TIDAL to add ‘millions’ of Master Quality (MQA) Tracks
November 12, 2020 (New York, NY) – Today, global music and entertainment streaming platform, TIDAL, added millions of tracks in MQA from Warner Music Group to its Masters catalogue. TIDAL, in partnership with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), provides guaranteed delivery of the original sound recording with TIDAL Masters. Now music fans can listen to an expanded Masters catalogue, featuring iconic albums from artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Missy Elliott, LCD Soundsystem, Madonna and more.
Warner, along with Meridian is the chief promoter of MQA, so perhaps not surprising. I think that making MQA available on Naim streamers would entail much more than just a software update, so unlikely to happen soon, if at all.
There is a lot of discussion about MQA on t’internet and many suggestions that if MQA takes off in a big way, we’ll all end up paying more for our music and our hifi. Not sure that prospect pleases.
Roon is not the only option: for example you can also use Audirvana. However unless the DAC is an MQA one, and I understand none of Naim’s are, then these approaches only give you the first unfold, so not fully realising the supposed benefit of MQA. Add to that the question as to whether on an Atom hi res will sound any better. Not all hi res sounds better on considerably more upmarket systems, and assuming the CD quality is from the same master most people seem to report that the difference with hi res is generally quite subtle- even with true hi res streamed from people’s own music store not online streamed or MQA processed version which is said to introduce artefacts some people can hear. But then, some people say they prefer the sound of MQA over straight hi res. As I understand it MQA was originally developed to enable hi res to be accessed with limited data capacity, but nowadays most people able to stream 16/44 can probably also satisfactorily stream full 24/192 or higher.
Incidentally, for online streaming I read yesterday that Qobuz are expanding their hi res catalogue - and that is straight hi res not MQA compressed.
I believe MQA came too late regarding compression when we don’t really need it much anymore. The interesting thing IMO about MQA is their ADC/DAC correction but, of course, this together with the licensing/royalties come with considerable political problems.
Why ‘need’? It is questionable whether it would sound better, and if you find that hi res on the Atom does indeed sound better than 16/44 (you could compare by downloading files made from the same master, e.g the samples available on the 2L.no website which are there for just that purpose), and you want to stream online, why not try Qobuz?
That doesn’t actually confirm whether or not the Atom has enough memory and/or processing capacity for whatever MQA second unfold requires, unless Naim had already looked into it in full detail. (Thinking here of the full unfold with associated filtering, not the rather pointless first unfold.)
Meanwhile regarding licensing, if that is a license cost proportional to MQA DACs sold, and if the cost is significant as comments about it suggest, then if it is possible to have a product (Atom or other) retro-fittable then Naim could offer the modification at whatever the cost is, so people have a choice (at initial purchase time or subsequently) without those not wanting MQA having to pay more.
No it doesn’t, if you click the link @Eoink posted above you will see that Steve also said:
At a platform level all the new products (Atom and on-wards) can technically support MQA as a software upgrade. This includes the latest Muso MK2 and Qb MK2. Currently Roon users can get 1st unfold of MQA on the Naim platform and Roon exposes the Tidal Masters view…
I don’t think Steve would be posting comments like the above if the streamer hardware couldn’t handle it. See also:
My take on all this is that the chances of Naim supporting MQA is low (but subject to review) on the current streamers, and nil on the old ones.
The ‘we want a new 272’ thread now has about 1600 posts on it, and still no 272.2 or whatever, so I think this thread has a long way to go if it’s going to persuade Naim that it’s worth their while.
I pursued the possibility of MQA with my then almost brand new ND555 about two years ago. I concluded that it was not going to happen in my lifetime, so I moved on from Nain and went with products that support MQA. I found the sound to exceed my expectations and exceed the sound I was getting from Naim’s top streamer. Naim would have to admit that MQA was a better mousetrap, and I don’t think that is going to happen. In the end, they refer to critical mass—so “the customer made us do it”. That saves face, but did not meet my desires as a customer of Naim’s.