when is Naim going to update streamers for MQA?

MQA does make a difference to my ears on my MacBook pro, but much prefer to hear it on a Naim source. Don't know if it is the MQA process or just listening to 24 bit master compared to 16 bit, but difficult to go back to 16 bit after hearing the master 24 bit version of "when the Levee Breaks" Led Zeppelin.

When can we expect an update?  

Original Post
Noogle posted:

@Analogmusic   Sounds like you're going to have to give up on MQA.  Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good.

LOL now that is funny.

MQA is here to stay. I don't like the internal DAC of my Macbook, I suppose I'll buy a MQA capable DAC soon enough. I think Audioquest will update one of their dragonfly DACs soon.  

Try it... I did and it does remove (when playing on my macbook) that annoying digital 16 bit signature sound when listening on a non-audiophile dac.

 

Dozey posted:

JFritzen - the advantage is that you can stream MQA high res rather than having to download it, as the bit rate is lower (due to data compression).

I agree, but is this relevant even in the immediate future? Hires audio needs 10Mbit/s at 24/192 and most households will have much more bandwidth than that in the future (especially the ones that can afford a Naim streamer). Which leaves mobile audio as the most relevant application and even there the bandwidths are likely to grow in the future.

This reminds me of MP3 which was a necessity when hard disks were small. Nowadays MP3 is a bit pointless (in home audio).

 

jfritzen posted:
Dozey posted:

JFritzen - the advantage is that you can stream MQA high res rather than having to download it, as the bit rate is lower (due to data compression).

I agree, but is this relevant even in the immediate future? Hires audio needs 10Mbit/s at 24/192 and most households will have much more bandwidth than that in the future (especially the ones that can afford a Naim streamer). Which leaves mobile audio as the most relevant application and even there the bandwidths are likely to grow in the future.

This reminds me of MP3 which was a necessity when hard disks were small. Nowadays MP3 is a bit pointless (in home audio).

Thinking more about it, I believe that MQA is targeted at the streaming providers rather than the consumers. Because the providers could save on bandwidth or squeeze more customers into the available bandwidth. But why would I, the consumer, pay more (the MQA codec) for less (sound quality, open formats and DRM free streams)?

analogmusic posted:

because MQA does work and removes the annoying digital sound, but it certainly isn't the only game in town that does it.

What is this 'annoying digital sound'? In its early years CD player outputs often sounded harsh and artificial compared to analogue - when I simply did not feel it was worth buying. But things changed and decent CD players came along and to many people digital started to sound very good, and indeed revealed the limitations of analogue formats such as vinyl, the icing on the cake coming with DACs like Hugo.

you mentioned listening on a computer, with its built-in soundcard's DAC - unless that is a very special soundcard and optimised computer I would expect just the crummy sound of an inferior replay system that is not very pleasant, and maybe that is what you are describing? Interesting that the MQA version apparently changes it (perhaps smoothing the sound in some way?) - but is that closer fidelity to the original performance/mix, or otherwise is it simply modifying the sound in some way that just sounds more pleasant ('sugar coating')?

jfritzen posted:
jfritzen posted:
Dozey posted:

JFritzen - the advantage is that you can stream MQA high res rather than having to download it, as the bit rate is lower (due to data compression)

I agree, but is this relevant even in the immediate future? Hires audio needs 10Mbit/s at 24/192 and most households will have much more bandwidth than that in the future (especially the ones that can afford a Naim streamer). Which leaves mobile audio as the most relevant application and even there the bandwidths are likely to grow in the future.

This reminds me of MP3 which was a necessity when hard disks were small. Nowadays MP3 is a bit pointless (in home audio).

Thinking more about it, I believe that MQA is targeted at the streaming providers rather than the consumers. Because the providers could save on bandwidth or squeeze more customers into the available bandwidth. But why would I, the consumer, pay more (the MQA codec) for less (sound quality, open formats and DRM free streams)?

Wouldn't it be great to stream everything in HD? And yes, this will help Tidal (and others) with bandwidth problems. We don't like dropout do we ?

ChrisSU posted:

The small number of MQA albums on Tidal have more than likely been carefully chosen to sound good (on a computer?) and I would be very wary of judging the quality of the format based on such a small sample of material. 

Tidal are claiming 30K tracks and thousands of albums. Assume 10 tracks per album and you get 3000 albums. I think that's a very good start especially considering that it's mainstream music. 

I posted this on the other MQA thread but it's also relevant here. 

Regarding Naim and MQA, the last comment I am aware of is this from Phil Harris.

The current Uniti platform is capable of MQA playback from a hardware perspective and so is the new platform ...

... but neither currently support the MQA format itself.

MQA support can be (and has always been possible to be) added by a firmware update should it be decided that it is appropriate but at this time there have been no announcements made as to whether MQA will be supported or when and until such time as an announcement is made then that's all I can tell you.

It was posted on 13/10/2016, just after the launch of the new Unit range.

GregW posted:
ChrisSU posted:

The small number of MQA albums on Tidal have more than likely been carefully chosen to sound good (on a computer?) and I would be very wary of judging the quality of the format based on such a small sample of material. 

