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Rt66indierock

MQA is Vaporware

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On 11/24/2018 at 2:04 PM, labjr said:

 

 

That and the master tapes are old and worn. Some are becoming unplayable. Each time they roll them probably risks more damage. But doing it digitally really negates any advantage of having an analog setup. Imaginary or not. May as well do the analog coloration with DSP and play it back with a DAC.

 

Very true - although there are aspects of analogue coloration/euphonia that are impossible to reproduce precisely using DSP. The nature of mechanical resonances (platter, arm, stylus) and analogue crosstalk (cartridge, stylus), for example, is that they vary from setup to setup, by frequency, by type of vinyl (weight, pressing quality, groove spacing, etc.), and based on many other factors. So there's a variability and unpredictability built in to the vinyl experience that is sort of by definition impossible to reproduce with DSP.

 

I hasten to add that I generally agree with your main point above, and that I myself use digital sources and have no interested in what IMHO is the tinkering crapshoot of vinyl reproduction as per the variables noted above.

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44 minutes ago, tmtomh said:

 

Very true - although there are aspects of analogue coloration/euphonia that are impossible to reproduce precisely using DSP. The nature of mechanical resonances (platter, arm, stylus) and analogue crosstalk (cartridge, stylus), for example, is that they vary from setup to setup, by frequency, by type of vinyl (weight, pressing quality, groove spacing, etc.), and based on many other factors. So there's a variability and unpredictability built in to the vinyl experience that is sort of by definition impossible to reproduce with DSP.

 

I hasten to add that I generally agree with your main point above, and that I myself use digital sources and have no interested in what IMHO is the tinkering crapshoot of vinyl reproduction as per the variables noted above.

 

Yep, Once it's digitized it's no longer analog. It's analogized-digitized-analog. Who knows what else was done to it. MQA? That's a joke! It's only for business that reviewers like it. I can't believe that this is even acceptable to someone with a $20,000+ turntable setup. I had a brief discussion with Bes Nievera at Music Direct about the Nightfly album on vinyl. He told me the same canned talking points you hear from reviewers. "Well we see it as analog because that's what comes out of the machine when we play back the tape"  Total BS.

 

 

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6 hours ago, firedog said:

Don't totally agree. When I have made needle drops of vinyl in the past, they preserve that "analog" texture and sound with the digital playback. They really do sound like the record played back on the same system. Same with my Kii Threes when fed an analog source. The A/D conversion is essentially transparent - it sounds like analog. 

Yes, there is variability to analog sources. But there is digital modeling of exactly what some of these sources do, and you can use that modeling to produce a digital file that sounds like the analog source of the model. I posted a thread today about one of them, "Abbey Road Vinyl" software. 

 

I don't disagree with the gist of your comment here, but I would note two caveats, which I think are important caveats:

 

1. Yes, digitized vinyl, done well, sounds very much like the vinyl setup itself. But with respect, that's not what my comment was about. My comment was about whether or not DSP can fully reproduce/imitate the vinyl playback itself - not whether digital can capture vinyl playback. And there I will stick to my prior point: yes, DSP certainly can reproduce vinyl-like euphonics/distortion - but actual vinyl playback produces those effects in ways that are highly variable from moment to moment, and which are dependent on mechanical and analogue electrical variables (and no doubt the interaction between the two as well). So with DSP, you're essential picking a single permutation and snapshot moment of euphonic distortion, and applying that to the signal. Of course DSP could be more complex, changing randomly, or shifting over time based on some kind of algorithm. But there are limits, not because of the limitations of DSP, but rather because of the lack of predicability of vinyl's limitations.

 

2. I've seen write-ups and screen shots of the Abbey Road vinyl software, and my impression - which could be mistaken, I freely admit - is that it's a somewhat more sophisticated version of the typical "vinyl" digital effect, which is too focused on adding surface noise, speed variation, and rumble, and not focused enough on detailed manipulation of channel crosstalk and tunable resonance frequencies. In other words, the vinyl DSPs I've seen all focus on the aspects that make vinyl sound imperfect and vintage - they tend not to focus on the aspect that IMHO are what really make vinyl sound attractive to many audiophiles. (Again, I stress that I am not one of those audiophiles - I prefer digital to vinyl as a rule).

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On 11/29/2018 at 12:21 PM, firedog said:

Don't totally agree. When I have made needle drops of vinyl in the past, they preserve that "analog" texture and sound with the digital playback. They really do sound like the record played back on the same system.

