Hi-Fi Audio quacks

Professionally, my company deals with consumers. This means that with respect to audio, I am a novice, and I am here to learn. Many members of this community possess expertise in audio and engineering. I am grateful that they are active here, so that I can learn from them/you… Thank You!

The most important thing when you work with consumers–i.e., my job, dealing with members of the public–is trust. There is an information assymmetry that naturally develops, between a company and a consumer–because I and my team spend 12+ hours a day on the same topic, and the public doesn’t–that results in us knowing more about our industry than a random member of the public. This result is obvious and I take this trust very seriously. As an corroborating example, the engineering team at dCS certainly possesses more knowledge about audio engineering than any of us individually and I trust them. Accordingly, I buy dCS’s products. (If the aforementioned statement isn’t true, please apply now, so we all can benefit!)

Accordingly and conversely, it infuriates me when someone in a position of trust violates the trust of the public.

As such, this what a “respected” reviewer wrote at The Absolute Sound wrote about MQA:

“To recap, MQA is a technology that simultaneously improves digital sound quality while dramatically lowering the bit-rate. It’s an encode-decode system, meaning that for maximum fidelity the music must be encoded with MQA, and played back through a device with MQA decoding.”

This is, forgive my “french”, Absolute Bullsh-t.

If this statement, published on-line with thousands and thousands of views over a decade, and part of a massive, corrordinated, mis-information campaign, doesn’t make you furious, then click “Back” or “Delete”, and move on.

If it does infuriate you, I encourage you to think for yourself, challenge the audio press, challenge the audio manufacturers, challenge your dealers, challenge that new “X,” whatever it may be, and everything you hear or read, to seek your “truth.”

In audio, there is only one goal: “Only The Music.”


How I think David Lynch might put it, Richard:

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He forgot to say “The Absolute…” but still good Ben ; )

Well normally I never worry about others opinions relating to anything audio but your opinion on TAS and MQA, using your own words, is absolute BS.

I believe in defending ideas Jim.

So, do you believe this statement from TAS is true?

“To recap, MQA is a technology that simultaneously improves digital sound quality while dramatically lowering the bit-rate. It’s an encode-decode system, meaning that for maximum fidelity the music must be encoded with MQA, and played back through a device with MQA decoding.”

If not, what part of my post do you disagree with?

Thank you Amen!!!

Hi @keiserrg!

I read it differently, but maybe that is because when I read it I thought I already understood how it works. IIUC MQA was designed such that the data “hidden in the folds of the origami” would be hidden below the noise floor if processed without MQA decoding. This, they claimed would be “audibly invisible” (sorry to mix metaphors but it seemed to fit better than “inaudible” in this instance) i.e. not provide maximum fidelity.

So I read that sentence to mean to get the full benefit of MQA (i.e. the resolution improvement and the payload reduction) requires both the encoder and the decoder, not as you highlight that to get maximum fidelity you must use MQA. So maybe Robert expressed himself poorly or maybe I grabbed the wrong end of the stick or maybe you are right and this is a massive audio confidence trick.

It certainly doesn’t make me furious though.

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This is a very complex situation where opinion or assessment is based on perception by brain and not on any mathematical formula.

If MQA sounded nice to someone, it should sound nice even today no matter how many hands it changes.

If one is to do a survey, I am very positive that you will see that a large population of consumers take their decision based on market material without applying their minds. They don’t like to apply their minds not because they don’t want to but because they do not have enough knowledge on the subject.

Unfortunately this dynamics between consumers and marketing media will continue.

I also think that this situation is not only with high-fidelity audio but also in other fields too and the more deep you go, truth becomes harsher (to digest).

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Apologies to anyone who was offended. My intent with this post was not to criticize MQA, as I have made my views on that technology known before. My intent was a broader criticism of the audio review industry.

This is perhaps a better and less controversial example:

Below is a glowing TAS review of the Wadax Reference Music Server, which, as reviewed, retails for $80,000. Note, the Wadax Reference Music Server runs a Roon core, and a Roon Nucleus currently retails for $1,500.


Concrete proof that ugliness costs a lot of money to achieve :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I am in agreement with much of what you said and certainly what i believe your intentions are. We have turned into a society that no longer believes anything leading to chaos. That being said i have not looked at wbf in over a year because i believe it is rife with misinformation and slanted opinions. There is some good info there but i believe it takes a Pretty good filter to sort. On your advice however i agree that your thought to do your research and look for knowledgeable sources for confirmation is a great one.
In speaking of the dcs forum i find the info highly reliable and well policed. I find the major contributors thoughtful, knowledgable and checked by others of equal or higher understanding and maybe sometimes challenged openly. Having distinct contributions by dcs employees and maintaining a focus of maintaining opinion as opinion and fact as fact and having those details well policed a very enjoyable environment. I say learn with the eyes of a child but filter with the wisdom of a sage.


Haha, or the inimitable Dolly Parton “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”!


Some really good points there @barryr1. Reading WBF is a great reminder that high-end audio, despite what one might think, moves with the times. Magazines like Stereophile and TAS, which I have consumed for literally decades are completely last Tuesday and going exactly the same way as mainstream print media. Hell I don’t think I have paid more than $12.95 for my Stereophile annual subscription in years. I have to laugh when folks criticise the amount of advertising they carry.

No, the new melody is “influencers”. Look at the way opinion building really works today and conflate that onto audio. Then ask yourself:

  • who are the "Khaby Lame"s** of the high end?
  • what is their TikTok?


** No, I didn’t know either. Had to ask the Strutslets!

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I read somewhere that the Wadax uses a TI ∆Σ DAC chips? Srsly??

Well said Sir. :smile: