A newly certified hi-res audio codec from MQA will target Qualcomm’s aptX and Sony’s LDAC solutions.

The format is called MQair (well, technically it’s called SCL6, but MQA is launching it to the public under the catchier name MQair), and MQA tells us it can deliver higher quality PCM and MQA audio files when streaming to wireless and Bluetooth devices.

And you don’t just have to take MQA at its word; MQair has obtained hi-res audio wireless certification from the Japan Audio Society (JAS). This means that if you buy a product with MQair support in the future, you will see a beautiful gold Hi-Res Audio logo appear on the packaging – as you will already find on the excellent Astell & Kern A&norma SR25 MKII, or in fact one of the best hi-res audio players on the market, not to mention the Sony WH-1000XM5 over-ears and some of the best wireless headphones out there.

Here’s the key: the MQair codec (which can be thought of as the ‘bridge’ between the resolution of the file you’re streaming and how much of it can actually get to your ears) will apparently support both PCM and MQA audio formats up to 384 kHz, via Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Wi-Fi streaming connections. It also claims to offer low latency and high efficiency – meaning potentially longer battery life for your devices, similar to the benefits of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE).


Analysis: MQair is Qualcomm’s codec and Sony will want to look forward to…

So it is an LDAC or aptX alternative. But why is this particular codec potentially more important? Well, MQA is the file format Tidal uses in its highly regarded Tidal Masters HiFi Plus hi-res library, which (perhaps you understand) is the audiophile of choice when it comes to music streaming – it is certainly one of the best music streaming services available today. .

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And whether or not you think MQA tops the sonic chops of Apple Music’s ALAC codec used in its Hi-Res Lossless offering, it certainly offers more detail than the social but loss-making OGG Vorbis solution. from Spotify (with that long-awaited HiFi or ‘Platinum’ level yet to be officially launched).

The thing is, when (if) MQair starts to become ubiquitous in the latest creations from Astell & Kern and the like, it may well become the last word in wireless listening – the Netflix of audiophile streaming, if you will.

Example: iFi’s beloved audiophile output, which includes some of the best portable DACs around; see the hip flask shaped hip dac now in its second iteration. The company’s body of work has long boasted full decoding MQA files up to 384kHz. This means that the entire ‘three unfold’ decoding process is done internally, as opposed to just the last unfold (in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’). This is all iFi’s cumbersome way of saying “MQA is good, and we do it best”.

Of course this is all a bit pie in the sky because we don’t know

we know for sure which brands or products will be using MQA’s new codec when it arrives, but we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an MQair logo on boxes soon – and of course, whether Tidal chooses to support it, no little influence on its success.

Will we see it come out in time for Black Friday? And will products that can’t support it therefore be subject to some tasty Black Friday deals? It’s all a bit quick to say. But we can’t wait to hear it…