NEWS: TIDAL Masters (MQA) now available on Android

psikey

Distinguished Member
Its been on Android for around 6 months in the form of my LG V30 with its MQA DAC. A few others since.

They have likely now added the first unfold in the Tidal App itself. The LG V30/V35/V40 can do full 24/192 unfold I believe with them having MQA hardware & license built-in.
 

KWB1

Well-known Member
So this might be a dumb question alert - so if i have the Kef LS50 active and an iMac - can i access and play the MQA variants in full unadulturated Hi Res from my desktop from Tidal - like i don’t need an MQA convertor wired up to my Kefs?
 
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ggwoodland

Active Member
I would be more interested in the iOS version but I've had good results with Tidal MQA on my NAD
 

LAMitchell

Active Member
So this might be a dumb question alert - so if i have the Kef LS50 active and an iMac - can i access and play the MQA variants in full unadulturated Hi Res from my desktop from Tidal - like i don’t need an MQA convertor wired up to my Kefs?
There is a Tidal app for OSX and it supports MQA. The main bit here is that MQA is now available on android devices. Ive had hi-res running on my Galaxy S9 for a couple of weeks now.
 

LAMitchell

Active Member
Its good to see Tidal are rolling out Hi-res audio for mobile devices, I am sure it will be available soon for IOS once approved by Apple.
 

Michael Bayleaf

Active Member
I think it's a great development but I would assume that most people use bluetooth to stream Tidal/Spotify to their audio systems? Can Bluetooth handle those higher bit rates and send/play the music truly lossless?
 

Mister_Tad

Well-known Member
Its been on Android for around 6 months in the form of my LG V30 with its MQA DAC. A few others since.

They have likely now added the first unfold in the Tidal App itself. The LG V30/V35/V40 can do full 24/192 unfold I believe with them having MQA hardware & license built-in.
Ah that makes sense.

I also have a V30 and on reading the headline was thinking... I've had MQA on android for a year (more than 6 months, I'm sure I've had it since I got the phone, end of Feb 2018)
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
I think it's a great development but I would assume that most people use bluetooth to stream Tidal/Spotify to their audio systems? Can Bluetooth handle those higher bit rates and send/play the music truly lossless?
If you listen via a BT adapter such as Fiio BTR3 or Earsudio ES100 that does LDAC then your supposedly good for 24/96. My SE846 IEM's using BTR3 to my Android LG V30+ playing MQA tracks sounds more or less as good as wired. Apple don't do LDAC or even aptxHD, but then who wants apple these days.
 

psikey

Distinguished Member
MQA is a very divisive format with many people questioning its use and quality as it is classed as a lossy format.

I’ve attached a link to a very persuasive article as to why it is bad for music
MQA is Bad For Music. Here's Why.
Well there's theory & then there's ears. I have same track in lossless HD FLAC compared to an MQA on Tidal and via my SE846's which are very resolving I can't hear any difference. I'd still buy tracks lossless FLAC but for a streaming service with massively reduced file size MQA is perfect.
 

Mister_Tad

Well-known Member
The hangups on "lossy" vs "lossless" audio tickle me.

FLAC is a lossless encoding mechanism, meaning that you can pump digital source material into it and it will come out without any loss in information vs the original file. It does not mean that there is no loss of information vs the original recording, and it certainly does not mean there's no loss of information vs the analogue audio that created it. I can take a 64k MP3 and encode it with FLAC and I still have a "lossless" track, and it still sounds like it was recorded over the phone, through a wet towel.

The nature in which a track was recorded has a far more profound impact on audio quality than whether it's in MQA or FLAC or frankly 320k MP3, so I think the entire argument of quality between the two former formats is a bit silly to be honest.

UHD BD is a lossy format and I don't see anyone complaining about films not shipping in RAW

Now the licensing aspect is another matter entirely, however framed as the article above is, it really comes across more like "hey this thing our competitor is doing that's gaining traction is bad"
 

Frum Tarn

Novice Member
I agree totally with regard to the quality but in the sell they make a big sell as to the quality. I was trying to make the point about it being a propriety format and that to use it you need to purchase the software one way or another.
If you want to stream whilst on mobile data it can make sense but if you listen on your broadband it makes very little sense.

