justdontknow:
 

doug2761

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I was reading through the thread on ASR where the YT guy is discussing his findings. There seem to be a few places where he's making some assumptions. His testing and results might be A+ rock solid. But, this where I start to get hesitant to make blanket statements about fraud.
It seems that MQA can put this to bed one way or the other with more transparency. My take away from the video and other articles is that there aren't enough tools made available to producers to make sure that their source content is represented as intended in the various MQA formats and tools for consumers to make sure they are getting what they are paying for. Given the additional costs of licensing MQA that seems like a reasonable request. Consumers that are choosing "Tidal Master" and getting redbook CD upsampled with a splash of ultrasonic aliasing are getting fleeced.

The argument that an individual can't hear the difference between MQA and non MQA and so, "what's the harm?", gets me queazy. There's real money trading hands for MQA licensing. If there isn't a difference in sound quality then the harm is that folks are taking money away from artists, equipment makers, and consumers with no value in return. That seems parasitic to me. That money could instead go to other endeavors that create value. Lower costs, more music production, better artist compensation.

I hope that the MQA folks get more transparent and give some support to the folks that are trying to do an independent assessment. What I'm seeing so far in terms of measurements isn't encouraging.
 

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it's amazing that some people claimed MQA was phony in the very beginning....seems that's all coming to light now....
 

JohnInEtob

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Doesn't anyone find it funny that the only reason for all these comments is that MQA has never provided any objective proof of an input file and output file using their unfold technology?
And then the guy who actually does do this through Tidal gets his content taken down without consent?
Give your collective heads a shake and think about an audio signal that now has no lineage, no guarantee of source.
 
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I just came across this video review on YouTube regarding Tidal and their MQA scheme. I learned a lot of things I didn't realize before about how they handle music files.
Even if more evidence is required this is enough for me to stop my Tidal subscription.

What a sad video, the guy claims "I am smart, I can measure stuff like this cable" then he dumps on not being able to encode MQA. Did I miss something here? Anyone can purchase a Mytek Brooklyn ADC and master in MQA. The video is made by "Golden Sound", yeah, like the gold he got for putting click bait out there. If you want to do your due diligence great, Google this guy Bob Ludwig at gateway Mastering Studios, check his creds, then watch his video on same.
 
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Here's my beef with it... they market it as "better" and as an "improvement", yet as you suggest, at best no one can differentiate a difference blind. There has been no evidence to support it being any "better" or being an "improvement" over the non MQA versions. The only apparent evidence has been showing it not as good as the non MQA. So at the very least their claims are no viable.
All marketing says we are better and improvement, show me marketing that says we are worse and suck. I am all for choice, put it out there and let the consumer decide. I think Tidal charges a fair price and I can choose the tier of service that includes Masters, or not.
Now for the million dollar question, is DSD the new betamax? I see all these DAC's that charge a premium fee for being DSD compatible, but where is the content? The choice is abysmal compared to MQA
 
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
57
Tidal now belongs to Square Inc... That is Jack Dorsey's (of Twitter) public Finance Co... Another reason to run away as fast as you can...
I almost did that, then I remembered Amazon HD is owned by Bezos and basically every streaming video channel is run by Dorsey BFF's. Checkmate I guess, they got us by the short hairs.
 

AJ Soundfield

Member
Joined
May 21, 2017
Messages
306
Location
Tampa
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha RXA800, Denon AVR-X4500, Lexicon MC10
Main Amp
Hypex Ncores
Additional Amp
Abacus Ampino, Triode Corp TRV-35SE
Computer Audio
AudioEngine D2
DAC
NAD M51
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Yamaha BDA1010
Front Speakers
Soundfields
Center Channel Speaker
Soundfields, KEF Q150
Surround Speakers
Soundfields
Surround Back Speakers
Revel M16
Subwoofers
Soundfield Cardioid Rythmik Servo
Other Speakers or Equipment
AVA ABX
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