Category Archives: MQA

No April Foolin… LITG Redeem Codes

Here’s a link to the Google doc worksheet that has the codes and links to redeem – 20 Lost In The Green MQA CD Master downloads (any PCM lossless format you choose). Also allows Bandcamp (not MQA) streaming of the same title forever.

These downloads will play on *any* media player. You don’t need special hardware or software to listen to this 16/44.1 MQA encoded master.

If you use BlueSound gear, you may have to rename the audio files to end with “.mqa” (no quotes) so that media player knows to engage the MQA decoding.

Click here to view shared doc with Redeem Codes

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14YOO_Kv6C_PD0kQcKKo_Va0Jbttz4UgXu9QAV_cceFU/edit?usp=sharing

[Update: if you can’t see the link go to my Facebook page here: 

http://Facebook.com/davideliasmusic 

— WordPress can drive me crazy with embedded links not supported, sorry.]

Please mark the worksheet code you use with an “X” so others don’t try it later. Each code works only once.

Enjoy the music.

~ DE

“Lost in the Green” grows up to CD quality streaming with MQA

Even though this was my first recorded album done in ’95 and released in ’96 I never released it to iTunes and the rest for digital downloads. I don’t know why…maybe their compressed MP3 sound was too off the original.
It was a coffeehouse acoustic album, I made it in a spare bedroom and did all the recording and mixing. it was mastered by Gus “Guinness” Skinas. I included 2 cover songs by Townes Van Zandt who was still living then, out of respect for his respect for songwriting.
 
Now these years later, I made this roots acoustic collection featuring Calvin McElroy (guitars, mandolin), John Caulfield (fiddle) and Roger Powell (guitars) on some tracks available for streaming on TIDAL and 7Digital as an MQA encoded CD Master.
 
 
It sounds better to me than on disc with the MQA corrections in the time coherence delivering these tracks as the stark,bare bones original sound it got created as.
 
If you are not a TIDAL or 7Digital (Onkyo) subscriber, the MQA Master CD download is online here:
 
 
(Note: streaming from bandcamp sounds good but is not cd quality or MQA)
 
Aloha to all,
~ DE

Spring Price Break ~ DE MQA Catalog of Downloads are now all 25%+ Off

New Prices Online for MQA/Hi-Res/CD downloads…
 
 
21 albums, EPs and singles ranging from CD master to DXD (24/352.8) as folded MQA encoded PCM now range in price up to just $19.95 for the DXD masters.
 
There are some free downloads here as well as announced earlier.
 
All of the MQA masters can be played on *any* software media player or iPhone/Android. They sound good that way, much better than CD to my ears every time. I’m not alone in that conclusion of course.
 
The benefit of the MQA encoding corrects time smearing also known as pre- and post-ringing effects in the recording. This is an artifact of most PCM recordings without MQA.
 
The result is a much more natural sounding playback, easier on the ears and a lot nicer to listen to. All my masters benefited from this including early CD releases (dating 20+ years ago) and more recent DSD masters converted to PCM then encoded as MQA by MQA Ltd.
 
If you have an MQA DAC the hi-res albums/tracks above 20kHz get unfolded and played in their full resolution up to 352.8kHz. Yes they do sound better but the DAC can be added anytime and you still enjoy very high quality recordings with the gear and software you have today.
 
I have listened to all the DXD masters without unfolding (no MQA DAC), and am always pleased and surprised by the sound quality, even without MQA decoding.
 
I like MQA because it provides that easy to play approach, no matter what. You can even burn these to a CD and play them in your car too. It supports lossless streaming in low bandwidth with full resolution on the playback end. Quite amazing. TIDAL is offering this now if you are interested.
 
If you download from my site at http://davidelias-mqa.com just be sure to choose a Bandcamp PCM format that is lossless. It should be one or more of these: FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIF. Most things play ALAC including Apple and these are much smaller files than AIF. FLAC is similarly smaller than WAV for PC.
 
Remember too that if you buy online at Bandcamp, you get access to the songs from your computer or Smartphone forever in addition to being able to download as often as you need to in whatever format you want. NOTE: Streaming from Bandcamp today does not support MQA decoding! It may in the future if/when BC provides lossless streaming. I find it to be quite good anyway.
 
One final note regarding BlueSound and some NAD player users. It appears that most of the BlueSound players I’ve been made aware of by listeners require the downloaded audio files to be renamed such that they end with “.mqa” (no quotes of course). This allows the player to properly identify MQA audio files and decode them correctly.
 
Email me from my web contact page if you have any questions about MQA, I’ll do my best to help clarify.
 
It will be Spring any day now. Plant something if you can…
Aloha!
DE-MQA-Catalog-March2017.jpg
 

5 Of My Personal Favorite HiFi Audio Gadgets Under $500.

NOTE: I’m not a gear reviewer, just a serious listener for my own enjoyment as well as recording artist trying to get the best sounds on my budget for preparing and editing my own music.

I’ve always had the need to buy things that were on the economy side as much as possible. But my needs for high quality in a lot of the things I am most fond of, particularly music never wants to bend to economics.

So over the years I’ve become persistently good at finding the right products in my price ranges that give me the best sound and best operation overall for music. In our world of virtual realities this is true of guitars, computers, software, microphones, DACs, Preamps/Amplifiers, Internet access, speakers and other disparate things never lumped together in the past so intimately.

I have some favorites for listening to good recordings!

Feel free to contact me via my web page if you have questions about anything I wrote about here. The revolving product I have to buy every 3-5 years that is not listed below is the PC notebook I use for computer audio, a huge part of my world. I spend $250 to $400 on these and can always find the high end portable notebook I need (currently 6GB RAM, i5 Intel quad core 2.6gHz, 1TB 7200rpm drive, 3 USB, 1 HDMI, 14″ screen, CD/DVD RW, Win7 Pro x64).

Aloha!

~ DE


OPPO HA-2  –  $299
While this product has been updated at OPPO by the HA-2SE model at the same price, I have been using the portable HA-2 headphone amplifier, DSD/PCM DAC, iPhone recharger for several years now since its release.

oppo-ha2

It might be easier to describe this beauty in terms of what it doesn’t do as an optimal mobile HRA device (my term), since it has so many interrelated functions. Overall it is the perfect mobile or home device to handle the digital to analog conversion of music on your computer or iPhone/Android and deliver it to either your headphones/earbuds or wired home stereo/studio.

In addition it has a good 4+ hours of battery that will provide DC voltage to your iPhone while traveling in airplanes and the like. It is portable enough to fit in a shirt pocket or banded together (they provide the thick bands…) with your iPhone in a jean jacket.

The HA-2 charges my iPhone 5S at least 1.5 times during travel, so a fully charged iPhone to begin with can play music with the HA-2 handling DSD64 or 128 and any bitrate PCM you throw at it for flights across the mainland or to Hawaii.

The software player I use to handle hi-res audio files I load onto the iPhone is Onkyo’s HF Player. You download the free version first, then upgrade for $9.99 to handle the hi-res which hands DSD audio to the HA-2 using DoP up to DSD128. All PCM and MP3/AAC can be upsampled to DSD in this mode. Nice!  High Precision gives you better signal to noise ratio (i.e., better sound) at a battery use price.

Onkyo’s HF Player app is accessed from the iTunes setup of your iPhone to load the hi-res files (beware this is klunky but can be done). Otherwise it easily finds and plays all your iTunes songs on your iPhone better than the stock Apple music app (reread the upsample to DSD above).

All in all the HA-2 is an incredible value for delivering the highest quality digital audio to your headphones or your home stereo setup. There is both a line out and headphone jack. The analog volume control gives you precise control over gain on the headphone side. I use it this way to feed my preamp too.

Here’s the PDF user guide:
http://download.oppodigital.com/Docs/HA-2%20User%20Manual%20US%20V1.1.pdf

Oh, and it has a patented fast charging AC adapter that recharges the HA-2 in no time.

