How it works

MP3 files deliver just 10% of the original studio recording. MQA reveals every detail of the original recording.

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MQA can be fully approved and authenticated in the studio and with our studio toolset, all playback scenarios can be previewed.

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After capturing the recording, MQA folds the file to make it small enough to stream. We call this ‘Music Origami’.


Music Origami has a positive environmental impact, reducing the carbon emissions of streaming studio quality sound by at least 80%.

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MQA will play back on any device to deliver higher than CD-quality. When paired with an MQA decoder, the MQA file reveals the original master recording.

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Explore different levels of ‘unfold’

See how MQA ‘unfolds’ to deliver the best possible listening experience.

MQA Core Decoder

This unfolds the MQA file once to deliver even higher than CD-quality. It is included in some products with digital outputs such as Pioneer and Onkyo players, as well as streaming services and desktop and mobile apps such as TIDAL. Media players like Audirvana and Roon have also implemented the core decoder.

The first unfold recovers all the direct music-related information. Output is 88.2kHz or 96kHz.

MQA Renderer

These products feature an MQA renderer which, when paired with a core decoder, can complete the final unfold and deliver a fully decoded MQA experience. Renderers can be great portable products such as USB DACs and headphones. For example the Zorloo Ztella, AudioQuest DragonFly, a range of iFi products or the ROG Delta S headset, can connect to an MQA Core signal and complete the unfolding of the MQA file.

MQA Full Decoder

Products with a full MQA Decoder unfold the file to deliver the highest possible sound quality. At this level of playback you are hearing what the artists created in the studio – with precise file and platform-specific DAC compensation and management. Partners include Bluesound, Brinkmann, dCS, Meridian, Mytek, NAD, LUMIN, Onkyo, Pioneer, TEAC and Technics.

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Newsroom

Stay up to date with the latest developments at MQA.

Sustainability

The environmental impact of music streaming

Music streaming has a carbon footprint, and it’s twice as large as the CD era. Learn more and discover the initiatives championing a more sustainable solution.
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News

Theon Cross listens to his music in MQA for the first time

Tuba sensation Theon Cross describes his approach to composing songs and recreating the magic of live performance in the studio.
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Partners

Record number of MQA partner wins at What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021

MQA partners won in 10 categories at the 39th edition of the influential tech magazine’s annual awar...
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Partners

MQA partner spotlight: KEF

A pioneer of excellence in sound, KEF's ethos is to “fill rooms with music as it was meant to be hea...
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Partners

WOWOW + MQA partnership expands to in-app video streaming

WOWOW announces collaboration with NTT Smart Connect to develop a Mac/iOS app "ω (Omega) Player" tha...
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FAQs

What’s the difference between MQA and MP3?

MP3 files deliver just 10% of the original studio recording. MQA reveals every detail of the original recording.

How do I access MQA?

TIDAL has partnered with MQA to create TIDAL Masters. With a TIDAL HiFi Plus subscription you can listen to Masters through the desktop or mobile apps. MQA also has an international network of playback partners with MQA-enabled products, ranging from headsets to speakers, and automotive to radio. Additionally, we support our record label and music service partners to ensure master recordings are encoded and delivered to a growing number of services.

Can I listen to MQA on my mobile?

Yes you can listen to TIDAL Masters – and stream live concert recordings on nugs.net – using an Android or iOS mobile app. The app software contains the MQA core decoder and performs the first unfold of an MQA file. Pair this with a portable renderer device for the full MQA experience.