Tidal are claiming 30K tracks and thousands of albums. Assume 10 tracks per album and you get 3000 albums. I think that's a very good start especially considering that it's mainstream music. 

I'm sure there will be more to follow, but my point is that people are trying to make judgements now, based on the the small amount of material available now (not to mention listening on a crappy MacBook DAC) which seems to me like a flawed way to assess the potential of the format.

MQA answers a question nobody asked. Like HDCD its benefits are marginal at best. It's just a revenue stream enhancement for our friends at Meridian. But as the old saying goes, there's a sucker born every minute so perhaps it does indeed have a future.

Whether it's records, CD's, SACD's, streaming or downloads, the biggest difference in terms of sound quality comes from the care  and effort made in the original mastering and production.

But as Dennis Miller used to say, that't my opinion.......but I could be wrong!

Again, please remember, as per my postings in the other MQA thread, that unless you have a MQA certified DAC that unfolds the Hi-Res content and plays the full resolution, and playing the Tidal MQA enabled stream directed through this DAC, you are not listening to the full MQA content.

Therefore any played via the Tidal Desktop App via a Computer's DAC is not the full MQA content, it is the content without the Hi-Res unpacked and folded back into the stream - please see the Roberta Flack example in my previous post, where Roon (Desktop App playing through Laptop speakers using software decoding) was only able to play at 24/48 instead of the fully decoded 24/192 stream those with MQA certified DACs are able to achieve.

Only the certified MQA DACs can unpack the additional HiRes information and fold it into the stream.
Non-certified MQA DACs (i.e. all Naim products) will only be able to play the non-MQA decoded version.

Thanks, Simon.

This lifted from the Wiki description:

"MQA-encoded content can be carried via any lossless file format such as FLAC or ALAC; hence, it can be played back on systems either with or without an MQA decoder. In the latter case, the resulting audio has easily-identifiable high-frequency noise occupying 3 LSB bits, thus limiting playback on legacy devices effectively to 13bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than "normal" 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes."

if true, it implies that you can listen without a decoder but limited to 48kHz13 bit, or a decoder - which could be software - when it would revert to 96/24, which would then presumably feed quite happily into any DAC capable of converting to analogue. Why do filters after the DAC have to be different?

 

analogmusic posted:

MQA does make a difference to my ears on my MacBook pro, but much prefer to hear it on a Naim source. Don't know if it is the MQA process or just listening to 24 bit master compared to 16 bit, but difficult to go back to 16 bit after hearing the master 24 bit version of "when the Levee Breaks" Led Zeppelin.

When can we expect an update?  

If you prefer the 24 bit versions over 16 bit versions, you might as well purchase 24 bit content without the MQA trickery. Listening to a 24 bit file or a 16 bit file, both derived  from the same master of course, makes a lot of difference to my ears on a Naim.

Having said that, I'm not very fond of the recent Led Zeppelin remasters. They have been pumping them out year after year, but the first 16 bit remasters of the first remasters Box set have more pleasant dynamics than the later ones where the dynamics sounds artificially stretched to my ears.

Innocent Bystander posted:

This lifted from the Wiki description:

....playback on legacy devices effectively to 13bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than "normal" 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes." 

That is poppy cock - and I will log onto Wiki via my account and flag this requiring citation if not done already - convolution is simply a technical term of multiplying samples together - which is what you do when you pass samples through a filter - which all DACs effectively have to do - its called a reconstruction filter. So most DACs including like the Hugo and Naim have a novel way of doing this - but I don't think we say the quality of playing Red Book through a NDS is higher than normal so its not like 16 bits - well I have not heard anyone say this. Most reputable DAC manufacturers will go about maximising the quality of 16 bit playback - not trying to say they are converting 16 bits into 18 bits of quality etc..

There are some interesting aspects of MQA speaking as an engineer  but there is also an awful lot of rubbish written about it (in my opinion) too no doubt encouraged by the commercial licensing aspect of MQA

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:

This lifted from the Wiki description:

....playback on legacy devices effectively to 13bit. MQA claims that nevertheless the quality is higher than "normal" 48/16, because of the novel sampling and convolution processes." 

That is poppy cock - and I will log onto Wiki via my account and flag this requiring citation if not done already - convolution is simply a technical term of multiplying samples together - which is what you do when you pass samples through a filter - which all DACs effectively have to do - its called a reconstruction filter. So most DACs including like the Hugo and Naim have a novel way of doing this - but I don't think we say the quality of playing Red Book through a NDS is higher than normal so its not like 16 bits - well I have not heard anyone say this. Most reputable DAC manufacturers will go about maximising the quality of 16 bit playback - not trying to say they are converting 16 bits into 18 bits of quality etc..

 

Yes, it all sounds like marketing hype ro me: our 13bits (after decoding) sounds better than others' 16 bits.