As Jim Collinson says:-
A supply chain monopoly

MQA is an attempt to not simply sell the same content again at a higher margin, or to maintain audio quality in streaming ecosystems: it is an outright land grab. It’s an attempt to control and extract revenue from every part of the supply chain, and not just over content that they hold the rights for. It really is quite extraordinary. Let’s break it down:

Manufacturers of recording equipment will have to license the technology and adapt their products

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Developers of recording software systems will require certified software plug-ins

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Recording and Mastering engineers must purchase and use certified equipment and software

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Artists must use studios and engineers utilising certified equipment and new workflows; or even pay to have their back catalogue ‘remastered’ in MQA. The costs, of course, are borne by the artist, either directly or recouped from royalties

Digital distributors will have to license MQA and purchase/lease a ‘Hyper-Security Module’ to encrypt/encode/watermark files ready for delivery to download services

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Download and Streaming service providers will have to agree to commercial terms and become partners from which…

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Physical media manufacturers can use MQA to author on to CD and DVD, presumably there will be licensing agreement required for this too

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
Hi-fi manufacturers and software developers will have to adapt their products and license the technology

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
End customers, having paid a premium for MQA music via licensed content providers, will also have to buy MQA certified players at increased cost, with a license paid for each unit shipped

$$$ MQA Gets Paid $$$
 

Mister_Tad

Well-known Member
Oh I've read it, a good while ago.

It's definitely a land grab, it's working, and I think that's great.

Fact is, every other source of >16/44 audio is a train wreck of patchy availability and stratospheric costs. The 16/44 standard has been around for 40 years so pretty sure if a free and open alternative was going to take it would have done so by now (and the world conquering Redbook CD of course involves Philips "getting paid"). Here we have MQA with buckets of content, new and old alike, available included with a low-cost streaming subscription. Is MQA getting paid? Yep. Am I getting the content I want? Also yep.

Now, if I was to come across something from a bunch of artists suggesting that MQA was bad for the industry I might take notice, but that just stinks of Linn being upset that one of their key competitors thought of it first, and the fact that they run a record label rubs it in that they may even have to license it one day.

Certifications and licensing are all over the AV industry. Whilst yes someone is definitely making a fair few quid off them when they "take", I think they end up coming off off better for the consumer than not through whoever "getting paid" having a financial interest in making their standard widely adopted and supported. My 2p anyway.
 
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Michael Bayleaf

Active Member
Well I think when people invest in music or make a music purchase there will be three things that play a factor (I'm sure that somebody with a marketing degree will tell me there are more factors in play here):

1) Quality (or perceived quality) - Does MQA really sound better than MP3/FLAC? This is a tricky one as there are different things that influence the quality, one of them being what was initially recorded as @Mister_Tad mentioned. Then there is also something called confirmation bias which means that if people really want things to sound better, they think they sound better. I am currently trialling Tidal, I do think that it sounds better than Spotify but if you were to ask me to do a blind test between the two I'm not sure if I could tell the difference 100% of the time

2) Ease of use - If the average consumer has to buy another device to maximise their listening experience with MQA I'm not sure how many people would go ahead it. On the other hand if I can listen to TMQA on my normal amp and don't have to do anything else except for flick the on and off switch, then you remove a barrier for a lot of people

3) Cost - This will probably be the main stumbling block, Tidal charges 20 pounds for their HIFI subscription which gives you access to some MQA tracks. If I have to spend 20 quid a month and have to buy extra equipment to listen to MQA, I would probably have to think twice before I invest in a service where potentially I can't tell the difference
 

Frum Tarn

Novice Member
Michael Bayleaf
I have the Yamaha RN-602 Network HiFi Receiver which has Tidal pre installed plus I run a media server with Plex (Lifetime Pass) which has the ability to be linked to Tidal. So purchacing extra equipment is not required on my part.
Most network recivers come with the majority of the main streaming services pre installed these days.
I may by just old fashioned / Luddite but £20 pm / £240 pyr to stream (no ownership) seams a lot of money to me.:eek:
 

Michael Bayleaf

Active Member
Most network recivers come with the majority of the main streaming services pre installed these days.
That is true, I have a Naim NDX which comes with Tidal and Spotify. (Unfortunately) It doesn't play MQA however so in my case I would need to find/buy a workaround (which I'm not interested in doing).

