Thursday, 28 September 2017

MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test Part III: Subgroup Analysis

This is Part III of the summary and results of the MQA Core decode vs. standard PCM Hi-Res blind test following from the "core" results last week.

At this point, we know that if we look at the "big picture", evidence suggests that there are minimal audible differences. So if we dig into the data set a bit further, let's see if we can ask questions based on the subgroups identified. I'm sure many of you have been curious about some of these questions for awhile but until having access to a large enough database such as this, it's difficult to obtain answers.

Let's then ask a few questions and interrogate the database for hints...

Saturday, 23 September 2017

MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test Part II: Core Results

As you know, Part I - Procedure is now published. Within it, I laid out in detail the test, how it was constructed, and how data was collected. Today, we'll embark on the exploration of the data itself. While I will try to conclude with some general points by the end of this post, I will not have had time to analyze everything quite yet. I'm currently anticipating at least another couple of posts to fully flesh out the data set including posting some of the subjective comments made by listeners. I feel this is the only way to properly thank those who took their time and provide as much information as possible to answer any lingering questions.

Let's start... Today, let's focus on the "core" or "headline" results I think most of us are interested in. Who are the people who tested and submitted results? What overall were their preferences? What was the result for each specific track? How confident were the respondents about their choice? And how significant were these findings ultimately?

Friday, 15 September 2017

MQA Core vs. Hi-Res Blind Test Part I: Procedure


As you are probably aware, through the last 2 months on this blog, I've been collecting data to determine the audibility of decoded MQA versus the same piece of music originating from the "master" high resolution source. Please refer to the Test Invite article from mid July 2017.

Over the last couple of years, I have been curious about the MQA technique and followed the evolution of the "technology" as it has been touted as being the next step in digital music playback. Throughout the last 2 years, I have tried to develop an understanding of what it's doing beyond simply the superficial talk around being "revolutionary", "fundamentally changing the way we all enjoy music", nebulous claimed links to "neuroscience", or talk of bringing the "studio sound" to the consumer. If you look back, I have written articles looking at:

- Initial musings... 
- The undecoded MQA file. 
- Decoded vs. undecoded Explorer2 output. 
- Dicussions of MQA's partially lossy nature. 
- Comparison of TIDAL / MQA Decoding with "studio master" tracks. 
- Mytek Brooklyn hardware MQA decoding. 
- Discussion of digital filters and relevance to MQA. 
- Comparison between Meridian Explorer2 vs. Mytek Brooklyn ("Authentication?"). 
- Dragonfly Black MQA "Rendering" and filter. 
- Mytek Brooklyn MQA filters. 
- The "full monty" of MQA filters from the Dragonfly Black MQA-enabled DAC.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

MUSINGS: Evidence of digital player jitter with asynchronous USB DACs? Melco N1ZS20/2 review in HFN&RR...

The UK magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review is interesting. Like Stereophile here in N. America, it includes objective measurements. Over the years, I've seen times when they have criticized questionable "hi-res" downloads showing nothing more than upsampled music. But they also seem to like "showing" rather meaningless measurements such as a few years ago with their USB cable roundup.

Recently, I believe in the May 2017 issue, they reviewed the very expensive "cost-no-object" digital server - the Melco N1ZS20/2. This device is the "mk2" of their top-of-the-line music server/player with the capability for data output through ethernet or USB connection to one's DAC.

Friday, 1 September 2017

MUSINGS: How much amplifier power do you really "need"? Why not test for yourself?

Much has been discussed about amplifier power over the years; here for a short primer, here for a contemporary take with advice from Crown, and here for an oldskool audiophile take on the matter when dinosaurs and tube amps ruled the land (notice the positive sentiment towards even low power transistor amps compared to the low-wattage tube jobs in this article!).

We often hear the question: "How much power do I need?" A very reasonable query of course when we're thinking of buying a new amplifier.

The answer to that question of course really depends on your needs. The bottom line is that it really is about your context and preferences, the quantity and quality of the amplifier you need can vary based on all kinds of factors. When it comes to quantity, it will of course depend on the efficiency of the speakers you listen to along with size of your room, distance to the listening position, placement of the speakers, and absorptive/reflective surfaces in the space.