MQA, Tidal and Sonos?



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Yes, that's right. You expressed the wish not to take part in a conversation like that, and only wanted an answer to your question. You got your answer. If you truly did not wish to take part in the conversation, then that was your cue to leave. None of the rest of us have any qualms about debating the issue, it was you whom expressed reservations.

So I ask again; since you got your answer and do not wish to take part in a discussion about who hears what, why are you still here?

Because, like you, I have the right to be here.
If you think that the strategy of taking a subject in a new or different direction is a means of distracting other members of this community, or is a reason for them to stop participating in a discussion, perhaps you need to reassess that strategy. You ask "why am I still here?" I ask "why can't you keep a discussion on topic?"
I don't recall expressing any wish to not take part in, or to not respond to, what others have said. I did say: "I'd rather not turn this into another one of those discussions," in reference to the subject of high-resolution vs redbook. There are other discussions in this community about this issue, at least one of them recent. But since others persisted in taking this route here, I have continued to participate in the discussion.
Interestingly, I've done a fair bit of reading of other discussions in this community since I posted my question (I'm normally not here frequently), which reveals that a small group of members repeatedly interject non-related opinions into a number of discussions, and have a tendency to condescendingly respond in a fairly uniform manner to those who disagree with them. In many instances those same people have been far less sanguine than they have been here.
Accept the fact that others have different points of view, and have the right to respond to you when you voice your points of view. You all know that not everyone agrees with the "objectivist" philosophy of audio. It is my belief that here is very little objectivism in audio or in life. In fact, subjectivity enters the audio chain at almost every link--from what equipment to purchase and how much you're willing to pay for it onward. (Yes, I am digressing to make a point). If you're going to inject objectivism into a discussion in reply to something I ask or write, I am likely to respond. That response may indicate I disagree with you. I am not alone.
I respect your right to have an opinion and to express that opinion; please respect mine. Please don't imply that there is a rule that this must be an objectivist community. It may have gone in that direction but, as I said earlier, only because there appears to be a degree of "objectivist bullying" here. Personally, I will continue to consider this to be a forum where I can express my subjective, objective or any other views or ask any questions I wish about Sonos products and the future of those products.
There is not much more I can say, except thank you to those whose comments attempted to answer my question. Of course, I realize that these are opinions, since only Sonos knows the real answer.
Fine, here's my reply. The vast majority of these conversations go like this:

Subjectivist: I've listened to Hires and the difference is night and day.

Objectivist: Asks if they did a ABX.

S: Of course I did!

O: Explain your procedure.

S: Explains

O: That's not an ABX.

S: Well I know what I hear!

O: That's all well and good, but science says otherwise.

S: Science isn't always right.

O: Yes, and when science is proven wrong, it is done so with empirical or experimental evidence, presented in peer reviewed articles. Do you have a peer reviewed article to refute the science?

S: I don't need one, I know what I hear.

O: Well, what do you say to the people who don't hear it?

S: (Insert some condescending, thinly veiled insults using words like "high quality ears/gear/training necessary resolve the subtle differences" that were formerly "night and day". All of which ultimately boils down to): Their ears are bad, their gear is bad, or they aren't trained to hear.


Every. Single. Time.

So let's just cut to the chase and you can tell me my ears suck, my gear sucks, and I need training. You and I know both it's coming (and you've already hinted at such).

Then /Close_thread.
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Toolio. To use MQA the device needs an MQA compatible DAC. Sonos speakers don't have this DAC. Ergo. End of discussion.
At the moment, yes, and that's a good point. But that doesn't mean the situation won't change. I am far from an expert on MQA, but it was my impression from discussions elsewhere that MQA stream "unpacking" can be also done at the software level. Whether that will be sanctioned by MQA developers is another issue. And whether Sonos could, or would, produce firmware to accomplish that task is another. Also, as pointed out above, that could lead to royalty requests.
From an interview with the MQA honcho:

We already have software decoders for a number of hardware, portable and mobile platforms. In these three cases the decoder has the benefit of precise knowledge of the DAC and associated hardware.
See A42, there is no inherent quality difference between MQA decoders unless they are operating in designated power-saving modes. However, it is inevitable that a properly designed hardware product, incorporating the decoder and DAC will give the better result. The performance level that MQA enables, allows hardware makers an even better environment on which to stretch their skills. For the audiophile, this should be very exciting.
We do anticipate a program to enable such applications, but the requirement for tight DAC coupling and the obligation to match the previewed audio (in the studio) means that several combinations and options are still being explored with both DAC makers and creators of software players. We will make announcements in due course.


