Author Topic: MQA  (Read 65352 times)

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
MQA
« on: December 29, 2014, 07:08 »
After the spectacular failure of DVD-Audio/MLP, looks like Meridian’s ready for another attempt to kill-off DSD with their "Meridian MQA" (Master Quality Authenticated) - http://www.musicischanging.com

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/VA74bHXMq0A&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/VA74bHXMq0A&fs=1</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YKHQOKd7DfI&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YKHQOKd7DfI&fs=1</a>

Will they succeed? I doubt it… Too little too late I’d imagine, but here’s TAS’ Robert Harley’s take on MQA (over-the-top as usual from TAS ::));

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/robert-harley-listens-to-meridian-mqa/
Quote

MQA samples the audio signal in three different ways, and then encapsulates the three signals into a bitstream that fits in a conventional 96kHz/24-bit package that can be stored or transferred as a FLAC, ALAC, or other lossless file format. We’ll cover MQA in more detail in an upcoming issue of The Absolute Sound, but in the meantime I can report my listening impressions of what was then a work-in-progress.


The sound of MQA, reproduced through a pair of Meridian DSP7200 loudspeakers, was simply stunning in every way. I heard a wide range of music, from full-scale orchestral to voices to a very quiet piece by the Modern Jazz Quartet from the 1950s. I can still vividly recall the delicacy, ease, and resolution of the cymbals in the MJQ piece. I was also struck by the precision of their placement and how they appeared to float in the air against a completely silent background. The treble was totally unlike any other digital I’d heard, completely free from the metallic hardness and artifacts we assume are part-and-parcel of digital audio. Instrumental timbres were so naturally rendered to be almost eerie in their realism. Voices had a stunning palpability and immediacy that were all the more realistic for their compact image size and the sense that they were surrounded by a natural acoustic. It’s interesting that, as I recall the experience, my sonic impressions were so striking that they are still vivid nearly a year later—yet I can’t remember any other demo I heard at the show.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 12:31 by AndrewC »
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline ks

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 791
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2014, 12:48 »
1) Current DACs in the market, do they need a firmware upgrade to be MQA ready, assuming MQA doesn't need proprietary hardware?
2) I assume Meridian will license out their IPs to studios and major music sites can make their current data sources MQA ready

Otherwise I really can't see how MQA can take off if its requires huge investments of hardware and software.
TT: Thorens 160Mk3 with Shure M97xe, Scout VPI with Ortofon 2M Blue
Phono amp: CA 640P, **shopping for one**
CDP: Consonance CD120 Linear
Amp: **shopping for one**
Spkrs: Harbeth M20/M30

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2014, 07:48 »
MQA encoding is PCM based, and is similar to HDCD encoded disc in that where a player doesn’t support MQA, it will just read the bit stream as Redbook quality PCM. So, one wouldn’t need to change hardware unless you want to experience MQA. The coding is also apparently quite efficient, despite being high-resolution, it only consumes as much bandwidth as a 44.1/16 PCM stream.

It supposedly has strong support from record labels and artists… if you watched that launch youtube video, it seems to have support from Sony, Onkyo, Warner - but whether that means new MQA based hardware/software remains to be seen ;).  It does look like the recently introduced Meridian Explorer2 will support MQA, so, a relatively cheap way to experience it on supported hardware.

Stereophile’s JA has a fairly extensive write-up, and with much more technical details;
http://www.stereophile.com/content/ive-heard-future-streaming-meridians-mqa

Quote
...
With a pair of Meridian digital active speakers being fed audio data from a laptop, Bob was playing 24-bit files with sample rates up to 192kHz, yet the data rate was not much more than the CD's 1.5Mbps! Not only that, but there was palpability to the sound, a transparency to the original event, that I have almost never heard before, which Jason Victor Serinus can testify to.
With this low a data rate, MQA will allow what appears to be true high-resolution audio to be delivered over the same Internet pipes over which music lovers currently experience at best CD-quality audio from Tidal or Qobuz.



Judging by the recordings I heard in Manhattan, some dating back to the early 1950s, I feel the launch of Meridian's MQA is as important to the quality of sound recording and playback as digital was 40 years ago.

