The Audio Geek!

My Take on MQA

Late tonight I sat down to try and get some value from my TIDAL HiFI subscription and make some sort of evaluation of the SQ of the 'Master' presentations encoded with the MQA technology. To date, I was only able to stream the CD-quality products but the continuity of the (slightly) larger stream was problematic at best on my flakey ADSL2+ internet connection. I had more success today.

The environment for this test is TIDAL Masters, played by Audirvana 3.0.7, with an AudioQuest DragonFly 1.2 upgraded to the latest firmware release listening through Grado RS-2E headphones.

As for the quality and improvements in sound many have reported, frankly I didn't feel it.

My impression of the 'Masters MQA versions was somewhat reminiscent of the worst of digital, only slightly enhanced with a bigger image and wider soundstage or presentation. Neither of which remove the 'take your ears off' piercing treble on albums like Prince 'Purple Rain' (deluxe remastered) and a long time favourite Donald Fagen 'The Nightly'. Slightly better was Rumer 'This Girl's In Love', where the inherent 'softness' of the recording took a couple of notches forward but nothing to get too excited about sonically.

I cannot test on the full-sized system as my preferred music player and DAC don't support the hardware and software components required to unpack the MQA stream.

So as a happy TIDAL HiFi subscriber I will continue to search out CD-quality music to my tastes rather than wait for 'higher-res' versions provided by the 'Master' MQA recordings.