You may discuss this until you turn purple but the salient fact is Sonos speakers can't decode MQA. Ergo they will not decode MQA now or in the future because Sonos maintains compatibility between ALL its range which ALL use the same software. How about grouping an MQA compliant speaker with your other speakers...ain't gonna work.
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Fine, here's my reply. The vast majority of these conversations go like this:

Subjcetivist: I've listened to Hires and the difference is night and day.

Objectivist: Asks if they did a ABX.

S: Of course I did!

O: Explain your procedure.

S: Explains

O: That's not an ABX.

S: Well I know what I hear!

O: That's all well and good, but science says otherwise.

S: Science isn't always right.

O: Yes, and when science is proven wrong, it is done so with empirical or experimental evidence, presented in peer reviewed articles. Do you have a peer reviewed article to refute the science?

S: I don't need one, I know what I hear.

O: Well, what do you say to the people who don't hear it?

S: (Insert some condescending, thinly veiled insults using words like "resolve the differences" that ultimately boils down to): Their ears are bad, their gear is bad, or they aren't trained to hear.


Every. Single. Time.

So let's just cut to the chase and you can tell me my ears suck, my gear sucks, and I need training. You and I know both it's coming (and you've already hinted at such).

Then /Close_thread.


I'm not going to do that because I respect your right to think there is no difference between redbook and higher resolutions. I don't often react to goading. But when I do, you'll probably realize it.
I disagree with your assertions about audio quality, and I can hear the difference. Truthfully, the only thing that matters to me is what I hear (not you) and the satisfaction I derive from it. I have hinted at nothing about you, except perhaps the fact that you might have no experience listening to MQA files. Nor do I. I have, however, said I can hear the difference between redbook and 24/96 and that I enjoy that difference.
As I said earlier, I don't think it is a huge difference and I can't hear the difference between 24/96 and 24/192. Others say they can, so I believe them. I am not young, so my ability to distinguish differences seems to be fading, complicated by the fact that my hearing is affected by Meniere's disease. It is possible that I will soon be agreeing with you about redbook being as good as it gets 🙂
So you state that you respect the fact that others don't hear it, then you shoot out a thinly veiled insult that you may indeed start hearing the same as us due to a degenerative hearing disease!?

As I said our ears suck, and our gear sucks ("I'd be the first to acknowledge that those benefits are more obvious with good headphones and a good DAC and headphone amp."). Next will be the training. I could not have predicted it any better. :8
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So you state that you respect the fact that others don't hear it, then you shoot out a thinly veiled insult that you may indeed start hearing the same as us due to a degenerative hearing disease!?

As I said our ears suck, and our gear sucks ("I'd be the first to acknowledge that those benefits are more obvious with good headphones and a good DAC and headphone amp."). Next will be the training. I could not have predicted it any better. :8


You see evil in everything, apparently. There was no thinly veiled insult, just a joke (see the smiley)? Unfortunately for me and my audio enjoyment, the Meniere's comment is true. My reference to headphones was intended as a comparison between listening to Sonos speakers and listening with headphones.
In fact, you are not predicting anything, at least not accurately, despite the fact that you continue to try. Methinks you're a little overly sensitive when things don't go exactly your way. But that's just my opinion. Others may disagree.
And despite "Then /Close_thread", you keep prodding for responses.
I've seen those "jokes" before. We know what you are saying. I'd say "nicely played", but you were way too obvious.

And yes, my prediction was spot on. You audiophiles always resort to insulting the person's ears and gear. It's your only defense when confronted with facts. Then you play innocent when people call you on it. Rinse, lather, repeat.

