What is MQA? High Resolution Audio Explained

What is MQA? High Resolution Audio Explained

MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated. So let's break this down into two parts, we have "Master Quality" and "Authenticated.

Master Quality:

MQA is is a new digital audio format which promises to offer better than CD Quality and even high-res music which is encoded in traditional PCM format. It does this at a much-reduced bitrate for high-resolution which is closer to a regular CD.

MQA files are generally in 96 kHz / 24 bit which is directly from the master source, offering you the experience just how the artist intended. It's also interesting to know that MQA is actually backward compatible, so if your equipment lacks an MQA decoder it will be able to playback in CD quality.


MQA files are authenticated to assure you are listening to an exact digital copy of the original encoded file which has not been degraded in any way.


So what is needed to playback MQA in all it's glory?

You will require a source component or DAC which is able to decode the MQA file and the tracks themselves. Tidal is still the best source of MQA albums and you will require the more expensive HiFi subscription to unlock these.

We recommend the Bluesound range of products to use as the source component, They come in 3 different models to suit what you need.

Bluesound NODE Hi-Res Music Streamer

Price $999


Bluesound POWERNODE 2i - Hi-Res Music Streamer Amplifier

Built-in 60W x 2 Amplifier

Price $1549


Bluesound VAULT2i


Hi-Res Music Streamer

Built-in CD Ripper to 2TB Hard Drive

Price: $1999


Our Thoughts On MQA  

After listening to Tidal MQA tracks through the Node2i it's very hard to go back to listening to the "CD Quality" tracks on Tidal. We've found our self looking for new music which is available in this format, as the difference between them is night and day on a decent 2ch system.

With today's announcement that iOS is finally going to be supporting MQA which followed on from Android's recent support, it shows that this format is gaining traction. We'd still like to see some more competition with Spotify or Apple Music offering MQA streaming but that may still be some time away unless they were to purchase Tidal.

Interesting times ahead and it's great to see that audio streaming has surpassed CD Quality, shows what is possible and maybe what the future can hold for 4K movie streaming, which still has a long way to go quality wise.