There’s a new wireless hi-res audio codec in the air and it’s called MQair, a scalable codec from the folks behind Master Quality Authenticated (MQA).
Even bigger news is that MQair has received certification from the respected audio research organisation Japan Audio Society, which allows it to carry the Hi-res Audio Wireless badge that gives a stamp of approval to devices and technology that can deliver a certain level of performance.
With the technical name of SCL6, but coming to the market as MQair, it’s a scalable codec which means the encoded data rate of the file can transition “seamlessly from 20Mbps to below 200kbps” depending on the wireless conditions, covering Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Wi-Fi connections. For the listener this should allow for a more consistent wireless performance, with low latency and high efficiency for extended battery life of devices that support it.
MQA say that MQair “delivers detail and clarity by focussing on the time domain – a critical factor in the human perception of high-resolution sound.” The technology supports both MQA and PCM audio up to 384kHz and if you have sufficient data, then it can scale to lossless playback where possible.
There’s no mention of when the new codec will hit the market or where it’ll be made available, but we assume music services such as Tidal will adopt it as part of their existing support for MQA.
Potentially a big boost for wireless hi-res audio
Transmission of high quality files over a wireless connection has always seemed to be a sore area for the music industry as a whole. It is, in a way, still recovering from that period at the turn of the century where the mode of listening to music was an 128kbps MP3, the quality of the sound compromised to squeeze a file down a wireless pipe.
That doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue these days with streaming services such as Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz all putting Hi-Res audio at the forefront of their operation. And the announcement of MQair could make that even easier with its support for Bluetooth, UWB and Wi-Fi connections and scalable performance, jumping from lossy to lossless audio where possible.
It’s a sign of the progress the industry is and has been making in the last several years, as it looks to put those 128kbps days behind it and not to sacrifice quality for convenience.