Same results here!  I ripped my life's entire vinyl collection to flac files on my hard drive in preparation for my retirement and move to small digs in FL. Every bit of that "vinyl texture" is immediately audible during each playback, all the surface noise, pops, ticks, mono'd bass,  etc; are reproduced in perfect digital sound forever. :)

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On 11/24/2018 at 7:16 AM, firedog said:

My point is that you have Michael Fremer and many like him that have high end digital reproduction and listen to hi-res, but still generally prefer the vinyl, even when digitally sourced. 

 

My view is that you need both.  On classic rock albums made from an analog master ("AAA") then that's typically the best way to listen.  With a digital recording, you probably want the hirez even if it's been upsampled.  

 

But of course, the mastering process and quality matter a lot so the rule of thumb often doesn't work.  Things like current condition of tape, quality of mastering chain itself, new tape sources, etc. all matter.

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16 hours ago, Rt66indierock said:

On January 6, 2017 I said when MQA reached 10,000 albums it would no longer be vaporware.

 

In a telephone call recently, Mike Jbara CEO of MQA Ltd told me around 1.1 million tracks had been processed. This is well over 10,000 since the rule of thumb is to divide tracks by ten or twelve to get the number of albums. Interestingly many have not made their way to the distribution channels.

 

I’m going to update the original post topics then it is time to move on to the next phase, MQA is not commercially viable.  

 

So it seems roughly 100,000 albums have been done, some of which are not released.  

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18 minutes ago, Lee Scoggins said:

 

My view is that you need both.  On classic rock albums made from an analog master ("AAA") then that's typically the best way to listen.  With a digital recording, you probably want the hirez even if it's been upsampled.  

 

But of course, the mastering process and quality matter a lot so the rule of thumb often doesn't work.  Things like current condition of tape, quality of mastering chain itself, new tape sources, etc. all matter.

Since having the Kii Three that has excellent AD and DA conversion and that converts everything to PCM, and since experiencing using HQP - I've come to the conclusion that I couldn't care a whit about which digital format I listen to. They all can sound good, and with well done conversion, even DSD keeps some DSD like qualities when converted to PCM. I try to find the best version I can, ignore the format, and just listen. 

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1 minute ago, firedog said:

Since having the Kii Three that has excellent AD and DA conversion and that converts everything to PCM, and since experiencing using HQP - I've come to the conclusion that I couldn't care a whit about which digital format I listen to. They all can sound good, and with well done conversion, even DSD keeps some DSD like qualities when converted to PCM. I try to find the best version I can, ignore the format, and just listen. 

Agree.

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10 minutes ago, Rt66indierock said:

 

A number that is squarely in no man's land.

 

Yes, we are well past the "build it and they will come" hope with MQA - and hope was all it ever was.  It does not matter if ALL of the major labels catalog has been processed into an MQA encoding and is available on Tidal.   Despite the best efforts of the trade publication promotion machine MQA has been an absolute dud with consumers.  It does not do anything that can not be done better in another way, and it just adds cost doing so.

 

Time to move on to the next audiophile scam Big Thang 😉

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My hope, for the sake of the music, is that the studios that are buying in to MQA are not archiving music as MQA masters. Hopefully they are archiving their music as high end digital masters.  When the next big " Wonder System" comes along, hopefully they will have archived masters that have not been damaged by MQA processing.

I would assume that the people that are running the studios are not stupid enough to archive music on a lossy system, but you never know.  A number of historical masters were destroyed in the past to make room in the vaults.

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1 hour ago, KeenObserver said:

My hope, for the sake of the music, is that the studios that are buying in to MQA are not archiving music as MQA masters. Hopefully they are archiving their music as high end digital masters.  When the next big " Wonder System" comes along, hopefully they will have archived masters that have not been damaged by MQA processing.

I would assume that the people that are running the studios are not stupid enough to archive music on a lossy system, but you never know.  A number of historical masters were destroyed in the past to make room in the vaults.

The studios have said MQA isn't an archival format.

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17 minutes ago, FredericV said:

 

Percentage batch encoded?
Percentage approved by a real mastering engineer (not some MQA batch processor) ?
Percentage white glove?

I would guess the first number converges to 100%

 

Would all 100,000 turn on the magical blue light?

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6 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

The studios have said MQA isn't an archival format.

 

Not appropriate for archival purposes, but it is "good enough" to foist on the music buying public?

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6 minutes ago, KeenObserver said:

Not appropriate for archival purposes, but it is "good enough" to foist on the music buying public?

It's better than high-res for consumers while also not being "crown jewel" quality. Truly a miracle.

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Wasn't one of the selling points of MQA for the data warehouses to only have one file to store?

 

Thank goodness they aren't using it for archiving however if it isn't good enough for archiving and PCM DSD is good enough for archiving, let's just use PCM and DSD and be done it already.

 

 

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