MQA – When Two Faced Is A Whole

I’ve come to think of MQA as two completely different faces in one container. This appears to be fully misunderstood by many.

On one hand MQA is a time coherence correction tool that makes quantum leaps in restoring the ambient synchronization of frequency and location arrival of sound to the listener. It does this with both analog recording ADC and playback DAC knowledge applied to remove pre- and post-ringing echoes that typically create huge miscues to the listener’s ear on what was played when, and from where in the room on the recording. These miscues are cause for endless fatiguing analysis and corrections done by the human ear which is monumentally sensitive to timing and location, much more so than to pitch (frequency) itself.

The other face (unrelated entirely) of MQA is its ingenious methods of folding hi-res recordings (up to 24/384kHz) to nothing greater than 24/48kHz in any lossless PCM format including the popular file compressed formats of FLAC (PC) and ALAC (Mac). This allows the full spectrum of sound and air/harmonics to be restored on playback by MQA enabled DACs using little more than, or even less than 1mbps bandwidth on transport and delivery to the DAC.

Folding is 100% lossless with regard to the noise floor in the recording. No ambiguities there whatsoever. The fast (compressed) delivery of the data reduces the time and space required to allow quick and easy transport over Internet for downloads or streaming as well as on standard CD capacity disks. This is almost 20x smaller than the data/bandwidth footprint of a WAV or AIF hi-res PCM download at 24/384k and the popular DXD (24/352.8k). The latter monstrous file sizes prohibit downloads for almost everyone and streaming is not possible at all. MQA solves this problem with 100% bit perfect accuracy in a package almost 20 times smaller on delivery.

So MQA’s two-faced solution restores an edgeless natural enjoyable ambient sound to PCM masters at any resolution by removing brickwall filter imposed edges as time smearing. And MQA delivers in a package (PCM format) that fully accommodates all known media requirements for users including (I hope!) future wireless lossless full resolution transmissions.

All this is done with full portability by the user to any and all media devices for playback including non-MQA equipment. CD ripping and format conversions (e.g., between FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIF) can be done by anyone at anytime with the full preservation of the MQA encoding. Royalties are paid by the sources (record labels, MQA compatible equipment mfgs, streaming services) not unlike CD, Dolby, DTS, and many other popular digital audio technologies used by the recording and film industries for many decades.

What’s not to like?
– DE,


  1. Beautiful, clear explanation of an almost fiendishly clever and complex set of technologies called MQA. Most exciting is their ability to actually improve the sound quality of existing master recordings. When we listen we can’t disengage the exquisite analysis by our ears and brain. And if they’re busy trying to decipher sound arrivals that are “smeared” in time by digital recording/playback techniques, we soon grow fatigued. This is the bane of digital sound and that “hi-res” was meant to fix. But it suffers diminishing returns without a rethinking of traditional information theory. This was accomplished by Bob Stuart and Peter Craven and is now being marketed by Stuart’s company, MQA Ltd. Their “hierarchical” solution also reduces the unwieldy music file sizes of hi-res audio and enables efficient streaming through existing “pipes”. All this has brought a brand new world in which any of us can enjoy the sparkling, undiscovered sound quality of MQA-encoded music.

    1. Dez thanks for your enthusiasm and continuing to track this development and hi-res releases since the launch at the beginning of this year. Lots has happened! Staying tuned with Aloha – DE

  2. “What is there nor to like?”
    If – and only if – I would buy a 200,- € MQA card for my Metrum Amethyst DAC I could decode MQA. I like Synth-Pop from the 80ties. There are almost no MQA files with the Music I like.
    Can I code my 24bit / 384 khz vinyl-rips into MQA? I can not.
    So I decided to invest into a NAS instead, to handle my big files.
    A NAS with 8 TERRABYTE – “What is there nor to like?”
    MQA makes sense for users of TIDAL. That is it.
    If you want to buy music recorded in 24/384 from 2L – buy the DXD file – it sounds better anyway.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s