Press Launch at London’s Shard 69 December 4th 2014
Much research by Bob Stuart and his colleagues including Peter Craven concerned reaching a better understanding of perception, what parameters are key to sound quality, and a shift from a traditional emphasis on recording the frequency components of sounds, to better mapping of the time related or transient components. Studies on perception in recent years have showed that humans are better able to resolve and appreciate transients than frequencies. Grossly simplifying the argument we understand that a single pure frequency, a sine wave carries no musical information, it is dead, static, and cannot even reveal its location, yet our recording technologies seem to have concentrated on accurate capturing groups of sine waves.
An MQA decoder can be an app, a software player or hardware, and the final step relates to the name MQA, Master Quality Authenticated, confirming that master quality is present at the replay and completing the chain from the studio recording to the listener.
The new format is packed in such a way that many current replay systems can use it at their CD existing resolution while the comparatively low overhead and extra processing required can be easily invoked to recover the successive stages of higher quality which are built into the format, e.g. by via an updated app for the player software, and/or built into hardware.
In a sense the higher stages of replay quality are built into the one recorded file and it is the replay path which has the opportunity to unpack the layers and assemble the higher quality standards as required.
Much of the technology was discussed, without then revealing the new MQA trademark or commercial work, in a recent AES paper ‘A Hierarchical Approach to Archiving and Distribution’ by Robert Stuart and Peter Craven presented at the 137th AES Convention 2014 October 9-12 Los Angeles.
Meridian has just announced a new USB DAC, the Explorer II with MQA built in, at £199, perfect for trying out the new format.
We will report at greater length with listening test results in the 2015 issue Jan–March, Volume 9 Number 1.