MQA's sustainable technology
Better quality done right.
Since inception, MQA has been championing audio quality and convenience, working with partners such as TIDAL – as well as a wide range of hardware brands – to raise awareness and encourage its adoption. Artists are clear that they want fans to enjoy the sound quality they heard when they created their music. More recently, some of the mainstream music streaming services have begun to react to growing consumer demand and have upgraded their audio offerings. As more artists are recording in hi-res, and more music becomes available to stream in higher quality¹, how do we ensure these innovations are sustainable?
The history of chasing numbers
For years, studio experimentation in pursuit of sound improvements led to the use of higher sampling rates in recordings. While a higher sample rate allows for the possibility of better resolution, it doesn’t fix the fundamental problem of digital ‘blurring’ and is also wasteful in a data sense.
To address the issue of blurring or time smear², and also avoid unnecessarily large files, MQA adopts a completely different approach based on a deep understanding of human hearing:
- Firstly, MQA improves resolution up to 15 times by reducing time smear to as little as 10 micro-seconds (down from a typical level of 150 micro-seconds)³. The traditional way of encoding high resolution audio isn’t optimised for musical signals and natural sounds.
- Secondly, by focusing on the music information, MQA is able to reduce the carbon footprint of high-resolution audio by as much as 80%. Based on analysis of millions of songs, MQA has discovered that in a typical 192kHz 24-bit audio file, music uses only 20% of the data capacity; the remaining 80% contains no music information.
Quality and convenience
While MQA improves clarity, it also ensures that the file is never any larger than it needs to be. Efficiency sits at MQA’s core, since an engineering approach will always seek out the most elegant solution. As explained by MQA founder, Bob Stuart: “It's very beneficial because it gives us a lower carbon footprint. It's easy to think that bandwidth is free or cheap, but it comes at a price: the monetary cost of the data; and crucially the cost to the environment.”
Better sound, efficiently delivered, results in a win-win for music fans and the environment. If you want to listen to the best quality music, delivered in the most responsible way, stream your favourite tunes on TIDAL HiFi Plus.
¹ Per RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) research on hi-res music availability.
² Time smear occurs when audio is converted from analogue into digital and back into analogue and can result in unnatural pre-ringing or blurring.
³ Based on a 192kHz 24-bit audio file.