 

I read the AES paper that Bob Stuart and Dr. Peter Craven presented, it sure looks like they're attempting to invent a modern-day DSD/SACD (against it’s original intent, as a music archiving/distribution format)  ;D
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline malsound

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 5476
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2016, 11:37 »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/dgnwxixiM3c&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/dgnwxixiM3c&fs=1</a><a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/r_wxRGiBoJg&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/r_wxRGiBoJg&fs=1</a><a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/T5o6XHVK2HA&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/T5o6XHVK2HA&fs=1</a><a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/4bTnW1hY5kw&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/4bTnW1hY5kw&fs=1</a>

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2016, 13:58 »
Tidal showcased  MQA streaming at CES this week… official launch seems to be delayed though… considering there isn’t a lot of hardware out there capable of MQA decoding right now, only Meridian’s - http://www.whathifi.com/news/tidal-showcases-mqa-streaming-ces-2016-launch-delayed

Stereophile claims it’s “taken off big time” with a list of hardware suppliers - http://www.stereophile.com/content/mqa-takes-big-time-2016



…but with the exception of Meridian themselves (and Mytek?), I don’t know of anyone else shipping hardware (or firmware updates) to support MQA yet. Still, it’s early days. That said, MQA seem to be putting in A LOT of effort to get vendors to support MQA… really makes me wonder whats the money flow around this technology like :P


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/dgnwxixiM3c&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/dgnwxixiM3c&fs=1</a>...

Thanks! I hadn’t seen that vid before.


OT:
Interesting quote from Dave Robinson on  DSD256 (via Merging’s Horus AD/DA);

Quote
To say it’s a knock-out would be an understatement… was actually able to deliver the master tape itself. I did the A/Bs in my own listening room right where I did the transfers, you could not tell the difference between the 15ips master tape…

With this technology, we’re now at the point where the audiophile Holy-Grail is going to be delivered… the ability to have mic feeds and master tapes in our listening rooms with no qualification…

…After that if you don’t like the sound, either your system needs some work, or you gotta go beat up the engineer and tell him to use a different microphone, because the problem is now no longer the compromises in the format itself.


He also mentions a Sony double-DSD streaming trial with no compression over the Internet between Berlin to Japan. (I mentioned in another thread that) IIJ in Japan now has a limited service DSD streaming Internet station called PrimeSeat.  Just before the new year I tested it out from my Macbook Pro and my Chord Mojo; works great even though it’s streaming between Japan-Singapore! (over ViewQwest broadband and over my home .ac WiFi! ;D)

You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline wbjia

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Snr Member
  • Posts: 91
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2016, 00:35 »
I  am a big fan of meridian and linn

but think MQA will fail.

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2016, 08:21 »
I  am a big fan of meridian and linn

but think MQA will fail.

I feel the same way… (having owned various pieces of both brands across the years).

I think MQA might have some limited success within the Internet Streaming community… but certainly not as an archiving process (as originally envisioned), and definitely not as a encoding technology for non Internet streaming. Bandwidth is cheap (and getting cheaper) ;D
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2016, 19:15 »
Interview with Bob Stuart;
(I'm feeling HDCD deja vu…)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/IS8V2juQMiw&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/IS8V2juQMiw&fs=1</a>


By the way, 2L is now making MQA encoded tracks available for download off their test bench site; http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html... I tested with Audirvana+.. sees them as standard 44.1/16 FLAC files... for now ;D
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline SilverPS3

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 138
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2016, 20:20 »
From what I understand, it is essentially a compression scheme which is great for streaming HD.  How it could improve the sound is really doubtful.  The assumption is below:
It comes down to the fact that the ear-brain doesn't just operate as a frequency analyzer. Evolution has fine-tuned the system to be able to detect temporal differences that are equivalent to a bandwidth considerably greater than 20kHz

The so-called fact needs to be proven. 

Offline malsound

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 5476
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2016, 20:43 »
We will see, John Atkinson put his it as a game changer.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/xR2mAf7_Szk&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/xR2mAf7_Szk&fs=1</a>

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2016, 06:29 »
From what I understand, it is essentially a compression scheme which is great for streaming HD.  How it could improve the sound is really doubtful.  The assumption is below:
It comes down to the fact that the ear-brain doesn't just operate as a frequency analyzer. Evolution has fine-tuned the system to be able to detect temporal differences that are equivalent to a bandwidth considerably greater than 20kHz

The so-called fact needs to be proven.