 

Meridian Explorer2 MQA DAC – $299

This is the product that for me broke the floodgates of what a listener can actually experience with PCM masters, from CD to hi-res DXD at 24/352.8 or 24/384. It was  the first DAC to hit the streets that decoded MQA in lossless PCM master files of any format (WAV, AIF, FLAC, ALAC, etc.).

explorer2

In 2015 I’d been reading about MQA and all the trials and tribulations of its definition and promises for producing digital audio content as artists and producers had at least heard it in their mastering studio, if not necessarily intended (my humor). It was interesting reading to say the least and the more I read the more interest I had in hearing it.

Using the Explorer2 beginning in February 2016, I started hearing masters created by some of the highest regarded studios in the world, including Norway’s 2L. I was familiar with and owned 2L’s early SACD releases and now saw some of those titles released as MQA DXD downloads.

What I then heard was unlike any PCM master I’d listened to before in the natural sounding reproduction of especially acoustic sounds (my favorite kind).

For $299, the listener had a full PCM DAC up to 24/192 with two outputs for headphones as well as line level to a home stereo/studio setup. That price hasn’t changed as I write this.

This portable (very small and weightless) convenient way of hearing excellent quality PCM of any quality recordings can now be attached via its USB connector to any computer and used to decode streaming music from TIDAL at full “unfolded” rates.

So the streaming bitrate is roughly that of a CD (1.411mbps) depending on the master format (FLAC/ALAC are typically <1.0mbps), but the unfolded bit rate can be as hi-res as 24/192k (9.4mbps, upper limit of the Explorer2, not the limit of all MQA DACs).

My one complaint is the finicky USB connection for this DAC. It seems to lose its USB connection to the PC at the slightest movement. No substituted USB cables seem to improve this condition. It is also slightly annoyingly upside down based on the USB connector orientation which leaves the LEDs facing down.

I believed in the authenticity and comfortable enjoyable listening of what I heard as PCM using the Explorer2 so much that I became an MQA Ltd. artist/content partner and with their help converted all my CD and hi-res masters to MQA encoding for others to download or stream.

 

OPPO PM-3 Closed Planar Magnetic Headphones – $399

Prices for headphones are as volatile in ranges as the Dow month to month. What sounds good sometimes works for some, even as studio/industry standards, but either costs at least twice the PM-3 price, or just doesn’t sound as good to others.

What I found with this comfortable setup is a highly unintrusive sounding headphone that shields me from outside noise distractions (I hate those) and is comfortable enough to wear for a few hours at a time. They have a clean alive sound that isn’t biased towards either sizzling highs or thumping bass lines and kick drum samples.

oppo-pm3

OPPO loves good sound as represented by all of their products and these are no exception in a price range many can afford compared to other big names in studio quality headphones.  A single stereo 1/8″ cable comes with this which is convenient for wearing as well.

You can read about planar magnetic approaches to speakers and headphones elsewhere. I like them because of their flat honest sound reproduction abilities.

 

Zipbuds Pro – about $25

I found and ordered these a couple years back on a whim based on price and the description of the product which included reference to a military grade fibers that don’t decompose in the weather and rain (Hawaii weather decomposes everything from cars to houses to electronic gear in no time).

Also descriptions of the care taken to complete the audio quality as well as patented zipper approach to no-tangle were attractive. A (very very good) noise cancelling mic for iPhone use was a coup de gras.  For $25 what the heck (list may be closer to $50 but easy to find online for $25 or so).

zipbudspro

I had hated earbuds forever, but Zipbuds allowed me to recover from that remarkably. Their product description did not even mention solving one crucial factor that has had me rejecting all earbuds since the earliest Apple iPhone set in 2007: They really hurt my ears to wear.

Zipbuds fit your ears at an angle. There is a soft rubberized attachment fitted in the 3 sizes (SML) they include. The angular thing greatly helps both comfort and sound problems. I never take the Zipbuds out because they are starting to hurt my ears. That is remarkable.

There is clearly a left and right for fit and sound (which changes dramatically if they are reversed). While the R/L is not well marked on the Zipbuds themselves you just need the logo on the zipper facing out and you got it right.

I have also found more than subtle differences in SQ based on how firmly the Zipbuds are inserted in my ears. If I want more bass, I simply push them in a little further. Is that design or simply the convenience of fate?

