• December 7, 2022

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Today marks the launch of a genuinely exciting innovation in the world of wireless audio. It’s excellent news for those who enjoy listening to music using wireless headphones and speakers.

The market for hi-res music continues to grow, with services like Tidal and Qobuz offering Hi-Res music streaming that takes digital music way beyond CD quality. However, until now, all that music must be diluted and downsampled to make it small enough to be streamed over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology like Apple AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast.

Now the man who developed the original MQA codec that cleverly compresses Hi-Res audio into much smaller files without compromising on quality has come up with a new version of the technology that can be implemented wirelessly.

Bob Stuart developed MQA technology and is the CTO of the company. Today he announced that his brand-new scalable audio codec received the endorsement of the Japan Audio Society (JAS). The internationally respected audio research organization has certified MQA’s new scalable codec for use with its Hi-Res Audio Wireless logo.

The MQair codec can dynamically transfer MQA or PCM audio files wirelessly, up to a dizzying 384kHz at 24-bits. Although very little music is available online to stream at such a high sampling rate, MQair shows that the new codec has all the headroom necessary to handle the streaming of Hi-Res over wireless.

The new codec can vary the sampling rate of music streamed in much smaller steps than existing technology. Breaking the limitations of Bluetooth or AirPlay opens the door to a whole new range of wireless audiophile products that can stream Hi-Res music without losing quality.

Currently, no headphones or speakers on the market are compatible with MQair. Still, the good news is the technology can be implemented via a firmware update and doesn’t rely on hardware to decode the data. It’s possible that makers of current wireless headphones or speakers could license the MQair technology and provide it to their customers via a firmware update.

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MQair is agnostic and can handle files from almost any music streaming service. It can unfold regular MQA files, such as those provided with Tidal’s excellent Masters service, and regular PCM music files. This means it can work with any streaming service with music encoded at various resolutions. MQair can also handle multichannel audio, leaving the door open to spatial and 360˚ encoded audio.

Wireless devices account for a large and growing sector of the music-listening market. Wireless headphones are so popular that sales of wired headphones and earbuds are in decline. The development of MQair pushes the wireless audio market to a new level by uncapping the maximum rate that music can be streamed wirelessly.

MQair delivers its detail and clarity by focusing on the time domain of the audio. This is a critical factor in how humans perceive high-resolution sound. The technology supports both MQA and PCM audio up to 384kHz, with the encoded data rate able to be scaled seamlessly from 20Mbps to below 200kbps. This makes MQair suitable for use over Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Wi-Fi. It offers low latency and high efficiency, ensuring longer battery life from client devices, resulting in longer listening times from a single charge of the battery in a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds.

Bob Stuart, MQA’s founder and CTO, commented on the launch, “We are honoured that JAS has certified SCL6 for use with its Hi-Res Audio Wireless logo. This latest technology is born of our passion for the highest sound quality and an understanding that such quality brings us closer to the music. With MQair we can improve the listening experience for many listeners and extend the MQA ecosystem to wireless devices. High resolution isn’t necessarily defined by the big things – it is shaped by small elements in the sound that convey details, separation, color and space. We are excited to use these insights in the design of MQair to bring a more enjoyable experience to audio fans and music lovers everywhere.”

More info: www.mqa.co.uk

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