The word cloud was used as a metaphor for the Internet and a standardized cloud-like shape was used to denote a network on telephony schematics. With this simplification, the implication is that the specifics of how the end points of a network are connected are not relevant for the purposes of understanding the diagram.
So let's jump into the business and practical aspects of MQA to which so many audiophiles are reacting. From the point of view of MQA Ltd. The higher the percentage of recordings mastered and released MQA encoded, the better. Low-resolution and multichannel versions of MQA are probably already waiting in the wings.
And somewhere is the tipping point, when enough recordings have been released only in MQA and it becomes the de facto standard. When Spotify and Apple Music come aboard, game over. How can MQA accomplish this?
To entice music stakeholders, MQA offers the record industry significant benefits. First, its clever lossy compression scheme reduces bandwidth overhead, which translates to lower costs to store and distribute files.
And to seal the deal, a third and final benefit: Since the MQA file is a lossily compressed version of the actual master recording albeit a very clever one employing crippleware, footnote 1and not an exact reproduction of the master recording stored in the record label's vaults, no more releasing the family jewels straight to the public.
What does all of this look like from the consumer's point of view?
In a nutshell, allegedly better-sounding music in a reasonably small stream or file. But here the benefit gets tricky, depending on what type of consumer you are. MQA realizes this, and has added a spoonful of sugar to help the compression medicine go down. If you're an audiophile who dislikes anything that smells of compression, MQA has added a "deblurring" feature.
At the same time, they've sincerely done what I consider a good job of creating a compression scheme that looks transparent on paper, even at the high resolutions where audiophiles dwell. We have no way of separating MQA's deblurring sweetener from its compression medicine, and thus no way to critically listen to and test each process in isolation from the other.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could hear and test each process under ideal conditions to assess what, if any, effect each has on the signal, and thus verify or refute the claims made for MQA?
Of course, that would open up a nightmare scenario for MQA Ltd.: We would then demand that the compression scheme be scrapped, and that deblurring be offered as a feature somehow attached to noncompressed files. Gone, then, would be the benefits to record labels and streaming companies, and it would actually require even a new inventory SKU: MQA Deblurred, or something like that.
So MQA will bind compression to deblurring tighter than white on rice, and make it tough to objectively or subjectively evaluate the compression scheme.
This makes the job of the rational reviewer impossible:The computing infrastructure that exists close to the sources of data.
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