MQA tracks are now available via iPhone devices and the new Tidal iOS app is able to playback MQA-folded master files, which are smaller enough to be streamed on the mobile platforms. The MQA decoder in the app recovers all the direct music-related information and also authenticates the source of the original master recording.
Streaming services who provide MQA Core decoding on platforms which are not natively capable of high-sample-rate playback or which have other audio restrictions – such as a smartphone - can pass the MQA information over interfaces such as Lightning or USB to low-power portable devices such as headphones and retain the possibility of very high-quality sound downstream. Since the MQA Core signal is at a higher rate (generally 88.2 or 96 kHz) a listener with a suitable DAC can enjoy a better (but not fully optimized) sound. Still, the MQA Core output from a decoder carries information enabling a downstream MQA Renderer device to complete the Origami unfold and to provide a full output.
The Tidal app contains the MQA core decoder (up to 24-bit/96kHz) and performs the first unfold of an MQA file. Sound quality is higher, and by connecting the Apple iOS devices or (some) Android devices to external equipment, such as a DAC, which features an MQA Renderer, the final unfold can be completed - confirmed with the authentication light and delivering the highest possible sound quality (up to 192kHz). If the external DAC supports the full MQA decoder, the precise file and platform-specific DAC compensation and management is implemented, delivering the highest possible sound quality.
"From our ongoing work with engineers and artists, we know the importance creators place on delivering the original sound they created all the way to the music fan. Through our global partnership with Tidal, this becomes a reality wherever you’re enjoying your music,” says Mike Jbara, MQA CEO.
“Bringing music to life, just as the artist intended, is a core value of the Tidal platform and we couldn’t be more excited to finally bring master quality music to both major mobile operating systems,” adds Lior Tibon, Tidal COO.
MQA has partnerships with all three major record labels, as well as with Merlin, representing the independent label community, and the Tidal Masters catalogue continues to grow rapidly, covering new releases and catalogue recordings. With Tidal Masters playback now accessible on iPhones and Android smartphones, as well as desktop and connected devices, users can experience studio quality sound wherever they choose to listen.
Tidal members can learn more about Master quality audio on TIDAL.com/Masters