Question

Connect, Meridian and MQA

  • 27 January 2017
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56 replies

I think Sonos is even better at multi room wireless sync,backward compatibilty, active speaker tech, room response DSP, product design and marketing. And specifying/sourcing cheap commodity DAC chipsets that do the job as well as its target market needs them to.
Wouldn't it be great if Sonos could support unmodified transport of MQA and 24/96 and 24/192 files? I'd happily pay for a "Sonos Connect HD/MQA" device.
From my point of view, Sonos is great at transport, Ui/UX and Content Integration, and they should let other companies do the heavy lifting when it comes to DAC technologies.
A little like the Connect Bit Perfect thing that Sonos is taking heat here without having ever specified Connect to be so.

True, but they have done little over the years to correct the misinformation, either. For a few years now, every discussion about using different dacs has finished with the 'clincher' that the Connect is bit-perfect, so the OP must be wrong - but I have never seen Sonos jumping in to correct it.

Misleading by omission is just the same as misleading by commission, IMHO
Digressing again, I had to post a quote I came across today:
"Yep, they don't care. My 15-year old daughter will lay on the living room floor watching Netflix on her iPhone. The same room with the 47" TV and Sonos 5.1 setup."
Quite possibly, the 15 year old has her priorities sorted, who is to say that isn't the case? Like great musicians that are able to fully enjoy listening to music on non audiophile systems; in fact very few of them are audiophiles, perhaps because they haven't the time or the energy to devote to that hobby.
So if the tracks are under 48k, they'll probably be able to play on Sonos at 16 bit. As this isn't really intended per say, it's hard to give you something more definitive because it could change or have situations where it's not working.
Lol. A little like the Connect Bit Perfect thing that Sonos is taking heat here without having ever specified Connect to be so. There will be a lot of noise in future if, as you have stated, there are situations in future when this new happy unsupported and unintended effect stops working for some reason.
Digressing a little: is this a viable way to do the single variable blind test of MQA sound quality that we thought MQA is architected to not allow?
B-b-b-but it sounds better cause it has moar bits!
As far as I understand it, MQA is treated by FLAC the same as LPCM. And because of the way FLAC works the 'noise' in the lowest bits reduces the compression efficiency.

All in all it sounds like unpacking the 24-bit MQA files and playing as 16-bit is possibly the worst of all worlds, apart from the fact that the mastering might have received more care.
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MQA is supposed to be backward compatible with FLAC. So if the tracks are under 48k, they'll probably be able to play on Sonos at 16 bit. As this isn't really intended per say, it's hard to give you something more definitive because it could change or have situations where it's not working.
Ryan,

Can you be any more specific about "decoding of higher resolution FLAC tracks"? Unless MQA is explicitly supported as a codec the "higher resolution" in such files is just, well, 8 to 11 bits of noise.
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Hi everyone, great discussion all around. Version 7.2 has an updated FLAC library which, as a happy, unexpected side effect, allows for some decoding of higher resolution FLAC tracks. This isn't official support or intended, so I'd just say be happy and enjoy. We aren't planning on updating any supported codec pages or listings at the moment as this isn't fully supported or tested out.
Even more so with MQA, since 16-bit truncation should evidently yield marginally worse sound than a pukka Red Book version from the same master. It would indeed be hilarious to deflate the 'night and day better!!!' declarations in that case.

"But Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes."
Even more so with MQA, since 16-bit truncation should evidently yield marginally worse sound than a pukka Red Book version from the same master. It would indeed be hilarious to deflate the 'night and day better!!!' declarations in that case.

Don't hold your breath, not going to happen. If creationists can thrive, audiophiles are small fry in comparison.


Hence the followup - "soon followed by even more epic denial, rationalization, and subterfuge". 😉
we'd get to watch audiophile heads explode in epic fashion
Don't hold your breath, not going to happen. If creationists can thrive, audiophiles are small fry in comparison.
I did try a few 24/96 tracks, but as suspected they did not play.

So presumably you're happy with the loss of fidelity.


Though I'm really not for legitimizing snake-oil, I always had a secret wish that Sonos would implement down-res on-the-fly for Hi-res music and then not tell anyone. Eventually audiophiles would stumble across the new functionality and rise in choirs of angels fashion to declare how much better the Hi-res version is compared to the crappy Lo-res. Sonos could then sheepishly reveal what is really happening, and we'd get to watch audiophile heads explode in epic fashion (soon followed by even more epic denial, rationalization, and subterfuge).

Until then, this MQA stuff is the next best thing. I've got my popcorn popped.
Cannot say that there is any audible difference, just working out what is going on.
MQA albums from Tidal apear to be playing, made a few Favourites in the desktop Tidal app and they play!
So presumably you're happy with the loss of fidelity.
MQA albums from Tidal apear to be playing, made a few Favourites in the desktop Tidal app and they play!
All the 2L MQA test files play perfectly :S
It would be intriguing if someone could analyse the digital output of a ZP80/90 or pre-2011 CONNECT, in Fixed volume. The question is: what's in the lowest 8 bits of the 24-bit S/PDIF?

If the lowest byte remains populated an MQA follow-on DAC could in theory decode the stream. If the samples have been truncated at 16 bits then any improved mastering would have to make up for the loss of precision. As the chaps over at Benchmark remarked:
There is no question that MQA degrades the quality of the audio for users who do not have an MQA decoder. The compatible portion of the MQA signal is equivalent to about 13 to 15 bits at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. The loss of resolution is due to down sampling, dither noise, and pseudo-random noise from the high-frequency compression channel which occupies the lower 8 to 11 bits.

I guess the 'analysis' could in fact be plugging the ZP output into a suitable DAC and seeing whether it indicates an MQA stream. Volume would have to be Fixed, as noted, otherwise the lowest bits would be garbled.
After updating to 7.2 it seems Sonos will play MQA Flac files. I don't have a MQA DAC, so it will not be unwrapped to a high res format, but it does sound a bit better than the same cd Flac file that comes from the same master. I downloaded the files from the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.

Well that was a surprise!

All the 2L MQA test files play perfectly :S
the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.
I was curious to see what's on the site and came across this page:https://shop.klicktrack.com/2l/469902
which I guess is typical. How on earth do people figure out which format to buy and what is value for each of the five price points for different formats, ranging from USD 6 to USD 22 that the same album is offered in?!
Which means that the difference is in the mastering. It's been established that the top 16 bits in an MQA file are in fact fractionally less accurate than the Red Book equivalent.
After updating to 7.2 it seems Sonos will play MQA Flac files. I don't have a MQA DAC, so it will not be unwrapped to a high res format, but it does sound a bit better than the same cd Flac file that comes from the same master. I downloaded the files from the site www.2l.no, try for yourselves.