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  • Archimago
  • [*]
Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Hey guys, just wanted to drop by to let folks know that I'm running a blind test of MQA Core Decode vs. original hi-res...

As you know there's been plenty of hub-bub over the last few years in the audiophile world about the "revolutionary" MQA technology with all kinds of claims on how it improves sound. Hopefully I can gather some data to compare what MQA decoding sounds like with your own DAC especially for those of you who don't have TIDAL and may be wondering about the difference between a stream that's MQA Core decoded compared to say a non-MQA 24/96 stream.

After you listen, I would of course love to know your perception of differences. The tracks are randomized and "blinded". Tell me which you prefer and how much difference you perceive!

Test instructions and files can be found here:
INTERNET BLIND TEST: MQA Core Decoding vs. Standard Hi-Res Audio

Thanks all, have fun... Feel free to spread this test around. Taking blind test survey results until September 8.
Arch

  • bennetng
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #1

  • Archimago
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #2
Results being posted now...

Detailed description of Procedure (Part I):
https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/mqa-core-vs-hi-res-blind-test-part-i.html

"Core" results (Part II):
https://archimago.blogspot.ca/2017/09/mqa-core-vs-hi-res-blind-test-part-ii.html

Thanks to all who gave this a try and submitted results :-).



  • ajinfla
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #3
The true benefits of MQA can't be realized in short term tests like these. It requires long term relaxed listening to flesh out the lower fatigue and less digititis in MQA vs non-MQA digital streaming.
50-80yr old men will experience far less or no hot flashes and menstrual cramps associated with non-MQA smeared digital long term listening.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Wombat
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #4
Read carefully. MQA based on most recent neuroscience and its revolutionary design sounds indistinguishable from the full HIGH Resolution files packed into a tiny file.
Archimago just proved how well the deblurring works!
It's a revolution!

Edit:
Even the most critical experts like our member amirm welcomes the results:
https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/archimagos-mqa-listening-test-results.1947/#post-51443
That amirm lately mentioned to be a fellow of BS can't be a reason he is deliberately ingenuous with MQA.
  • Last Edit: 25 September, 2017, 10:25:01 AM by Wombat
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

  • eahm
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #5
"MQA is providing similar fidelity to PCM at lower data rates/file sizes." ...like every other lossless compressed codec?

Still though, similar, how are people not getting lossless?

I keep checking those other forums but this is the only one I like.
  • Last Edit: 25 September, 2017, 11:28:10 AM by eahm

  • Porcus
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #6
"MQA is providing similar fidelity to PCM at lower data rates/file sizes." ...like every other lossless compressed codec?

Still though, similar, how are people not getting lossless?

That is actually irrelevant. That a format is "lossless" does not mean there is no loss when you reduce, say, 32-bit floating-point PCM to 16 or 24 bits to fit it into a FLAC file.
(I have issues with MQA being called "lossless" (as in "like every other lossless" above). But it is kind of irrelevant, for the same reason.)
  • Last Edit: 25 September, 2017, 01:17:07 PM by Porcus

  • eahm
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #7
Sorry I don't know anything about MQA, I read it was lossless and I was commenting about lossless formats in general. I see it like the next Pono hype bs.

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #8
The format is absolutely lossy. You get ~16 bits worth of dynamic range from a 24 bit file where the ~8 least significant bits are used to lossily encode frequency content above baseband content.  Baseband in this case meaning frequencies up to 22kHz or 24kHz.

http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2016/10/musings-keeping-it-simple-mqa-is-codec.html?m=1
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • ajinfla
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #9
The format is absolutely lossy.
Yeah, yeah, but 3 out of 2 audiophiles in the room can't hear this, if you read the patent.

Anyway, these tests are of little relevance, as the dotard messiah has spoken now.

"I knew Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was a friend of mine. Robert, you're no Albert Einstein."
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Porcus
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #10
You get ~16 bits worth of dynamic range from a 24 bit file where the ~8 least significant bits are used to lossily encode frequency content above baseband content. 
Is it established that MQA has no loss up to the 15th bit?

  • Wombat
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #11
Is it established that MQA has no loss up to the 15th bit?
For MQA CDs the magic surely needs less.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #12
The format is absolutely lossy.
Yeah, yeah, but 3 out of 2 audiophiles in the room can't hear this, if you read the patent.

Anyway, these tests are of little relevance, as the dotard messiah has spoken now.

