Music is Changing

Magic Music

Playlist Author
Guess I'll have to buy the White Album again! —Jay

Music is Changing

Meridian Audio launches MQA - Master Quality Authenticated

The goal to bring the listener exactly the sound heard in the studio when the recording was approved has so far never been attained – partly because, on the journey from the microphone to your ears, every single process degrades the quality. This loss of quality became severe with the arrival of personal stereo devices, where we gained convenience at the expense of lower sound quality; vital elements of the music thrown away to fit a thousand songs into your pocket, or millions in a cloud – on the way losing emotion, realism and engagement.

Meanwhile, in production and among audiophiles, there has been a kind of 'arms race' to capture at higher sample rates or data rates, believing that the bigger the numbers, the better the sound. Yes, higher sample rates can make improvements to the sound, but most of the 'encoding space' created goes unused. It's like putting the music into a bigger box, most of which is empty – it's inefficient and because you can't tell where the music's essence is, it's hard to lift it out undamaged.

MQA, or Master Quality Authenticated, brings together the three ideals of studio-quality sound, convenience and end-to-end authenticity. It uses a completely new concept of capturing the total essence of an original recording and conveying it all the way to the listener, assuring that what they are listening to is identical to the master recording.

Sounds like magic? It does! MQA has been confirmed over years of development and in listening with artists, mastering engineers and producers around the globe. MQA is innovative, enabling and exciting.

Music Captured the Way We Hear

Sounds Too Good But True.jpg
MQA begins with the sound that's been signed off by the artist and producer. Every last subtlety of that master recording is captured using a new sampling method that can resolve the finest time divisions we can hear and deliver them in your player. We call the process "Encapsulation": it is informed by the latest neuroscience and psychoacoustic research that shows how we identify and locate sounds, and that timing details of a few microseconds are important. This new technique combines this extreme level of time accuracy with authentic dynamic range.

MQA also uses innovative lossless processing to build a file or stream which also delivers sophisticated metadata: details of the recording, instructions for the decoder and D/A converters plus how to create an authenticated exact reconstruction of the original analogue signal. MQA can be delivered inside any lossless container, e.g. as ALAC, FLAC, or WAV.

Unlike the huge files from super-high-sample-rate systems, the MQA file is extremely efficiently encoded and yet it contains and protects all the sound of the original.

MQA is decoded by a simple decoder – which can be an app, a software player or hardware – and it reconstructs the exact sound approved in the studio along with an indicator to authenticate that what you are hearing is a true rendition of the original master recording; it works for all masters between 44.1 kHz and 768 kHz sampling.

MQA has another unique feature: the decoder gives the highest possible sound quality, but you may not yet have a decoder everywhere you listen – in the meantime the MQA file plays on normal equipment but instead of 'studio' you get 'better than CD' quality.

However you listen, with MQA you'll experience a clear, accurate and authentic path from the studio all the way to your listening environment – at home, in the car, on the go – and you'll know because MQA means master quality – authenticated.

Bob Stuart, the pioneer behind MQA technology said: "Music lovers need no longer be shortchanged; finally we can all hear exactly what the musicians recorded. MQA gives a clear, accurate and authentic path from the recording studio all the way to any listening environment – at home, in the car or on the go. And we didn't sacrifice convenience." Stuart also advised that "the announcement of MQA is really about the future of recorded music. Music is important to us all. When the sound is authentic it is more involving, we understand it better and enjoy it longer. MQA is already receiving broad support from the music industry, artists, recording and mastering engineers and record labels."

Mike Jbara, Warner Music Group, stated that "In terms of impact in audio quality it's a hugely important development and a big step forward. Meridian's achievement is significant because it goes back to the source of the artists' recording and provides studio master quality sound while not compromising on the convenience people expect."

The first product to ship with MQA support is Meridian's new Explorer2 USB DAC. Similarly, Meridian's Prime Headphone Amplifier will receive a firmware update to add MQA support in the coming months.

Following 7digital's announcement of support in December, other companies already in advanced discussions include: Imagination Technologies and its Caskeid wireless multi-room audio IP platform; Onkyo, the Japanese electronics giant; Arcam, the British hi-fi manufacturer; and TIDAL, the high fidelity music streaming service.

For more Information on MQA, please go to


About Meridian Audio

Meridian is based near Cambridge, UK, and was founded in 1977 by Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd. With over 35 years history of innovation and development of uncompromised consumer home entertainment systems offering exceptional performance, this award-winning company is widely recognized as a world leader in high-quality audio and video reproduction. Meridian developed the first audiophile CD player, the world's first consumer digital surround controller and the world's first digital loudspeaker. Bob Stuart architected MLP, the lossless coding used in DVD-Audio and Blu-ray. The company's optical disc players, DSP loudspeakers, video projectors and processors are unique in the industry, maintaining a super-quality digital signal throughout the path from the studio to the home, using advanced digital signal processing to deliver both a sweet, natural sound and smooth, crystal-sharp images with true cinematic realism.

SOURCE Meridian Audio
Last edited: