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We summed up the controversy between Tidal, MQA and audiophiles after a Youtuber did a sound quality test by uploading his music on Tidal.
- MQA is a company that stands to gain financially by their proprietary format increasing in popularity
- MQA is a new approach to digital audio file compression designed to reduce the file size for streaming and distribution
- MQA claims to offer the highest available sound quality and to authenticate the quality and end-to-end delivery process
- MQA claims their neuroscience-based, time-focused filter techniques can not be measured by current methodologies
- MQA actively discourages measurement or comparison of their format
- Critics have attempted to measure MQA and have noted audible quality degradation in contrast to MQA’s claims of ‘nothing is lost from the original’
- Critics note that the MQA blue light authentication does not guarantee the integrity of the audio file
- The original file format is not clearly displayed during playback and implies a high-resolution source regardless of the original sample rate
- Critics claim that the MQA (and similar iFi GTO) filter are leaky and offer worse performance for standard PCM playback
- If MQA becomes the dominant hi-res audio format, not only may it be sonically compromised, it is not open-source, thus requiring hardware and licensing fees, and has DRM like controls built-in
Yet, should MQA establish dominance over the hi-res audio market, it likely isn’t a good thing for consumers. Firstly, MQA is a single company’s intellectual property, and not free for use. Secondly, it really might not sound as good as what we’ve currently got.
Consumers stand to lose freedom of choice, gain hardware purchase requirements, and no longer have access to original hi-res audio files.
On the other hand, MQA supporters fervently maintain that MQA delivers on its promises. They affirm that the measurements do not tell the whole story. To their ears, the sonic improvements go far beyond what the numbers imply.