Meridian Audio MQA promises 'master quality' audio for downloads and streams

We've seen various attempts to sell 'HD audio' to the masses down the years, but none of them has really managed to capture the public's imagination.

Undeterred, Meridian Audio is stepping into the arena with its Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) technology, which promises to deliver the sound of a master recording to your ears. However, rather than simply upping the sample and bit rates, the company claims to have developed a completely new process.

This starts with the sampling of a master recording in what we're told is a new kind of way, something that Meridian calls "Encapsulation". Bob Stuart, co-founder of Meridian Audio and creator of MQA, says: "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."

Lose nothing

From here, MQA uses supposedly lossless processing to build a music file that contains specific metadata. This includes details of the recording, instructions for the decoder and D/A converters and, we're assured, the information required to create an authenticated exact reconstruction of the original analogue signal.

Crucially, MQA can be delivered within any existing lossless file container - ALAC, FLAC, or WAV, for example - and is said to be suitable for both downloading and streaming. What's more, although you'll need dedicated software or hardware to feel the benefit of it, files featuring MQA can still be played back on regular music players at CD quality.

We've yet to hear any examples of MQA in action so can't comment on its quality, but we're told to expect more news next year. Find out more on the Meridian Audio website and in the video above.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.