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Index » Radio Paradise/General » About RP » MQA Stream Coming to BLUOS Page: Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
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HFH21

HFH21 Avatar

Location: NYC
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 6:33pm



 BillG wrote:


 Pete_1 wrote:


 
Will this mean that many tracks will be MQA and those who choose not to use MQA equipment will still be playing MQA tracks but not unfolded?

 

No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 

In neither case will be be forcing people — like Tidal does — to play MQA streams via non-MQA DACs.  In theory, MQA files play back as normal 16/44.1 on non-MQA gear, but there are some who challenge that, and in our case it won’t be an issue.
 
MQA tracks simply do not play back as normal 16/44.1, however if I'm understanding you correctly, this is a non-issue because you won't be substituting any MQA encoded material for PCM on the non-Bluesound streams, is that accurate?

In other words, those of us who wish to listen to unadulterated PCM on non-Bluesound platforms can continue to do so, and you won't be mixing in any MQA garbage that standard PCM DACs would then play as a semi-crippled effective 14-bit resolution because we've refused to pay any hardware manufacturer an MQA tax?

More succinctly, the Radio Paradise FLAC streams not on Bluesound hardware will not be encoded with MQA in any way, so we won't have to be concerned with the same situation as exists currently with TIDAL and the widespread substitution of perfectly good Redbook PCM  with Master Quality Approximated?

I thank you in advance for your response and hope to remain a staunch Radio Paradise supporter.

Bambudist



Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 1:29pm

Super news, I'm excited!  Thanks for thinking about your listeners and offering them options.  Just sent another donation.  Keep it up! 

We very much appreciate your continuing hard work for your listeners.



BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 5:05am



 Cebolla wrote:

 BillG wrote:
No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 
 
Is that an oversight or will the MQA encoder that you've been provided with actually only produce 16bit/44.1kHz MQA (aka MQA-CD)  from the 24bit/96kHz hi-res input, so not the expected 24bit/48kHz MQA which contain all the higher frequency data encoded in the (missing) lower 8 bits?

 

Sorry. 24/48 is correct. 
Cebolla



Posted: Apr 2, 2021 - 4:30am


 BillG wrote:
No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 
 
Is that an oversight or will the MQA encoder that you've been provided with actually only produce 16bit/44.1kHz MQA (aka MQA-CD)  from the 24bit/96kHz hi-res input, so not the expected 24bit/48kHz MQA which contain all the higher frequency data encoded in the (missing) lower 8 bits?

BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 7:31pm



 Currawong wrote:


 BillG wrote:
The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process. In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

This supposed "voodoo", while arguably possible using recently made recordings, is impossible on a lot of music, as mixing and mastering involves multiple stages and much digital equipment, all of which may add different types of distortion to the music. That makes it impossible to correct for in any meaningful way. When you add things such as most of the original mastering engineers not being consulted, let alone the artists, and a lack of genuine masters from companies such as Universal (after a fire destroyed most of them over a decade ago) then their claims become deeply suspect.

After much technical analysis by a number of capable people, it seems that albums that have had "white glove" treatment, such as The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, have carefully had compression added to them that enhance the quieter sounds, resulting in what you've been hearing. Most other music on TIDAL, where the majority of MQA is, has been batched processed. Of the numerous albums I've tried there, almost all have a loss in detail alongside boosted bass, with a few having odd pitch and other changes, suggesting that they are doing this to ensure that MQA "sounds different" to the originals, since if it didn't, people would just ignore it.

Claims of "original resolution" above 17 bits and 96 kHz are also false. The MQA system only has one real "unfold", after which it is just up-sampling using very short digital filters that have the effect of making the music seem more forward. Those filters also have the effect of smearing the music in the time domain, completely counter to what MQA actually claims.  So, overall, what you're hearing is mostly either just some cleverly applied DSP (or EQ in the case of the TIDAL "Masters"), but packaged in a sophisticated technological package to make it sound special, when really most of it is BS.

It is a very sophisticated effort at trickery, with the hope that it will become a standard and the MQA group will make a killing licensing the tech to everyone and their dog (and recoup the 10's of millions of dollars they have lost over the years trying to get it there).

Please have absolutely nothing to do with this bait-and-switch effort that is trying to destroy music for profit.

 
Our decision to offer our streams via MQA on BluOS is based solely on my opinion that their encoding improves the listening experience. Again, that is an entirely subjective opinion. However, it definitely is not based on anything as simple as dynamics compression or equalization. To my ears, something more sophisticated than that is going on. 

Unlike Tidal, we're not describing MQA encoded audio as an accurate delivery of the original master,  or a faithful presentation of the artist's vision. We're describing it as something that we think sounds really great, and that our listeners will enjoy. 

MQA's business practices and promotional methods are a separate issue as far as I'm concerned. We regularly utilize the services of companies that could be fairly characterized in far harsher terms (Google & Amazon, for instance). Where do you draw a line like that?

We will never offer MQA as a sole delivery option. That's where I'd personally draw that line. 



Currawong

Currawong Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 5:37pm



 BillG wrote:
The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process. In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

This supposed "voodoo", while arguably possible using recently made recordings, is impossible on a lot of music, as mixing and mastering involves multiple stages and much digital equipment, all of which may add different types of distortion to the music. That makes it impossible to correct for in any meaningful way. When you add things such as most of the original mastering engineers not being consulted, let alone the artists, and a lack of genuine masters from companies such as Universal (after a fire destroyed most of them over a decade ago) then their claims become deeply suspect.

After much technical analysis by a number of capable people, it seems that albums that have had "white glove" treatment, such as The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, have carefully had compression added to them that enhance the quieter sounds, resulting in what you've been hearing. Most other music on TIDAL, where the majority of MQA is, has been batched processed. Of the numerous albums I've tried there, almost all have a loss in detail alongside boosted bass, with a few having odd pitch and other changes, suggesting that they are doing this to ensure that MQA "sounds different" to the originals, since if it didn't, people would just ignore it.

Claims of "original resolution" above 17 bits and 96 kHz are also false. The MQA system only has one real "unfold", after which it is just up-sampling using very short digital filters that have the effect of making the music seem more forward. Those filters also have the effect of smearing the music in the time domain, completely counter to what MQA actually claims.  So, overall, what you're hearing is mostly either just some cleverly applied DSP (or EQ in the case of the TIDAL "Masters"), but packaged in a sophisticated technological package to make it sound special, when really most of it is BS.

It is a very sophisticated effort at trickery, with the hope that it will become a standard and the MQA group will make a killing licensing the tech to everyone and their dog (and recoup the 10's of millions of dollars they have lost over the years trying to get it there).

Please have absolutely nothing to do with this bait-and-switch effort that is trying to destroy music for profit.

Melvin

Melvin Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 4:01pm

Bill, Neil Young pulled his catalog from Tidal because of MQA. Here's what he had to say about that magic voodoo .. Neil Young Archives - MQA/Tidal
BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 11:02am



 Pete_1 wrote:


 
Will this mean that many tracks will be MQA and those who choose not to use MQA equipment will still be playing MQA tracks but not unfolded?

 

No. We’re not using any MQA masters.

Here’s how it works currently: we assemble blocks of programming as 16/44.1 FLAC files. Those are then encoded into MQA. The folding/unfolding is something that happens when MQA encodes higher resolution input files into 16/44.1 output files. That whole part of their encoding isn’t utilized by our MQA stream at this time.

Here’s how it will work in the future: we assemble blocks of programming as 24/96 FLAC files, from uncompressed (non-MQA) masters of the highest available bitrate — 24/192, 24/96, 24/48, or 16/44.1 — that are then encoded, with folding, into a 16/44.1 MQA bitstream. They will also be available as uncompressed 24/96. 

In neither case will be be forcing people — like Tidal does — to play MQA streams via non-MQA DACs.  In theory, MQA files play back as normal 16/44.1 on non-MQA gear, but there are some who challenge that, and in our case it won’t be an issue.
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 10:38am

I personally never noticed much of a difference, but I honestly haven't pursued it much as my external DAC doesnt support it (my external Bel Canto DAC always outperforms in apples to oranges comparison with my Node 2I internal/MQA DAC)

Some of the criticism

Criticism

MQA has received criticism from various sources within the music industry.

Audio product manufacturer Schiit Audio announced that it will not be supporting MQA due to, amongst other reasons, the understanding that "…supporting MQA means handing over the entire recording industry to an external standards organization."<18>

In a blog post title "MQA is Bad for Music. Here's why"<19> Hi-fi Manufacturer Linn Products criticises MQA's licensing requirements, asserting that MQA is "...an attempt to control and extract revenue from every part of the supply chain, and not just over content that they hold the rights for."<19> After having discussed several disadvantages for both the artist and the consumer Linn concludes that as a consumer you will "…pay a higher price for the same music, and you'll pay more for your hi-fi system too. And even if you don't buy into MQA, everyone will get less innovation, creativity and poorer music as a result."<19>

In an interview for online publication Positive Feedback, engineer Andreas Koch is critical of MQA due to its lossy algorithms and compression, along with its licensing requirements; also saying that a format such as this "does not solve any problem that the world currently has."<20> Koch was involved in the creation of the Super Audio CD, the development of the Direct Stream Digital codec, and is co-founder of audio product manufacturer Playback Designs.

An article titled Digital Done Wrong<21> on the International Audio/Video Review web site, concluded that MQA is founded on a fundamentally unsound understanding of correct digital audio processing and found that playback of a sample MQA encoding demonstrated gross distortion and reconstruction failure. It did however comment that some listeners may find the technical defects of MQA encoding subjectively pleasing.

Some critical comments have been made in online forums such as the Audiophile Style forum<22> and in audio magazine website comments, and a few writers have expressed concern in some areas. Over 80 detailed questions, some of which voiced these concerns, were submitted to the editors of the Audiophile Style forum and subsequently addressed in detail by the creator of MQA, Bob Stuart, in an extended question-and-answer article.<2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Pete_1

Pete_1 Avatar

Location: Alaska


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 10:15am



 BillG wrote:

Our initial MQA stream will be 16/44.1, so there's no resolution improvement. That will be coming in the future. 

The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process.  In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

It will always be an option, not something forced on anyone. 

 
Will this mean that many tracks will be MQA and those who choose not to use MQA equipment will still be playing MQA tracks but not unfolded?

Pete_1

Pete_1 Avatar

Location: Alaska


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 10:12am



 BillG wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
It's not launched, yet as per Bills reply to my original question it's launching 7th of April.

Preference wise, I guess it depends, if the FLAC is limited to 16/44.1 and the MQA is higher then yes it should sound better, depending on the original recording, after all if the quality wasn't there to start with no matter the format it won't come out.

Once it's launched I'll give it a listen and see what I think.

TBH I'd prefer to listen via Roon as I can quick link on the artist/track/album and find them and add them to my library, I'm pleased to report RP has opened my ears to many a new artist and the integration with Roon make it so easy to find out about the artist.

BUT if it does sound better via BluOS and MQA then I will go that route, I'm sure RP would not go down this route if they didn't feel there was a reason to do it, and sound quality can only be the reason IMHO.

Cheers

Mikey

 
Our initial MQA stream will be 16/44.1, so there's no resolution improvement. That will be coming in the future. 

The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process.  In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

It will always be an option, not something forced on anyone. 

 

I'm disheartened to hear that RP is supporting MQA, an endeavor to exert control over the industry.  It is likely to fade away, unless more support it.  You may be doing so "one step away", but you are supporting it.  My RP contributions have now ended unless and until RP disavows MQA, or it does indeed fade away on its own.

BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 10:08am



 Mikey78 wrote:
It's not launched, yet as per Bills reply to my original question it's launching 7th of April.

Preference wise, I guess it depends, if the FLAC is limited to 16/44.1 and the MQA is higher then yes it should sound better, depending on the original recording, after all if the quality wasn't there to start with no matter the format it won't come out.

Once it's launched I'll give it a listen and see what I think.

TBH I'd prefer to listen via Roon as I can quick link on the artist/track/album and find them and add them to my library, I'm pleased to report RP has opened my ears to many a new artist and the integration with Roon make it so easy to find out about the artist.

BUT if it does sound better via BluOS and MQA then I will go that route, I'm sure RP would not go down this route if they didn't feel there was a reason to do it, and sound quality can only be the reason IMHO.

