Illegalized: $5

MQA – The Room – Lo-Res got better…

The press on MQA is full of a lot of things but not too many of them have to do with how it sounds. I’ve been listening to CDs since you have, since the beginning, early 80’s. I wouldn’t even buy them until the 90’s cause they didn’t sound good. My cassettes made from my vinyl sounded a lot better to me.

I didn’t have to read about it to know that then.

In fact I didn’t like digital audio until I got introduced to DSD in 1999. It finally sounded better than anything I had heard before!

But CDs and CD quality (and worse: MP3, AAC) didn’t go away. I tried :)

I have made a lot of recordings over the years since the 80’s. Even the 70’s. They started on tape, 1/4″. Even multitrack cassette. So so quality. Good times. Then 8 track digital (not 8-tracks, well yes in my bus in the 70’s) at 16/48. Not bad and way good enough for early DIY and online 1995…

I made those recordings for early CDs, unreleased stuff, and then started recording shows using 1-bit Sony TCD-8 and TCD-10 DAT machines at 48kHz. Not bad! Often these were recorded through a single strereo mic I setup in the room in front of the band. To capture the sound we were making that day with those sets (which weren’t written down usually).

Guess how MQA Ltd describes their tech/product:

“MQA is a revolutionary new technology borne from a simple desire: to bring the listener as close as possible to the artist’s original performance.”

Was I interested in how that sounded when I first read about it? Yes I sure was!

So I have gone back to most if not all my earlier digital recordings and even some tape transfers to PCM and worked with MQA Ltd. to have them encoded as MQA. It sounds a lot better than what I had listened to as CD masters and the like before. Sometimes a lot better.

Here’s what I don’t read the press saying about MQA, but that I find extremely valuable about this technology…

When the master being encoded as MQA is CD quality at 16/44.1, the MQA time resolution repairs (my term) done to the master which remove the audible pre-echo ringing and maybe some post-echo ringing are distinctly heard as huge improvements to the sound, ALL WITHOUT USING ANY SPECIAL EQUIPMENT.

No one has to buy anything such as new audio gear to hear these improvements on the natural sound of the recording.  You don’t need a new software media player or a new DAC or wires or computer or anything else. You just play it through what you usually play music through (computer, phone) or burn it to CD! I think you will hear the difference.

An MQA DAC such as the Meridian Explorer2 (PCM up to 192k for $299 US) will unfold hi-res masters to restore and play the higher frequencies. These sound great too!

This is in addition to what I mentioned earlier. But for CDs as masters (original 16/44.1 recordings) there was no hi-res (high frequencies) recorded or mastered. I find the MQA DAC further improves even these (CD) masters somewhat, but it’s not required.

Here’s what a recent listener who was comparing my “Time Forgets” MQA Master against the original CD said. This was on a Macbook, with no DAC or any other special gear, just iTunes playing the 2 versions of the album, alternating and comparing each song:

“oh wow – oh my god
clearer crisp sharp, gawd!! no question
wow! you can hear everything better, everything being all the instruments
sharper clearer you can hear every distinctive instrument, awesome”

I’ve gotten a lot of comments like these from both straight A music lovers as well as from hard core audiophiles.


So I am offering you a 75% discount on the $20 MQA Master download of a live recording of a full band made on a TCD-8 using a single $99 Sony stereo mic setup on a mic stand maybe 6-8 feet in front of the band playing.

Illegal Copy #2 – David Elias & The Great Unknown
Recorded in San Gregorio General Store, 2002

Click Here To Preview or Download the Illegal Copy #2 album…

These 9 songs were a lot of fun to play in the Store that day and were recorded at 48kHz then mastered by me at 44.1kHz. What you can download for $5 is the MQA version of the master encoded by MQA Ltd. (

I made some bootleg copies of the recording back then for some friends and the musicians but it didn’t sound quite good enough to me to release as a CD. The energy and performance were good, just the sound wasn’t really “the room”. Now it is. Close enough for an illegalized copy :)

This is a roots low-level basic recording. It’s not hi-res. But it sounds like the room when I hear it now after all these years. I’ve had audiphile comments on this same recording expressing their appreciation and enjoyment of the natural honest and ambient characteristics of this master. That’s all I could hope for.

Use this PROMO CODE for 75% off:   illegalized   (no capital letters necessary).

Share this with anyone you want. The PROMO expires on midnight (UTC) 8/31/2016. The CD download is $5.

I now have 17 MQA Mastered titles (mostly albums) online to preview and download here:

Aloha to all and thanks for listening,



  1. Thanks, David, for filling-in the MQA story. We should care because MQA holds the promise of “saving” all the CD recordings, allowing us to hear ’em anew with more natural sound quality.

    Who knew that the very filters necessary for digital audio screw up subtle timing cues that humans are so attuned to? That MQA can repair such damage is a marvel of recent innovation. And no new gear required to enjoy it. But the kicker is MQA’s compactness — files smaller than CD-size and streaming at comfortable, mass-market rates.

    Steve Jobs needed to pitch “1,000 songs in your pocket” and so the even poorer quality sound of MP3 became ubiquitous. That seems like ancient history now and MQA now offers a way out. Natural sound quality in convenient, fully backward-compatible packages.

    Let’s play it all again and enjoy it much more.

  2. I’ve done just that Dez! Enjoyed many of the older master recordings I have now with the MQA encoding. The MQA decoder in a DAC (Meridian, Mytek, Pioneer, Onkyo, Bluesound, NAD….others) does a great job with the reconstruction (D to A), but it is not required.

    So yes as you say, anyone can download a CD or hi-res MQA master at roughly the filesize of a CD (1.1 to 1.4mbps) or download a file compressed (not lossy) version of the same master as ALAC (Apple) or FLAC (PC) at even smaller filesize and play it.

    If it’s a hi-res master (mine go to 24/352.8kHz) they can still enjoy playing it without an MQA DAC. If/when they have the DAC it will then unfold the hi-res and play it back as it was mastered with full sonic resolution.

    No problem – music is available to download, stream or receive as CD with all the options in place for playback. I love the options and convenience as well as the sound quality.

    – DE

  3. IMHO MQA was never alive. Now it’s pretty much dead and not due to all of the eligible controversy concerning lossy-compression, marketing new masters, licensing game, aso. but the fact that major players (such as Youtube hence Google, Apple, Amazon just to name few big ones here) stepped into the streaming game. Supplementary TIDAL is loosing market shares rapidly. Amazons approach on HIRES (consumer/sony coined term anyways) is uncompressed audio which is no big deal with 5G coverage and fiber optics DSL being available not just in metropolitan areas. So I guess MQA/TIDAL will stay a niche for a while like we’d seen with SACD and other so called audio “improvements” for audiophiles. Eventually AES will prove one another MQA doesn’t pass ABX ( But then again audiophiles don’t care anyways …. they just want to believe they can improve audio by investing in new hardware. Which is totally fine with me. Has been like that for decades and will last for decades.

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