Essential Install December 2016 - Page 64

Essential Install | MQA MQA Joins The DEG And Gets Set For Expansion High-quality music format Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) looks set for a big 2017, with membership of the DEG in the bag and strong ambition to spread adoption of its format. Bob Stuart explains how MQA takes a radical new look at how sound is turned into digital to create a cleaner, more natural experience Invented by Meridian founder, Bob Stuart, MQA uses breakthroughs in neuroscience and the understanding of how humans perceive sound in an effort to more closely match the natural world and what was heard when the music was recorded. Evolutionary wise, it was very important for humans to not just be able to hear sound, but to hear from which direction it was coming from. Hearing a lion’s footsteps behind you, is much more useful if you know from what direction they are coming. As sound reaches the ear, microseconds apart, the human brain builds a 3D ‘image’ of the world. When humans witness a live performance of music, the same thing is happening, this is what MQA tries to capture. When an analogue sound is converted into a digital signal, the makers of MQA say temporal ‘blurring’ occurs, making it harder to tell ‘where’ individual sounds are coming from. MQA is able to ‘clean’ out the distortion and uses a process dubbed ‘Music Origami’ that makes a large 24-bit file manageable and compatible to any service or playback device. Listeners should notice a difference on any ‘normal’ playback device, but when an MQA compatible decoder is added, the format can really-deliver the full experience. Crucially, it does this with a data rate of under 2Mbps, only a little larger than that required for a CD-quality file, so it’s small enough to download easily and stream. Music from analogue, PCM and DSD masters can be MQAencoded and placed inside any lossless-audio ‘container’ such as FLAC, ALAC or WAV. As well as spreading its word via services such as Tidal, MQA has recently joined the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG). Spencer Chrislu, director of content services, explains the significance: “The DEG has long been associated with promoting high-quality video to the consumer on a global basis, so it’s great that we are now able to partner with them in promoting high-quality audio. The next really visible part of this campaign will happen at the CES show in Las Vegas early in the New Year with lots of activity planned to show consumers what the technology can do.” Speaking at the time of the DEG announcement at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, MQA CEO Mike Jbara, 62 | December 2016 MQA.indd 62 14/12/2016 17:12