Cheers

Mikey

 
Our initial MQA stream will be 16/44.1, so there's no resolution improvement. That will be coming in the future. 

The improvements I hear in our MQA stream are due to the 'audio voodoo' they apply to correct A/D & D/A errors in the recording, mixing & mastering process. In my opinion, that adds a lot of extra detail and texture to many recordings. I like the way it sounds. I find it more compelling & immersive. More musical. 

It will always be an option, not something forced on anyone. 

BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 9:32am



 dotnet wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

 
That’s a shame. It was great while it lasted, but I’m not going along with supporting that MQA scam.

 

MQA is an additional option for owners of BluOS-enabled devices.  BluOS users can choose to listen to RP via MQA or FLAC (unlike Tidal, where in most cases there isn’t an option). 

MQA can be used in lots of ways that some people find objectionable — as a form of DRM, to misrepresent Hi-Res MQA streams/files as “lossless 24/96”, etc. That’s not what we’re doing. We’re saying “we think that our MQA-encoded audio sounds better than our lossless FLAC audio”.  That’s purely our opinion. Everyone is free to agree or disagree, to listen or not listen.

We’re also not paying any fees to MQA, if that makes any difference. Those are paid by the manufacturers, whose products you are free to not buy if you consider MQA to be objectionable. 

Mikey78

Mikey78 Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 9:22am

It's not launched, yet as per Bills reply to my original question it's launching 7th of April.

Preference wise, I guess it depends, if the FLAC is limited to 16/44.1 and the MQA is higher then yes it should sound better, depending on the original recording, after all if the quality wasn't there to start with no matter the format it won't come out.

Once it's launched I'll give it a listen and see what I think.

TBH I'd prefer to listen via Roon as I can quick link on the artist/track/album and find them and add them to my library, I'm pleased to report RP has opened my ears to many a new artist and the integration with Roon make it so easy to find out about the artist.

BUT if it does sound better via BluOS and MQA then I will go that route, I'm sure RP would not go down this route if they didn't feel there was a reason to do it, and sound quality can only be the reason IMHO.

Cheers

Mikey

 black321 wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
It's an additional stream, only available via BlueOS the FLAC and lesser MP3 streams are staying as well, so a gain for people who want to access MQA and no change for those who don't !

 dotnet wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

 
That’s a shame. It was great while it lasted, but I’m not going along with supporting that MQA scam.

 


 
I've got the node 2i as well.

I suppose you prefer MQA stream?

 


black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 9:06am



 Mikey78 wrote:
It's an additional stream, only available via BlueOS the FLAC and lesser MP3 streams are staying as well, so a gain for people who want to access MQA and no change for those who don't !

 dotnet wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

 
That’s a shame. It was great while it lasted, but I’m not going along with supporting that MQA scam.

 


 
I've got the node 2i as well.

I suppose you prefer MQA stream?

Mikey78

Mikey78 Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 8:36am

It's an additional stream, only available via BlueOS the FLAC and lesser MP3 streams are staying as well, so a gain for people who want to access MQA and no change for those who don't !

 dotnet wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

 
That’s a shame. It was great while it lasted, but I’m not going along with supporting that MQA scam.

 


dotnet

dotnet Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 7:50am



 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

 
That’s a shame. It was great while it lasted, but I’m not going along with supporting that MQA scam.

Mikey78

Mikey78 Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 5:40am

Thanks for the info Bill, hopefully we can persuade you to let slip the URL ;-)

 BillG wrote:


 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
 

MQA will be available only via BluOS-enabled hardware like your Bluesound Node. The BluOS update for that is rolling out on April 7. 
 


BillG

BillG Avatar

Location: Left Coast
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 5:22am



 Mikey78 wrote:
Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
 

MQA will be available only via BluOS-enabled hardware like your Bluesound Node. The BluOS update for that is rolling out on April 7. 
Mikey78

Mikey78 Avatar



Posted: Apr 1, 2021 - 2:00am

Great to hear that RP is going MQA !

Great music, even better sound !

I use a Bluesound Node 2i however I use it as a ROON endpoint, my question is will you make the MQA stream available via ROON or will you be sticking with BLUOS ?

I can obviously access via BLUOS but I like to stay inside my ROON world if possible

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work !

Cheers

Mikey
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