Meridian Audio, the Cambridge based hi-fi company, last night launched a new type of music file storage, the MQA [it stands for Master Quality Authenticated], which, says company founder Bob Stuart, solves the problem of obtaining the best sound quality possible at a reduced file size.
Previously, hi-fi buffs in search of undiluted, non-compressed sound had to opt for lossless audio – which offered very good sound but took up too much digital memory. Now Meridian appears to have invented a way to fold the sound files rather than compress, enabling them to convert original analogue masters first into digital and then back to analogue at the receiving end, all without compromising sound quality at all. The result is better than lossless sound quality, but with a very low storage footprint, enabling the files to be used conveniently on any music device, including phones and iPods.
Says Stuart: “Music lovers need no longer be shortchanged; finally we can all hear exactly what the musicians recorded. MQA gives a clear, accurate and authentic path from the recording studio all the way to any listening environment – at home, in the car or on the go. And we didn’t sacrifice convenience. ”
Meridian is looking to make MQA files the industry standard, replacing mp3, FLAC, WAV, lossless and any other current formats. If used across the industry, MQA ought to enable listeners to hear even better quality recordings of all their favourite music currently on catalogue, as well as newly recorded music.
Echoes Editor, Chris Wells, who attended the launch at The Shard, reckons the new MQA could be exactly what it says on the tin:
“Meridian streamed three songs, including Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, using MQA and they sounded fantastic. I haven’t heard Roberta sound so pure and clean before. The drum sounds, the clarity was the best I’ve ever experienced.
“We wondered if it was actually down to the quality of the very expensive Meridian speakers at first, but listening to the same song via a laptop and headphones later on enabled a comparison to be made between standard mp3 files and MQA, and the difference was pronounced. Listen, this isn’t a sales pitch – I was really, genuinely impressed.”
Further announcements about the roll-out of MQA through 2015 will be forthcoming shortly.