While MQA's compression technique seems to generates the most interest and coverage, theres quite a bit more to it. Watch Hans Beekhuyzen’s 2nd MQA video;

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/T5o6XHVK2HA&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/T5o6XHVK2HA&fs=1</a>

Also, if you feel the urge to find out even more details ;D, here are some pointers;

- A good overview source of info on what MQA is is Bob Stuart’s AES paper from ’14 - http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=17501

- More details on MQA’s Compression technique is documented in the following Meridian Patent filing - http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=GB&NR=2503110A&KC=A&FT=D&ND=3&date=20131218&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP. Unlike MLP (on DVD-Audio), with MQA there appears to be both lossless and lossy compressions involved.

- The Filtering employed by MQA is documented in Peter Craven’s original 2004 AES paper - https://secure.aes.org/forum/pubs/journal/?elib=12992.  (AFAK, Peter with Bob/Meridian were pretty much the first to introduce minimum-phase asymmetrical filters with no pre-ringing into their Players and DACs. All other vendors eventually implemented their own versions of the same thing calling it by other names, but they were all based on Peter’s original AES paper. In MQA, they’ve implemented it at the Mastering stage as well, not just at the consumer playback point).

- MQA’s Authentication of tracks, digitally signed at the mastering point, is documented in parts of the following Meridian Patent - http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=worldwide.espacenet.com&II=4&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20140821&CC=WO&NR=2014125285A1&KC=A1 

 
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline Doggie Howser

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 21627
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2016, 10:29 »

From what I understand, it is essentially a compression scheme which is great for streaming HD.  How it could improve the sound is really doubtful.  The assumption is below:
It comes down to the fact that the ear-brain doesn't just operate as a frequency analyzer. Evolution has fine-tuned the system to be able to detect temporal differences that are equivalent to a bandwidth considerably greater than 20kHz

The so-called fact needs to be proven.


From what I understand, it is essentially a compression scheme which is great for streaming HD.  How it could improve the sound is really doubtful.  The assumption is below:
It comes down to the fact that the ear-brain doesn't just operate as a frequency analyzer. Evolution has fine-tuned the system to be able to detect temporal differences that are equivalent to a bandwidth considerably greater than 20kHz

The so-called fact needs to be proven.

There are studies that apparently show humans reacting as quickly to a sound in as quickly as 7ns. That is not something that is questioned.

I see this as a "steady state" vs impulse measurement. When we measure our ears sensitivity to frequency, we are doing in reality a steady state measurement.

The reaction times studies measure how quickly a brain responds to stimuli.
End of Line - Derezzed

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2016, 12:11 »
http://www.stereophile.com/content/mqas-sound-convinces-hardened-showgoers#OuUfigITkDHjjIbm.97

Quote
There has been a fair amount of pushback about MQA on forums and in our comments section from long-time audiophiles who are either totally dismissive of the process, absolute certain that we are pawns of the MQA organization, or bracing themselves for proclamations that they must now run out and not only replace their third or fourth versions of classic recordings with MQA-encoded versions (when they become available), but also replace their DACs. These, of course, are legitimate concerns.

According to Stuart, MQA technology will make any MQA-encoded recording sound better, even without an MQA decoder. Of course, it will sound even better if you can decode it. But it is not necessary to do so to derive some sonic benefit. That, I might add, is a listening experiment I have yet to witness.

Remains to be seen/heard...

Interesting coverage on Audiostream as well...

http://www.audiostream.com/content/mqa-continued#VAL4SvbGec1VBXox.97
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.

Offline nfnc

  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 308
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2016, 16:33 »
Assuming that MQA decoding process results in a discernible quality jump, there is still the not insignificant expense of having to replace or duplicate one's music library, unless the top 50/100 is chosen.

Oth, this may be a big boost for streaming as the streamed version ought to sound better than the music library copy.

Offline AndrewC

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • Posts: 6588
Re: Meridian MQA
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2016, 23:25 »
Assuming that MQA decoding process results in a discernible quality jump, there is still the not insignificant expense of having to replace or duplicate one's music library, unless the top 50/100 is chosen.

Oth, this may be a big boost for streaming as the streamed version ought to sound better than the music library copy.

Spot on!... Which is why I think it'll be a failure as anything other than a streaming encoder.
You'll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me.