MQA: Master Quality Authenticated Explained!!
Almost every other audio gear whether it be a Hi-res player or desktop DAC solutions features MQA functionality now. What is this MQA functionality?? How does this benefit sound quality?? These questions are there in every single person’s mind who is in the market for a new purchase. Today we are going to answer all these for you, and also we will list some of the best MQA supporting Audio players and DACs available in the market today.
What is MQA?
MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated. It is an audio codec providing better quality than 16-bit CD files while maintaining the same small file size making it also suitable for streaming or storing in portable devices in large numbers. This encoding technology folds the studio-quality audio into a small file size. They achieve this small-size by folding the details in the track’s digital structure. Usually, you can play these files on any of your devices but they might sound like cd-quality recordings. For the best experience, there are several MQA licensed devices(Increasing day by day) that can fully decode and render these MQA files and provide the best, immersive sound quality experience that this technology is meant for. Streaming services like Qobuz, Tidal also supports Master quality audio streaming using the same MQA encoding technology.
How does MQA Benefit Sound Quality:-
In MQA encoding, the files contain all the data required to produce a full studio-quality experience to its users. This extra data is encoded or we can say folded into the track’s digital structure. When you play these MQA encoded files on an MQA licensed device such as FiiO M11 Pro, it fully decodes and renders the file to its full potential. A device like M11 Pro can fully unfold the MQA track up to a level of 8X meaning if your file has a bitrate of 44.1kHz after unfolding it plays at 352.8kHz. The sound quality is definitely improved in MQA files over your same bit-rate CD-quality files. They show better dynamics, depth, and detail in the music.
MQA Certified Devices:-
As mentioned earlier, to fully decode the highly encoded MQA tracks you need to use devices that are MQA certified. This list is growing continuously as almost every other gear being released today is MQA certified. These devices unlock the full potential of an MQA track by fully decoding and rendering the files.
FiiO is one of the leading audio equipment manufacturer based in China. They have a wide range of products including hi-res Android audio players that are highly appreciated by the community. Their range of hi-res Android players, the M11, M11 Pro, and M15 are one of the most successful audio players in the market with class-leading performance. All three of these players support full 8X MQA decoding and rendering with premium audio DAC chips. They support MQA globally using any application including FiiO Music App, USB Audio Player Pro(UAPP), and many more.
Who doesn’t know iBasso?? They are very well known for their brilliance in audio gadgets. Whether it be in-ear monitors, portable DAC’s, or Hi-res players, the brand excels in all of them. Their range of Android hi-res players, the DX160, DX220, and DX220 MAX supports global MQA unfolding. Users can enjoy high-quality Master audio files to their full glory on these devices using either their Mango audio player, UAPP, and many other application on the Android store. There upcoming iBasso DX300 will also be supporting full MQA unfold.
HiBy Music specializes in research, development, and sales of high-fidelity audio products. They have several highly acclaimed Android players in the market including R3, R5, R6 Pro, R8, and more. Their in-house developed HiBy Music app is a smartphone audio application that is used in many other players developed by other brands in the market. Their entire range of Android players starting from R3 to R8 supports global full MQA unfolding. Users can enjoy the full MQA experience on many of their devices including, R3 Pro, R6 Pro, and R8. The R8 features full 16X MQA unfolding.
Shanling is a high-tech audio equipment manufacturing brand based in China. They have a variety of products like in-ear monitors, hi-res audio players, and many more. Their M5s is an amazing sounding hi-res audio player with a premium DAC chipset and MQA support. The device has a long battery life of up to 17 hours of continuous music playback. The brand also has powerful Android Hi-res players, the M6, M6 Pro, and the upcoming M8. These players are supposed to receive MQA playback really soon.
Cayin has developed over 400 products to date, ranging from CD players to speakers, all of which provide the same high-quality benchmark and attractive price to performance capabilities. With a spectacular track record of over 70 local and international awards, Cayin has grown into one of the largest audio tube amplifier development and manufacturing facilities in the world. The Cayin N6ii and Cayin N8 are premium high-quality Android audio players. The N6ii features a replaceable audio motherboard design with around four audio motherboards available today. Both the N6ii and N8 features global MQA unfolding.
Astell & Kern:-
Astell & Kern is a luxury brand specializing in high-resolution audio products and accessories. They have the widest range of MQA supported hi-res players in the market with over eight MQA supporting devices. Supporting devices include Activo CT10, Kann Alpha, SA700, A&Norma SR25, A&Futura SE200, Activo CT15, Kann Cube, A&Ultima SP2000.
The MQA support is not only limited to the Hi-res player market, there are several Desktop and Portable DAC’s in the market that support full MQA unfolding. TOPPING develops and sells a wide range of audio products including power amplifiers, headphone amplifiers, and DACs. Its international network of distribution channels covers online sellers, as well as more traditional dealer outlets. Their highly acclaimed D90 desktop DAC features MQA functionality for achieving the highest possible sound quality possible.
Matrix Audio creates its products with utmost perfection to not only provide excellent sonic performance but also have a great design. They have a wide variety of products including Network streamers and Desktop DACs. Matrix Audio mini-i pro 3, Matrix Audio Element X, Matrix Audio Element M, and Matrix Audio Element P are the Network Streamers that have full MQA unfolding. Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro is a desktop-grade DAC that has full MQA support.
There are many other devices including several capable portable DAC’s that supports full MQA unfolding from various famous brands including HiliDAC Atom Pro, HiliDAC Beam 2, Zorloo Ztella, iFi Hip-DAC, DragonFly Cobalt, and many more. The list for MQA enabled devices just keeps on going on and on with regularly updated products on a daily basis. Almost all the upcoming hi-res players, portable and desktop DACs support MQA unfolding and rendering.