I’ve shared these as gifts with lots of people, strict audiophiles and otherwise. Without exception they have been received with the same enthusiasm as I have for them.  My second or third set came with  a note in the box with the CEO Rob’s phone number saying to call if I wanted.

So I did call Rob one day and had a great conversation with him about hi-res in general. They are working hard to make it feel and sound right for their customers and have been at it a good long time now in Internet years.

For travel and on the go, nothing beats Zipbuds for quality of sound and convenience. I eagerly participated in their 2016 Kickstarter campaign for their new Catalyst product which is not shipping yet (ok, they are late by a month or two so far…).

Catalyst is a very high quality Bluetooth wireless set of balanced (fitted/weighted) earbuds that deploy AptX and AAC for lossless delivery of sound to the listener without wires.  Check it out.

No wires – 16 hrs battery for playtime, lossless sound quality, comfortable fit. Wireless is where I’m headed in every aspect of what I’m doing with electronics.

 

iFi Audio Micro iTube preamp/buffer – $329

Another great product I have is the original version of this product. It refers to itself as the Swiss Army Knife of Audio.

An iTube2 was just released by this highly innovative and nimble company. iFi-Audio.com has some killer products they deliver to audio lovers at great economy worldwide. Everything from portable DSD/PCM DACs to headphone amps to USB filters and special cables.

ifiaudio-itube

Here’s the relatively new setup I now buy into with my ears: Tube preamplifiers are the best staging device for any good solid state amplifier.

I place the iFi-Audio iTube in between my OPPO 103 SACD/DVD/Blu-ray player and the amplifier I am using (currently NAD 906 multichannel). Having used other preamps and AV processors (all solid state) I immediately found the tube result to be a much more natural sounding delivery from the amp to the speakers.

Everything just sounds better but most noticeable was the serious bottom coming through my Monitor Audio Gold Series towers. I can’t get that acoustic upright or electric bass and kick drum to sound any more coincidentally solid and spacious in the room (wood floors and ceilings) any other way. Voices and instruments also lost edges and yes, even shimmered.

Another huge benefit here for the $329 price is that it will allow many who are mistakenly playing DSD as converted PCM in a player such as the OPPO 103 to now correctly configure the OPPO to convert native DSD directly to analog to send to the iTube preamp.

NOTE WITH CAUTION: To do this make sure OPPO is set to play SACD as “DSD” not “PCM” and disable Audio on HDMI. ****** Be sure not to set SACD playback to DSD unless you have volume control through a preamp or other means – Otherwise you can send 100% gain to your amplifier and do some damage to your speakers, ears and maybe more.******

You can read more on this from my post in 2013: Bartender, Give Me A Sandwich.

I typically use the iTube “Digital Antidote” feature that notably reduces ringing and digital distortion.  I typically do not use the 3D Holographic sound feature.

“Angelo” hits the streets as MQA CD Master download and streaming on TIDAL

“Angelo” Solo Acoustic Instrumental (MQA CD Master) hit the streets today at CDBaby, Bandcamp and TIDAL. You can listen and download from these sites:

http://cdbaby.com/cd/davidelias21
http://davidelias.bandcamp.com

Rare acoustic instrumental spontaneous compositions from a prolific composer – intimate close mic high resolution recordings, mastered for CD release with MQA encoding.

TIDAL streaming playback has been confirmed with MQA encoding (blue light on Meridian Explorer2).

The songs for Angelo were all recorded on the same day. They were inspired in the memory and honor of departed Angelo as spontaneous compositions. All acoustic guitar instrumentals in open tuning representing a variety of stylistic influences from Celtic to Folk to Bluegrass.

Dedicated to Angelo and to the memory of independent artists worldwide. The music is kind of folky, bluegrassy, celtic-new agey…. Hard to put in a box.

This is the second release in a series of “Solo Acoustic” recordings. The first from December 2016 was “Two Track Mind”, 13 solo singer-songwriter tracks available as an MQA encoded CD from CDBaby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidelias19

Two Track Mind is an MQA encoded CD - plays on any CD Player

One of the planet’s first MQA CDs

This new release of all new tracks on CD, all solo acoustic, is encoded with MQA. That means if you play the CD in a computer audio or CD player setup that decodes MQA, you will get the full sound quality of the tracks.

