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  1. #1
    Senior Member moomoomoomoo's Avatar
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    Lossy "24 BIT": MQA & Streaming

    I had an interesting experience today. I got to compare an MQA 24 bit edition of the new David Crosby with the CD & also a "24 bit" version of the Bowie box that was said to be a "24 bit" Tidal Stream with the standard 16 bit version. Played all on my hi-end system through my non MQA Oppo 95.

    I did first check both 24 bit files with Trader's Little Helper, to make sure they weren't mislabeled PCM files. They weren't. Both came back as "Unknown file format or corrupt". VLC does show both as being 24 bit.

    I didn't necessarily hear what I expected.

    First the Crosby: Though Lossy, the MQA simply destroyed the cd as far as sound quality goes. I really didn't expect this; if anything I expected the opposite; both because MQA is lossy & because I don't have a decoder (It did just dawn on me that because I acquired the MQA as a file, it may already be decoded; that would at least partially explain why it sounds so much better than cd without a decoder.). Compared to the cd, the MQA had way more depth, definition & a smoother tone. In fact, it shows up as 44/24 (lossy) & 44/24 (lossless) doesn't usually sound this good.

    I noticed in Tracy's HDT post that they're going to have the DC also. If there's is a true PCM 24, it will be very interesting to compare that with the MQA version. What is also interesting is a 45 minute MQA version of the cd was 684 mb (as .wav files), compared to the PCM 16 bit version at 456 mb.

    The apparent problem there is the point of MQA as I understand it is to fit a 24 bit file onto a physical cd. Unless there are other variables I'm not aware of, it looks like just over 45 minutes is the limit.

    The Bowie (said to be a Tidal stream; I don't know that for a fact) was the opposite.

    Ironically what I preferred in the cd version is what I usually prefer in 24 bit over 16: the cd version had more depth, sound staging & was smoother. I guess I expected some sort of a negative outcome on the stream; though not necessarily this one. Basically, the "24 bit" stream sucked (& the cd set is not highly regarded sonically either; but the stream was definitely worse).

    Again, if anything I'm somewhat shocked by the MQA; that any lossy file sounds better than a cd from the same master.
    Last edited by moomoomoomoo; 10-25-2018 at 08:09 PM.
    Passive Preamp: Mod Squad Deluxe; Amp McCormack DNA-1 Mod 1; Hi Rez & blu-ray/DVD Front End: Oppo BDP-95 With Region Hack; CD front end: Esoteric P-10->Kimber/Illuminati Digital Cable-> PS Audio SL3; CD Recorder: Tascam 900SL; Cassette Deck: Nakamichi DR2; Speakers (2.0): NHT 2.5I; Analog Cable: Tara Analog Standard, Pandora & Omni Bi-Wired Speaker Cable; Various aftermarket power cords; Power Conditioner: Adcom, Televsion: Vizio E55-C1

  2. #2
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    I'll have to do some reading because I didn't think there would be any sonic benefits of MQA unless you had a decoder.

  3. #3
    Senior Member moomoomoomoo's Avatar
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    As I mentioned, it's POSSIBLE that the files I received were already decoded. Believe me, I was skeptical, but the improvement was not subtle! I just got the 88/24 PCM version. About to play it.
    Passive Preamp: Mod Squad Deluxe; Amp McCormack DNA-1 Mod 1; Hi Rez & blu-ray/DVD Front End: Oppo BDP-95 With Region Hack; CD front end: Esoteric P-10->Kimber/Illuminati Digital Cable-> PS Audio SL3; CD Recorder: Tascam 900SL; Cassette Deck: Nakamichi DR2; Speakers (2.0): NHT 2.5I; Analog Cable: Tara Analog Standard, Pandora & Omni Bi-Wired Speaker Cable; Various aftermarket power cords; Power Conditioner: Adcom, Televsion: Vizio E55-C1

  4. #4
    Senior Member moomoomoomoo's Avatar
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    On the Crosby: Quick comparison between the 88/24 & the 44/24 MQA: Despite having the same lousy DR8 compression numbers, I prefer the LPCM 88/24 on quieter parts, while the MQA is smoother sounding on louder sections. I don't know enough about the technology to explain any of this; but it is odd.

