Why is MQA not supported by Naim?

I don’t find myself so importatnt but thank you if you think that I’am.
Only Simon-in-Suffolk wrote what people said that is bad while you listen MQA .If I remeber correct, he wrote that some people find it artificial and this the actuall description of sound. Others stood in theorethical/ techinical area where everyone can say his opinion. Frenchrooster and bailyhill gave me positive feedback. Simon gave info about the Core and his engine, and english gentleman Innocent Bystander gave strong arguments for his standpoint. So I got very much and very useful information and thank you all.
For you, skip my posta f you don’t like it. Naim designed this forum excellent and made it easly to do

Hi Strah, thanks for your summary… I do indeed find MQA for the majority of time sounds artificial, so actively deselect it…
However I do strongly suggest you listen for yourself and come to your own conclusion. Technically MQA introduces many digital artefacts… however they are designed I suspect to not be noticeable for many (the majority?) of people…
So just because MQA sounds artificial to me… it doesn’t mean it will sound like that to you… (I am one of these people with hyper sensitivity… so I see and gets headaches from some LED and Fluorescent lamps as well as suffer sometimes with hyperacusis, it just means I am more sensitive to such things than perhaps many)

Thanks Simon,

I will as soon as I get the chance, that’s for sure.
I’m very interested into.


Yes listen to it through an MQA DAC. I have two for headphone listening and it improves it, you cant really listen to half the equation and judge it imo. I don’t prefer one over the other though depends on the recording. Some music seems to suit it more than others. I tend to add the one I prefer to my library. However I do think normal pcm currently performs better on Naim kit, this might be down to no full MQA signal path or not. Until/if they add it we may never know.

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Indeed as at the moment you are only speaking from a theoretical position, yes you should listen to it.

Since you are so interested and so far have only considered the marketing statements (and discounted all the known mathematical knowledge and information science), you should then compare it to 24/192 versions of the same recording and see which you prefer. Even though there is less information in a 24/192 signal reprocessed via MQA, you may still prefer it.

Incidentally although I don’t suffer other sensory hypersensitivities (as does Simon) I do have a hypersensitivity to some audio distortions and loss of information in the mid range. For me this means that MQA’s claim of backward compatibility with CD audio isn’t achieved in practice (to me it’s nearly unlistenable - I strongly prefer a standard CD even if played through a lowly Denon D-M40).


I don’t see Audio Engineer Convention as a place for marketing statements.

Certainly I would like to compare but the fact is that you will not be able to get master tapes in 192/24 from most of the music unless few independent studios and that is not pratical for mass market. For audiophile certainly it is but that’ s not so big market share unfortunately.
So I, like everyone here, aim at for the best POSSIBLE solution.
There is another problem that occur since you have mention that you’re statisfied with a CD. I have severla editios of same album, for example Paco de Lucia Entre Dos Aquas and his Gold Collection which is labeled “digitally remastered”. I can’t compare this two since the older one is so so much better.
My point is that there is so few material to differentiate mqa to get some conclusion.
Hopefully it will soon be different and we all will have an opportunity to decide.
Like I said, I stay with cd for now but I’m open to something new when time comes…
Especially that I found new remasters (most of them) excellent regarding sound.

Paul McGowan on the other hand don’t like MQA but neither PCM and he supports SACD - Sonoma and his partner Gus Skinas - recording engineer who bought the rights from Sony and he says that is far better than PCM. That’s why I say there is chaos and everyone push in his direction.
You should have PCM, DSD, MQA disk or files. On the other hand there is lack of experts who would cut this knot and set a standard.

when i read reviews on different hifi online magazines, like stereophile, hifi news, absolute sound, hificritic…i have never read that mqa doesn’t upgrade a bit the sound quality when streaming on tidal ( vs cd quality).
However the reviewers use always mqa capable dacs, as mytech, meridian, dcs…
So there is 2 possibilities: all these reviewers are lying and are paid for advertising it. Or there is something positive in mqa streaming.
I have the feeling that it upgrades the sound in online streaming.
But can’t be sure of course. I have no mqa dac.
On the forum there are 2 members having mqa capable dacs, and both are hearing an uplift in most cases.

I do to, but only in my headphone systems. I hear an uplift sometimes, sometimes around the same, sometimes it’s unlistenable, but then I have found the same for hires pcm at times. In the end it’s fully dependant on a good source/ mastering .

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Hello ChrystalGipsy

Can you give an example or two of an mqa track/album that is unlistenable?

To me Jenny Lewis latest On the Line it just hurt my ears as MQA. The PCM is a lot nicer to listen to for me at least and I could make out distortion in the vocals, noticed it on a few albums since having MQA on the dacs. On my Atom without full MQA it was really horrid, using my headphone full MQA rig it was also horrid but not as bad. Also I found The Doors LA Woman also bad, but then so is the hires version to me, prefer my Vinyl copy

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Maybe it shouldn’t be, but as I said yesterday a tecnical paper to AES doesn’t divorce it from marketing, especially when written by the person who has the most to gain from take-up of MQA, even if he might have tried to separate the science. That doesn’t imply a deliberate attempt to deceive, just he is too involved in it. And it would not be the first time science and marketing have been intertwined.

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Thanks CrystalGipsy

I will give that a spin–err I mean give that a stream?

I find that peer reviewed papers tend to have the science right. At least it divulges what they are doing. Naim. Linn, Schitt, Chord etc are welcome to publish papers on there approach if they wish. Of course, not many are willing to divulge what their secret sause is.

The paper is paper. I then move on to the listening–the final exam so to speak.

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I see your point and for sure it is like that - like sony/philips promised " perfect sound forever".
But I see it differently because it takes a lot time and resouces to do that since Bob Stuart already have esteemed company. He’s also elder gentleman with very calm appereance so I don’t see him as greedy monopolist but a person who is driven by the curiosity in tradition of many famous scientists from England. I’m certainly don’t think that 100% I’m right but that is only my impression.
If mqa doesn’t success, at least remains discovery about human hearing timing threshold of 5-10ms that could be implemented in some other format.
And it is not easy to be exposed in front of engineers like this discussion disclose…
After all, major labels accepted the mqa, maybe to protect their assests, maybe to increase the profit and we’re yet to hear what will be going on in case of bringing sound quality… and I must say that my starting postion for that comparison is cd quality since there isn’t many Hi-rez release in from overall music…

Can you tell us what your system consist off?

I have a few systems all for different purposes not sure what relevance it makes. Three are fully MQA capable. I use Roon to serve up music when at home and this can do the first unfold.

Headphone system 1 is an Intel NUC running RoonOS which is connected via USB to Nano iDSD BL DAC/Headphone amp, Meze 99 Classics headphones

For on the go I use an AudioQuest DragonFly Black and Shure SE425 IEM’s which I use with USB Audio Pro on my phone…

For the secondary listening room and when we entertain I have Bluesound Node 2i with QAcoustics Active speakers this is fully MQA streamer/DAC.

Main System is Naim Atom with Tannoy speakers no MQA except Roon first unfold.

Just curious…
How Tannoy and Naim work together?
I suppose xt 6f or 8f?

Yeah XT6F could not fit the 8’s in I think the bass would be uncontrollable found the 6’s difficult enough. They have been up and down, to get right in my room but finally got the best placement I can and use DSP for room correction and they sound lovely and how I remember them in the demo. Most reviews of them seemed to use Naim amps to. I am sure there are better out there but the budget I had I am more than happy.

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Minor quibble here but I think you mean 5-10 us (ie Micro seconds_