That's OK, though. I'm used to it. Plus whenever anyone resorts to these attacks without knowing anything about my ears or my gear, I know I've won the argument.

No need to respond. Toodles!
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Toolio, you can hear a difference. A difference. You have easily and readily made correlation equal causation that the difference is due to the higher bitrate.
I use Deezer Elite which streams full files. These sound different to the same tracks I have ripped as lossless. This will be due to what conversion codec has been used. There is a difference, yes. But, and a very big BUT, is one better than another?

Difference is difference, just as headphones over comparative prices sound different, not better - especially above say £200. But even that difference , over a certain price, can only be realised by using exceedingly expensive equipment which in itself just sounds different and not better.

So you find yourself in a giant pool of subjectivity from which there is no ladder to climb out of it.
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I've seen those "jokes" before. We know what you are saying. I'd say "nicely played", but you were way too obvious.

And yes, my prediction was spot on. You audiophiles always resort to insulting the person's ears and gear. It's your only defense when confronted with facts. Then you play innocent when people call you on it. Rinse, lather, repeat.

That's OK, though. I'm used to it. Plus whenever anyone resorts to these attacks without knowing anything about my ears or my gear, I know I've won the argument.

No need to respond. Toodles!


There may be no need to respond, but I'll exercise my right to do so.
Honestly, I'm baffled by your most recent responses. You seem to be carrying on two sides of a conversation at once. There are no "attacks," I'm not "playing" at anything, and I don't consider myself an "audiophile". For the purposes of this discussion I don't care what gear you own, aside from Sonos. I'm not even sure there is an argument. There, was, however a discussion.
You stated that in part due to your degenerative ear disease, you may soon only hear the things we hear. Then you put a smiley.

If you were not jokingly stating that your superior ears will eventually reach the level of us plebeians as soon as the disease really kicks in, then I apologize. :8
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Toolio, you can hear a difference. A difference. You have easily and readily made correlation equal causation that the difference is due to the higher bitrate.
I use Deezer Elite which streams full files. These sound different to the same tracks I have ripped as lossless. This will be due to what conversion codec has been used. There is a difference, yes. But, and a very big BUT, is one better than another?

Difference is difference, just as headphones over comparative prices sound different, not better - especially above say £200. But even that difference , over a certain price, can only be realised by using exceedingly expensive equipment which in itself just sounds different and not better.

So you find yourself in a giant pool of subjectivity from which there is no ladder to climb out of it.


Well, I'm inclined to respond, since you've addressed this directly to me.
In my opinion, one is better than the other. Not always, because as has been pointed out, the masters are not always identical when comparing streaming services to rips, or even to other streaming services. Of course, as you point out there is a difference in equipment. I understand what you're saying about different not better, but we are certainly permitted our preferences. I have my preferred headphones, for example, but they are often related to types of music. Some of my headphones sound "better" to me with jazz, others "better" with classical, and yet others "better" with rock. Some are better with everything, some not particularly good with anything. I'm sure you're familiar with this line of discussion so I won't beat the horse here.
I will again say that I find the difference is far more apparent with what I consider good headphones and good headphone DACs/amps over speakers (Sonos and otherwise). I have quite a few heaphones and DACs/amps, so I play around. I have also had the benefit of listening on much more expensive, and in some cases better, gear than my own. And I realize that a headphone experience is different from a speaker experience.
Even so, I don't find the differences in higher streaming or recorded resolutions astronomical, and I am not a believer in investing a huge amount of money to hear that 2% or 3% improvement. If there is a way to hear it without a huge investment, I'm all for it. If there is a way to hear it on equipment I already own, I'm all for it. (Hence my question about Sonos that started this discussion, although I will once again say that I have no experience with MQA but would welcome the opportunity. I may or may not be disappointed, but I am curious about the implementation on Tidal Premium because I am a subscriber.)
I also subscribe to Deezer Elite. I have in the past used Qobuz. I sometimes listen to Spotify. And I have a fairly large collection of 24/96 and 24/192 files. I find each an improvement over the level "below it," with the exception of 24/192, which I don't think improves on anything (just my opinion). So I have stopped investing in those. I exclude Spotify from this comparison because of its lower bitrate and the fact that I "hear" lower quality, although I like the ease of use and there is nothing wrong with the sound quality for around-the-house listening.
I agree that subjectivity creates its challenges, and when it comes to excessive costs I am not about to rise to those challenges. But subjectivity is what, for me, makes listening more interesting, and playing around with different equipment and sources extremely interesting.
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You stated that in part due to your degenerative ear disease, you may soon only hear the things we hear. Then you put a smiley.

