This may have been answered elsewhere, but I couldn’t find it. Tidal seems to be pulling a lot of CD Quality albums in favo[u]r of MQA versions. I know that Naim does not support MQA, but if my only choice is MQA and I play it through a streamer that doesn’t support, MQA, am I still getting full 16 bit CD quality?
Playback of MQA 44.1 through Roon, and the 1st unfold process takes the stream to 24/88.2
I have quite a number of MQA 44.1 replacing original CD 16/44.1 rips, as they sound better on my NDS/555DR, following extensive listening and comparison between the formats, on the same system and same Roon playback path.
Please read the following
Some of the many threads where MQA has been discussed:
Well Guinnless’ answer was short and to the point. And for the record, I don’t have Roon and don’t see it in my near term plans. An alternate streaming service would come first.
Here’s the gist of (my interpretation of) what I’ve read elsewhere. MQA uses the most insignificant bit(s) of a 16 bit file to store information allowing expansion to a higher resolution. For the record, I’ve listened via MQA vs CD quality on an enabled system and found the results mixed. But if Naim doesn’t use those bits because it doesn’t support MQA, are those bits just wasted, such that I am only hearing the remaining bits?
Correct, MQA 16/44.1 encoding played on a non-MQA enabled 16/44.1 system is 13bit resolution with a dither signal that’s compromised by mathematical correlations (thus, in practice, making it even less capable than simple 13bit PCM encoding) .
Hmm… I didn’t know that. I think I’ll have another go at Qobus.
You can upsample anything - even MP3 - but this isn’t a means of improving the resolution. MQA is inherently lossy whichever way you slice it. Data from the original is lost. Whether you prefer the sound is another issue but ‘hi-res’ it certainly isn’t.
Me too. And Tidal’s marketing of CD quality sound should be challenged (to say the least).
MQA 16/44.1 encoding played on a non-MQA enabled 16/44.1 system does NOT give CD quality.
MQA 16/44.1 when played back through a MQA enabled 24/176.4 capable system is probably better than ‘straight’ 16/44.1 CD quality: however this depends on having a system that will at least do the first ‘unfold’ and also has a 18/88.2 or better DAC; you may have the right hardware and software, but it still very much depends on the listener. Even when unfolded with an appropriate DAC system, the results still seem to be somewhat variable; it seems that it’s very often a matter of person taste and how the MQA artefacts affect different people’s sound perception in different ways. Some people routinely prefer it, some people find it a mixed bag and some find the MQA artefacts are often troublesome for them.
Then I will be looking for a new service. Qobuz would be the natural choice, but:
My first experience with Qobuz did not go well. With the passage of time, I think I can overcome my frustration.
I have a number of Google Home devices including two ChromeCast Audios. They support Spotify natively, even responding to voice commands. At this point, I think I’ll hold on to see what their higher rez offering looks like.
This has been discussed here before, and @Stevesky confirmed that non-MQA streamers like Naim’s are recognised as such by Tidal’s servers, and automatically get a 16/44.1 FLAC version instead of MQA. So you should still be getting a lossless stream.
Assuming a non-MQA stream is available?
I don’t know if this is always the case though.
What @Guinnless said. My investigation started after reading that Tidal has been removing standard CD quality albums from its library. When I looked at Tidal offerings, this appeared to be true in many instances. (At least they no longer appear as separate options when using the Tidal app). @Stevesky please advise if I have been misinformed.
Well, I don’t mean to fan the flames of discontent, but If you look at this page on the Tidal Website, it lists Naim as supporting MQA. Perhaps there is more to the Tidal Connect firmware update than has been revealed by Naim.
I can kill that rumour stone dead! There remains no plan to add MQA support.
MQA for many, be that from an industry or consumer perspective remains a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
The fact that Tidal are slowly and gently engineering their service towards a scenario where as a consumer you’re bound to a specific hardware path should in itself raise alarm bells.
FLAC and WAVE equivalents in terms of mastering, storage, distribution and consumption are delivered without any proprietary processing or licensing overheads.
The fact also that MQA is so divisive from a listening and enjoyment perspective means it will always remain a method of encoding and decoding that will appeal to some and not to others.
Consumer choice is a positive thing but being manipulated towards a specific ecosystem without a means to make personal decisions on consumption method isn’t.
Then my question is what happens when I select a Master-labeled album from Tidal to play on my Naim streamer. Am I getting the un-messed-with 44.1/16 CD quality recording or a 44.1/13 recording with three bits of dither?
@Stevesky is the expert here - he covers the subject in some detail here: