MQA - I'm out.

Jaded1

Active Member
OK i get the arguments. I've heard the to and for and my opinion is that regardless of the fact it's not loseless, on a decent system some A/B comparison with FLAC or the CD I can hear more detail and a wider more spatial sound. Especially on older albums that ironically were well produced to start with. I will give Rumours and Sgt Peppers as examples. My opinion so keep your flaming to yourselves please.

The reason I'm out, apart from Tidal Connect and Bluos being disastrous to play with, is that yes some songs or albums are indeed worse and once again a decent system will reveal these flaws in the same way it will bring out the best in others.

The worst (or best) example of this is on Generation Terrorists by The Manics, particularly on the song Born to End. The amount of distortion added to this song on the special edition master is unforgiveable when compared to the FLAC from the original album. Give it a listen, especially the end of the track, you will hear exactly what I mean.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
OK i get the arguments. I've heard the to and for and my opinion is that regardless of the fact it's not loseless, on a decent system some A/B comparison with FLAC or the CD I can hear more detail and a wider more spatial sound. Especially on older albums that ironically were well produced to start with. I will give Rumours and Sgt Peppers as examples. My opinion so keep your flaming to yourselves please.

The reason I'm out, apart from Tidal Connect and Bluos being disastrous to play with, is that yes some songs or albums are indeed worse and once again a decent system will reveal these flaws in the same way it will bring out the best in others.

The worst (or best) example of this is on Generation Terrorists by The Manics, particularly on the song Born to End. The amount of distortion added to this song on the special edition master is unforgiveable when compared to the FLAC from the original album. Give it a listen, especially the end of the track, you will hear exactly what I mean.
I started with Tidal and found no sound improvement when playing their MQA offerings. I switched from Tidal to Qobuz who offer genuine high(er) resolution files compared with FLAC.

I also use BluOS and I'm not sure I understand your "disastrous" description. My view is that BluOS offers a better user interface than just about any other. It has annoying features and others are missing, but as a simple-to-understand way to select music, I find it pretty good.

Where I think it fails is its primitive way to list Favourites. It merely lists them in date added order. I'd like to sort by my choice of genre and then by artist. I'd like to list several hundred albums but there's no point unless one can find them! No "radio" feature is a shame and it offers very primitive Copy & Paste ability.
 
I find the BlueOs a fine app and it seems to work very well.

I cant really tell the difference between hifi and MQA with tidal though, and it doesnt sound any different to cd/flac to my ears with my system.

Quite happy to admit theres limitations with my ears or system but meh, I'll be dropping my tidal sub to hifi only later.
 

Jaded1

Active Member
I like the Bluos app for the most part it's pretty good and when playing FLAC from the usb port is Lightening quick. The node has a sound signature that I really like. There's improvements I would like to see but it does the job good enough.

It's as soon as I play through Tidal and especially through Tidal Connect it all falls down. Both apps crash and freeze all the time. This is the same with two phones. Resets and updates make no difference.
 

Jaded1

Active Member
Anyway if anyone has the top tier on Tidal. Check out the song I mentioned, right at the end of the track. The clipping in the sound beggars belief.

Edit - Seems more prominent on the legacy editon.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
It's as soon as I play through Tidal and especially through Tidal Connect it all falls down. Both apps crash and freeze all the time. This is the same with two phones. Resets and updates make no difference.
I've never considered loading the streaming service's own app. BluOS gives me all I need to find and play music from my own Library, or the streaming service (Qobuz) or radio. Why confuse your PC / phone with 2 apps running, specially if one is working "through" the other? I'm interested to know, because I may be missing a trick! Thanks. Peter
 

nomorelandings

Active Member
OK i get the arguments. I've heard the to and for and my opinion is that regardless of the fact it's not loseless, on a decent system some A/B comparison with FLAC or the CD I can hear more detail and a wider more spatial sound. Especially on older albums that ironically were well produced to start with. I will give Rumours and Sgt Peppers as examples. My opinion so keep your flaming to yourselves please.

The reason I'm out, apart from Tidal Connect and Bluos being disastrous to play with, is that yes some songs or albums are indeed worse and once again a decent system will reveal these flaws in the same way it will bring out the best in others.

The worst (or best) example of this is on Generation Terrorists by The Manics, particularly on the song Born to End. The amount of distortion added to this song on the special edition master is unforgiveable when compared to the FLAC from the original album. Give it a listen, especially the end of the track, you will hear exactly what I mean.
I have just upgraded the TEAC nt505 to the new ud-701n. I now have 3 different MQA choices: RP stream from the Node(MQA out enabled) via coax. Just beautiful SQ. ditto from the Marantz and bought 2 MQA CDs just out of curiosity. Thirdly Tidal. I agree, it is inconsistent. Can be brilliant but conclude that the fault is with Universal and Warner music‘s failure to deliver the highest quality “master” as advertised. Given that the ud701 does such a superb job upsampling the FLAC files to DSD - half of my playlists are non MQA - I think a return to Qobuz is probable when my cheap Tidal deal ends. I couldn’t fault Qobuz during a six month stint. The delta sigma TEAC is a revelation, imho. The DACs of its predecessor were good, as are the Marantz and Node. This is another level. My hifi end game.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
It took my 30 seconds to concur Tidal MQA is crap. Peg by Steely Dan was the test song. I have the original Aja Steve Hoffman mastering on cd. It also sounds pretty good on Spotify also, epically by enabling Airplay 2. The audio normalization makes the sound more enjoyable, less harsh.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I find Tidal MQA (vs Qobuz) quite variable.

With alot of tracks, I find no noticeable difference, with some tracks, I have to say the MQA version is better and with other the CD/HiRes version is better.

As I see it, MQA did have a possible sweet spot that was tracks that involving very little processing between live recording and a released master - ie classical, some acoustic and jazz etc. Once you start with mostly synthesized sounds and production involving a lot of heavy processing, then it doesn't seem to me there is an applicable end to end MQA process any more and so the possible benefits just wont be there. AT best you just maybe get the benefit of their filter implementation in your DAC.

Perhaps this wasnt so bad when most MQA material came from high resolution mastering and involved the so called white-glove handling, but now I get the impression that most MQA that I come across on Tidal seems to be basically batch converted from lower sample rates (44.1 or 48 and some even just plain 16 bit CD if the original rate tagging can be relied upon).

I get that in theory there should still be some transient improvement in their process, but at best that seems to be very minor and if the source was CD resolution, that am not convinced that using the parameterized MQA filter is really any better than some of the similar advanced non MQA filters available in many AKM and ESS based DACs and likely not vs the resolution loss need to carry the extra MQA data. The extra issue I often find is not all software nor DACs seem to be able to manage seamless switching between MQA and non MQA modes (clicks/pauses etc) and worse some DAC even seem to be a bit buggy when asked to do a full decode and render instead of just render.

Also with MQA, if you do not have at least an MQA decoder - then it can certainly sound harsh to me. Even my cat (RIP) used to pull his ears back and give me a filthy look when I was originally trying MQA vs CD/HiRes and with and without decoding etc (I posted pictures of his reaction on here ages ago - kind of amusing at the time).

I have come across some very good sounding MQA releases, but the common thing is that the non MQA release is usually also as good. As ever production quality will always trump format/encoding within reason.
 

nomorelandings

Active Member
Agree with your analysis. I don’t generally listen to synthesised music and hate digitised “enhancement” to vocals - eg: London Grammar, Elbow. (unless it is Keith Emerson’s Moog on Lucky Man). Analogue double tracking of Dave Gilmore‘s vocals on DSOTM was ok. As the OP said, Rumours is one of the MQA success stories, imho. Early 1980s CD versions were compressed rubbish. Don’t normally bother with A/B malarkey, but just tried tidal MQA “gold dust woman” vs remastered cd upscaled 8 times to 352.8. Little to chose with perhaps a touch more air to the MQA. Splitting hairs. Qobuz is becoming more attractive.
 

MrFluffyWalrus

Standard Member
I've never considered loading the streaming service's own app. BluOS gives me all I need to find and play music from my own Library, or the streaming service (Qobuz) or radio. Why confuse your PC / phone with 2 apps running, specially if one is working "through" the other? I'm interested to know, because I may be missing a trick! Thanks. Peter
Peter, my experience with BluOs through the M33 is for the most part very positive - agreeing on all your findings in your 1st post on this thread.

With the topic of Qobuz (or Deezer for that matter) run via and within BluOs I do find a significant lag when I switch to the service in the Os. Finding my account and loading my favorites etc can take 10 -40 seconds (ha! how spoiled we are when mere seconds is annoying). This lag will then occurr again if I leave Qobuz (or Deezer) and play from my NAS or an internet radio channel (which is instant) and then try to go back to Qobuz. I am connected via ethernet and all other use of the web via this is lightening fast.

Because of this lag I have experimented with with Tidal connect (the separate app - Android version). As both NAD and BluOs allow this connect feature, the app will connect with the M33 as an output choice in the Tidal Connect app. Also, one has to first use the BluOs menu on the left to connect up to your Tidal account. The beauty of this for me is that Tidal is now instantaneous through the M33, sound quality is very good (no MQA) and the app has never crashed and performs very, very well - the interface is also more user friendly.

I have thought over the Qobuz vs Tidal decision for 3 months (my Tidal trial period) and decided, at least for now, to drop Qobuz and use Tidal - I find the ease of use of the app outweighs other factors. Before doing so I wrote to Qobuz and asked if they have a similar app in the offing. They replied that it is on a list, some people are working on it but it will be a long, long time coming. I make the point that I did the same with Deezer also and received a similar reply - both companies are very short staffed (*as a side note, I find Deezer to have a much larger catalogue than both Qobuz and Tidal - although of course they top out at only CD quality). I may go back to Qobuz down the line but I'm reducing my streaming costs all round (bye bye Netflix & Disney) as I cannot afford as much now that I'm retired and have medical bills.

Audio streaming services are icing on the cake for me - most of my listening is done from my large collection of ripped CD and Hi Res tracks, via my NAS.

This post may be all redundant as you may have already tried the app by now peter, just my observations.
 

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