“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."
“For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy."
--- George Orwell, selections from 1984 (1949)It's sad sometimes reading how some (many?) in the audiophile press present products to consumers. Apparently, they'll stop at nothing to push a product even to the point of destroying their own credibility. It was bad enough a few years ago in 2017 when Robert Harley called for a "revolution" and that MQA represented a "paradigm shift"; making a mockery of the idea of paradigm shifts. And now recently he's "doubling down" to bring disservice to the idea of "democratization", linking it with the likes of MQA, in the article "From The Editor: Hi-Res Democratization" (The Absolute Sound, online September 6, 2019). Specifically, he seems to believe that those who oppose MQA is somehow fighting against the democratization of high-resolution audio for audiophiles! Really?
Since all of these articles predated MQA's broader availability (Tidal started MQA streaming in early 2017, before that we only had the odd 2L demo file), how is it that Harley could assert that early adopters are somehow indignant that high-res being available to everyone (through MQA) threatens their "elite" status!? That's silly. The only people that seemed to think high-res/big files was a big deal by the time MQA was even announced in late 2014 and into early 2015, clutching on to high bitrate files was Neil Young and a few of the audiophile magazine people who thought the PonoPlayer made sense because it could play hi-res. I suspect that thoughtful audiophiles were starting to lose interest in high-res by the time MQA showed up on Tidal, correlating with Pono's final demise in 2017.
Looking at streaming hi-res audio on the other side of the Amazon HD/UHD announcement now with neither Qobuz nor Amazon using MQA, I suspect it will not be long before MQA completes its descent into obscurity as Tidal, being the primary user of the codec, has for years looked unhealthy and is now faced with even stiffer competition. Articles like Harley's continue to remind us of the unreliability of these luminaries / leaders of the audiophile press. Perhaps some day, Harley will look back and recognize the folks online and the "naysayers" were right to have had the courage to speak truth at a time when editors of the mainstream audiophile press lacked both ability and courage.
Thankfully, we're not dealing with the powerful and malevolent INGSOC of 1984, rather, just some weak propaganda being promoted by questionable members of the audiophile press.
** - Remarkable second paragraph ("To recap...") regurgitating nonsense about MQA being "true" (but lossy of course) high resolution. Ongoing claims of "new research" and "cutting-edge" medical imaging and astronomy technology. False claims of "superior sound"; nowhere has this been shown even with formal research lab blind testing. Ridiculous claim about "better-than-CD sound quality" with non-MQA DACs. Harley seems to believe that indeed 2+2=5 (it's a miracle!) because Bob Stuart / MQA told him so.
These days I still enjoy collecting a few CDs here and there, especially finding good deals at the local used stores. I cannot remember when I last bothered to be excited about new hi-res digital downloads. I'll probably try out hi-res lossless streaming at some point but until Qobuz and/or Amazon lossless show up here in Canada, I'm content with my music library. At times, I might download 24-bit demos but when I see that the noise floor is high or if the dynamic range is poor, I'll happily dither down to 16-bits, and resample to save space. I suspect that's the direction the "elite" audiophiles are going these days as they've come to see the mountains of standard resolution albums out there dressed up in wasteful 24-bits and 96/192kHz sample rates.
Even at audiophile shows like the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I didn't see anyone extolling the virtues of >16-bits or >44.1kHz sampling rate (company reps may have said something in support here and there at most). The vendors / representatives barely mentioned if the music playing was standard CD or hi-res. I didn't notice audience members demanding to hear any specific formats like hi-res PCM or DSD (a few brought their own LPs).
All of this is not unexpected even if those who have something to sell cannot bring themselves to admit the truth of how little impact hi-res audio will have. And this outcome is certainly predictable based on what the science tells us about the limitations of hearing and listening.
(Let's also not forget that we do need to be mindful of the environmental impacts of human activity. As the analogue evangelists like Young and Fremer enjoy their 180gm LPs and thumb through their collection of thousands of vinyl, reveling in the belief that "Vinyl's back!", I hope they take a moment to ponder what happens to these pieces of plastic in the decades ahead when they personally would no longer be able to enjoy the fragile music impressed upon those grooves.)
Hope you're all enjoying the music!