“MQA is a philosophy”..John Stuart

Full quote- “In brief, MQA is a philosophy more than it’s ‘just a codec’. 
Your thoughts??
John Stuart is merely supplying a technical solution to the recording industry's money problems. Digital let the cat out of the bag and the record companies (those still standing) have been doing everything they can to put the cat back in. So far, in the past 2 years, the record companies have only been getting a look at the cat's claws - cat is having none of it. The essence of digital technology is to render the original recording as many times as desired in a form that is essentially indistinguishable from the original. And if the data can be shared and transmitted easily and essentially losslessly from one person to another, where does that leave the money man who wants to control/tax distribution? - Holding a great big empty bag of course! What John is doing is providing a technical means to degrade the quality of the original recording and digitally restore it to those willing to pay. The clever aspect is that this entire MQA charade was supposed to offer "improved sound quality" - LOL! As if one could somehow improve sound quality/accuracy over the original 192khz/24 bit format!! Most people can't appreciate the quality inherent to 90 decibel dynamic range and 22 khz bandwidth associated with "lowly" CD format - let alone 192khz/24 bit. But somehow, John Stuart is going to improve sound quality! If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you....
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" Some people have way too much spare time. " - Jond

And who would that be - the person with less than 10 posts? Or perhaps the one with 2700 or 6700?

Maybe I'm missing something and this is another example of the "new math"....
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what are you trying to accomplish from this thread? Your last thread on MQA pretty much sums it how you and other Naysayer thinks about MQA.


I suggest you try listening to MQA tracks and post your thoughts. 
" My thoughts, I suggest you try and spend some time listening to MQA tracks than wasting your time with these futile posters. "-  lalitk

I don't think anyone here cares about YOUR "suggestion" with regard to whether or not someone has a right to discuss  (correction) Bob's "philosophy". In fact, from a technical standpoint, Stuart's "invention" is more of a philosophy than an actual technical development that improves sound quality. If you actually care enough to enlighten yourself and closely examine the impulse response graphs posted in Stereophile, you'd see that MQA adds latency (distortion) to the signal and also adds dither (background noise) that masks legitimate ripple in the process of encoding.decoding. It is actually inferior to the original format. This also serves as positive proof that most "audiofaithful" couldn't tell the difference between a 192khz/24 bit replica vs. a 14 bit MQA rendition.  Again, no double blind testing has been done to verify any of Stuart's claims. He's just another high priest of audiophooldom preaching to the gullible and vulnerable.

It’s not really about MQA, or Bob Stuart.

It’s about having the entire industry locked into a standard that has a near 100% chance of being found to be at fault, found to be detrimental, found to be limited..to have that ’standard’ run into/as everything... and have that faulty low quality be all we can get, for very high costs.

For at least a decade.

A decade of music listening ruined. Forever. Gone. Wiped out.

About 1/4 of your music listening life, cut out from underneath you. If not half your listening life cut out from you, if MQA ends up having longer legs in the market.

wake up and fight it, or lose it.

So, instead of high fidelity, all you'll get is a forced pay ....for a 'good enough' format.

Wasn't CD bad enough? Did people not learn anything?

While I agree with your sentiment overall, I have more faith in the general public understanding what's really going on ( record company attempts to control the market and boost profit by intentionally cheapening the product to the masses and offering original quality we've been used to at a premium price to those willing to pay) and stopping MQA before it can do too much damage. Perhaps I'm being too optimistic thinking that the lion's share of music buying people are not gullible fools who believe they have to spend many thousands to get good accurate reproduction of recorded. music.
the same general public that fully embraced pre-recorded cassettes and mp3 vs the recording industry corporate giants...
Wait 12 to 18 months...you will probably find a lot of MQA DAC in the "free stuff" section of your local waste transfer station.....

Have you actually heard a MQA file...or should I just chalk you up in MQA haters club 😉

" Have you actually heard a MQA file...or should I just chalk you up in MQA haters club 😉 " - lalitk

I listened to a few Norah Jones tracks on a system that I was told were generated with MQA source files. I couldn't hear anything remarkable about them. I have most of her catalog on CD and am very familiar with her music as I've been listening to her for many years now. While I have the equipment to measure a lot of acoustical and electrical phenomenon, I have never been in a position where something I could clearly hear could not be seen in measurements. It's almost always the other way around - measurements show things I could potentially hear but don't. In the case of MQA, measurements show it is inferior. But the level of precision and accuracy inherent to the digital media format is sufficient for the limited adulteration imposed by MQA to be largely inaudible. When it comes to reproduced music, some people actually like the bass doubling that occurs when a mediocre loudspeaker woofer struggles with signal overload. To some, more distortion is better. Attenuated bass/exaggerated "warmth" often experienced with tube amps is welcome. These kind of subjective arguments are ALMOST useless in terms of being capable of informing the uninformed or misinformed. It's a lot more useful to say for example that amplifier X has a high output impedance and will attenuate bass below Y hertz  Z decibels at a particular drive level than to say to someone who's never heard it - bass is kinda rolled off with low impedance speakers. The bottom line is MQA adulterates or diminishes signal quality - whether or not you personally can hear the degradation or like the degradation is largely irrelevant when it comes to the value or usefulness of a proposed standard. There's no room for subjectivity when the overall goals are supposed to be "authenticity, precision, accuracy, and faithfulness to the original". You pick your criteria standards and measure them to verify that you've achieved your goals. You don't establish a standard based on subjective mumbo jumbo that can't be measured or objectively proved through some kind of rigorous, reproducible testing/evaluation procedure.
This thread is NOT just about someone personally enjoying listening to MQA. This discussion has risen above this to touch on the broader issues that MQA brings to the entire music industry and home reproduction.

Those who do not like the discussion here are welcome to just move along, instead of trying to impose their will on what a thread should or should not be.
Seriously? What is wrong with some people?

BTW, I have actually listened to and compared MQA to non-MQA files, and MQA is inferior to redbook, native hires pcm and dsd in a high resolution audio set-up. And I am not talking about streaming where I have stated before elsewhere that MQA Tidal is generally better than non-MQA Tidal.
There were many attempts to improve sound, like HDCD or SACD but all pretty much failed.  They had one thing in common - a strong copy protection.

Myself, I don't care for MQA since I don't see sound quality limitations of existing media.  I have few CDs with breathtaking sound proving that the format is not the bottleneck  - at least for my old ears.

“the broader issues that MQA brings to the entire music industry and home reproduction”

What do you suggest we should do to save the industry and consumers from the evils of MQA? Do you think constant bickering on audio forums is going to deter the forward progress of MQA? 

There is no point engaging with someone who is actually initiating the bickering.
This discussion has been pretty civil until THE bickerer pops in.
So, kindly move along now. You know who you are.
" What do you suggest we should do to save the industry and consumers from the evils of MQA? Do you think constant bickering on audio forums is going to deter the forward progress of MQA? "

My friend, we hear all the time politicians telling us that robotics and automation are the way of the future and that as a nation, we don't need most of the jobs that employed millions of Americans over the past half century. People "need to be retrained for jobs of the future" - so they tell us.
The same can be said of the "music industry". We don't need large corporations making copies of music recordings and selling them to us with large profit margins that made them rich - like in the old days. Technology has essentially made the big record company executives and their profits - extinct as a species. Time to move on and try to make boat loads of money for doing nothing in a different field. To quote some of our favorite liberal politicians - "those jobs are gone forever".


both HDCD and SACD are still being utilized. No failure that I perview.

As above, MQA is another codec. Time will tell upon it's succession.

Happy Listening!

Jafant, It is in my view.  I cannot use SACD with the server and don't want to invest in two different formats, CD being dominant.  In addition 90% of CDs I have are not available in SACD or HDCD.  I realize limitations of CDs (Nyquist applies only to continuous waves) but it is good enough for me.
All input is much appreciated.
jon2020 - “Bob” Stuart Is J(John) Robert Stuart of Meridian & MQA. 
 lalitk: I appreciate your question. I’m trying to wisely expose a business idea/proposition, supported by 2 of the largest recording companies, that if implemented will have a significant “detrimental” and “long lasting” effect on the recording of new music of all genres. We, in this forum, are music lovers first and foremost. It’s why we buy quality equipment and freely share experiences that may benefit others. Peter ptss

I thought MQA - Master Quality Authenticated music, dealt with providing a common standard to streaming and download files, which can range through 256kbps or 320kbps, AAC, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis depending on your source. It is the provider of the source to ensure a common standard of audio reproduction. It also (sneakily) will make sure that the original has been paid for and therefore can be played. sort of what is happening to Blu-Ray standards.

Red Book is comprehensive set of standards relating to digital media such as CDs. (Please correct me if I am wrong). I don't know if it relates to streaming or downloads because it was written over a decade ago.

MQA is trying to standardise these download/streaming files so that the listener gets a common quality of sound. I am not saying that this sound is better or worse than vinyl or CD. It is just a method of reproducing to a common standard (and verifying that is an original or purchased copy).

I realise that you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, but a lot of older vinyl and CDs were mastered on some woeful masters and remastering can exemplify/amplify a lot of original inherent faults.

I have heard a standard stream of tracks I know and then listened to the MQA versions and they do sound cleaner and more even. This is via digital jiggery to sound better. Can you honestly make a common CD sound better than how it has been produced? Having said that, I do not agree with the point that we will need to/ or should pay more for music that

1. We already have but it sounds better as "MQA" so we must pay more for it,

2. We should pay more for MQA via streaming, in which case we wouldn't know what we were being charged,

3. The past music we know and love should not have a premium for MQA placed on it. If MQA is to be an extra charge, do it for music starting from a "date" or all new music or some such.

Sorry for the long diatribe.......

A chief inherent feature of MQA is security and authentication. Very little of this side of the "product" is talked about or acknowledged by the "inventor". The files cannot be copied for example to serve as a backup should the original get corrupted. You don't "own" the copy after purchasing it. You merely purchased the right to playback the file. The codec is proprietary and guarded as if it were (actually is) the mechanism that ensures complete control of distribution and pricing in the marketplace. It is a means of guaranteeing that all copies of the copyright protected material in the marketplace come from and fall under the full control of one source.  Effectively, it is nothing like the open source standard we now have with respect to PCM digital audio. If you are an electronics company that wishes to build products that handle MQA, you have to  secure a licensing agreement with MQA.

Can you all say CHA - CHING??

“We, in this forum, are music lovers first and foremost. It’s why we buy quality equipment and freely share experiences that may benefit others”  - I appreciate and agree with your sentiment. 

Please keep us updated on the progress of your proposition. I wish you the best!

FWIW, to my ears and in my system, MQA files sounds consistently better than 16bit/44.1kHz files. That’s not to say that Tidal streaming sounds bad on non-MQA files. I enjoy both formats and by personal preference rooting for hi-res streaming.  

My days of buying CD’s and paying for hi-res download are long gone, thanks to Tidal streaming! 

" FWIW, to my ears and in my system, MQA files sounds consistently better than 16bit/44.1kHz files. That’s not to say that Tidal streaming sounds bad on non-MQA files. I enjoy both formats and by personal preference rooting for hi-res streaming. " - lalitk

Brought to you by Tidal Music Streaming Service - Aspiro AB.....

No matter how many people try to politely ask you to respect that this is not a " cast your vote for/against Tidal or MQA" thread, you just had to get that last one in there, didn't you? Is that you Jayz?

Btw, your FWIW was not worth very much in this thread. People here are still trying to move beyond the cheerleader pep rally BS and focus on the wider, real world implications of what is being sought by certain members of the recording industry.

Thanks for the heads up about John in J. Robert Stuart. 
We all know who Bob Stuart is wrt MQA but good to know he is also John S. The audio world will continue to call him Bob as does himself.
Cheers! :)

CJ, Cha-Ching. I'd prefer my money tho go in equipment, not on authentication software that takes care of 5% of degenerates who indulge in illegal copying, and a lot of the copying is not carried out by "civil" countries. Can I say that on this forum?

You need to chill my friend. If MQA bother you so much, find another avenue to channel your frustrations 😉

Peace out!
I still purchase vinyl, CDs and HiRez downloads for portability purposes. I am trying to grasp how this "portability" will work with MQA. I love listening to my AK240 with a 100 albums on it, (especially when I am stuck in hospital). Unless I can get decent WiFi in hospital (which I know from experience is terrible, like the food), I can't stream, so I need to use my AK. I wonder how MQA is going to get around this. (Bob can buy me a new portable that plays non streamed MQA :)
I think cj1965 and the other naysayers are the ones who are gullible and vulnerable to bad mouth anything that they cannot hear. They are probably in the same club that can’t hear a difference between cables/cartridges/amps/etc...  we all know that there are these types out there, we just need to ignore them.
I think cj1965 and the other naysayers are the ones who are gullible and vulnerable to bad mouth anything that they cannot hear.

But I can hear the difference as stated previously. Are you bad mouthing those who can hear the difference even as you cannot?
In the end, we will be led to where ever the music is, because we love our music. :)
I think it's worth having this discussion if we can separate the value (which is arguable) from the process, which is in fact pretty ambitious. 

From a technical point of view, I think it is clear that MQA is "not just a codec" by any sense of the meaning. The full scope of it's ambition, to correct all timing errors in the A/D, D/A chain and to do so using equipment specific data is monumental. 

Benchmark has one of the best explanations, as well as technical criticisms I've ever read about MQA here:


The blog puts to rest any attempt to relegate MQA to the world of "mere codecs." 

Is it worth while?  On my MQA capable Brooklyn I leave it off. You should do as suits you best.


Forgot to mention something. IMHO, MQA is about 2 decades too late. With high bandwidth internet and terabyte thumb drives, and DACs that in the last 5 years play Redbook MUCH better than they used to, the pure need for MQA has really diminished a great deal IMHO. 

If this had been introduced a few years after the CD, I am sure it would be the dominant digital standard today. 
In the end, we will be led to where ever the music is, because we love our music. :)

+1, amg56
The above referenced article and "Archimago's" work confirm what the impulse response measurements posted in Stereophile say directly with actual data. Noise is added by this "codec" to raise the noise floor and mask the low level ripple (commonly and erroneously referred to as "pre ring") in the impulse signal. For those who work with impulse response signals on a regular basis, they don't need a detailed explanation of how MQA degrades the signal. They can see it immediately in the response graphs. Not only is noise added (dither) to adulterate the signal - thus losing net signal precision from effectively 16 or 24 bits down to 14, but the claimed "time error correction" actually adds time domain distortion to the end result. You can see this in the Stereophile impulse response graph easily from the delayed negative going spike. The impulse response of any linear system or approximate linear system is the fullest expression of signal quality and fidelity that we know of today. It is a complete characterization of the system's time (and thus frequency domain for linear systems) domain behavior. One need look no further than the impulse response graphs. They tell the full story in an instant. MQA is not merely a flawed codec. It's a licensing lock box piece of garbage masquerading as an industry standard for digital media distribution.
If MQA were to actually be an ADVANCEMENT for the digital media distribution industry, it would have provided meaningful compression  of digital files WITHOUT ANY PERCEPTIBLE LOSS OF CONTENT INTEGRITY/FIDELITY. We all know that 16 bit and much more demonstrably - 24 bit digital media precision is largely a waste when it comes to real world signals. The full dynamic range that comes with 24 bit systems translates to 140 db!!! That's enough to make your ears bleed! So clearly, there is potential in the marketplace for a coding scheme that scans digital files, records dynamic peaks in the content, and adjusts bit precision accordingly to fully accommodate the individual file's needs before encryption or compression takes place to facilitate more efficient transfer to the intended target. A new industry wide digital standard could place dynamic range information somewhere in a predetermined location in the media content that signals to adaptive encoding/decoding equipment what algorithm to use to fully accommodate the file without padding it with a hole bunch of 1's and 0's that don't change before it is either transmitted or stored on media. MQA could have done this and dispensed with the entire fraudulent "time correction" BS. They would have provided some factual justification for existence in being able to legitimately say - you now have lossless transmission that is more efficient than the current standard. Unfortunately, they lost all credibility when the actual response data showed a degradation of the signal (no longer lossless) while they were claiming WITHOUT ANY PROOF WHATSOEVER that time domain errors allegedly inherent to PCM were being fixed.
Just one small quibble ... The MQA decoders rely on apodizing filters (no pre-ripple, lots after) which Meridian has championed, but they are available without MQA. You can probably find lots at Stereophile written about them. My DAC let's me choose 3 different filters with MQA turned off, including apodizing.

Having said that, after listening it is not the filter I ever choose to use. I find it far too soft.


In real music signals played back on real linear, time invariant audio systems, there is no "pre or post" anything. You have passband, stopband, and transitions between them which can be anything from very steep to very shallow. The only "ringing" that can occur in such systems happens when they are not properly damped such as for transition bands using high order filters. The whole notion of "pre" and "post" ringing has nothing to do with PCM A/D and D/A conversion and everything to do with impulse responses. And if you know anything about digital sample and hold or zero/hold circuits, you know that the spectral content is tightly controlled and band limited.  There is no high frequency ringing if sampling rates are sufficiently high and the sampled content is sufficiently band limited with low order filtering circuits. If you impose band limiting as Craven allegedly did - rolling off frequencies at the upper end of the sampled content,  it is possible to wind up with an impulse response of mush that attenuates both pre and post ringing spectral content while adding substantial phase delay (energy storage) with attendant post impulse oscillations. It's important to remember that we're dealing with continuous time invariant audio signals. There's no Hanning window. No time zero. Do yourself a favor and buy a cheap used 100mhz scope from Ebay or borrow one from a friend. Splice an RCA cable on your stereo and connect your scope to it while playing back music. See if you can find some impulse spikes that are in the microsecond  range or lower in duration. Every now and then, it can be helpful to take a step back or two to look at the big picture. Context is everything and voltage/current spikes don't exist in a vacuum. There's a great big world of energy storage elements from tiny diaphragms in microphones to 200 gram 14 inch woofers and everything in between. None of this stuff responds  in any meaningful way to stimuli that span mere nanoseconds or microseconds. And neither do our ears. Craven and the Meridian gang have had significant challenges to their professional reputations over the years. I'll leave it at that.
CJ -

I'll just leave you and your writing style alone. I'm afraid I can't follow your "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to constructing an argument.


+1 Erik

“The full scope of it’s ambition, to correct all timing errors in the A/D, D/A chain and to do so using equipment specific data is monumental.”

This is impossible. Everything is done in the studio to try and get it right with as little processing as possible. Basically every instrument and vocals are often recorded in a seperate chain to a separate track. No amount of clever processing in playback can magically fix a recording. You actually need master tapes with all the tracks separately to do anything really meaningful to improve a recording - anything else is just simple noise filtering and eq that affects the entire recording.

MQA is hand waving nonsense. Stuart is so full of it.

'm afraid I can't follow your "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to constructing an argument

Do not be afraid I have discovered that most often when an argument can not be followed/understood it is because the person putting forth the argument can not follow they're own reasoning, ideas and thoughts because if they could then everyone else could too.
I subscribe to the philosophy at Schiit. There is no interest in MQA. Period. There is no interest in Class D amplifiers. Period. Same for DSD. Period.
Jason and Mike make my predominantly Redbook collection of Music sound Magical. I would like to say that maybe a more expensive DAC might improve 24/96 Hi-Res files...but that isn't what I have collected. Make my CDs sound better, without charging me $25 per SACD or DSD download. Never heard MQA, probably never will. That's why I am listening to 16/44.1 CDs. Because I have already bought them.
Tidal desktop will stream MQA at 24bit/96khz without a MQA decoder. I have an Oppo HA-1 DAC will can decode 24/96. Consider MQA is free with Tidal, I have no complain. Compare 24/96 to 16/44.1, 24/96 is much better.
No argument about 24-bit files sounding great. That is to say, both my DACs play them. But, before I spend money on HDtracks I have a good library of Redbook CD quality discs. I am glad they had a $99 entry-level Modi which did 192 native on Linux. If you're able to get a new library for MQA for free but how much is Tidal... that is the hitch. Being an Audiophile on the Cheap means listen to what have. Thanks for your help, I will look into it. Funny thing is I had use of a pair of HFC Ultimate Titanium interconnects and even MP3s sounds good. I have an opinion in the cable discussion...$6,000 cables sound better than $20 Straight Wire PYST. From my lips to God's ears...
As a mastering engineer who has heard pre and post MQA for what it is, please ... it’s not a "good sound". 24 bit files are all we need, to be "in the studio" and to "hear what the artist intended"

Unless you like harmonic distortion and Mid/Side eq changes, stick to the actual mix files, at whatever is the native sample rate (higher rates are not better, another myth used to sell gear)

Stuart and Co are about securing income in a world post Netflix where video has dried up for them, it’s not hard to figure out. Money is a powerful force on anyone’s ears.

If you search Bob’s own words on You Tube (sorry can’t find the link off hand), he has said that 24 bits is all anyone needs (in a video formats discussion 4 years ago) then suddenly PCM is fatally flawed?

Batch processing of my work, by labels, is happening as we speak.   It’s not "Authenticated" as a master by me, or my clients ... it’s just another lossy codec.