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’.

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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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Stay up to date with the latest developments at MQA.


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What’s the difference between MQA and MP3?

MP3 recordings retain just 10% of the data from the original studio recording, the rest is discarded to reduce the file size. MQA captures and reveals 100% of the performance.

What is music origami?

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

Can I listen to MQA on my mobile?

MQA will play back on any device to deliver higher than CD-quality. If you have a smartphone with MQA capability it will decode and ‘unfold’ an MQA file to deliver studio quality sound. You can also experience MQA on the TIDAL mobile app.