Bob Stuart, creator of MQA, talks in detail about this revolutionary British technology that sets a new standard in capturing, delivering and reproducing digital audio.
Insight: What, How & Why?
Before delving deeper, here are some headlines…
What is MQA?
MQA is a revolutionary, award-winning, peer-reviewed-and-approved technology for capturing, archiving and efficiently distributing music with the highest possible sound quality.
By paying great attention to the nature of sound and the way we hear, MQA opens a clearer window and delivers all the details and nuance of sound, to reach the heart of the music and the soul of the listener.
MQA is inclusive – anyone can play it back and the sound quality is optimised for the current playback device.
Our system is smart; it removes unintended, damaging artefacts of the technology employed in real-world recording and playback and it gives assurance to the studio community that their work is heard properly.
MQA is not a codec; it is an end-to-end system that delivers higher quality to any playback platform and authenticates the result. We also changed the game by offering only the pure original and highest quality of a recording with secure confirmation at playback – so the listener has the huge benefit of knowing they have the approved original. MQA: Master Quality Authentication.
With rapid expansion since its public launch in 2015, MQA is respected and adopted by the mastering community, artists, music labels and makers of playback products. MQA can be enjoyed on millions of devices in hitherto-unattainable sound quality via a growing number of physical, streaming and download distributors.
MQA answers key questions about delivering the highest sound quality wherever we listen. We show how the exquisite sound of live or recorded music can be accurately delivered, with certainty, while using no more data or resource than is strictly necessary. To do that, we re-imagined digital sampling and playback using key insights from modern auditory science.
MQA also developed an ingenious ‘folding’ technique (we call ‘Music Origami’) that encapsulates the audio (to protect and preserve it in distribution), unwraps it precisely for your listening device and confirms delivery. This allows us to include all of the original sound, in a robust, versatile package that can be stored, downloaded or streamed with minimum impact on server and cloud costs, or on the consumer’s data plan.
Compared to regular PCM, MQA delivers at least 15 times more resolution, with a lower environmental impact (saving up to 80% on storage, cloud and data cost), yet gives the clearest sound direct from the studio, and is effortless for the listener to enjoy.
Who are MQA?
MQA are uncompromising leaders in the search for perfection in sound quality and authenticity.
We challenged established concepts in high resolution and solved an important set of problems – because everyone deserves to enjoy their music and that isn’t possible with flawed sound.
We created an industry-changing system to bring every nuance of the original music, but not before road-testing it extensively with music labels, artists, studios, professional bodies and academics, that’s why we enjoy significant acclaim.
The MQA technical team are world experts in high-quality audio, with established professional credentials backed by a history that includes the original development of key underpinning technologies in digital and analogue audio, coding, lossless compression and processing and archive restoration. The team has published, over 40 years, more than 50 peer-reviewed academic papers and a similar number of patents.
MQA maintains membership or advisory status with key bodies such as AES, JAES, JAS, Grammy P&E Wing and RIAA as well as collaborating with key universities in the UK, Canada and Japan. Our opinion is regularly sought on technical matters ranging from archive recovery to listening tests to hardware design.
Headquartered just outside Cambridge UK, MQA also maintains a presence in the USA, Norway and Japan.