"I knew Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was a friend of mine. Robert, you're no Albert Einstein."

Thanks for the link, This quote is pretty amazing:

"The new psychoacoustic paradigm recognizes that human hearing didn’t evolve to hear tones and beeps. Rather, it is exquisitely tuned to detect the sounds of nature, which aren’t composed of frequencies and tones, but of transients of indeterminate and randomly varying frequency. In fact, many of the sounds of the natural world, an understanding of which confers important survival benefits, have no frequencies. Examples include crackling leaves, snapping twigs, the sounds of wind, rain, and running water."

In fact all sounds are composed of collections of sine waves or if you will, tones with various frequencies. This were findings of Fourier and Helholtz, offhand: a century or more ago and still considered to be valid by well-informed people.

Sorry about those last 3 words...

Thinking too about that phrase "Indeterminate frequencies". I've run FFT's of many natural sounds and there seemed to be no lack of observable frequencies. I'm sure many others have, too.

Or. did they invent a new science and new mathematics while I was not looking? ;-)

  • krabapple
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #13
The format is absolutely lossy.
Yeah, yeah, but 3 out of 2 audiophiles in the room can't hear this, if you read the patent.

Anyway, these tests are of little relevance, as the dotard messiah has spoken now.

"I knew Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was a friend of mine. Robert, you're no Albert Einstein."

When blithering know-nothings like Harley reference Kuhn, I reach for my gun.

  • Porcus
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #14
In fact all sounds are composed of collections of sine waves or if you will, tones with various frequencies.
That is, I guess, up to terminology - what one means by "composed", and how it could be misunderstood (even deliberately, since we are dealing with the marketing mumbojumbo-land).
As you know very well, it does not matter whether or not they were "composed" that way originally, but whether they were composed that way originally, but whether the signal can be decomposed that way and then recreated for playback - and to an error tolerance beyond audible transparency.  I guess that using the term "composed" fuels audiophool rhetoric based on the (convenient) misunderstanding that it must mean "originates from".

Heck, one could have used square waves or triangle waves instead of sines/cosines. Any choice of basis will do in theory, and therefore the trigonometric basis will do. No matter whether the audiophool thinks the sound originates from something that does not at all look like pure tones. All it takes is the sufficient number of bits - an imprecise statement yes, but one will anyway have to check real-world engineered implementations against measurements of human hearing, which is the proof of the pudding no matter what.
  • Last Edit: 28 September, 2017, 05:23:17 AM by Porcus

  • Wombat
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #15
Or, did they invent a new science and new mathematics while I was not looking? ;-)
I wonder what Bell Labs could have done if they already knew what MQA Bob knows now.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

  • ajinfla
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #16
"The new psychoacoustic paradigm recognizes that human hearing didn’t evolve to hear tones and beeps.

Yep, so Harley then provides the "latest" research in support of this:
Human Time-Frequency Acuity Beats the Fourier Uncertainty Principle
So I reminded Robert that this type of research most likely involves double blind testing for results...you know, the type he completely rejects as flawed.
Ok, so on to the paper:
Quote
We use two test stimuli [21]. The first is a Gaussian packet...
Ummm, so we evolved to hear Gaussian packets.  ???
Ok, now what's that second hit on Google"? https://arxiv.org/pdf/1501.06890.pdf
Hmm...
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Wombat
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #17
@Archimago
The comments section at your blog gives the best insight one can find in short what MQA is really about.
I can't make up such stupid sarcastic writing as the real swallowers seem to honestly believe :)
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #18
@Archimago
The comments section at your blog gives the best insight one can find in short what MQA is really about.
I can't make up such stupid sarcastic writing as the real swallowers seem to honestly believe :)

Interesting how so many of  the participants in this test had no choice but to engage in blind testing, but still seem to use sighted, slow-switched, non-time-synched evaluations with a possibility of level mismatch as well, for *proving* the relevance of their biases.

Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #19
I'm going to be honest here.  This has nothing to do with audibility here.  But I would say regular Hi-Res is better than MQA Core based on several points:

Need of prosperity hardware and software and forbidding of decoding the audio stream into a usable format for a device that doesn't support it.

The fact that regular Hi-Res files is typically a change of sample rate and bit-depth that can easily be converted.

The fact that it's just another Super Audio CD type of attempt all over again.

Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #20
I'm going to be honest here.  This has nothing to do with audibility here.  But I would say regular Hi-Res is better than MQA Core based on several points:

Need of prosperity hardware and software and forbidding of decoding the audio stream into a usable format for a device that doesn't support it.

The fact that regular Hi-Res files is typically a change of sample rate and bit-depth that can easily be converted.

The fact that it's just another Super Audio CD type of attempt all over again.


Agreed. DRM is the obvious goal of MQA.

  • Porcus
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #21
Agreed. DRM is the obvious goal of MQA.

I also thought so when it arrived, but it seems to me that it offers no DRM opportunity, i.e., no way of locking down the content to prevent copying?  That looks like about no more DRM than HDCD or like Dolby-encoded retail music cassettes were back in the day before they were reverse-engineered and implemented in free-of-charge software: Playing it on non-[MQA|HDCD|Dolby]-aware gear would give you the music (unlike DTS-CD, mind you!), and a certain fidelity that is not outrageous - take that as "relatively speaking", for the cassettes. MQA'ed CDs - yes they exist already - can be ripped and copied.
So it looks more like a "premium" business model to me. Of course, it was about selling encoder and decoder licenses. But that is nothing unique (the CD format was also licensed, of course). And it looks like creating an excuse for yet-another-remastering-round in order to sell the same music over again - now if we get some decent stuff out of that, I even think it is worth the idiocy.


(But "nobody" knows about everything that the MQA chips can really do? Is it conspiranoia to consider the thought that there is indeed some decryption in the chip, in case MQA catches on well enough to start delivering encrypted signal?
And what about fingerprinting ... )

  • allhifi
  • [*]
Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #22
In fact all sounds are composed of collections of sine waves or if you will, tones with various frequencies.
That is, I guess, up to terminology - what one means by "composed", and how it could be misunderstood (even deliberately, since we are dealing with the marketing mumbojumbo-land).
As you know very well, it does not matter whether or not they were "composed" that way originally, but whether they were composed that way originally, but whether the signal can be decomposed that way and then recreated for playback - and to an error tolerance beyond audible transparency.  I guess that using the term "composed" fuels audiophool rhetoric based on the (convenient) misunderstanding that it must mean "originates from".

Heck, one could have used square waves or triangle waves instead of sines/cosines. Any choice of basis will do in theory, and therefore the trigonometric basis will do. No matter whether the audiophool thinks the sound originates from something that does not at all look like pure tones. All it takes is the sufficient number of bits - an imprecise statement yes, but one will anyway have to check real-world engineered implementations against measurements of human hearing, which is the proof of the pudding no matter what.


Wow. Very artistic. When you say, quote

" .... All it takes is the sufficient number of bits - an imprecise statement yes, but one will anyway have to check real-world engineered implementations against measurements of human hearing, which is the proof of the pudding no matter what." 

Are you saying, suggesting common (collective) 'subjective impressions', or the actual measurements -as represented by data/graphs?

In fact, what exactly are you saying ?

  • allhifi
  • [*]
Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #23
MQA: It's rather simple. Three core components;

1) MQA starts with encoding (of the original recording). There are known flaws in many of the early (and possibly current) A/D converters. MQA begins there, i.e. correcting known (temporal-related) errors..

2) The original recorded Master file is used.

3) Decoding (MQA style): It has long been recognized that a passband extending to 40-50 KHz. is a desirable objective, as MQA tests (and prior) have demonstrated.

The decoding process is simple enough; the standard passband of 22.05 KHz. (16/44.1, Red Book) is copied bit-for-bit. Any frequencies above this (ultrasonic?) band is simply compressed -and expanded during MQA playback,
It appears not very different to HE-AAC's  "SBR" component.
This (ultrasonic component) can be observed by MQA's bit-rate of 1,550? Kb/s (or thereabouts); 1411 Kb/s Red-Book and the added folding/unfolding of higher frequencies (above the prevailing noise floor). 

As a passionate music lover, if MQA proves superior, I'll embrace it.
I must say however I'm hearing some great "sounds" even with streaming at 60-128 Kb/s (AAC) !

Anyway you look at it, Robert (Bob) Stuart and team should be applauded for  his efforts -if nothing else.

You like -you buy (or stream). If not, carry on -as usual.

pj 
  • Last Edit: 01 October, 2017, 09:19:34 AM by allhifi

  • Porcus
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Re: Invite: MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test
Reply #24
It has long been recognized

[citation needed]. Scientific review article, please.