MQA 2020 Round-up
MQA’s award-winning technology is licensed by labels, music services and hardware manufacturers worldwide. From industry recognition to new partner products, and stunning new music, here are some of the highlights from the past twelve months:
MQA Partner and Industry Highlights
MQA founder Bob Stuart became the first audio engineer to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s coveted Prince Philip Medal award for a lifetime of innovation “which has changed the way we listen to music and experience films”. Congratulations also to long-term MQA collaborator, Peter Craven, who was recognised with a fellowship from the Audio Engineering Society.
TIDAL Masters expansion
TIDAL added millions of MQA tracks from Warner Music Group to its Masters catalogue, along with a host of personalisation features. “TIDAL Masters offer the best sound available. As consumers’ expectations of high quality experiences increase, TIDAL’s audio innovation sets the bar for music listening,” commented TIDAL COO Lior Tibon.
TIDAL also launched the first HiFi casting platform, giving music fans greater control over their listening experience, directly from the TIDAL app.
ASUS launches MQA headset
The widely covered launch of the MQA-enabled ROG Delta S gaming headset from ASUS underlines the importance of impeccable audio for the gaming community.
With the advent of global lockdown, MQA’s technology supported the following virtual events:
• British Music Embassy’s London-based SXSW showcase, featuring performances from Jazz re:freshed’s talented artist roster;
• Annual festival, Jazz re:fest, which also lived on beyond the livestream as high quality video with MQA sound, plus a dedicated TIDAL Masters playlist;
• A livestreamed recital from Tokyo’s Hakuju Hall, showcasing MQA audio and hosted by Japan premium pay TV broadcaster WOWOW.
TIDAL retained its crown as 'Best Music Streaming Service' at this year’s What Hi-Fi? awards – also featuring in Darko.Audio’s annual wrap-up for TIDAL Connect – while MQA partners secured wins in 6 further categories. New partner KEF won What Hi-Fi?’s ‘Best all-in-one system over £1000’ for its LS50 Wireless II speakers, as well as rave reviews across the board. A record number of partners were recipients of prestigious EISA awards, including NAD, ARCAM, iFi Audio and FiiO with MQA-enabled products that scooped many other awards besides.
Dua Lipa countered the trend of delayed release schedules, and ‘Future Nostalgia’, a sassy slice of disco-infused pop, brought some welcome musical relief as the world adjusted to lockdown conditions in late March. Surprise summer release ‘folklore’ from Taylor Swift topped charts on both sides of the Atlantic, wowed the critics, and garnered several Grammy nominations.
The ‘Blue Note Re:imagined’ compilation showcased the current melting pop of rich jazz talent, including collective Steam Down, Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia. Tenor saxophonist Garcia also released her long-awaited debut longplayer ‘SOURCE’, while fellow Londoner Jacob Collier unveiled ‘Djesse Vol. 3’ part three in a series of four eclectic jazz-infused song collections.
In the year marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, maestro Daniel Barenboim payed tribute to the revered composer with an epic recording of ‘Beethoven: The Piano Sonatas & Diabelli Variations’. The latest release from Eudora Records ‘Tuhu’ (and its first MQA-CD), whisks you away to the warm climes of the southern hemisphere, with an album from guitar virtuosa Gaëlle Solal, inspired by Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos. Nordic label 2L started the year with its first Grammy win (for 'Lux') and ended with ‘stille grender’, a collection of Christmas carols performed by the Norwegian Girls Choir that transports you to a Scandinavian snowscape. All five 2L 2020 releases included MQA-CD.