If you were not jokingly stating that your superior ears will eventually reach the level of us plebeians as soon as the disease really kicks in, then I apologize. :8


It was a joke, plain and simple. Believe me, I am aware of when I attempt to insult somebody, and this was not one of those attempts. In the context of the conversation I thought it was humorous, although I accept that humour is not objective (also a joke 🙂
I was not questioning that it was a joke. I was questioning the intent (actually I wasn't, the intent is quite clear).
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[quote=BoredofBalham][quote=Toolio]
You may discuss this until you turn purple but the salient fact is Sonos speakers can't decode MQA. Ergo they will not decode MQA now or in the future because Sonos maintains compatibility between ALL its range which ALL use the same software. How about grouping an MQA compliant speaker with your other speakers...ain't gonna work.


I'm confused and likely technically challenged but.....If I can play these new MQA Masters from the Tidal Desktop app on any speaker or headphone connected to my Mac, where does this Sonos speaker decode thing come from? When I play the recordings on the B&W MM1's plugged into my Mac, they play and not sure what decoding is happening.
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I was not questioning that it was a joke. I was questioning the intent (actually I wasn't, the intent is quite clear). Let me rephrase my earlier response, then. Believe me, I am aware of when I intend to insult somebody, and this was not one of those attempts. If you feel insulted by my attempt at humour, I apologize.


I'm confused and likely technically challenged but.....If I can play these new MQA Masters from the Tidal Desktop app on any speaker or headphone connected to my Mac, where does this Sonos speaker decode thing come from? When I play the recordings on the B&W MM1's plugged into my Mac, they play and not sure what decoding is happening.


Sonos does not stream through the desktop or mobile controller, so what your PC or phone can do with MQA doesn't matter. The desktop/mobile controller is just that, a controller. Instead, Sonos streams directly from the source and all decoding takes place on the Sonos player. Sonos would have to implement MQA decoding on its hardware (if possible) and pay the royalty fee to Meridian.
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I'm confused and likely technically challenged but.....If I can play these new MQA Masters from the Tidal Desktop app on any speaker or headphone connected to my Mac, where does this Sonos speaker decode thing come from? When I play the recordings on the B&W MM1's plugged into my Mac, they play and not sure what decoding is happening.


Sonos does not stream through the desktop or mobile controller, so what your PC or phone can do with MQA doesn't matter. The desktop/mobile controller is just that, a controller. Instead, Sonos streams directly from the source and all decoding takes place on the Sonos player. Sonos would have to implement MQA decoding on its hardware (if possible) and pay the royalty fee to Meridian.


On its hardware, or in its firmware? The second would be much easier. I was assuming this would be possible, thus preserving the ability of all Sonos speakers to behave in the same manner.
Let me rephrase my earlier response, then. Believe me, I am aware of when I intend to insult somebody, and this was not one of those attempts. If you feel insulted by my attempt at humour, I apologize.

As I said, I am well aware of your intent. No need to back pedal. 😃
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Let me rephrase my earlier response, then. Believe me, I am aware of when I intend to insult somebody, and this was not one of those attempts. If you feel insulted by my attempt at humour, I apologize.

As I said, I am well aware of your intent. No need to back pedal. :D


Ok, I give up. I respect your right to feel insulted, regardless of whether the "insult" was unintentional or even existed. You seem to want to feel insulted, so who am I to stop you? I'm not backpedalling because I didn't pedal there in the first place.
We can debate the technical aspects all we want, the fact remains:

1) Sonos does not take kindly to paying royalty fees.

2) MQA is a niche of a niche of a niche market.