So Naim. If not MQA, what method of Hi-res streaming will you adopt? You have got us to this stage with Tidal it seems strange experiencing the silence. If it is 'No' just say it! You have a new UnitI range to launch and us hi-fi enthusiasts may be waiting for you to make up your mind. I dare say most Naim streamer owners now pay a subscription to Tidal - you have reason to commit. Hi-res is what made me take the plunge into streaming - we are held back by our commitment to the Naim brand. 

Dafydd Lorryman posted:

So Naim. If not MQA, what method of Hi-res streaming will you adopt? You have got us to this stage with Tidal it seems strange experiencing the silence. If it is 'No' just say it! You have a new UnitI range to launch and us hi-fi enthusiasts may be waiting for you to make up your mind. I dare say most Naim streamer owners now pay a subscription to Tidal - you have reason to commit. Hi-res is what made me take the plunge into streaming - we are held back by our commitment to the Naim brand. 

I was unaware Naim had deecided not to, the general assumption being that they are likely to be evaluating it before deciding. And if I were Naim I would be assessing the sound quality thoroughly, including the effect of artifacts, and not implementing just because it might sound superficially better, or better only in low resolution systems unless there is no detriment to so doing. There does appear to be a possibility that some people perceive MQA as sounding better, while others hear the artifacts, perhaps in much the same way as some people perceive the noise floor modulation by RF in a DAC making a 'brighter' sound as initially superficially being better.

should Naim decide not to implement MQA, you will still be able to stream hi-res from local files (e.g. Downloaded), and from any online streaming services of high res in non-lossy compressed format, such as from Qobuz. The limiting factor for that is the internet speed, which is where MQA will manage to stream a lossy compressed high res with much the same bandwidth as red book, but with slow internet connections even that is not necessarily a viable service.

Of course, some would argue that hi res doesn't (can't) actually sound better than red book, other than due to different mastering, which if true means the trick would be better mastering of red book from the original mastre recordings. I personally do not yet have a definitive view of whether ther reality matches the theory, if only because of that mastering question: I've heard dome hi res sounding better than red book version, and others vice versa. 

Dafydd Lorryman posted:

So Naim. If not MQA, what method of Hi-res streaming will you adopt? You have got us to this stage with Tidal it seems strange experiencing the silence. If it is 'No' just say it! You have a new UnitI range to launch and us hi-fi enthusiasts may be waiting for you to make up your mind. I dare say most Naim streamer owners now pay a subscription to Tidal - you have reason to commit. Hi-res is what made me take the plunge into streaming - we are held back by our commitment to the Naim brand. 

If you've done research you'd realise that a MQA compatible DAC would require a redesign, or if software based, considerable redevelopment. Apparently Naim are not happy with the efficiency of the current MQA decoding code. So they could implement it now, but would you want it at the cost of normal hires playback quality from Naim?

But MQA is hardly high fidelity with all those introduced aliasing artefacts - which it appears they rely on Joe Bloggs not noticing - it might be however Naim explore to look at MQA software decoding in the Qb and Mu-so range of products where I suspect it is better suited - and have a realistic limit on the extent of the replay fidelity - and where the more typical wifi connections might benefit from the lossy  hidef compression..

I suspect they are waiting to see what Apple does, in all honesty.

Naim doesnt set wire standards. There are only a very few companies in the world that can. Apple can. Google can. Amazon high marginal.

Samsung very marginal. Sony marginal.

Microsoft used to.

Tidal? Nah...

Who cares what Linn says ... what matters is what the 3 big record company's do.

With Universal coming onboard with MQA HiRes audio streaming, that only leaves Sony Records to make their announcement. If Sony can resist the urge to go Beta on us, the entire Music industry can get back on track after that derailment called Napster. 

Lord help us if the record industry can finally make some money again and promote musicians other then the 1% 'ers. Imagine radio stations streaming "new music" with HiRes, Record Labels with promoters once again searching for talent. Normal folk excited about Music again ... Gasp!

Apple, Amazon & Google can go piss up a rope IMO. 

Bert Schurink posted:

With these format wars it's always about where the power is. When a lot of big labels get on board it will have an impact on the market. So I assume with the recent announcements that we haven't seen the last of MQA. I am not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.

Taking the Zen approach  ... "we'll see" ... said the Master.

Bill Allen posted:

Who cares what Linn says ... what matters is what the 3 big record company's do.

With Universal coming onboard with MQA HiRes audio streaming, that only leaves Sony Records to make their announcement. If Sony can resist the urge to go Beta on us, the entire Music industry can get back on track after that derailment called Napster. 

Lord help us if the record industry can finally make some money again and promote musicians other then the 1% 'ers. Imagine radio stations streaming "new music" with HiRes, Record Labels with promoters once again searching for talent. Normal folk excited about Music again ... Gasp!

Apple, Amazon & Google can go piss up a rope IMO. 

So you're saying that MQA will somehow benefit musicians?

Analogmusic, following my earlier reply above, I have discovered that Naim have been assessing the feasibility of adding MQA capability.  The good news is that it looks like the new Uniti platform has adequate power to process the format. However, there's a considerable resource required to implement it, so any decision will depend on performance, market demand/take-up and of course cost implications.  So we'll just have to wait and see...

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