£20 pm / £240 pyr to stream (no ownership) seams a lot of money to me.
I agree, it's a lot of money. I think for that kind of money you can buy between 5 and 10 second hand cd's every month. I do like the simplicity of having Spotify/Tidal however.....
 

Sky watsher

Active Member
I'm not sure what level of compatibility this is (there are 2 layers for MQA, Unfolding, and retrieving the full information by the output (DAC)), this is already the case on LG's V30 and other devices, i don't think all DACs can fully read MQA but if someone has more details on this please enlighten me (out of a sudden all android phones will be able to read MQA ???).

That being said, MQA for me is a HiFi MayFly (insect with the shortest lifecycle : hatches, mates and dies in 24 hours) :
- The need : Streaming High Res Music
- The brake : High Res Files are big and heavy, cannot be streamed smoothly and they devour bandwidth (mobile of course)
- The Solution : MQA which is (in theory) an uncompressed compressed file, picture it as a workout Dumbbell, on one end the full file, goes slimmer under MQA suit, and then comes out in full shape again on the other side.

My problem with MQA (not discussing the sound quality) : as internet speed increases every year, 5G on the works, streaming high res (big files) will become as smooth as Spotify 320KB experience, we won't need MQA to channel big files, unfold them with specific hardware and decode them with specific software, while the full files will become easily streamable (Qobuz offers that already, but i haven't tried it i can't comment on the experience). Any purist/audiophile will always prefer the RAW full file to any altered file when given the choice, so i just don't see MQA long lasting when their (temporary) business proposition disappears.
Why would a business invest in a service/product that has a (free) substitute coming out in a couple of years? of course there is always the philosophy of "Let's make as much money as we can while we can" and i have no problem with that, but i just don't see MQA becoming a standard or taking over streaming unless it becomes free of royalties.
N.B i use Tidal HIFI, not for the MQA but for Redbook, and yeah i listen to MQA files and albums through my V30
 

Mister_Tad

Well-known Member
I don't think file size was ever the goal. I think it's purely objection handling and I don't expect it to go anywhere when 5G rolls around.

There have been alternatives, free and otherwise, to >CD audio available for decades, and yet download sources and physical media, which are not bandwidth constrained, are still few and far between.

MQA wants a new standard, their standard, and wants to make some money off of it. So it needs to be...
- Visible: Brand it, promote it. You don't want to end up in the dungeon of esoteric audiophilia.
- Accessible. Do a licensing deal with a streaming platform, joint go-to-market. Include it in the service at no extra cost, allay data consumption fears with sciencey bits and forget the fact that the default setting for streaming is somewhere around 320k MP3 and 90% of users won't change it anyway.
- Desirable: It's not just "high res", it's "Master Quality", just as the studio intended it, who doesn't want that? On their bundled earbuds... on a busy train.

Get those three correct, and you create a self-sustaining cycle and sit back and enjoy the revenue.
 
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Sky watsher

Active Member
I don't think file size was ever the goal. I think it's purely objection handling and I don't expect it to go anywhere when 5G rolls around.

There have been alternatives, free and otherwise, to >CD audio available for decades, and yet download sources and physical media, which are not bandwidth constrained, are still few and far between.

MQA wants a new standard, their standard, and wants to make some money off of it. So it needs to be...
- Visible: Brand it, promote it. You don't want to end up in the dungeon of esoteric audiophilia.
- Accessible. Do a licensing deal with a streaming platform, joint go-to-market. Include it in the service at no extra cost, allay data consumption fears with sciencey bits and forget the fact that the default setting for streaming is somewhere around 320k MP3 and 90% of users won't change it anyway.
- Desirable: It's not just "high res", it's "Master Quality", just as the studio intended it, who doesn't want that? On their bundled earbuds... on a busy train.

Get those three correct, and you create a self-sustaining cycle and sit back and enjoy the revenue.
I still believe their business proposition rotates around serving high res files through streaming using small size files.
The other bla bla master quality, as intended by creator, better than the original etc etc doesn't really make sens. would an MQA file of a specific recording sound better than the original lossless file ? yes it's possible, but hthat's equal to a remaster of a song. MQA file is always less than the original file when it comes to information, and for purists audiophiles (i'm not) this will always face refusal.
Marketing is good for MQA i agree, but in my humble opinion the format will die in few years.
 

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