18/01/2017 Tidal hits a high mark with MQA…

Posted by Len | No Comments on Tidal hits a high mark with MQA…


We have been fans of streaming service Tidal for some time, and the developers of Meridian have been dangling the MQA carrot for a couple of years now  A – 20 months have passed since I was first knocked out by an MQA demo at the Hi-End Show in Munich.

If you are looking for performance from your streaming service it does not get any better than Tidal. MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) have taken this one step further with their codec, which takes a high resolution file and folds it down to a file no larger than a standard 44.1/16bit FLAC file. How good is the result? – according to MQA the final file can sound better than the original master file from where it was sourced!  Yes this is a bold claim, but my experiences indicate that they may be on to something….

The downside is that MQA needs to be decoded at the other end, and there are only a handful of MQA enabled DAC’s on the market. This is something of a stumbling block for MQA as they now needed to convince the millions of DAC owners out there that it was time to update, a big task given that as good as some of the existing MQA enabled DAC’s are none of them approach the quality of super DAC’s such as the Berkeley Reference 11.


The genius of the Tidal offering is that their MAC and PC software has MQA decoding built in – allowing you to send the file at either 88.2/24 or 96/24 to any DAC supporting these resolutions. On the other hand if you do have an MQA enabled DAC the maximum resolution available is 384/32!

However if you are limited to 96/24 the results are still incredibly impressive.

On day-one Tidal released 200 albums in MQA ranging from recent releases such as Beyonce’S Lemonade through to classics such as early Led Zeppelin albums.

This offering will only grow with time.

So why is this important? Stephen Stone from Audiophile Review.com commented that ‘….on ‘Jan 5th the AudioPhile universe changed, racially, for the better’, and I suspect there will be many who agree.  We have no doubt that online streaming will be the future for this industry. The success of iTunes/MP3 is proof that convenience trumps performance.

However people now take convenience, and access, for granted. Suddenly performance becomes part of the mix, and along with this becomes involvement. All the music in the world will not capture you imagination or interest unless you can connect with it, and this has not been possible with recent formats.

A large part of the return to vinyl is a desire to reconnect with our music – it is not a co-incidence that the heyday of the Hi-Fi industry, admittedly a long time ago, was vinyl based.

Finally we are experiencing the best of all words – unlimited access, convenience, and most importantly – quality.

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