To Jeff Fritz,
I enjoy reading your reviews because your sense of “audio reality” is close to mine. My favorite systems have been very revealing with quick reflexes while offering full-range sound. My home system matches this ethos with Spectral and MBL, which have quite a bit in common with your Soulution and Magico system. That makes your comments and insight especially valuable to me.
I’m guessing you have had a chance to hear the MQA demos at a trade show, so I’m curious to get your impressions. I know it’s early days because almost all the coverage has been based on demos in carefully controlled conditions that clearly show a benefit (at least in the minds of trade publications). With the same carefully controlled circumstances, one could demonstrate that vinyl is superior to digital or the other way around, so the initial impression should be taken with a very large grain or grains of salt (perhaps on the side of a margarita or two). Any MQA reviews planned?
Since you are very happy with your current, non-MQA digital front end with Tidal streaming, you have no reason to get excited about a new technology unless it is truly a step forward.
History has shown that price doesn’t impress you and that a component at any price point must offer value, so if “the emperor has no clothes,” you will see it for what it is.
First, Jon, let me thank you for the very kind words about my writing. It’s a great joy when my opinions resonate with another audiophile. I imagine Spectral and MBL get along splendidly together. Congrats on a fine system.
As for MQA, I do have a few thoughts. First, though, you should read what my colleagues had to say about it: Doug Schneider’s “Myriad Questions About MQA,” and Brent Butterworth’s “BACCH-SP and MQA -- A Great Demo and a Not-So-Great Demo” and “T.H.E. Show Newport 2016: I Finally Got a Decent MQA Demo!” are pertinent articles.
As for me, I’m a bit indifferent. On the one hand, the sound seems nice enough. But DSD and HDCD sound nice enough, too. And though I am an avid Tidal user, and fully understand how MQA could enable higher-resolution streaming than what we have now, I just have a hard time seeing it happen. If it were as easy as flipping a switch and the entire Tidal catalog was MQA’d, then OK, we’d really have something. But knowing that Tidal’s vast catalog of music will not be remastered in the foreseeable future for purposes of offering the audiophile hi-rez streaming, I can’t say that I see the path forward. A Tidal/Roon-based setup such as what I am enjoying at home is a far more exciting proposition to me. Unlike MQA, this setup has fundamentally increased my enjoyment of music. That’s exciting.
I know Robert Harley and Michael Fremer have gotten all impressed by MQA. Maybe those guys are seeing and hearing something I don’t. Or maybe they understand the industry better than I do. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll see. . . . Jeff Fritz