You can Two Track Mind – Solo Acoustic” here at CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/davidelias19

However it can play on any CD player including in your car. It sounds great. The MQA encoding is beneficial especially to my ears at CD quality resolution regardless whether it is decoded or not. There is no hi-res to unfold on this master so there is nothing missing!

Just a new way of creating good sounding CDs. You’ll may see a lot more MQA CDs out there in the future…

davidelias-twotrackmind-cdcover-artwork-mqa

You can rip this CD like any other. The MQA is preserved as long as you rip to a lossless format like FLAC or ALAC or WAV or AIF.  The ripped tracks are then identical to what’s on the disc.

A new world in digital music no doubt.  Mahalo!

~ DE

The MQA Revolution – Once in a lifetime?

“MQA is a revolution that comes along once in a lifetime.” – Robert Hartley, TAS, July 2015

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/art…/beyond-high-resolution/

Since CES 2017 a week ago a lot of people have become a lot more curious about MQA.

I started reading a lot of detail about MQA in the latter part of 2015. I started listening to it in Feb. 2016 with a Meridian Explorer2 MQA DAC.

I became an MQA Ltd. content/artist partner a few months after that and released my first MQA titles as DXD (24/352.8) encoded with MQA and folded to 24/44.1 in June 2016.

I now have at least 20 CD to hi-res MQA master titles, mostly albums online at http://davidelias-mqa.com for preview and download. MQA sound quality has allowed me to release many things I’ve had in my back catalog as wonderfully natural sounding acoustic recordings. So yes, the way they were intended.

It was the PCM solution to good sound I had been looking for with a very tiny footprint to boot for downloading and hopefully streaming someday (like today). It didn’t replace DSD for me, it fixed PCM.

While a lot has been written about MQA in the past 18 months, I’ve found much of it to be highly politicized and not even always reported correctly.

I find that this article written by Robert Hartley a year an a half ago still serves as one of the best concise (not complete as he states) summaries of what is behind MQA sonically, not politically.

Hearing MQA is still what many have yet to do. But this article helps clearly explain “what” it is, not “why” it is.

I’m no expert no doubt but here’s something I can wholly suggest reading if you are seeking a better understanding of the MQA machinery finally at work in the market today.

If you are on TIDAL’s free trial or paid subscription and want to hear 2 excellent acoustic albums that have been with me my whole life, try James Taylor’s “Mud Slide Slim” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”. This was 1970 if I remember right.

These two albums in my history with popular music were the very sparks of what went on to define what became the “singer-songwriter” genre some 25 years later.

JT’s master on TIDAL unfolds streaming to 24/192 with an MQA DAC (TIDAL player in passthrough mode) and sounds fantastic. Again if I remember right, “Blue” unfolds to 24/96. Just a truly amazing singer and her guitar or piano or dulcimer.

Aloha!

Try TIDAL’s offer for 90 days – Hi-Res, MQA Masters streaming to your desktop

Want to try MQA Masters for 90-days? TIDAL has a free subscription trial (you have to cancel to avoid paying after 90 days). Once I signed up I went to the Account and upgraded the subscription to the “HiFi” version. It says $19.99/mo but under the trial it didn’t charge me for the upgrade.  I then actually cancelled the subscription so it wouldn’t charge PayPal after 90 days. I can always sign up later again and start paying :)

http://tidal.com/us/lemonade-offer

de-tidalsetup000

[NOTE: If that 90-day offer special for Beyonce goes away here is there standard trial signup page for 30-days trial: http://tidal.com/us/try-now-b  — Select the trial for the HiFi-Masters program on the right. ]

Then download the TIDAL player from here — you need the desktop app to stream MQA masters (it says the Chrome browser will do it as well but I didn’t try that).
http://tidal.com/us/download

Choose the browser app (leftmost) to allow Master MQA playback from your computer.

de-tidalsetup1

Once you are in the player you can find MQA under “What’s New” then scroll a page down and you’ll see “Masters” (I highlighted in yellow) in the center of the screen. Choose it to get to the MQA mastered titles. Then you can choose “Show All” to view all the albums available. I have quickly picked over 500 titles (choosing entire albums) and 36 hours of music to try this.

de-tidalsetup2

If you have an MQA DAC (Meridian, Mytek,…) you can choose “Masters” again in the lower right corner of the player to popup the setup. You can pick your MQA DAC if it sees the driver. If not, you can use the TIDAL app to decode MQA within its limits whatever they are.

de-tidalsetup4

In order to use my Meridian Explorer2 I also had to hover over the driver name then pick the Gear icon setup that allowed me to set the player in “Passthrough” mode which means it hands the audio to my MQA DAC for decoding. I prefer this because it supports up to 24/192k which I see for example on James Taylor’s “Mud Slide Slim” album playback. Amazing! Also choose the “Exclusive Mode” option too as a suggestion.

de-tidalsetup5

I bought that LP when I was little more than 10 years old. I still listen to it a lot. Wore out a number of vinyl copies over the years. CD versions of this are never good at all, but the MQA playback at 24/192 streaming from TIDAL (all 3 LEDs and Blue Light) is incredibly good!

I added titles in my playlist from Joni, Jethro Tull, Sabbath, The Dead, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, The Band, Jackson Browne…many others. They have some great stuff up there already. I then added Mott The Hoople, Todd Rundgren, Bowie, Dwight Yoakam, Mudcrutch, Mark Knopfler, CSN, Doors.  All albums, not songs. I’ve heard some of these CDs with distaste for decades! They sound great through the lossless streaming on TIDAL. What more can I say.

I have a slow Internet sometimes and buffering (stutter) has been a bit of a problem but when the skies are clear, the sound streams fine. This is a great way to try MQA masters lossless quality online without buying any new gear as the TIDAL player will decode the MQA for you. There may be advantages to having your own DAC at some point but not required… Enjoy!

Aloha! – DE

No One Has Heard These Tracks – now MQA CD online at CD Baby

New Release 2017 – Two Track Mind – Solo Acoustic!
http://cdbaby.com/cd/davidelias19

No one has heard these solo acoustic tracks. They are recorded with just 2 microphones (2 tracks!) on voice and guitar. There is nothing edited. Recorded and mixed digitally as hi-res, then mastered for CD release (16/44.1).

MQA Encoding provided by MQA Ltd., UK greatly restores the source PCM recordings to the natural ambient nature of the room and performance. Mic’d close and intimate. Solo Acoustic.
Hear it for yourself…. Online CD is for sale.

Plays from any CD player and sounds way acoustic live studio!

Plays with Studio Authenticated MQA from CD or ripped (ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIF). I don’t know where else MQA CD’s are being sold, but here’s one online through good old CD Baby…. Aloha!

davidelias-twotrackmind-3

New Christmas Video and 2016 Sampler


From the brand new David Elias – Christmas 2016 Sampler (Format Agnostic!) playlist online at http://davidelias.bandcamp.com

Preview and Download Online

Lots of hard to find and hard to reach or capture on film places on the Big Island in Hawaii visited here including the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea (with snow!), remote beaches at the bottom of steep Pali’s, and the rare explosive Lava Lake that appeared for a few weeks last year on Kilauea Volcano at the Halema’uma’u Crater.

“Christmas 2016 Sampler” is a format agnostic playlist of originals that were created using everything from a stock iPhone, to 2 mics setup in the room at a band studio rehearsal, to the house board at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, to a single stereo mic in front of the band performing in a pub/hall, to the uber quality Sonoma DSD workstation from SuperAudioCenter.com.

Careful recording, mixing and mastering allow wide varieties of sources to all co-reside on albums and playlists.

You can preview and download the 10-track Sampler here:
https://davidelias.bandcamp.com/…/christmas-2016-sampler-fo…

Thanks for listening and sharing music.

With Aloha,

– DE
Independent Acoustic online since 1995
http://www.davideias.com