Pioneering MQA Audio Techology Used in Mastering Process
A recording by Astor Piazzolla “the single most important figure in the history of tango” will be the first MQA recording to be released on compact disc in Japan. The album “A. Piazzolla by Strings and Oboe” – recorded by the UNAMAS Piazzolla Septet and mastered by respected producer and mastering engineer Mick Sawaguchi – will be released by the Ottava label on 17 March.
Since launching in the early 1980s, the CD format has undergone a number of sound quality improvements, but these have depended largely on the manufacturing process, rather than an improvement in the quality of music itself. After attending a JAS (Japan Audio Society) seminar on MQA technology presented by MQA founder Bob Stuart in late 2016, Mick Sawaguchi and Synthax Japan’s managing director, Seiji Murai, realised that MQA could enable not only 48-24 coding but also 44.1-16 coding. “We were both excited by the prospect that CD, combined with MQA technology, could herald a new era of hi-res audio.” says Sawaguchi.
MQA technology captures and reproduces the original sound quality using less data, and the MQA CD works in exactly the same way as the MQA digital file. With a conventional CD player connected to an MQA-enabled device – such as those from Meridian, Mytek, Brinkmann and Technics – the MQA CD will ‘unwrap’ to the original sample rate.
Sawaguchi compared a test MQA CD with a normal CD of the same recording at SONA Studio, played back on a CD player with a Meridian amplifier and loudspeaker systems. “Listening to the MQA CD was a great moment in my life, as it no longer sounded like music from a CD,” comments Sawaguchi.
Bob Stuart, MQA founder and CTO adds, “This exciting release demonstrates that innovative music creators, like Mick Sawaguchi, are embracing MQA as the best way to master and deliver their recordings. While MQA is ideal for streaming services like TIDAL, where studio quality sound can be streamed in smaller file sizes, we also appreciate the importance of the CD format in the Japanese market.”