MQA News from IFA

The embrace of MQA by audio companies and labels has widened. At last weekend's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, MQA announced that its technology will be embedded in LG's new, globally distributed V30 flagship smartphone. In addition, two Sony Walkmans, the WM-ZX300 and WM-A40, will become equipped for MQA music playback. Pioneer and Onkyo also offer Tidal Masters (MQA) mobile streaming on their latest XDP-30R and DP-S1 models, and iFi is developing a nano iDSD Black Label DAC that features MQA integration.

At CEDIA, which takes place September 5–9 in San Diego, both Electrocompaniet and Rotel will announce new MQA partnerships. By the end of 2017, Electrocompaniet will integrate MQA into several of its high-end and custom installation lines. Rotel's first MQA-integrated units will roll out in mid-2018. On the hardware front, the word is that dCS is preparing for an MQA rollout on its Rossini DAC and players.

Anyone in the audio industry with an international presence will tell you of the importance of the Korean market. Hence, that Groovers, a Korean-based hi-rez streaming service will implement mobile and desktop streaming of MQA content by the end of 2017 is major news. Equally important, the Japan-based music store, e-onkyo music, has added the Warner Music Group's hi-rez MQA catalog for download.

Onkyo Music, which serves the US and UK as well as Germany, will offer MQA downloads when it rolls out its redesigned store in September. HighResAudio already distributes MQA downloads. MQA has also completed deals with Sony and Universal Music Group, as well as Merlin, which is the global music rights agency that represents the world's leading independent labels.

Worldwide music streaming platform Deezer is also planning to go the MQA route, with Bluesound, LG, Onkyo, Moon by Simaudio, and Sony among its partners. Given that Deezer's music streaming service offers over 43 million tracks to more than 12 million active users in 185 countries, this is major news. Deezer's signature feature, FLOW, offers personalized soundtracks and recommendations based on smart data and algorithms.

In addition, 7digital, a UK-based digital music and radio services platform that offers over 30 million music tracks for download in the US and other countries, will power a forthcoming hi-rez streaming service, HDmusicStream, using MQA technology. now offers thousands of on-demand, MQA-encoded live concerts from artists including Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, and Dead & Company. This fall, the HiFi tier of will offer MQA steaming on iOS and desktop players. Putting this news all together, it sounds as though Tidal's about to have competition in the MQA streaming department.

In September, Sonic Studio's Amarra Luxe 4.1 media player will become available for playback and streaming of MQA hi-res music. As with music player Audirvana Plus, which also decodes MQA, Amarra Luxe 4.1 will offer full Tidal integration. Rumor has it that music player Roon, which offers full Tidal integration, is not far behind in the MQA-unfolding department.

BradleyP's picture

I'm not sure how Spotify can hold out much longer, or that they will. Also, their interface is very good, but I wish it would become more Roon-like. I would like to search my extensive Spotify collection visually by genre, but it doesn't allow that.

Only a small percentage of the population has equipment that will reveal the benefits of MQA. Is the industry betting on MQA to be the catalyst that drives people to better and better equipment?

Anton's picture

I hope MQA is a temporary thing until we get full hi rez streaming and then leave it to the inventiveness of the internet to come up with after-market data origami, data folding, Arrakis-like audio spice-time manipulation, or whatever.

I think this aspect of audio is ripe for the a multitude of manipulation protocols that could be used as apps and shared across platforms by hobbyists for the joy of seeing who can do what with what. The rights holders will get the same money, we get to be our own personal arbiters of sound.

I say, keep the original signal original and then turn the audiophile community loose on the folding and unfolding or enhancements.

This way kinda feels like a giant cookie cutter headed our way.


Thread drift:

I also look forward to the day where a place like Parts Express sells a nice hardened uni-pivot spindle, and we all roam the internet and 3D-print different tonearms and then talking about their differences and evolving the vinyl hobby, as well.

If we are allowed, I am bullish on the ability of the audio proletariat to rise up and once again become and active part of the way Hi Fi gets accomplished in the home.

wilco's picture

Has anyone heard 24 bit streaming from Qobuz? Interested to know how it compares to downloaded 24 bit and also streamed MQA and HiFi 16 bit from Tidal.

Terence M Riley's picture

Long time reader, a first-time commenter on your magazine. Mr. Serinus, good job bringing to light the audio advantages of the LG models of phone that employ ESS audio DAC's like the ES9218P found in the V30 and now the ESS Sabre 9228 Quad in the V35. My new work LG V35 walks all over my personal iPhone 7 Plus. ESS 1, Cirrus Logic 0.5.

I refuse to pay for ad removal on apps unless the coding is exceptional and the app is exceptional as well. I don't do Tidal, nor Q whatever or Premium YouTube. I have found multiple websites with a diverse selection of Hi-Rez audio for download or streaming, all legitimate and legal. Not like the Limewire days of old.

As I write this, I'm listening to a very well recorded Ryan Adams Live at Das Haus. The reviews on this page,, are all positive especially one individual using a pair of Stax headphones and he goes on and on...

I'm a firm believer in diminishing returns. I come from a background of Conrad Johnson, Infinity IRS V, Tandberg, Vandersteen, and NAD and a few more. As things change, they stay the same. They just come in different sized boxes. What used to cost me $150,000 in speakers, now cost me $400 for an LG phone from Google Fi and a pair of 1More Triple Driver IEM's or Sony closed backs for work that can pull double duty after hours on the phone for playback.

Yes, I can still appreciate a fine Koetsu and a glass of aged Scotch. But day to day and from my mix board to the car, a phone with great sounding DAC's is hard to compete against from a convenience standpoint. My time is my income.