    Again, both 24 bit versions destroy the cd by comparison.
    Passive Preamp: Mod Squad Deluxe; Amp McCormack DNA-1 Mod 1; Hi Rez & blu-ray/DVD Front End: Oppo BDP-95 With Region Hack; CD front end: Esoteric P-10->Kimber/Illuminati Digital Cable-> PS Audio SL3; CD Recorder: Tascam 900SL; Cassette Deck: Nakamichi DR2; Speakers (2.0): NHT 2.5I; Analog Cable: Tara Analog Standard, Pandora & Omni Bi-Wired Speaker Cable; Various aftermarket power cords; Power Conditioner: Adcom, Televsion: Vizio E55-C1

  5. #5
    Senior Member moomoomoomoo's Avatar
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    This is going to be my last comment (I promise) I think there's something in the MQA that smooths out the harshness from the pretty extreme compression used on the entire album (what a shame they did that).

    One sign of quality digital is really hearing subtle reverb. Another is hearing the voices sound almost 3 dimensional on a well recorded album. The 88/24 totally wins there; but it is a bit harsh, which the MQA seems to smooth out a bit. As far as depth, the 24 bit PCM is as big of a step up from the MQA as the MQA was from the cd. One other thing I don't like on the MQA is the upper & mid bass. It just doesn't sound natural.

    Now I'm curious to do a similar comparison on an MQA that isn't compressed to death.
    Last edited by moomoomoomoo; 10-26-2018 at 12:07 PM.
    Passive Preamp: Mod Squad Deluxe; Amp McCormack DNA-1 Mod 1; Hi Rez & blu-ray/DVD Front End: Oppo BDP-95 With Region Hack; CD front end: Esoteric P-10->Kimber/Illuminati Digital Cable-> PS Audio SL3; CD Recorder: Tascam 900SL; Cassette Deck: Nakamichi DR2; Speakers (2.0): NHT 2.5I; Analog Cable: Tara Analog Standard, Pandora & Omni Bi-Wired Speaker Cable; Various aftermarket power cords; Power Conditioner: Adcom, Televsion: Vizio E55-C1

  6. #6
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moomoomoomoo View Post
    This is going to be my last comment (I promise)
    We'll see about that.

    I'm streaming the Crosby album as I type and I like what I have heard so far. I am going to grab it in some format.

    So you are saying that you like the HDT 88/24 best of all the versions that you have heard? I may actually grab it on vinyl but haven't ruled out a download.

    What I would really like is a super clean copy of Croz on vinyl but that one seems slightly rare at least at a reasonable price.

  7. #7
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    What I really need to do is run cables from my HT setup to my two-channel rig. My NAS drive with all my digital collection (connected to my Oppo) is in my AV closet but my two-channel rig is about a 35 foot cable run away.

    Running two-channel music just isn't the same going through my Anthem HT preamp. I'm sure it's doable but I can't seem to get the sound I want when compared to my 80's stereo preamp and amp combo.

  8. #8
    Senior Member moomoomoomoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Rainwater View Post
    We'll see about that.

    I'm streaming the Crosby album as I type and I like what I have heard so far. I am going to grab it in some format.

    So you are saying that you like the HDT 88/24 best of all the versions that you have heard? I may actually grab it on vinyl but haven't ruled out a download.

    What I would really like is a super clean copy of Croz on vinyl but that one seems slightly rare at least at a reasonable price.
    Yes, of the digital I would choose the 88/24. If it wasn't so compressed, it would sound awesome, it's well recorded. It still sounds very god.
    Passive Preamp: Mod Squad Deluxe; Amp McCormack DNA-1 Mod 1; Hi Rez & blu-ray/DVD Front End: Oppo BDP-95 With Region Hack; CD front end: Esoteric P-10->Kimber/Illuminati Digital Cable-> PS Audio SL3; CD Recorder: Tascam 900SL; Cassette Deck: Nakamichi DR2; Speakers (2.0): NHT 2.5I; Analog Cable: Tara Analog Standard, Pandora & Omni Bi-Wired Speaker Cable; Various aftermarket power cords; Power Conditioner: Adcom, Televsion: Vizio E55-C1

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