After listening to Tidal only on my phone the last few weeks, I went to stream on my home system but soon realized all my MQA tracks were no longer showing up and the MQA parameters were absent in my streaming settings. I see Tidal is in "administration" (Chapter 11???). One of the main reasons I subscribed to Tidal was MQA and purchased a DAC that could decode the format. I think I should have at least been informed by Tidal if it was cancelling MQA. Any thoughts?
I know a lot of people hate (hated) MQA, but like any format I have listened to (Vinyl, CD, SACD, FLAC, MQA, etc.) , some things sound great and others on a plain old red book CD sounds better.
In order to be in the best position to pursue market opportunities and expedite this process, the company has undergone a restructuring initiative, which includes entering into administration and is comparable to Chapter 11 in the US. During this process, MQA continues to trade as usual alongside its partners.
That might mean that Tidal will not be using MQA but I haven't heard of Tidal having financial problems.
Tidal announced that, starting in August, FLAC will be their preferred source for hi-res audio. MQA and hi-res FLAC will co-exist for a while as they transition, but it appears that they will eventually phase out MQA. My Tidal apps on iOS have already removed the MQA logos (although some MQA files are likely still streaming if hi-res FLAC files are not yet available). It sounds like TIDAL on other streaming devices (i.e. BluOS, ROON, etc.) will start the transition in October. My BluOS still shows MQA files.
MQA was a misbegotten solution to a problem that nobody asked for. I mean, introducing a computer algorithm that alters the original intent of the artists and recording engineer because the algorithm thinks it sounds better — really??? Good riddance MQA!
I never got into MQA after reading a paper on it by Bob Carver where he said at best it did a little of what his old sonic holography did (eliminate crosstalk) to better position instruments and voices in the soundstage, but at worst, in later iterations, it didn't even seem to do that. It was a lossy method of slight compression that might have been needed and helped when not everyone had 100Mbps (or higher speeds) Internet. But now? Not so much. It was an idea whose time has come and gone.
My "issue" with Tidal involved them not honoring an agreement for me to purchase another full year's subscription through Best Buy at a reduced price.
My subscription rolled over in April but recently I was sent an email by Best Buy saying more or less, "Sorry, we charged your credit card, but now you can't have your year subscription at the reduced price. You'll need to contact Tidal by September 30th and convert it to a monthly subscription". Which of course is much higher at $10.99 I think. Yeah, not a lot of money, but it is the principle that matters to me. I paid for a year in advance to get it for about $7.99/month which made it more in line with Amazon Music and Apple Music.
Now, with this bait and switch, the cost is higher. If Amazon or Apple had "Connect" apps I might switch to them. I sure don't want to go back to lying Spotify, even if they actually do roll out CD quality streaming.
I put in a trouble ticket with Tidal and here was their response (or lack thereof)
"When launching Tidal, my MQA parameters are missing in the streaming settings. Also, my collection is no longer showing MQA for my favorite tracks and albums. What’s up with this?"
Response from Tidal:
Thanks for getting in touch with TIDAL Support.
We have received your inquiry about the sound quality reflected on your account and we will be glad to assist you.
TIDAL has always prioritized and invested in superior audio quality. Our commitment to open platforms for both artists and fans drives our adoption of FLAC, and specifically HiRes FLAC as the preferred option for the best sound quality we offer.
You will see an updated audio quality settings screen on iOS, Android, Desktop and Web. This update makes it easier to choose the right audio quality for when you’re at home with a WiFi connection or on the go using a data plan. The formats available on each quality level is below:
Max* – High fidelity lossless audio up to 24-bit, 192 kHz with HiRes FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), an open-source format that every artist can create and deliver their music in, and Master Quality Authenticated audio (MQA). High – Lossless audio with FLAC (16-bit, 44.1 kHz) Low (up to 320 kbps) – Listen to the music you love using lower data usage with compressed AAC files.
In addition to utilizing MQA, we make use of various high-quality and immersive audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos, to provide our subscribers with a premium listening experience and more artists the opportunity to share their music exactly as it is intended to sound.
If you have any other questions, please let us know.
@surfmuzI am using project S2 DAC with a fairly decent USB cable and never had an issues with my MQA streaming settings showing up before. From the response I received from Tidal, it seems they have changed the audio settings. Maybe if you haven't logged off and back on you will retain the old settings, mine also worked fine before I went on vacation about a week ago. Even when using a non-MQA DAC in the past my song catalog still showed me which tracks were MQA and which ones weren't. Thanks for the reply.
My understanding is that the quality levels are low high and max. Max will be either mqa or flac depending on the version Tidal has. Eventually, all mqa will be replaced by flac. When playing tracks that are max you will not know whether they are mqa or flac. Not sure if your hardware can tell by reading something in the file header that would indicate mqa vs flac. If you don’t have the new quality levels, I believe if you update the app you will see them.
You're one of the fools who fell for the scam if you bought MQA gear. At best, compression will make it to identical to streaming the original higher res track. It never makes it to that. Switching to Qobuz, higher res tracks immediately gave me what Tidal hasn't given me yet. However, I kept Tidal's 44.1 plan for it's 8 custom and unique personalized playlists. That's exactly what I want from a streaming service. Now that Tidal says they're ditching My Queer Ambition and returning all tracks to the original higher res versions, I switched back to the 2x cost higher res plan, but so far there has only been MQA. Qobuz's single weekly personal playlist is full of crap I don't even listen to, and their browsing for more is worse than anybody's. However, their default player not only sounds the least bad of all the streamers, but it actually makes it to default players might not always have to be so bad. I want the default streamer's players outside of Audirvana to be good for while I play games, and for their browsing, which you can't expect Audirvana to keep up with for everybody. So, so far, Qobuz is winning the SQ battle, but I'm going with Tidal for it's 8 customized playlists no matter what. Maybe I'll get Qobuz again for a few more months, for the times I want to hear stuff I can search for in higher res, until Tidal stops ripping people off with MQA's proposed bandwidth saving scam.
I just listen to Qobuz or Tidal and the max resolution they have. I don't worry about the format, just what sounds good to me. I guess I can't understand why so many people fuss about it. There seem to be far more differences in album production and how it affects sound quality ??
Sorry, just remember what it stands for, apologies for the way they must be looking at everyone else after that. All you can really do is warn people that they’re dead for crap like that. That’s probably why they approached Jay-Z about it in the first place. Because you wouldn’t believe how dead you should be if you not only expect someone with a 10k DAC they love to replace it with the next year’s same model except with an extra chip in it, to be able to play files that they say sound the same as higher res, but don’t require more than 44.1khz bandwidth, even though Tidal still charges you double the price for the higher tier after all. Nobody else is charging more for higher res yet. Qobuz is $14 instead of $10 here, but they also have the best sounding default player. Of course, nobody else messes with what they say they’re actually selling you.
The guy with the Q ideas probably thought that Jay-z was the right guy to approach with the idea, because since he was a drug dealer before being a rapper, if he ever found out about it, he’d just have to go along with it because of that.
Compression is dead for it. If streaming players ever start downloading in advance, decompressing the file onto a local hard drive, then playing that, people will start falling asleep while listening, compared to FLAC etc. Adding an extra chip is really bad news for an audio signal. Ha, they even said the first 'unfold' already happened on the cpu, which would be a much noisier chip than a dedicated one, which followed, already.
Final response below from Tidal, basically it is what it is, MQA settings are a thing of the past. See the link from Tidal below.
I'm not one to jump on bandwagons but it seemed a lot of people liked MQA and it seemed like it was here to stay. Like others posted here, some formats sound better than others when they're done correctly, I have some Hi-Rez FLAC recordings that sound great and others not so much, same for DSD, SACD, CD, vinyl, etc.
Thanks all for your responses. So far most of what I have played from Tidal is CD quality.
"We will still have MQA files available , however when an artist has delivered a song in both MQA and HiRes FLAC, the song you hear will be the HiRes FLAC version. The hierarchy of availability is HiRes FLAC, then MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), then FLAC, then AAC (compressed audio), meaning that if we don’t have the file available in HiRes FLAC, the source file will be the MQA version, and so on"
I believe MQA was developed years ago because internet speeds were too slow to transfer data. This said, should we switch to QOBUZZ. I like the layout of Tidal and I think they have a much larger library. I wonder what percentage of members use Tidal VS QOBUZZ. I had a rep demo Tidal and QOBUZZ in a blind test a nd I think QOBUZZ sounded better. Maybe the folding and unfolding of files using MQA affects timing.
i didn’t know Tidal was in chapter 11. Maybe I should transfer my library to QOBUZZ to play it safe.
MQA never was welcomed in this house of stereo. I also dropped Stereophile and TAS subscriptions in part because of their sales pitch for it. Don't mess with music signals, lesson learned.
Wait a minute! Most of the CD’s were recorded in 44.1 so bumping the signal to 192, isn’t that messing with the signal?? I have a highe end streaming device and I still say CD sounds better than streaming, albums sound better than CD’s and Reel to Reel sounds better than all of them. Sounds like DSD processing and HiRes is still messing with the signal.
can someone explain this?? A 1988-1996 car CD Player that sounded better than all of the 24 bit processor CD Players: The Alpine 7909. With regards to home audio, I’m sure there are older CD Players that sound better than some of the newer expensive units. Just playing the devils advocate. Please comment if you feel like you have been bitten not once but twice.here is the link to the article.
People can think what they want of MQA sound. The most objectionable part was the end to end equipment requirement. This grand patent licensing scheme and you know the record companies wanted that for DRM. Those end to end schemes always leave folks with issues trying to play media they paid for…My Project S2 glitches out with MQA tracks and it’s a common issue.
"Most people who disparage Atmos Music have not heard it properly set up end of story"
That's fanciful speculation.
Perhaps... but how many people do you know who have an Atmos system with at least 5 bed level speakers and 4 overhead? How many people have heard one?
No I don't have a number, but I read reviews on prominent audio web sites where they trash Atmos and you come to find out the reviewer doesn't have a system and have never listened to one. They are just guessing , and guessing wrong
I have only heard a decent Atmos set up in an Audio Store. I like my 5.1 and don’t intend to ditch it but I remain curious.
MQA I have heard in a few settings. I never consistently heard a difference when playing FLAC vs MQA. Different remasterings could have accounted for any changes that I perceived.
As mentioned upstream the biggest turnoff was the end to end hardware requirements. I completely lost respect for TAS, and Robert Harley and Steven Stone in particular, for their relentless shilling for MQA. I canceled back then and haven’t read a word by either of them since. I would have loved to have known if either of them had a financial stake in MQA. Stereophile, by comparison, took a much more balanced approach, with some reviewers being openly hostile, and gained a lot of credibility with me in comparison to TAS
Soooo, physical media isn't really "dead" and I should hang on to my CDs?
My fixed income and 3 Mbps internet (I kid you not, 3 Mbps) seem to have kept me from going down the streaming rabbit hole. Best of luck to all the early adopters, but I suspect time and mortality will catch up to me before the streaming rat's nest gets sorted out in a manner that benefits me.
I am not sure why you would cite the demise of MQA to reject all forms of streaming. MQA was just one way to access reputed Hi Resolution Files (whether they were truly Hi Res is a different story). However even a service such as Tidal that adopted MQA still has the majority of its files in standard CD resolution.
Streaming versus CD is more of a lifestyle decision, because given the comparable investments in equipment, there isn’t that much difference in their replay. In your case, your limited bandwidth would make it difficult to get a good result from streaming.
I listen to both silver discs and to streamers. Its great to have files on a server that I can access from different rooms in the home. For example, Right now my wife unfortunately has Covid. Our bedroom is next to my listening room, and I spent last night in the basement bedroom. It was great to be able to pull up the CDs that I wanted to listen to from the server to a streamer in the downstairs system, and I sample new releases with the streaming services that I subscribe to.
You have point in that streaming does involve more hardware challenges than CD replay, which is beautifully uncomplicated by comparison. Nothing like relaxing by hitting plug and play on the CD player. Streamers are networking computers and therefore subject to all of the issues involved with computers. With MQA one needed new hardware, and that is a major stumbling block.
However Physical Media also has a history of demanding that the listener invest in new hardware and media. Remember SACD and DVD-A, and Blu Ray? What about the whole switch from lps to CDs? Or going back from mono lps to stereo lps? Or home taping with reel to reel vs cassette vs CD copying and ultimately burning to a hard drive?
Format changes are endemic to this hobby, and not just to streaming
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