What Is The MQA Format?

Modern digital music has a very complex structure. It was much easier to talk about the structure of audio recorded on vinyl records or compact cassette tape.

But with the massive and rapid adoption and popularization of streaming music, new audio formats have begun to emerge that are rapidly becoming innovative competitive advantages for music streaming services that are competing for new users.

Master Quality Authenticated is a relatively new but rapidly growing digital music format that effectively supports HRA streaming to consumers, which was developed in 2016 and released to the general public a year later at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. MQA was created within the walls of the British laboratory “Meridian Audio”, although today the project to support and promote the audio codec has been separated into a separate company with the same name.

In May 2018, the Recording Industry Association of America, in conjunction with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, decided that MQA-encoded audio recordings could have their own official logo in addition to the “Hi-Res AUDIO” logo.

The era of sacrificing quality in the name of comfort is over. Indeed, MQA is designed to store and stream Hi-Res audio with parameters of 96 kHz/24 bits at a much lower bit rate, very close to a standard CD and therefore not requiring broadband Internet (approximately 700 Kbps).

The name of the Master Quality Authenticated codec contains a hint that this technology creates a digital clone of the original encoded audio file, which is not trimmed during compression, but is added in a certain way in layers.

The Studio Masters mark present in some of the files indicates that the sound that the listener receives is identical to the studio. Thus, MQA is proven studio quality, delivering sound that is not only better than CD quality, but surpasses any comparable format based on the traditional encoding that has been the standard for CD quality audio for several decades.

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The advantages of this audio codec are that it retains sound detail and high frequencies, but at the same time has a bit rate that makes it easy to store on portable media and transmit large amounts of music through narrow communication channels.

The disadvantage of this format, many music lovers call the need to purchase a special player with licensed MQA support in order to get a completely unpacked sound in all its depth and colors, and not a truncated version on any device that does not have proprietary decoders.

Most MQA files sound so good that users who have tasted the opportunity to listen to their favorite music in this quality, without parting with it on trips and travels, no longer want to deny themselves this pleasure.

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