Master Quality Authenticated. Few topics in high-performance audio pack more heat than Tidal’s preferred delivery mechanism for hi-res audio ‘Masters’: MQA.
Neil Young came out firmly against Tidal Masters and MQA last month, removing many of his albums from the streaming service in protest; and it’s not hard to find users elsewhere on the Internet complaining that MQA is lossy — and tapping out. “Over my dead body!” they exclaim.
At the other extreme, we see format-first enthusiasts trusting their ears above all else but baulking at perfectly good music because it can’t be found in MQA on Tidal.
These are the two extremist positions that tend to dominate the social media conversation surrounding MQA, at least in the audiophile community. But what about the middle ground? Does it exist or is MQA really as polarising as audiophile-focussed Facebook groups and forums lead us to believe? And what about the middle ground that might exist outside of the audiophile ghetto?
I put the following super-simple poll question – ‘MQA?’ – to the Darko.Audio YouTube subscriber base last month. It’s an audience where audiophiles mix with those of a more mainstream bent.
Almost 10,000 people responded to the poll in which one (wo)man gets one vote: and not about who shouts the loudest or stays at his/her keyboard for the longest.
The results tell us that the two aforementioned extremist positions make up a mere 25% of responses. Clearly, the pro-MQA and anti-MQA groups have some work to do if they are to convince others of their position: 34% of respondents identified as being more pragmatic in their MQA stance (‘Sometimes but not always’) and a whopping 40% claimed to have never heard of MQA at all (‘MQ what?’). Now, that’s interesting.
Further information: MQA