MERIDIAN IS PLANNING to change the way we listen to music. Who’s we? Well, audiophiles of course. The rest of the music listening public seems to be happy with low bitrate internet radio streams, mostly because that’s all there is out there. However, this British audio company is planning on delivering hi-resolution audio without needing a high-res stream.
That sounds counter-intuitive at best, impossible at worst, but Meridian’s recently unveiled MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) music format is designed to do just that. It’s taken years of R&D but MQA claims to be able take the full sound quality of a studio master file, and encode it in a way that allows it to be streamed far more efficiently than current technologies allow, and then play it back using a hardware enabled decoder, or even an app.
If, as claimed, MQA can stream using a 1Mbps stream (similar to lossless CD quality), when 24/96 takes close to 5Mbps, and still maintain the quality of a high res stream, then Meridian may be onto something here. This might just shake things up a little, particularly if the recording industry gets behind this new technology and there’s enough music available to make it viable. The theory is that MQA encoding pays more attention to the timing data of the original music instead of focusing equally on both timing and frequency information. This means more of the “heart and soul” of the music is retained. This is based on studies covering neuroscience and psychoacoustics, and given Meridian’s long history in the audio innovation game, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re not making this up. It’s got to be better than MP3, right?
The full launch is happening at CES in early 2015. Watch this space for more information.