3) Sonos has quite publicly stated they do not believe in the claimed benefits of higher frequency sampling.

Given these, I can confidently state the likelihood of Sonos supporting MQA is slim and none, and none has left the building.
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Toolio, So it is your highly subjective preference, on expensive eqipment, rather than high bit rate being better. That you find different music better or worse on different headphones only empashises "different" rather than "better", aka personal preference.

You really do need to look at the science. Something the ear can not hear can't be heard. Then there is the huge subjective collision when that sound encounters a speaker...which are different. So the biggest driver in anything sounding "better" relies solely on the speaker and whether that presentation pleases you. As you have already stated.
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Toolio, So it is your highly subjective preference, on expensive eqipment, rather than high bit rate being better. That you find different music better or worse on different headphones only empashises "different" rather than "better", aka personal preference.

You really do need to look at the science. Something the ear can not hear can't be heard. Then there is the huge subjective collision when that sound encounters a speaker...which are different. So the biggest driver in anything sounding "better" relies solely on the speaker and whether that presentation pleases you. As you have already stated.


Not exactly, but perhaps I didn't explain myself as well as I could have. All things being equal (equipment, masters etc) I find higher bitrate sound to be more satisfying, which equates to "better" in my world. (I think "different" does not necessarily equate to "better," but there is a bit of a semantic discussion inherent in that statement.) This includes blind tests at audio meets that meet the criteria of those who have posted here, where I have consistently been able to pick out higher bitrate recordings about 80% of the time. Most of them not only sound different to me, but often better. On the other hand, higher bitrates are more revealing and can often reveal nuances that I don't like. It is not all or none.
That being said, I don't know whether I could do that now because my ears have deteriorated considerably in the past couple of years and the differences are subtle. I'm interested to know whether I could, but audio meets in Salvador Brasil, where I spend most of my time, are few and far between. When I spent more time in Canada I did more of that kind of thing
However, you are correct in the sense that I do prefer the sound of some headphones over others, some speakers over others, some DACS over others, some AMPs over others etc. Everybody does, I suspect. I suppose in general "expensive" equipment is better, but certainly not always. One of my favourite headphones (AKG 701/702) are not expensive relative to many others, yet I find them among the most satisfying, particularly with vocals. And I would certainly not argue your point that equipment is a bigger driver of my perceive differences than bitrate.
With respect, I have looked at the science. I don't dwell on it, but I am by no means ignorant of the foundations of the objectivist argument. Perhaps by coincidence I tend to favour equipment that others tell me is more "neutral," although I realize that is not directly correlated to the science discussion,
Now back to the Sonos question. My intent in pondering MQA with Sonos was whether it might bring an improved listening experience to equipment I already own (5s, 1s and Connects in two different locations). Honestly, I have no idea whether MQA is wonderful or garbage because I have no experience with it. And I now understand the arguments above that indicate it may never come to Sonos. But if it did, would it make a difference? I'd like the opportunity to discover whether it would.
If you are able to pick out hires from Redbook at an 80% rate when both are from the same master, in a true ABX blind test, then you would be the very first person in history to do so, and therefore a true biological and scientific phenom. I suggest you contact a university or audio manufacturer to duplicate these results and publish them in a suitable scientific journal. It would blow the doors off the audio reproduction community!!!

That being said, I don't know whether I could do that now because my ears have deteriorated considerably in the past couple of years and the differences are subtle.


Awww, shucks. And here I was so hopeful! :8
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If you are able to pick out hires from Redbook at an 80% rate when both are from the same master, in a true ABX blind test, then you would be the very first person in history to do so, and therefore a true biological and scientific phenom. I suggest you contact a university or audio manufacturer to duplicate these results and publish them in a suitable scientific journal. It would blow the doors off the audio reproduction community!!!

That being said, I don't know whether I could do that now because my ears have deteriorated considerably in the past couple of years and the differences are subtle.


Awww, shucks. And here I was so hopeful! :8


Yet some believe that only a 95% success rate in identifying X is statistically meaningful. Those ABX objectivists are a tough crowd, lol!