Meridian audio has long been a brand synonymous with some pretty great audio tech. From amplifiers to home theater set-ups they made it their goal to deliver high quality sound. Bob Stuart, co-founder of Meridian Audio said, “The more you hear, the more you feel.” With everyone now streaming music from their portable devices, Meridian believes we are sacrificing quality for convenience. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this, but it is the first time a company has tried to do something about it. How? Not by making a new speaker or converter, but by making an entirely new format.
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is Meridians new file format that they say will soon become the industry standard. It has the small file size of Mp3 while maintaining the quality of lossless formats. The aim is to deliver the same musical experience that the engineers and artists create in the studio directly to the consumer. Formats like Mp3 are able to achieve their small file size by compressing the digital signals into a small package, losing some of the quality. Instead of compressing, Meridian has invented a way to fold the file in order to maintain the integrity of the audio.
MQA is completely backwards compatible and there is no real need for new hardware to enjoy it. Basically how it works is “folding” the lossless audio file and then embedding it into an Mp3, or any other file format. That file can then be played back in two ways. One way is in its natural format without a decoder. The file is still technically an Mp3 and can therefore still be played and enjoyed in all of the usual ways. The second method is to decode it. While Meridian does have some new hardware that is specialized to play this format, they stress the fact that anyone can enjoy the higher resolution file regardless of the hardware situation. This is because decoders will also be found in software players and apps that will allow most devices to access, or unfold, the MQA file.
One of the coolest features of MQA sounds gimmicky, but can potentially have a huge impact on the music industry and the way music is listened to. The actual music file that is purchased or streamed will first have to be confirmed as authentic by the artist of engineer. Then if you do happen to have hardware with a certified MQA decoder, a little green light will shine to confirm that it is the exact audio file that the original creator approved. Sure there will probably be ways to copy the format in the future, but that little green light could be the modern equivalent of having an original vinyl or CD.
While Meridian already has some of the products available, the rest of the industries are supposed to begin announcing their plans for MQA rollouts this year. Do you think MQA is truly the future? Or will we still be listening to Mp3’s years down the road?