Daniel Maarat forwarded me an email saying that this guy Murdo, some shill hired by MQA Ltd, was mad I called the lossy Master Quality Authenticated file format the pathetic cash grab that it truly is:
Dear Death Metal Underground Editorial,
Black Sabbath box set article – MQA facts
I work with MQA here in the UK, and recently read your article covering the new Black Sabbath box set. Further to that, would you be kind enough to correct the below noted MQA technical inaccuracies.
‘The box also comes with a USB stick with some shitty MP3 derivative called Mastering Quality Authenticated (MQA), etc.’
Technical correction 1: Master Quality Authenticated
Technical correction 2: MQA is not a derivative of MP3. MQA is new technology; one which – amongst other aspects – corrects timing inaccuracies. (It also delivers the 90% of the musical information thrown away by MP3.)
‘which is another attempt by the failing mainstream record labels to sell you copy-protected crap, etc.’
Technical correction 3: MQA has no form of copy protection.
I do also take issue with the article’s sentiments re the box set, including what MQA has to offer, but, hey, that’s your take. Nevertheless I would urge you to further investigate MQA here and here. I also encourage you to listen to MQA music via downloads and/or via TIDAL’s Masters service.
Thanks for your time.
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is another lossily compressed format that promises improvements over MP3s in the same way that Apple’s AAC did over a decade ago. It is most similar to the failed HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital) encoder scam that was attempted in the 90s if you are old enough to remember HDCD stamped on pricier CD players and receivers back then with all the other crap like Dolby. HDCD tried to encode more dynamic range onto a standard CD. Jim Lesurf wrote a good article a while back on how HDCD worked theoretically and in practice but the format was mostly a scam to get audio hardware manufacturers to pay for and license HDCD encoders to make discs that consumers would have to buy HDCD compatible devices (whose manufacturers also paid a fee) to properly play back. HDCD’s makers, Pacific Microsonic, eventually cashed out by selling their IP to Micro$oft.
The MQA format, is similarly hitting up manufacturers for money for the equipment and codecs to create their own little proprietary format that sounds worse than regular CDs (and FLAC rips of them) in practice. Digital audio gear manufacturers Benchmark, Linn, and Schiit all laid out exactly how MQA Ltd is attempting to profit as a useless middleman.
I briefly tried MQA a few months ago on a free trial of the Tidal streaming service. It sounds rather odd and not as good as the normal CD quality 16-bit, 441000 kHz PCM losslessly compressed in a FLAC file that from CD rips and websites such as Bandcamp. The MQA sound is almost weirdly bloated, the stereo imaging is messed with (easy to hear with metal’s twin hard-panned guitars), and something just sounded plain wrong to me.
This isn’t surprising given that MQA does not use a typical linear phase, sharp roll off filter but instead uses one that resembles those found in non-oversampling (NOS) digital to analog converters (DAC), claiming that the inherent pre and post ringing of good linear-phase filters is bad despite that the ringing will always be masked by louder sounds unless there is a initial sharp transient like a loud snare hit on the recording. Here’s some “schiit”-eating limey from MQA attempting to explain with snazzy computer graphics how if you pay him, his magical lower fidelity filtering technology that messes with the signal will make your sound more “natural” like the wood-grain on a vintage stereo:
Minimum phase filters on otherwise standard oversampling DACs and NOS DACs (these all have major roll off after 10 kHz) mangle both the frequency response and phase of the recording. They’re not very high-fidelity and usually used by old farts who want to fall asleep to music as everything sounds like it’s coming off a worn old record being amplified by some dying old tube amp from the 60s. MQA sounds worse than these as you can’t even doze off to Sodom and Blasphemy using it. No with MQA, you are just limited to mainstream music that will sound off and worse than the CD copies you might already own.
The real point of MQA is for this limey to pickpocket both manufacturers and consumers like a bad Guy Ritchie movie. Several large corporations have already joined his circlejerking gang. If these MQA shills and sleazy corporate suits actually cared about sound quality, they would be encouraging better recording, mixing, and mastering practices rather than trying to rob everyone. Metalheads (and everyone else who actually likes music) should stick to normal CDs.