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MQA as told by Mastering Engineers

The Bakery’s Eric Boulanger, Mandy Parnell of Black Saloon Studios, Mick Sawaguchi of UNAMAS and 2L’s Morten Lindberg discuss their first experiences with MQA and the impact and importance of it within production and beyond.

Track details:

Mandy Parnell
Song – Black Lake
Artist – Bjork

Mick Sawaguchi
Song/Work – From the String Quartet No.14 in D minor “Death and the Maiden”
Composer – Franz Schubert
Album artist / ensemble – UNAMAS String Quartet

Morten Lindberg
Song – Benjamin Britten: Frank Bridge Variations; 4. Romance
Composer – Benjamin Britten
Album artist / orchestra – TrondheimSolistene


9 thoughts on “MQA as told by Mastering Engineers

  1. MQA will never take the world by storm, but as long as MQA Ltd. can continue to sell hardware licenses, they will continue to be a viable. solvent business. I've heard MQA and didn't like it.

  2. People talking down MQA fall into two main groups: Those that have invested thousands into non-mqa streamers and high end dacs that are now shut out of this amazing and revolutionary technology. And two; "experts" talking their books. I can't blame either of these two groups. But, the simple fact is MQA is here to stay and the future of digital high res music.

  3. Whether it’s MQA or DSD or XYZ etc is no real issue. The primary issue is the mastering itself. Today too many artistes have real lousy tracks. Recording has lost its dynamics with loudness wars.

    I am using Tidal Master and do enjoy MQA but some MQA albums sound so bad. Just badly recorded/mastered.

    We know that even with a good vinyl it can sound really very enjoyable.

  4. MQA has two benefits:
    1) streaming
    2) sound quality

    #1 is all well and good. But would be worthless, in my opinion, if not for #2. MQA allows high resolution audio files (which are normally large sized files) to be sent over the internet with the impact of CD size files.

    #2 is where MQA really shines.

    Have you ever noticed how many CDs and downloadable digital files suck? Or sound good, but different from each other? They cannot all be correct, if they are all have different sound quality.
    Have you ever noticed how the same exact song, obtained from different sources (for example, the original CD, a greatest hits CD, and any number of compilation CDs) all have different sound quality? What gives? It is the exact same song, and digital is all zeros and ones? So, clearly, real live breathing knuckleheads in the studios are responsible for this sonic mutilation.

    MQA puts an end to that, and in a good way.

    Somehow, engineers (perhaps, some that appear in this video) manage to screw up recording after recording. They add bass, they remove bass, they add echo, they double track vocals, and anything else that they think sounds "cool", auto-tune to the moon, and worst of all, they compress the dynamic life out of the music.

    In other words, they have amazing sounding master recordings (or stems), and rather than allowing us to hear the musicians and vocals as they really are, they process everything until the life is sucked out of it.

    MQA corrects digital master recordings, resulting in a better digital master than the original digital master. Impossible?

    This is due to timing issues that are specific and native to the equipment used that created the original digital masters. Countless songs were produced with timing errors (which is disastrous for digital). The MQA process includes knowing the exact timing related faults of each piece of equipment, and MQA rearranges the digital zeros and ones, putting them into the order that they would have been in, had the faulty equipment not had faults.

    Correcting the timing issues is a major accomplishment.

    MQA, seemingly magically, lifts away all of the fog added by faulty equipment and engineers that earn a living vandalizing the sonic art that resides on the master recordings.

    The MQA process knows exactly how digital files get screwed up, by equipment and engineering personnel, and has strict quality control that enforces proper mastering, resulting in open and dynamic music that jumps out of the speakers.

  5. "We've felt very lost with digital audio, and this gives us control back." They admit it is about _control_. The wrong kind of control, because they can't say that digital has worse fidelity or replay consistency compared to vinyl or cassette. Even Beekhyzen, another MQA shill, was forced to admit that MQA will mute digital output and will contain copyprotection for professional applications (for now).

    I can authenticate a CD rip with CUETools, and it doesn't make an artist-approved squashed DR8 mix any better. But the positive difference is that I can still get the same data if I don't care to authenticate, or the system is discontinued.

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